I am rather fond of alternate history type fiction, I remember loving the Red Alert series of RTS games as they messed with history. Behind this genre is the ‘what if’ question, what if Hitler was assassinated before he rose to power? What if the Aztecs repelled the conquistadores and kept Europeans out of the Americas for longer? and so on.
Well I was reading an update on EQ2 from Bhagpuss and it got me thinking to my own gaming history and I asked ‘what if I’d played EQ2 instead of WoW for 4.5 years?’ In fact this isn’t even very far fetched. The friend who introduced me to WoW originally might well have played EQ2 as the natural game to play with me, were it not for the NGE ‘betrayal’ which led many to reject SoE games by instinct. If the NGE had not happened, EQ2 would have made prefect sense – same account, the good deal of the ‘All Access’ pass. I’m a fantasy game fan at heart and I tried SWG, pre-NGE, and just didn’t like it. EQ2 however would have grabbed my interest in a second.
So if we had played EQ2 from the early days would things have been any different?
I suspect I would have kept interested in the game even longer than I did with WoW. I played EQ2 recently and it’s a *much* better and broader game than WoW. It offers an amazing variety of content, highlights are:
- Crafting as separate classes, and a decent involved process
- Alternative Advancement to keep progressing after level cap
- Housing and guild housing (my WoW guild would have loved this as a group of friends)
- Lots of open world group content to do at all levels, elite mobs, public quests (more recently), open dungeons etc
There have been issues as well, like the controversial re-itemisation, the previous failed cash shop experiments, the free-to-play conversion (disclaimer: long-term fans of the game will have a much better list of issues than I can conjure from forum post reading). But we’ve weathered enough issues with WoW for me to consider this all as not so serious. The constant class-tweaking, the nerfing of anything remotely challenging, the simplification of anything that requires forethought or preparation (e.g. removing reagents for most class skills) – Blizzard could show SoE a few lessons in bad game evolution I’d say.
In the end though this alternate reality dream wouldn’t last, although I’d have played 4+ wonderful years of EQ2 with friends. This is nice to think about as the brief time I played in EQ2 was lonely if enjoyable – it’s a game best enjoyed with friends I believe. The reason why I do not regret WoW over EQ2, is the same reason why I didn’t sub up in April; the sell-off to Alaplaya. I’m pretty sure this would have been the issue that broke us of EQ2 addiction, which would be pretty painful if we’d invested that much more time in the game. So although the path would have been very different, the destination would be the same.