Tuesday, November 28, 2017

A New Dawn : EQ2, GW2

I'm sitting here twiddling my thumbs right now as I wait to see who will be fastest off the mark - ArenaNet or Daybreak. As Telwyn has already observed, it never rains but it pours and today is launch day for both EQ2's 14th expansion, Planes of Power Prophecy and the first episode of GW2's fourth season of The Living World (or whatever they're calling it these days).

The EQ2 servers went down a while ago, advertising a scheduled downtime of five hours with license to add. If they hit their marks that would see the first incursion to The Plane of Magic, PoP's supposedly vast open-world map, beginning sometime around 8pm GMT - which by pure co-incidence is the time that 90% of GW2's patches land.

Once in a while someone at ANet will decide to come in early and we get an unexpected kick around the middle of the afternoon or tea-time. I'm logged in right now after doing my dailies hoping to get the old heave-ho but no joy so far. 

I'm in Tyria now but only because Norrath is closed. I spent all morning working through the solo quest-lines in Everfrost for no better reason than I wanted to. As I said in general chat to another player, who was waxing lyrical about how much fun he and his guild have been having, going through older content at their own pace, it's just nice to have all this great stuff to go back to, whenever the mood takes you.

It may not be a fair comparison because GW2 has just had a full expansion while EQ2's last one was a year ago but I'm far more excited about going to the Planes than I am about finding out what happens next in the God-Dragon War. It's that nostalgic feeling that DBG are so deft at tapping into.

Planes of Power was an epochal turning point for EverQuest. The game changed with the Shadows of Luclin expansion in 2001 but it was PoP a year later than spun the whole world on its axis. After PoP nothing was ever the same again. Many older players hated that but I'd left and come back once already and I was ready for something different.

Even though I was never a raider, and Planes of Power raised EQ's raiding culture to its zenith, I was fully and deeply engaged with the culture of the game at that time. I was in both an active guild and an even more active custom chat channel. The channel had half the guild in it as well as friends from several other guilds, including some very serious raiders looking for a more relaxed crew to kick back with on slow evenings.

It wasn't until much later, when the addition of Mercenaries and a lot more levels made duoing old raid content a fun thing to do, that Mrs Bhagpuss and I saw most of the higher Planes of Power. She'd seen quite a bit more of the expansion, while it was new, than I had because she applied and was eventually accepted into one of the larger raiding guilds, only to hate it there and leave almost immediately.

There were some parts of the Planes that we did come to know very well indeed, though, even when they were current content. We spent many evenings holed up in some corner of Plane of Nightmare or Plane of Disease, quaking as we waited to see if the puller was going to bring more than we could handle - which could be a single treant if it was a feisty one...

Later we spent long hours in Plane of Storms and Bastion of Thunder but probably my fondest planar memories are of the Sunday lunchtime runs through Plane of Innovation as a full guild group escorting our resident tinker to the vendors at the end of the zone. I can hear the whirring and clanking as I write...and the swearing...

Seeing screenshots of the upcoming EQ2 version of Innovation brings it all back. It won't be the same but it doesn't need to be. All it has to do is remind me of those good times. I might even have to level my tinkering up again.

I never got round to copying a character to the Beta servers so when the expansion finally goes live it will all be new to me. I have, however, been browsing the beta forums, where the tone has been relatively positive, for a change. Last year's Kunark Ascending, which I enjoyed, had a mixed reception at best but the feeling at the moment seems to be that lessons may have been learned.

As Kaozz, who didn't appreciate the direction DBG took last time, says "It sounds like a great expansion for those who have been gone, easy to jump in on any 100, easy access to get rolling not depending on gear."

I hope she's right. And I hope I get to find out for myself before it's time to go to bed!


  1. Did I see somewhere, in an additional twist of confusion for the day, that the latest entry of the living story is titled "Daybreak?"

    Planes of Power... I was mostly out of EQ by that point but had friends and co-workers who played and raided and talked a lot about that expansion. PoP set the tone for raiding and unlocks and such... along with broken content... that influenced MMOs for a long stretch.

    1. Yes, I'd forgotten the co-incidental title when I wrote the post. Just as well or I'd have felt obligated to come up with some kind of punning title. Having just done the first part of the new Living Story chapter and had a look around the new map, I have no idea why the chapter is called "Daybreak". Maybe it's explained in either the new fractal or the new raid wing - in which case I may never know!

    2. Probably just a smart way to reference Nightfall. The other version is that Sunspear revolution is meant to be Daybreak for oppressed people of Elona.
      Also, outside of completely overtuned first instance in Amnoon (Awakened lieutenants autoattacking for 2k hp every second, although it might be the case of me missing some mechanics) and very, very long final fight with almost nothing interesting happening, it was pretty good in terms of difficulty and story.

    3. I hadn't considered the idea that "Daybreak" might be synonymous with "liberation," probably because in the case of SOE it meant moving from the protection of the formerly generous and kindly Uncle Sony and into the bonds of the Pharaoh.

      There is probably a whole metaphorical post in that.


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