Playing through the tradeskill quest timeline in Everquest 2’s Luclin expansion, I’ve been struck by all the little details that add such richness to the experience. These crafting quests offer the perfect antidote to the MMORPGs obsession with “kill X things” questing: which really dominates the majority of content in the genre. There’s a good mix of gathering, crafting, investigating and puzzles. All of it possible without fighting a single creature – if you are careful.
Due, perhaps, to the de-emphasizing of combat, there’s more dialogue and detail to these quests. The magic book that you use throughout the quest chain has wonderful snippets of story and lore in it. There’s a sense of exploration as you look for crafting materials, NPCs to talk to and locations to visit. It feels more relaxed than ‘normal’ questing as you’re not jumping into ‘combat mentality’ and not feeling that constant, low-level, awareness of danger that is required with adventuring (EQ2’s term for combat-oriented questing).
This enables greater attention to the details of your characters surroundings and is great for more puzzle-oriented content; it’s hard in other games to concentrate on puzzles if you have monsters patrolling nearby, or if the devs deliberately trigger encounters while working on stages of a puzzle.
I discovered while reading on the wiki that my character could respec a crafting AA point (i.e. talent in standard MMO talk) to be able to summon crafting stations on a cooldown. I knew nothing about this revolutionary ability. It saves a ton of back and forth if you can just craft whatever you need to, either where you are gathering, or next to the NPC who gave you the task. There really is so much depth to Everquest 2: I am always finding out new things when I play.
The delivery of the questing really adds to my enjoyment of it. There’s a sense of mystery and fun in the quest text – delivered in an interactive manner through the virtual pages of said book. After years of study, I tend to skim read everything by default unless I really concentrate. So I’m actually looking forward to re-playing this timeline on another crafting alt just to see what details I might have missed out on the first time around. I guess the main or only downside to this delivery, like in Lord of the Rings Online’s quest text, is the amount of text to read. It’s not a downside at all to me as I love all the loving detail and have no problem reading in a game – others, I’m sure, would disagree with this.
The outcome of this last play session is that my main can now fly in the Luclin zones. This will make gathering infinitely faster and more convenient, which means he can supply any alts that do the questing in future. My next priority, however, has to be to get on with the adventuring timeline so I have that completed on at least one character.