Every new expansion changes the face of Everquest. Omens is no different. I had a conversation with a guild leader today who said he had great trouble bringing his guild together to defeat raid targets in Planes of Power. Their guild focuses on reaching the Plane of Time but each day he finds it more and more difficult to gather his forces. When I asked what they were doing instead, he said they hunted in Omens. I see little surprise there.
There seem to be two attitudes towards Omens. One all but ignores it and continues progression down the same path they followed two years ago. People seek the same flags, people hunt in the same experience zones, people all but completely avoid the new worlds.
The other takes the opposite approach. They seek to tear through all of the content in Omens as fast as possible. They hunt in the most lucrative experience zones in the game until they reach level 70 twenty hours later. They earn AAs and buy the best abilities as soon as they can. The random drops of spells and equipment hold them back, so instead they switch to Epic 1.5s. I remember being asked to help with all new epic raids within three days of entering the lands of Kuua.
A healthy balance exists between these two extremes. The world of Norrath changed with the opening of the portals of Discord. Powerful equipment becomes easier to acquire. We find new levels, spells, AAs, quests, and zones. We should seek out and learn more of these new paths. We should enjoy our journeys and adventures without feeling like someone pokes a spear in our back. The journey is more rewarding than the goal.
Most of the epic 1.5 quests have already been completed. The puzzle solvers worked day and night to solve the quests and epic 1.5 spoilers now sit on almost every class forum. I didn't receive my happy clicky stick until almost a year and a half after Kunark came out. I am in no hurry now. Instead, I'll pick short term goals and begin working on my quest when my own power and the power of my friends grows.
Spells in Omens so far prove difficult to obtain. All spells except teleports come from dropped runes. While the runes ensure that no class gets duplicate spells and all spell casting classes can use these runes, they drop perhaps half the time on rare mobs.
There are two things I would have liked to have seen with spells in Omens. I would like to see one spell given out at each level off of a vendor or a short quest. A single spell at each level gives players a bit more motivation to level than just new aas. I would also like to see a more progressive, less random, quest to receive new spells.
Again, I fall back to the point system in LDON. It took 11 adventures to receive a new spell but I knew I made progress with each successful adventure. I did not compete with my group to receive it; we all earned equal rewards for our adventures. Instead of only dropping muramite runes off of random rare mobs, why not drop pieces of runes randomly off of every mob. Collect 10 pieces, build yourself a rune.
Speaking of LDON, prepare for a flip flop. Four months ago I asked SOE to add new LDON equipment to the LDON vendors. At the time it would help non-raiders access more Gates content and give high-level LDON adventurers a few more trinkets to seek. I was told at the Summit that these items would be added. Later I was told they would be added, but not until after Omens.
At this point in the game, most of the "after Omens" fixes are obsolete. Like instancing the Plane of Time, new content overshadows the desire for such a large fix. If we want higher end items than the LDON vendors, we can go to one of three instanced expeditions and earn better loot. We can hunt named in the Wall of Slaughter and Ruins of Dranik. Like the gear in Kunark, Velious, and Luclin, LDON gear becomes obsolete with age. LDON equipment works well up to 65 but when one outgrows it, one should head head to Omens.
I could be a pain in the arse and demand that SOE follow through with new LDON loot. I know many high-end raiders will still demand a Time instance even though instanced zones in Gates and Omens offer better loot without any guild-based competition. Instead, SOE should focus their resources on the problems that matter most and the features that help the game grow further.
I'd rather see them work on new LDON-style adventures with new themes, new adventure types, new beasts, and new loot than rehash the loot on the adventures in which many people have already fought. Even if they did put focus 5 items on LDON vendors, I'd probably stay over in Omens for awhile.
I would prefer SOE look at the expeditions in Omens and add more LDON-like features to them than rebuild LDON. I would like to see an incremental quest for spells in addition to random drops. I would like to see a in-game goal and a two-hour duration for each expedition. I would like to see the removal of spawns so groups crawl from the beginning to the end. I would like to see boss-mobs spawn after the party kills a number of normal beasts.
Expeditions have a lot more potential than instanced group hunting content. Expeditions are controlled environments for the developers to build fun and interesting scripts. They use some of these scripts for the Muramite Proving Grounds trials, but few will see those powerful events and far fewer will survive them.
I asked for new LDON items and better LDON adventures, but now I would rather focus on the future. I would prefer to see Omens filling in the gaps left open with LDON. Omens includes enough content to keep almost any player busy for a long time regardless of the amount of time they play or the style of play they enjoy. A few changes to the expeditions would help bring the best parts of Lost Dungeons to new and more flexible expeditions. After that, all we must fear are the sharp teeth of the Dragorns and the green gasses of the umbrella people.
28 September 2004