Like many a curious MMO gamer, I saw the words “free” and I sauntered up to the install button and casually pressed it. No skin off my nose if EverQuest 2 Extended sucks, after all, since I’ve got my plate full of excellent fantasy MMOs and more on the way. Yet still I’m always intrigued when friends recall their favorite parts of EQ2, and I realize that as experienced as I may be in some titles, I’m a virgin in many others.
I haven’t spent a lot of time in the beta-slash-soft launch of EQ2X, but it’s occupied an hour here or there. Initially, my impressions were positive — fast install (it kind of keeps downloading in the background once you’re in the newbie zone), enough race/class choices that I had some variety, the UI is a lot cleaner than last time I checked out EQ2, and hey, it’s free! Sort of!
And yet I’ve got this uneasy feeling every time I look at SOE’s plan for the game that it makes it hard for me to relax and enjoy it. Every freemium/F2P title approaches moneymaking a bit differently, and SOE’s is to apparently make me feel like I’ve been given a “gift” by a charity but haven’t put in my donation to cleanse my conscience.
Their membership matrix for EQ2X is just about one of the most obtusely confusing charts I’ve ever seen, and at no point could I identify what SOE wants from me. Do they want me to buy station points and purchase content a la carte? Then why is there a lot of content (classes, advanced spells) that are never unlockable as a F2P player? Do they want me to just subscribe? Then why bother with the F2P pretense and make the EQ2X servers’ subscriptions worse than live servers — and give me no way to transfer to live?
I mean, hey, I probably wouldn’t mind dropping a few bucks now and then, but I’ll still be confined left and right with no clear way out of it unless I shuck the F2P bonds and head over to the older servers.
While I obviously like LOTRO a lot, what I’m going to say isn’t an attempt to go “ha ha, LOTRO F2P is better, EQ2 sucks”, but instead I just want to express puzzlement. It just seems that SOE didn’t think this through, didn’t test this model enough, and they’re charging ahead without considering how confusing they’re making this for brand-new folks.
LOTRO’s F2P model is similar in some aspects, particularly in its tiered membership chart, yet there are a few key differences:
- LOTRO’s F2P players and subscribers will be on the same servers; EQ2 is segregating their players
- LOTRO isn’t selling stat items in the store (just stats, but that’s another issue); EQ2 is gung-ho for people buying great items instead of earning them
- LOTRO offers players a way to earn free points and content; EQ2 doesn’t
- LOTRO will let non-subscribers buy all of the content and abilities that subscribers have; EQ2’s non-subscribers will eventually hit a wall no matter how much they spend a la carte
Now, EQ2X does have a couple great things going for it. The first is that there is simply a mountain of free content available — no zone restrictions or quest restrictions up to the last expansion pack. And I did get 600 Station Cash for nothing, which is kind of nice.
But game preference aside, my gut isn’t going wild over EQ2X. I’d love to be able to play it casually now and then, but seeing the immovable boundaries of content, I don’t know if I could enjoy it for the long haul.
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