The Game of Thrones, MMO style.

September 28, 2007

Tobold today made a post about the possible successor to WoW, listing some upcoming MMOs and commenting on their chance for success. As always, it’s a good read, but I think he ignores one aspect of the MMO market; games already released.

The standard trend for an MMO game is that it builds up a player base in its first few months, and then that base declines until it hits its ‘sweet spot’ and maintains for a given period of time. This happened with UO, EQ, DAoC, AC, etc. If the game was a success, it would stay active and live off the player base and expansions, secure in its spot.

Recently however we have seen a different trend, one that clearly reflects the fact that players have a lot more choice now. Now if a game launches and is not ready to go out of the gate its numbers instantly see a decline after the first month. Rumors had it that Vanguard sold around 150,000 copies, but only 35,000 accounts remained open after the first month. EQ2 also had a rough launch, and its player base greatly declined shortly after launch. This of course is partly due to WoW being as polished as it was at launch, but even WoW had its share of troubles in the first few months. Blizzard was smart enough to give generous amounts of extra play time to players whenever the servers would be down, which no doubt went a long way to keep people playing. Remember WoW did not launch with 9 million subscribers, it faced similar struggles when it released, especially with EQ2 being called the MMO juggernaut back then.

However, recent history has shown that even after a rough launch, with enough resources and dedication a MMO can fix its issues and make a comeback. EVE Online continues to grow, despite a rough release in 2003, and as your player base grows, positive word of mouth grows as well. That’s the snowball effect WoW used to gain its amazing numbers. It seemed everyone was playing it, so in turn anyone who had not was more likely to give it a shot, after hearing from all his guilt mates or friends how great it was. While the numbers have not been released, I believe a similar thing is happening with EQ2. Many of the issues that game had have been fixed, and a game engine that was out of reach for most is now playable on more computers. I’m not saying EVE or EQ2 will ‘de-throne’ WoW alone, but if enough games rise up and maintain a dedicated player base, it will pick away at WoW at a slow rate. This is already happening to an extent, as many players tire of WoW and give EQ2 another shot, or wait for a Vanguard trial.

I believe WoW will maintain high numbers for a long time to come, but not anywhere near 9 million. It might remain top dog in terms of numbers, but the gap between it and the #2 MMO might be a million or so accounts, not the 7-8 million it is now. Gone will be the throne that an 800 pound gorilla sits on (WoW), to be replaced with a ‘game of thrones’ of the MMO world, with games that are highly successful competing with each other to hold their spot near the top. This high level of competition will push developers harder, forcing them to give their players the very best each month, or risk losing them to one of a number of other, highly successful competitors.

A look ahead, and why can’t I have the Sword of Leetness+5?

September 27, 2007

Playing EVE Online, EQ2, and Sword of the New World all at the same time gives you a very interesting view of where MMOs are today. Two of the games (EVE, EQ2) were released a few years back, but both had rough starts and are now finally hitting their stride, in very different ways. The third, SotNW, is a new game from Korea that is having its launch issues now, mainly translation and formatting issues. The three could not be any more different, with EVE having its massive scope, EQ2 having its deep and refined game systems, and SotNW being an ‘instant gratification’ type of game with plenty of flash.

If I was to make a prediction now, I would have to say I’ll be done with SotNW within a month, EQ2 within a year, and I’ll still be logging into EVE, although how often and for how long I can’t say. This all depends on the games coming out soon, particularly Warhammer. If Warhammer delivers on even half its hype, especially the PvP hype, I could easily see myself devoting a large amount of my gaming time to that. However, if it falls flat, or indeed proves to be WoW+1, then that free time will easily go towards EVE in large amounts.

The reason I can’t see myself playing EQ2 for a great amount of time is partly to blame on WoW. Having played that game to death, and with EQ2 being similar enough in many ways to it, it just feels like I’m going down a familiar path with EQ2 that I was on when I played WoW. Granted, EQ2 does enough things different to keep it interesting for now, and I could easily see it continue to do this as I continue to level, perhaps enough so to make it a great fallback game should WAR not work out, but that’s a big ‘if’.

Finally, I just don’t see SotNW holding my attention for very long. While it does a lot of things well, or at least different enough to be interesting, it’s overall gameplay feels dated. MMO’s have evolved from the ‘grind grind grind’ gameplay, where it is no longer entertaining to repeatedly kill mobs from level 1 to 100 with no purpose other than leveling itself. Even the multi-character system and the fast pace of combat can’t hold off the boredom of the grind for too long. The flash and style are great at first, but those only go so far as to make a good first impression, which SotNW certainly does. If it was a single player game, with an estimated time of say, 20 hours of gameplay, it would be a great game to pick up and play for a month or so, but as an MMO that hopes to keep players for months on end, I just don’t see how it’s going to succeed. It’s very shallow now, and I don’t think it has the underpinnings to expand the basic gameplay. Still curious to see how PvP works, but I’m guessing it comes down to who out grinds who for gear rather than any real PvP skills, but I could be way off base on that one.

I will say this, the enhancing system, putting a +1 on an item for a certain cost, and once you hit +4 anything beyond that has a chance to blow the item up, is brilliant. I know Lineage had this system, so SotNW is not breaking new ground, but props for having the system in the game. It’s a great money sink, as well as giving players the chance to create something of real value if they take a risk. Say you have a rare weapon that you intend to sell, but first you gamble and enhance it to +6. If you blow it up, you take a huge hit by losing a rare weapon along with any money you put in to getting it to +6. However, if the risk pays off, and you get it to +6, it could be worth a fortune on the auction house. This also makes money always relevant in the game, as at no point will you reach the ‘I have nothing to buy’ status you do in many other MMOs. It also makes getting the same drop not as useless as it is in other games. Let’s take WoW as an example, anyone who has done any raiding has killed Onyxia, and very likely you have killed her more than once. Onyxia has a fairly limited loot table, dropping all tier 2 helms along with a few rare weapons. Once you have your tier 2 helm, that drop is no longer interesting to you in WoW. Imagine if WoW had the enhancing system, and you could gamble with your tier 2 helm, pushing it to +5 or +6. If it blows up, it makes going after Onyxia the next week a little more interesting. If you succed in enhancing it, you gain a small advantage over other players wearing the same item with only +4 on it. Why more games don’t feature a system similar to this I don’t understand. Am I missing something here, am I not seeing some major downfall to the system?

Training delay, SOE down, SotNW grinding.

September 26, 2007

Bit of EVE stupidity on my part a few days ago. I bought a +4 implant from the Ministry of War Loyalty Point store, having finally saved enough LP to get one. I proceed to unplug my +1 implant and go to plug in the +4. EVE informs me that I need cybernetics level 4. Ah crap. I should have checked to make sure I could use the new implant with my current skills, but sadly did not. So now my main pilot is sitting in a station waiting for his cybernetics skill to catch up, which delays all his gunnery and engineering training. The goal was to train those up a bit and give level 3 missions another shot in my Ferox, but now this has been delayed for two more days while cybernetics finishes. Overall delay of 5 days, but I guess I would have had to train cybernetics up eventually, and the +4 implant will speed up training after that. Still, I’m eager to get back to running level three missions, as I’ve been doing level 2’s for a long time now.

EQ2 was down all day yesterday, so no update in that.

In SotNW my team is still happily grinding away. One nice thing about SotNW is that each zone in the world map has a level range under its name, letting you easily see which areas you should head for next. Nothing earth shattering, but you wonder why other games don’t do this.

AFK leveling.

September 25, 2007

Just a quick post today, but Sword of the New World is very… well different. You can AFK level yourself to basically 100, and the game does nothing to really stop you. It’s just one of the many differences between SotNW and ‘traditional’ MMO games. Still trying to wrap my head around it all. Short term, its been an enjoyable enough game so far. Long term I’m not sure its going to have enough to really keep me, but we will see.

Sword of the New World I love you. No wait I hate you. No just kidding I love you.

September 24, 2007

Thanks to a PCGamer demo DVD, I installed Sword of the New World over the weekend to give it a go. Seeing as how the game is Free2Play (stupid marketing trend word) and got a 90% review in the same issue, I figured it was at least worth a shot. Amazingly when the install completed and I logged in, the patching took less than 30 minutes (compared to EQ2s 5 hour marathon) before I was ready to play.

I’ll be honest, the first impression SotNW gives is great. The graphics are fantastic without being a system hog, the music gets you into the theme instantly, and the character models look great in terms of detail and style, with good animations. Character creation is as simple as choosing one of five classes, picking male or female, entering a name, and picking how your character looks out of 10 or so outfits. That’s it, a few easy clicks and you are in the game, on a ship starting the tutorial.

So for the first 15 minutes or so I loved SotNW, which is a major plus for any game in today’s market. I hated the next two hours. And now, perhaps four or five hours in, I’m back to loving it. If you look at a site like, you will see SotNW has gotten a varied mix of reviews, from 40% to 90%. Both low and high scores have come from fairly reputable sources, and in a way both are correct. Let me explain.

As I mentioned above, the graphics are great. The view is Diablo-like, but with a good range of zoom and tilt features. The camera is also easy to manipulate and never gets in the way. The style of the graphics is where the game will either gain or lose points with people. Personally I like them, if nothing more than a change of pace from the usual dwarf/elf stuff I’ve been looking at in WoW/EQ. The style is a mix of anime and renaissance. Yes, it’s an odd mix, but it works for me. The characters are highly details, if a bit on the pimp/hooker style, with the males sporting some fur lines jackets and the females wearing gravity defying dresses. Again your taste might vary, but at least it gets away from the ‘level one potato sack armor’ you usually find yourself in from level one to ten in most games.

Up next is the sound, and mainly the music. The music separates itself from most MMOs (other than EVE perhaps) in that it gets in your face and makes itself a very noticeable addition. It’s a crazy mix of techo/classical/opera/other, sometimes all mixed together into one track. As the game is separated into large zones, each time you enter a new one another track plays, and the variety so far seems to be great. It also sets the pace of the game, as the music is quick and upbeat, as is the gameplay, but more on that later. Again you can either rate the game very high in music if you like it, or it will be a huge pain if you don’t, since it’s so loud and in-your-face. Personally I like it, and again it separates SotNW from the ‘traditional’ MMO.

Finally we have gameplay, which I guess is a big deal. In short, SotNW is Diablo on crack. Actually it’s more like cocaine, very pure cocaine. SotNW is VERY confident in itself; it aims to be a certain type of game, and does not cut any corners to achieve that, good or bad. In a world of ‘mass market’ and ‘broad appeal’, it’s nice to play a game that up front says ‘this is how I play, hope you like it’. Another huge plus of course is that the game is free, so if the games very distinct style is not for you, you don’t end up feeling cheated by having to drop $30-$50 on a box. The major feature the game boasts about is its Multi-character control (MCC) system. Instead of just one character, you control three at all times, very similar to a single player RPG like Neverwinter Nights or Final Fantasy. It’s nothing major for an RPG, but in an MMO, it’s something new. Finally you can have a tank, a healer, and dps all in one, without it being some bastardized hybrid class that we all know is going to get nerfed and buffed weekly from release to the day they shut the servers down. With a three member team, and five classes, a good bit of variety exists in terms of how you want to field your team. I’ve so far seen everything from what I will assume is a basic team of a fighter (tank) scout (healer) and one of the three dps classes, either a wizard, musketeer or elementalist. I’ve also seen some oddball combos, like three wizards, or a scout and two musketeers. The nice part is that many of them ‘work’, and making changes is easy enough, as you can create new characters and switch up as you go.

Now, here is why I hated the game in before I hit a certain point. Due to the games fast pace, normal mobs go down in 1-3 hits, and a well placed AoE can often kill 10+ mobs. In a normal MMO, that would mean you clear an area and wait for respawns, in SotNW the respawns are already on you, the rate is that fast. Many reviews have stated that you could park your team in a room, go afk for the night, and come back to find yourself up a few levels still happily killing away. This is true, you could do that, as the game will indeed play itself if you so choose, and fighting mobs your level or slightly below is almost never a contest. Mobs die so fast in fact that it almost makes it impossible to use any character skills; before you can target something its dead. In the very early game, you get the sense that you do nothing more than move from one zone to the other, collecting item x and going back, with whatever might be in your path being an afterthought. It looks good, sounds good, but it’s very shallow and unrewarding. If you don’t push on and continue, you can easily get the impression that SotNW is a mindless grind fest.

Fast forward to level 15, and my opinion changes. I was mowing my way through another dungeon still thinking nothing can stop me and whatever I do really does not matter. You wade into a room with 30+ mobs, grab agro, hit an AoE, repeat in the next room. Then I died. To be honest I don’t even know what happened, but somehow my scout got killed, and shortly after my fighter and elementalist go down as well. I figured something oddball must have happened, and quickly went back into the same dungeon and again started the mass slaughter on my way to the final room. I guess I’m a bit slow here, because once again in one of the rooms my party goes down. This time I was paying more attention, and I noticed that my scout had agro on him, stopping his healing, and enough mobs were attacking everyone to interrupt my AoE. I figured it was just a case of pulling one too many mobs, so the 3rd time I came back I made sure to pull only 20 or so, and things went better, I made it to the final room with the boss mob. I got destroyed. Horribly. Here was this ‘easy’ game kicking my ass left and right, making me look like a noob. It should be noted that the boss was level 13, my team was level 15, so it’s not like I was going after something out of my level just to raise the challenge, if anything I was a bit ahead on levels for the area. I had to go back to the final room and you know, actually use some strategy to come out on top. Using all three characters individually, and using all their skills, I was able to clear out enough space to get the boss into a manageable situation, where my tank could hold his attention long enough for the elementalist to take him down. And when he did go down, it actually felt very rewarding, my characters striking very silly ‘we win’ posses before being warped out, Final Fantasy style.

I guess if I had to sum it all up, it would be something like this. SotNW is NOT a traditional MMO. It does a LOT of things very different, and you will either love it or hate it. Looking around the net, it seems very few reviews are middle of the road as well. It does contain a level of strategy and skill, but that depth is hidden behind a very thick curtain of mindless killing with flashy effects going off left and right. It does bring a lot of new features to the table, many of which I have not touched on today (I think this post is long enough as it is), and like I said above, it’s very confident in itself, not cutting corners to appeal to more people. I’m looking forward to putting in more time with SotNW to see if it indeed does get deeper and more complex. It has crafting, enchanting, and PvP, features I have yet to even touch.

In other ‘games I play’ news, no EQ2 this weekend and EVE is moving along nicely, saving up ISK to get a battleship. I’ll give level 3 missions another shot shortly in my Ferox, as my skills are finally catching up with the ship and it seems to be putting out the dps it SHOULD have when I bought it.

Friday randomness.

September 21, 2007

Bit absent minded today, I blame it on today being Friday. EQ2 is going well, level 13 now. Heroic Opportunities still confuse me, I mean I get that you use the skill that is blinking to get a greater effect, but the NPC who tried to explain it referred to some kind of chaining effect. Perhaps with more time, I’ll figure it out.

As for EVE, still running missions and doing some occasional mining. I finally have enough LP to buy a +4 attribute implant, now I just need a little more cash, as it also costs 12 million ISK to purchase. I’m leaning towards Perception, but might go Intelligence. Currently my pilot sits at 22 Perception and 16 Intelligence, and that’s with all +1 implants. Considering he is going to focus almost exclusively on combat skills, Perception seems like the safe bet.

I’ve sadly had to go back to level 2 missions for now, as even in a Ferox I was having too much trouble with level 3s. The ship itself is fine, but I simply don’t have the skills to support it correctly. Soon enough however I should have enough of the combat related skills to level 3 to give it another go. I think I also drew some bad luck in getting “Massive Attack” as one of my first level 3 missions, as that mission can be a monster. “The Blockade” did not really help either. Good thing both times a Corp member with a BS was around to give me a hand and help me finish each mission, so thanks to Tao and Mord for that!

Lifestyles of the rich and MMO famous.

September 20, 2007

Quick question about EQ2 that hopefully someone can comment on and answer. Are most quests voiced, or only some/few? I noticed the first two camps all the quests had voice actors reading the quest, but the last camp that we reached last night did not. The NPC would say a simple “hello” and the quest was all text. What percentage of quests are voiced?

Moving on, a (hopefully) interesting thought crept into my mind as I was listening to the latest Virgin Worlds podcast. The topic of designing more content for casuals came up, and how WoW did a good job of this, and that perhaps future games should push this even further. That the ‘hardcore’ players will plow through whatever amount of content you give them quickly, and then complain for more. So if you ignore that small population, and design for the casual player who goes at a much slower pace, you will appeal to a much larger base, leading to greater sales.

Seems simple enough, right? While the base of the idea is decent enough, I think it ignores one important aspect of human behavior, the pursuit of greatness. Given the choice, most people would want to be the best at something, or at least great at it. Be it sports, acting, math, etc, we try to be the best at something. Problem is reality usually sets in and most of us realize we will never be the MVP of a sports league, star in a major movie, or publish a top selling book. What we do instead is follow the lives of those that do; we feast upon celebrity news, and get all excited when we meet one of them in person. If we can’t have it ourselves, we at least want to see what its like through the eyes of someone else.

MMOs mimic society in a lot of ways, and I believe the above also applies. I believe most players would love to be in a top tier raiding guild taking down world firsts if they could. Reality again sets in for most and we realize we don’t have that kind of skill/time to commit to a game, and instead play at our own pace, whatever that may be. Yet we still inspect that decked out raiding when we see them in town, we read about a guilds journey to defeat the final boss of some instance, and we sometimes go to a database website and search out the best gear for our class, just to see how it looks or its stats.

While many of us will never raid, it is still something that we MIGHT attempt at some point. Just like you are not likely to star in a movie, you might be an extra in the background, and we all know you will point that out to all your family and friends when it comes out. It’s just something we do, and that’s ok.

MMOs need that type of endgame, in some quantity, to provide that ‘dream of what could be’ quality. It should not dominate the developer’s time, and it should not force the majority down that path, but non-the-less it should be in the game. Just like in real life, a MMOs world needs its superstars.

Note: I’m not saying raider or hardcore players are ‘better’ than the casual player when I say superstar. Just like I would not consider some Hollywood stars better than the common man (looking at you Paris, Lohan, Britney, etc).

Look at me when I talk to you, damnit.

September 19, 2007

Last night the gf and I hit level 11 in EQ2, and so far so good. I’m cautious not to get ahead of myself, since we all know the first few levels of most MMO’s are generally the best part, but so far EQ2 is doing a few things I really like.

For one, as soon as you level, you get new skills. Having played WoW for as long as I did, where you have to go buy skills once you level, I forgot how nice it is to be out in the middle of a quest, level up, and have new skills instantly at your disposal. It gives far greater meaning to one of the major aspects of an MMO, leveling up. Bonus points for putting the new skills into your hotbar, so you don’t forget about them and can instantly check them out and drag them where you would like to position them.

Next up is the voice acting. I must say, as a causal player who takes his time and is not rushing to max out, being able to sit and enjoy listening to a quest adds a huge level of immersion. I now understand the back story of every quest we accomplish, which makes all the ‘kill x, collect y’ quests a little more enjoyable. The base of the quests is the same old thing, but the wrapping around them is just a lot nicer. Plus I no longer have to skip over all the strange names in the game, as now you get to hear someone else say it first.

The animation of the characters; hand movements, head tracking, mouths moving when they talk, all further that level of immersion. It’s a small thing, but it’s noticeable to see a quest giver turn their head towards you when you talk to them, or how your character will look up/down depending on the size of the monster you are fighting. A good example of this happened last night; while fighting a skeleton my Dark Elf character was looking straight ahead at him, but my gf’s Ratonga character had its head tilted up, being shorter. Again, very small touch, but noticeable.

We plan to continue our adventure tonight, hopefully gaining a few more levels. So far everything has been fairly easy, but that’s expected at our low level. I’m hoping around level 15 or so the difficulty picks up. I’ve already noticed we received a few quests higher level than we are, so perhaps we can tackle one of those for a challenge.

Class discrimination.

September 18, 2007

Over at Keen and Graev yesterday a great post was made on why the majority of MMO players seem to gravitate towards DPS classes. Here are some clips, along with my thoughts.

Big Number Syndrome, or BNS, is the addiction some players have that leads them to think that unless they are dealing huge numbers their character is worthless.”

I agree with this, but I think it applies to most roles, not just DPS. Healers are known to brag about that major crit heal almost as much as the dps classes boast about crit hits. The base of BNS though is that the bigger ‘result’ you get, regardless of what it is, the higher your character has grown, and everyone likes seeing character growth.

“The lack of responsibility also draws many players to play dps roles. Your job is simple: dps the mob. You aren’t worrying about keeping aggro, healing, or crowd control.”

I somewhat disagree with the above. In many games DPS classes also have support functions, be it crowd control, trap disarming, support healing, etc. Rogues in WoW sap and stun, burglars in LoTRO start combo attacks, rogues in DDO must disarm traps and find secrets. If a MMO allows a dps class to simply sit back and do nothing but dump out max dps it not only makes for a somewhat boring class to play, it makes for a shallow character. One major function of high level dps classes is also watching your agro. If you are someone who constantly pulls mobs off the tank, you won’t be getting many group invites in the future.

“Dps classes level faster in almost every single game!”

The above is true, and is a major problem. As Keen and Graev point out, the general way of leveling up is by killing things, and since high dps = dead stuff quick, it’s not hard to see why a top dps class would out-level others. This has more to do with HOW you level in most MMOs than the dps classes being ‘broken’. A great example would be EVE Online, where everyone can train skills at basically the same rate, regardless of what you decide to focus on. A miner/trader will gain skill points just as quickly as someone who plays a pure combat pilot. EVE aside, most games however are still in “kill x mobs” to advance mode, and the above dps problem will still be an issue.

One age old problem that often arises in a MMO world is the abundance of dps classes, with a major lack of tanks and healers. When you go to form a group to handle a tougher encounter, what classes are you always waiting for? Yes indeed, either a healer or a tank. Almost never is a group lacking in dps classes, and if a dps member ever leaves midway through, they are easily replaced. This creates the problem that everyone wants tanks/healers around, but no one wants to play them, as they are perceived to be less fun solo. I think it falls to the developers to fix this problem, not the player base. The players will do whatever they deem to be fun, since that’s the reason we pick up and play these games in the first place. The developers have only themselves to blame when their community finds healers/tanks uninteresting to play.

WoW did a decent job with this by giving priests and druids some offensive abilities in the form of shadow and feral builds. The tanks of WoW have the option of going arms or fury spec to increase dps, at the cost of tanking ability. While a good start, this only delays the inevitable. As soon as a priest joins a raiding guild, they spec for healing, and if a warrior is brought in to tank they won’t be doing it with arms or fury.

Instead of delaying the less desired but necessary aspects of these roles, developers must find a way to make playing a healer just as appealing as a dps class. Gameplay must go beyond watching x number of life bars and topping them off as they hit 50%, completely oblivious to anything else going on. No class should ever be regarded as a buff bot, useless beyond a pre-fight spell or two.

LoTRO made a decent attempt to break the old mold by giving more classes the ability to heal, which in theory should have decreased the demand to always include a pure healer. This fell short however, as the class based healing was too weak, and for all tough encounters a group did indeed have to drag along a healer. Had they increased the power of each classes healing, and given the pure healer more function beyond just healing, a good balance could be reached and the old paradigm of tank/healer/dps might have been broken.

It sounds like Warhammer online is also attempting this approach, and it will be interesting to see if they succeed. Healing is invaluable in PvP, yet the life of a healer on a battlefield is often even more frustrating than when he is roaming around solo completing quests. It’s one thing to have to run away from an npc monster, it’s another to stand around helplessly as another player beats you down. If done right, the battlefields of WAR will feature a nice mix of classes all playing their part. If not, we might see the same 3-4 pure dps classes dominating repeatedly.

EVE GMs, EQ2 graphics.

September 17, 2007

Just some quick notes today, as the weekend was mostly sports filled. (Patriots wiping the floor with the Chargers and the Redsox… well the Redsox are 4.5 games up)

A big ‘thank you’ to a GM of EVE who reset a mission for me within 15 minutes of submitting the petition; that must have been the fastest response and quickest resolution I’ve received in a MMO. No questions asked, no ‘fluff’ text slowing the resolution down, just a quick note that the mission has been reset. Also of note was the EVE help channel, in which I got a few quick responses and ultimately got pointed towards submitting a petition. It’s a nice breath of fresh air in an MMO to actually receive help when you ask. Playing WoW for as long as I did, I forgot that’s a possibility.

I also went out and bought two copies of EQ2 Complete, marking the official start for me and my gf in that game. One Dark Elf Inquisitor and a Ratonga Brigand ready to go. Somewhat interesting is that EQ2 runs at around 25fps on my high end comp at the ‘max’ setting no matter the resolution picked. I started it at 1280 x 1024 just to get a baseline for the FPS, and finally increased it to 1900 x 1200. Oddly enough, the FPS difference was less than 4 fps according to FRAPS. It seems that the EQ2 engine has a few features not yet fully optimized, such as a fauna option that if checked chokes the FPS down to 10fps, regardless of anything else. (I forget the name of it now, but the one that makes fauna move when you pass it) Even the highest setting leaves this features disabled however, and leaves a few of the graphic sliders near mid, not max. Just to play around, I maxed and checked everything possible, and the game was close to a slideshow whenever more than 5-6 characters were on screen. Very odd for a game that is now 3 years old, especially if you compare it to WoW or EVE, which run at 60 FPS with everything maxed for me. The graphic style however is starting to grow on me, and I must say the combat animations are top notch, along with the few spell effects I’ve seen. I’m curious to see how the game expands into the higher levels, when more skills and options are made available.


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