First Days in Everquest 2

Happy Monday, folks!

As I mentioned on a recent episode of our podcast, I never quite felt like I gave Everquest 2 a proper chance. Several of my friends and favorite bloggers play it almost exclusively, so I’ve always felt a bit of a gap in my MMO knowledge by not having played more of it. Well, never fear, because that’s officially changing!

My routine of dungeon running in WoW leaves a lot of open space in my gaming schedule, so last Thursday bit the bullet and re-upped. In truth, my new motherboard/processor combo was set to arrive on Friday, and I wanted the opportunity to see the performance shine; it was a little splurge to feel good about my other, bigger, splurge on the new hardware. Lo and behold, I was right. I’m now rocking on “Very High Quality” graphics settings and getting 30-50+ FPS outside of towns and villages. Not bad compared to the 20ish I was getting on “High Performance.”

But, back to my experiences.

If the whole game looked this this, I'd be sold for good.

Let me get this out of the way first, unless you have a fast processor and decent graphics card (the latter being more important, it seems), EQ2 fails to impress — that is, if you value good graphics, which certainly varies from player to player. For me, anyways, I was initially let down. When I first created my character, some month or two ago, the game had assessed my system as suiting the “High Performance” setting, which really does the game little justice. Ground clutter is in a small circle around you. Textures seems to ram into one another with no blending. Shadows are at the most minimal across the terrain. In short, coming from WoW and LotRO, it felt like I’d stepped in a time machine back five years. And, at that, with modern day hardware, I was still getting a choppy play experience.

Fast forward to today. I’m now running with a 3.0GHz processor, 4 gigs of semi-slow RAM, and a 260GTX. With this set up, I’m able to kick the graphics up enough to where the game looks much, much better. There is still the issue with texture ramming, but it’s something I think I can get used to. On “High Quality,” character and building models look SO much better that the original “step back” effect is almost eliminated. It’s just a shame that the game is so processor dependent. I can’t help but feel like the game could do a lot better if they were to get performance in line with the graphics level. As a new player, those months ago, it was a major turn-off to play the game that way. If you’re coming from WoW, brace yourself.

The more important question, though, is how did it play. I’m happy to report that I’ve been having quite a bit of fun this time around. The combat is colorful and full of flair. You know, it’s a small things, but I appreciate a little bit of flash in my combat. When you have the same hotbar-focused, button mashing, gameplay in every game, it’s nice to get a little bit of eye-candy. Questing is pretty standard, but that’s to be expected. They seem to have a little bit of charm to them, though. One quest, for example, has you lure lizards into the tendrils of a flesh eating plant. Another has you investigate a small mine lead by Tucan Sam impersonators. Overall, it’s nothing new, but enjoyable enough to not be cumbersome.

There’s a lot the EQ2 offers that other games don’t. I mean, the game is filled to the brim with content. They seem to put out expansion every six months and regular patches on top of that. I’m looking forward to checking out some of the big name activities other players have told me about: mid-level raids, tons of dungeons, fully customizable housing, extensive crafting, and more.

I don’t know whether the game will ultimately be for me. I’m still having a lot of fun in WoW, and I still have lots of leveling/dungeon running left to do on my DK. But, since I’ve lacked the motivation to push too far into Angmar in LotRO, this might just give me something other than Split/Second to fill my free time.

It occurs to me now that it probably seems pretty shallow of me to come back with a positive write-up like this. After all, the only thing that’s changed is that I can turn the graphics up a little bit. I guess I have to admit to being a little shallow. It’s a little hard to step down, visually, once you’ve gotten used to the art style and fidelity of one game. But, as the more devoted among us are quick to remind, it’s the gameplay that counts. Let’s put that to the test 🙂

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