Well sitting at home sick does allow one some extra play time. One of the things I’ve been doing is keeping an eye out for the beta release of EQ2 F2P client. Originally targetted for an August 17th release date, things look like they’ve been held up abit. Along with that was a delay in the release of GU57. Now that the GU57 release notes are out, its easy to see why*:
- More classes are now neutral:
- Neutral: Troubador, Dirge, Ranger, Assassin, Templar, Inquisitor, Fury, Warden, Coercer, Illusionist, Wizard, Warlock, Bruiser, Monk, Guardian, and Berserker
- When you start a new character you will have Apprentice spells. This spell tier along with Journeyman will have a beginner level of FX in both size and quantity. Later when you acquire Adept or Expert versions of the spells the level of FX will increase. Finally when you acquire Master and Grandmaster versions of the spells you will experience the full FX force of that spell.
- All classes have had certain key abilities removed – they will no longer receive them automatically
You and I both know what provoked these changes. F2P does, will, and will continue to have an effect on the non-F2P version of EQ2. The move to additional neutral classes is fine I think. The future of Norrath was a little too…black and white for my tastes anyway. The past of Norrath (EQOA, my original stomping grounds) was a little more muddied and I think this helps move the lore back in that direction. The changes in spell FX and graphics is probably fine as well. As EQ2 gets older and older, its going to need more and more facelifts. And this will help with that, while also driving a little incentive to pay for upgrades on the free program.
But the last group is where I draw the line. One of the absolutely great things about EQ2 is the ability to “stay in the field” – not losing people in a group session (or solo for that matter) to have to return to town to buy abilities – and – this is my fear – to remove those abilities from the F2P version unless one is willing to shell out a little more cash. Those abilities? Primarily Taunts. That key mechanic that makes groups function. And Intercept – another primary group mechanic.
Secondary to that is my own particular beef with the current trend in the evolution of EQ2. Note the following changes that I imagine many players skipped right over or perhaps even applauded:
- The Guardian ability “Shield Bash” is now “Bash” and no longer requires a shield.
- Priests will no longer receive the spell “Summon Food and Water.”
- Summoners: “Aqueous Stone” is now “Aqueous Soul” and no longer summons an item that grants water breathing. It now simply casts water breathing on the target.
- “Hunker Down” no longer snares the caster.
- “Wall of Rage” no longer snares the caster
- The Berserker ability “Body Check” no longer requires a shield.
- All versions of Will of the Heavens can now be cast while the monk is feared.
- “Heroic Dash” no longer requires a shield or symbol to be equipped.
- “Hateful Slam” no longer requires a shield or symbol to be equipped.
- Mages will no longer gain “Bind Sight” automatically. It is now a fun spell and can be bought from the class trainers.
Ladies and gentlemen, all of those changes can be filed under one category: loss of roleplaying opportunities. Loss of fluff. Sacrifice for the sake of mechanics and only mechanics. I will always lament those, and I will always rage against them. They will cause the death of your game. Laugh all you want to. EQ2 is at its heart an MMORPG. And many of the players come not for the MMO, but for the RPG.
Its hard to put into words but a game needs have a certain amount of…synergy. Synergy between the crunch and the fluff. Between the mechanics and the lore. Dissociate the two and problems begin to crop up. You game loses its “soul” or it becomes difficult (or boring) to play.
The solution? Those second set of changes should not have just been “removed” or had the fluff removed. Instead they needed to be retooled to make them effective in (all the) way(s) they were originally intended to be. If the beneficial effects granted by a spell or skill were not balanced well enough against the disadvantage of a self root – then fix the balance. Don’t throw the the baby out with the bathwater.
That being said, there is something to balance out my disappointment. Its a salve that doesn’t fix the problem but that does ease the pain a bit.
- Weapon appearance slots are no longer restricted to being the same wield style of your equipped weapons.
- Appearance slots are no longer restricted to levels 20 and higher.
As always, since we are simple consumers, and in the word of MMO’s, just a small group among thousands, tens of thousands, or hundreds of thousands, we take the good with bad. At least, if we can’t get a synergistic EQ2, we can have the next best thing: one we can mold a bit in our image, and that’s free to boot.
* I got my personalized invitation to the launch of EQ2X at 9:20pm CST this evening after posting this in the morning. Dang I’m good.