Monday evening I indulged in a session of EQ2 to have a break from playing so much World of Warcraft. To maximise the contrast, a different game and different activities, I also ignored questing and instead focused on gathering and crafting.
Crafting in EQ2 actually does involve levelling I should mention, for those unfamiliar with the game, but it’s still pretty different from questing or group content like dungeon runs. In EQ2 crafting is the standard activity of making items that you learn to craft or, if you want the efficient but grindier version, taking the repeatable crafting ‘work order’ tasks from the NPC stationed in all city crafting halls.
Levelling crafting requires a ton of materials in any MMO, and EQ2 is no exception. Although I could probably afford to buy a good amount of these on the broker (EQ2’s auction house system), I prefer to fly around gathering as a relaxing activity in between crafting binges. I’m a bit too disorganised to correctly calculate all the mats of a given tier I’m likely to need for the work orders I’m working on so I do end up doing the odd repeat trip for forgotten items – still I find flying around lower-level zones is a pleasurable enough experience. I’m not so familiar with most zones in the game that I know all the nooks and crannies or find I’m sick of the sight of them.
As well as the repeatable work orders, there are also complete crafting quest arcs to help with levelling. That’s a facet of the game I’ve not explored beyond the first couple of zones and it’s something I want to delve into more in future. But sometimes, like Monday last, I want a less linear or directed experience and gathering plus work orders fits the bill nicely.
This combo of activities used to offer a similar break from questing in WoW, a game where crafting is just a skill to develop and not an class you level. But the Warlords of Draenor expansion drastically reduced the need or purpose of gathering out in the world. Now in Legion gathering is back in vogue but mandatory quests regularly block the learning of new recipes or other progression for crafting skills. The quests seem enjoyable enough, and are in some cases are really nicely written, but they can be frustrating to deal with if you “just want to get on and craft something” for a change of pace. On the one hand the addition of the quests does feel like Blizzard are trying to undo some of the damage done to crafting gameplay in Draenor. But I’m left wondering, in an expansion with so much PVE content to do, whether mandatory quests for crafters is a good thing for WoW to introduce?