Finished fighting the Scholar to finish the Strange Black Stone quest, turned to go, and was taken aback for a moment by the beauty of the sunset. My God, video games have come a long way. And this looked absolutely fabulous on my widescreen monitor…
Every gamer blog eventually talks about WoW and some-other-game, usually pointing out how WoW is better, or worse, than this other game. Usually the biases are pretty clear; I left WoW to play EQ2, so you know where I’m coming from. But now and again, I still play WoW. This series of posts is a love affair for two great games.
I reached level 13 with my new troll shaman Yenna just this morning, defeating an army of Burning Legion cultists on the top of Darkmist Mountain in the Barrens and destroying their shrine by placing a faulty resonating crystal within it. They had a demon guarding it, two levels higher; it was a tough fight and a close one, but in the end it was Yenna who walked away.
That’s one thing WoW does, especially for the low levels, better than any other game I have played. Short, self-contained stories that one player can manage. Usually the objectives are fairly close to the quest giver, sometimes longer. The standard Horde quest series for levels 1-13 slowly tells a story of a secret demonic incursion and the betrayal within Orgrimmar that allows it, all leading the player to the first Horde dungeon, Ragefire Chasm, a hellish pit beneath the Orc capital city. Each quest is a chapter in this story, and you can follow right along, trying to anticipate the secret plot and the surprise villain.
It’s fun, it’s entirely soloable. It’s also identical for every single orc or troll character. The Taurens and the Forsaken have their own stories (which are identical for their races), and they all eventually collect the Horde in the Barrens, and every character you see is doing the exact same thing.
EverQuest 2 has hundreds and hundreds of quests for the same range. With six characters out of the newbie levels, I have never followed the same path. And all but one are halflings; you’d expect it to be similar, but they really weren’t. One spent more time in the Forest Ruins, while another explored Oakmyst. Two went to explore Antonica very early. Another focused on the quests in the main city. My first character spent a lot of time in Blackburrow. My newest character, Dorah, was the first to spend much time at all in Stormhold.
The EQ2 designers recently overhauled the newbie quests. A lot of the cookie-cutter quests were removed; the quest givers were placed nearer their objectives; and new, more story-ish quests were added. The new city betrayal quests are very nicely done, with significant content added especially for betrayers. Something is new and different every time you play a character through.
The WoW newbie quests have changed very little from beta. Each new character does essentially the same things you would have done two years ago. It’s fun the first time around, familiar the second, and tedious thereafter. Smart players quickly learn to skip most quests and grind their way through the levels. By not updating the newbie experience, Blizzard encourages players to ignore it entirely and ever more quickly hit the wall of level 60, where solo and casual play ends.
Both games are filled with cookie-cutter fetch, kill and collect quests. WoW includes more story. EQ2, more diversity. In WoW, everyone does the same quests in their line (Orc/Troll, Dwarf/Gnome, Tauren, Human, Forsaken and Night Elf). In EQ2, there are so many quests it is impossible to do them all, making every time through different.