It's been a while since we've had an update but this one has a couple of neat things in it. Today's patch included a new tutorial, possible fixes to the Plane of Knowledge crashes, some UI updates, and a couple of more tidbits.
Last week I started up a level 1 Berserker on the test server to try out the new tutorial and I was very impressed. It's a mixture of local and server-based quests and a new generic low-level zone. It walks new players through Everquest's complex interface as well as it can. It makes great use of the "Find PC" yellow magic trail to lead a new character from NPC to NPC. As a veteran player, I cannot give a truly objective analysis but it appears it will do a good job of teaching new players the basics of our game. The rewards for walking through the tutorial include enough experience to reach level 3 and a powerful charm.
Proper marketing and improvements to simplify Everquest's interface bring new players online. The more players in Everquest, the better the content and service we'll see.
Which leads us to Sony's new pricing plan. For $120, a customer receives a one year subscription to Everquest and all seven current expansions. This is an excellent deal but few new players are willing to make a $120 commitment on a game they haven't played yet. This pricing plan works very well for players with multiple accounts. There will soon be a package called "Everquest: Platinum" (how's that for false IGE style advertisement?) containing all expansions up through Gates of Discord for $30. A $10 version called Everquest: Chronicals (Everquest: Copper?) is said to contain the old world, Kunark, Luclin, and Ykesha. The strange set of expansions is due to their inclusion of new races. My Neriak spies tell me future low-priced expansions will include mid-level and high-level content to go along with this beginner's set.
The biggest problem we've seen recently are the Plane of Knowledge crashes. The developers posted many updates to the problems but crashing in the most popular zone in EQ builds a lot of frustration within Sony's paying customers. We can hope this patch helps the problem; if not, Sony can expect quite a few more posts on the tech forums.
Sony released little news on Omens of War but some changes to the Test server already sent spell casters into spasms. The spells don't even have names yet but people are already wearing their "My Spells Only Do 54.918DPS: Everquest is Dead!" T-shirts. I'll assess Omens of War when I've actually played it, thank you very much. IGN posted an article about Omens of War with only a few bits of information we didn't know. I found one line particularly disturbing: "There will be around 20 new zones with this expansion, most of them geared toward GoD-capable players." From what I've experienced and what I've heard, a "GoD-capable player" is ... no one. Say it ain't so, Brenlo.
Which brings us to the revamp of Gates of Discord. I see little change for all of the excitement Sony made over the new revamp. I still died from see-invis mobs in Barindu after failing at the fourth hour on a Vxed hunt. I still don't get experience like I do in restricted zones of Fire and Earth. I've seen no Gates spell drop. I'm reminded of the fifty "Planes of Power spell drops have increased" patch messages when I've still only seen one non-raid rune drop in all of my days in the Planes. The changes to KodTaz and above may be nice; apparently it's easier to get into Qvic; but what about the other 93% of casual high-level players (lies, damndable lies, statistics)? I don't expect another Gates revamp. I'd rather see improvements to Lost Dungeons of Norrath and I look forward to Omens of War; but this big change didn't seem very big to me.
At least young Bolmer, the level 1 Berserker, can take out my frustrations on the skull of a Kobold slaver in the dastardly tunnels of Whatever.
26 May 2004