A Date with (Shards of) Destiny

I took time out from playing Rock Band: The Beatles yesterday to try EQ2′s Live Update 53, which they are calling Shards of Destiny. I thought I’d give you a report.

First, I use the Station Launcher, and boy was I glad about that. It downloaded the patch while I was doing something else and not even thinking about the patch. I remembered it was patch day at about 2:30 PDT when Phritz, who was working from home, called me and suggested I start downloading it, since it was taking him quite a long time.

So I went to log in and went right in to the game. That’s sweet! It took Phritz maybe another 20 minutes.

Once in game we found that all our racial and class training choices had been undone, and needed to be repicked, with some new options available. Also, many equipment items had been changed to be HEIRLOOM and thus attunable, and had been de-equipped. So, there was lots of housekeeping to be done on login, the moreso if you had alts. Since I wanted to try a lot of the different bits of the LU, I skipped bringing the alts up to date.

One of the things that was notable is that they have moved certain utility powers into the racial powers category, expanding the availability of these skills. For example, Kerran can now take training that lets them be trackers. So you can have a healer that tracks too, as long as you are Kerran. We high elves (along with dark elves) got the ability to port to a group member in zone. Recast every 12 hours.

I’m very happy to have this ability, and I note that my groupmates will likely be glad I have it too, since it will speed things up for them. Zones are very big these days, and can have dangerous stuff in them.

Next, I couldn’t help but noticing all the whining going on in level chat about avatar gear being downgraded and de-equipped. The de-equipping is a consequence of said gear being made HEIRLOOM, which I think that raiders should welcome. Still, it’s no fun having your gear downgraded. If I recall correctly, that happened once before, while Desert of Flames was the current expansion, and it wasn’t just avatar drops that got downgraded.

I learned through hard experience that it’s bad to take stuff away from players, and I figure the EQ2 team knows it, too. So I guess they had a good reason for it. Still, it’s something that any gamedev should work really hard to avoid. Nuff said. (On that topic anyway, you can’t make me shut up that easily.)

Ok, the next thing I did was to visit the Chronomancers (in Qeynos Harbor for Qeynosians) and then tool about Antonica at level 20, visiting points of interest and finishing quests to complete a couple of Antonican Achievements. The system works well and smoothly, and it was fun trying to remember where all the places in Antonica were. Sure, you know where Bramble Woods are and Gnollslayer Highland, but where, exactly, are the Watchtower Plains? Lonely Isle? Misty Isle?

I was shocked by the number of quests in Antonica that I had never finished, and this was with Toldain, not an alt. As it turns out, finishing gray quests will still count for the achievement, but you won’t get AA points for them.

One of the most confusing points about the Achievements is trying to figure out why you have credit for this but not for that. For example, the only point of interest that Toldain has for Commonlands is Turmoil Cemetery. I know for a fact he’s been to lots more places, but that’s the only one they could figure out from my quest journal, I guess. Which is weird, since it’s right in the middle of CL, I don’t think you could get there without going over some of the other POI.

After that, I joined some guildies in Shard of Love, the new zone, after doing the access quest. I’ll have more on that in a different post.

Back in 1999, Jonathon Baron wrote, in the essay “Shame and Glory”: “Don’t build a pyramid.” This LU has taken that advice to heart. It’s thin on new quests, but not so thin on expanding the possible goals and activities for players that are tired of the chase to be “uber”. New recipes, acheivments, new mentoring possibilities, and missions to go to old dungeons and hunt down bosses, missions that change every day.

The vocal reaction in level chat was pretty mixed. Of course, many of the strongest voices are those that belong to top raiding guilds, and the LU wasn’t terribly kind to them. A lot of trouble, nerfed gear, and not much new to do. But there are raiding Achievements, and maybe a new encounter, I’m not sure.

And the timing couldn’t be better, business wise. Would you rather sit in a queue waiting to get in to Aion for three hours or go mess around filling out an Achievement or two with your old EQ2 toon? It’s all about fun, right?

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