Everquest 2 is an odd game. It feels so far like a fusion of classic EQ and WoW: trying to maintain EQ’s depth and breadth, but liberally using content structure and pacing from WoW. However it doesn’t succeed at both, at least early on.
I chose Feydark as my starting area, since the game gives you the choice of either New Halas or it. Considering that I started as a Froglok, neither makes much sense. I can understand why they did it in the context of the sub game, because later on in Everquest Online Adventures lifecycle, unpopular race’s starting cities were often empty of people. Considering though that the single EQ extended server is under heavy load, I don’t understand why they didn’t revert back to multiple points based on race.
Feydark starts you off in a box canyon, where the goblins and bixies are picking on the Fae. As a tutorial area it’s oddly incomplete. You are taught the basics of the game, but several aspects are missing, and you need to wait till the city of Kelethin to learn about them. These aren’t optional aspects, but things like crafting and owning your own house. The crafting lack is also inexplicable because the Feydark starting area is overloaded with gathering spots.
You are guided through quest chains there, with some optional quests given through examining dropped items. What I noticed immediately was that EQ 2 has a large amount of depth. 5 pages for emotes, a collectible system, multiple types of crafts, plenty of lore, and a huge world. However the actual level gain aspect is mostly through quest chains in a small, local area.
Once you get done with Feydark newbie area, you are ready to go into Greater Feydark. You pass through a tunnel (which has a side cave with its own quest hub that I initially skipped.) and go out into the greater world. Another quest hub awaits you right at the exit from that tunnel. You feel very much like liquid poured through a funnel, being sent from area to area.
To get to 11 I did the quest chains there, and currently am in the city of Kelethin learning how to craft, and dumping all of my furniture into my Inn room.
The cash shop isn’t bad for the basic game. It very much has the feel of an extended trial you can upgrade piecemeal. Early on, the only problem I have had is with bag space, because I liked to pick up every node and I farmed enemies often for the lore quest. The money limitations and lack of AH use are bad, but don’t affect me early on. The pop-up window begging me to upgrade? That’s annoying. What’s also annoying is paying for classes. Races are not so bad, but classes are impossible to know if you will like before playing them, and 75% of them are hidden behind a paywall.
The players? Well no one seems to talk much except in a regional or level channel. Since I’m a F2P character, I can’t talk back without upgrading to at least silver. I haven’t seen any rush to group, or group-oriented quests. In EQOA you had to do one at level 5. I got one blind guild invite which I rejected, because guilds that blind invite without talking to you or getting to know you usually suck.
In short, EQ extended is a very deep game with some limitations and an unfriendly cash-shop structure. It feels like an unsuccessful hybrid of WoW and classic EQ, and only deeper play will see its merits.