EQ2's ability to spin up copies of any zone that gets too full means you never really get that glorious launchday crush, when frame-rates drop to single figures and it's ten men to every wolf. Still, it was busy enough. After a few minutes of being gazumped on ground spawns just outside the opening quest hub I took to the skies and went exploring. When it wasn't raining, that is. There's a storm dragon in Withering Lands who doesn't like to share the skies with anyone so periodically she makes it rain so hard griffins get too wet to fly. Or something. Anyway, you're grounded.
|Did I take a wrong turning? This looks like Vana'diel|
Nothing in Withered Lands seems to require quite that degree of paranoid preparation. My first impression of our new playground is that it's quite beautiful. It certainly doesn't look withered. Weird, yes. There's quite a variety of terrain in a relatively small area. Corrupted woodland, obviously, but also an odd flat pond with knee-deep water, a lot of craggy mountains, patches of hold-out Tunarean greenery and some arid dustland. Most of our old friends from Tunare's day seem to have survived the intervening half-millennium. I spotted mist panthers, raptors, giants, satyrs and the ever-unwelcome Holgresh but no sign so far of the clunky, clanky empty suits of armor I used to spend hour after hour dismantling in the olden days.
|No fair! I wanted a blue one|
Withered Lands is quite three-dimensional, with those canyons plus caves, tunnels and insect mounds. The color palette is very varied. Make the most of the scenery on the way to Skyshrine, because Skyshrine is "a city at war"tm and it looks just like the ones in every other MMO. People (well, droags) lying around all over the place, lots of things on fire, barricades etc etc. If you were hoping for a suave, sophisticated city of dragons to hang out in (I was) then you probably should have come a century ago.
|Hey Jim! You left some green in. Boss is gonna be mad.|
The content itself seems fun, although the quest text manages to be both verbose and lackluster at the same time, which is quite a trick. EQ2 has a relatively high standard of wit and humor for an MMO but I've scarcely cracked a smile so far. The actual tasks are the usual; kill me eight of these, get me six of those, bring me back a wolf, find my missing patrol. Yadda yadda and indeed yadda.
|Norrath's Bore of the Year Finalists limber up|
Despite the complete lack of logic, internal consistency and anything approaching sense in the basic set-up, I'm finding it a lot of fun. In fact, I wouldn't be here writing about it now if it wasn't that so many other people seem to have been finding it fun as well that Freeport has crashed. Again.
As soon as I can get back in, I'm going on a monkey hunt. Someone's going to give me pants if I bring him four monkey spell-books. And they're Godlike pants!