The unthinkable happened last night
May 25, 2006 16:41:00

The story is as follows. Last Friday night I sat down to play Auto Assault. I logged in and drove around. Finished a few quests. Ran some pedestrians over. Blew up some stuff. Logged out. Cancelled my account. Full story on Auto Assault coming to the podcast soon.

Then I stared at my desk top. The Eve Online character is on a little training vacation. Love the game, but am just training training training right now and that's fine. I'm patient with it. So, that leaves Guild Wars. Ho hum, didn't feel like Guild Wars. WoW account is closed until A) I feeling like looking for a guild and raiding, or B) the expansion comes out. Planetside - I didn't feel like being fodder all evening. Hmm. Time to play and nothing to play.

Guess I'll activate the good old Station Pass.

Logged into EQ, the classic EQ. As expected the old crew was there on Terris-Thule, uh, I mean Prexus (merged servers) and I was in a group and fumbling my way through some very rusty monk skills in short order. It has been a nearly two years since I've played EQ regularly so it took little warming up and the Wall of Slaughter was a fine place to do it. Sunday evening I ended up parked in the old Norrath once again, this time doing a mission from one of the newer expansions which I own but have never played. (DoN) After an evening of feign death corpse drags, chasing fleeing mobs and fighting "more adds than a math class" (nod to AggroMe) I found myself saying:
"This is the best MMOG ever."
I always knew I liked EverQuest, but after making my rounds through EQ2, CoH, L2, WoW, AA, DDO, etc.... I show up back in EQ and I realize, something is very right about that game. So, I'm back there (nothing else exciting on the immediate horizon, but I'm waiting on LotRO, Archlord, Gods and Heroes and Vanguard of course) and relearning how to play. As a result of this realization I am going to try very hard to figure out what it is that works so well in EQ1. I'm also going to try to draw some parallels to the other systems out there and on the horizon. But for the moment, I'm going to get to the point of my title sentence, The unthinkable happened last night. Fellow EQ1 veterans, prepare to geek out with me for a moment.

Remember the Bastion of Thunder? (BoT) One of the final zones that we'd grind in before maxing a character out at level 65? It was impossible to get a group in there until you're about level 63, and when you got one, you'd stay in that group until you passed out from fatigue. The xp was that good. It was hard though. One tiny screw up and a team of level 65 players could be as dead as a George Lucas script. The mobs hit super hard and they like to aggro all their friends. It was a low end zone for the serious raiders, but it was the pinnacle of XP grinding locations during the Planes of Power and LDoN eras. Since then, plenty has changed. The day the Omens of War expansion released, raising the player level cap to 70, the Bastion of Thunder fell silent. It wasn't the best and most convenient place to level anymore. It wasn't the most difficult place to level anymore either, but little did I know how much things have changed. Until last night. An old friend and I, who used to get ourselves killed in various creative and impressive ways back in the day, made an appointment to see if we still had it. This level 70 shaman and my level 66 monk met up and decided to go visit an old stomping ground, the Bastion of Thunder, which was very quiet. He assured me, we could handle it ourselves. He assured me he could solo the giants in BoT. I trust this player completely, but I almost couldn't believe it. As the monk, I went in for the first pull. Rusty as I am, I got an add on the first attempt. Panic washed over me. Okay, maybe we can handle one, but two? We're screwed. I ask if we should run, but m
y shammy friend calmly heals me and says, "we're fine". So here I am, a monk with armor from 2 years ago that wasn't very good then. And what am I doing? I'm tanking two Bastion of Thunder giants at the same time with a shaman healing me. And, I'm not even breaking a sweat. This session went on for about three hours during which we had one small LD issue, a teleporting accident which resulted in one shaman death (used 100% AA res, so no big deal), some nice plat and xp, a few minor quest items we'd needed, and one dead BoT boss (which we got some help with.) Times have changed.

EverQuest characters are extremely heroic these days. They are capable of amazing things as a result of the incredible scale of the game. I've not had this same sensation in other MMO's, at least not to the same level that I have in EQ. This is an important distinction when measuring fun, the trick now it to try to figure out precisely what elements have created this fun. To be continued....

Submitted by Brent on May 25, 2006 16:41:00 CST (comments: 0)


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