Mobhunter: Early October News

This week we take a look at some of the news appearing throughout the Everquest community.

On Halloween SOE hosts the New Orleans Fan Faire. SOE posted the schedule for this year's Fan Faire last week. Your favorite cleric (that's me in case you forgot) will be in attendance armed with an all new agenda to stuff into the pockets of anyone with an SOE badge. Like the summit agenda, I will post this agenda here a week or two before the Fan Faire.

This week SOE announced SOE Worlds a print magazine devoted to Everquest, Everquest 2, Everquest Online Adventures, Star Wars Galaxies, and the rest of SOE's army of massive online games. The magazine includes strategy articles, general reviews, fiction, and interviews. I expected something like this to come out eventually; I'm surprised it took as long as it did.

The largest buzz and attention in the last couple of weeks appears to focus on Epic 1.5s. Every class board, hundreds of discussions on the EQ Live forums, and most of the developer and community feedback follows the progression of these quests. Epic raids pour into most chat channels and even the non-raiders seem to have epic fever. Why people seem to be more interested in epics than levels, AAs, spells, or other gear seems beyond me. It may be the most popular Omens feature for high-level players.

A bit of nastiness hit quite a few people last week. People's Omens accounts shut off without warning and sent level 66+ players back to their level 65 self. At first rumors spoke of credit transaction problems but reports came in from people who bought their copy in the store. Sony jumped on it and posted this statement. I heard of nearly half a dozen people losing their level in this manner but all of them seemed to get it back without too much of a hassle. This seems to be the only major bug in an otherwise smooth expansion release; certainly smoother than Gates of Discord which suffered from random linkdeaths for nearly a week.

A new feature on test has bards cheering. Bards will soon have the ability to auto-twist songs using a new "/melody" command. Typing "/melody 1 2 3" will play each of the three songs in sequence. The change helps bards become more social creatures, giving them the time to chat with friends and watch Tivo until their friends shout "Heal Me, Dolt!". Some bard purists complain that it removes one of the great tests of skills for bards but most bards agree that the loss of challenge is worth the reduction in repetitive motion stress.

66+ spell costs dropped from 140,000 plat on the first few days to 60,000 plat today on Quellious. I expect to see them drop to 10k before they meet the balance of supply and demand. This should probably happen in a month or two. I still know little about the location of 69 and 70 spells. The no-drop requirement worries me. Instead of living the twilight of my levels where I choose, I will probably have to hunt in Muramite Provingrounds and Riftseeker's in order to receive 69 and 70 spells.

People continue to migrate in long lines to the Wall of Slaughter. Though better experience and loot awaits discovery in Ruined City of Dranik and its two sets of instances, people prefer the easier hunting ground and higher drop-rate of the Wall. I cannot blame them and it is better to have one zone like the Wall than none at all, but it will be nice to see people spread out a bit more into the other lands. In the mean time, for great fun and high adventure, travel to the Ruined City of Dranik through the Bloodfields. If you are truly a band of hearty adventurers, attempt the Sewers and Catacombs expeditions.

One thing that definitely appears to be missing are random rare drops on normal mobs. Instead of spending hours camping the same two spawn areas in the Hollows, I'd prefer to have a low chance (1/100) of receiving a rune drop or a loot item off of a normal beast. Perhaps they haven't been found and reported yet, but so far I have seen none.

Expect a new system for the loading screens between zones. People in beta had problems with the original one looking too much like a system hanging forever so they put in the loading screen. The loading screen, however, breaks the flow of the game too much. Sony builds a new system as we speak. Perhaps we will see it in the mid-October patch.

I look with narrowed eyes to find problems for the single-group hunter in Omens and I find few. Spell drops seem reasonable. I received a piece of loot in a single-group battle I could immediately use, something that hasn't happened to me in a long while. High level players can reach high level loot without required raiding. We have so many useful zones that some excellent hunting areas like the Ruined City of Draniks sit empty. Most of the problems I find and report are little more than nitpicks. Overall I still give Omens a big thumbs-up.

Loral Ciriclight
4 October 2004