I strive to be positive here, but for a while (more than a month) I’ve been talking a great deal about how the current crop of MMOs – even the best and most open ones – do not fulfill the true potential of the MMO. Although it’s my opinion that World of Warcraft created something of a derailment for games moving in this direction, it’s not true that progress has been entirely lacking. EVE Online has consistently (if incrementally – see the last post for more discussion on that,) moved in what we like to call the “sandbox” direction, and there are a number of smaller efforts, like Fallen Earth for example, that have managed to establish some sandbox credibility, and there are others on the horizon that look to have potential.
Even so, though, it’s important to emphasize that there is nothing inherently wrong or crappy about a well-done themepark. It’s a different kind of game, and less immersive to my mind, but that doesn’t stop it from being fun. For a lot of us, WoW was fun for a while, but I don’t think I’m reaching to say that for many it has gotten extremely stale. It’d be possible for Blizzard to shake things up, but given their lack of agility in the past when making major game changes and the current prognosis for Mists of Pandaria, I believe it’s safe to say we’ll be waiting a while for any significant shift in the game’s direction.
And meanwhile, the less wildly popular themeparks keep trucking on. Most – and all the bigger ones in the west – have now taken the free-to-play route. I continue to support this an an alternative that keeps those games viable, not least because it makes them viable for me. EverQuest II, which went with a weird split model just over a year ago, has apparently had enough success in so doing that it’s essentially pushing the EQ2X model to the rest of the game. And, incidentally, merging the old low-population Live Marketplace servers into Freeport, the lone EQ2X server, now the game’s most populous.
EQ2 (X or not) is a strong and seemingly fairly successful game. It has virtually all of the features WoW boasts (save decent PvP, but there are outlets for that,) and a bunch that it lacks. For one such, housing, EQ2 is the current leader, and it’s not even really close. The change to full f2p might bring in even more new folks than the not-quite-baked EQ2X experiment did. Although I think the model still leaves a bit to be desired, at least the disincentive to subscribing on the free service is going away.
Through no particular act of planning, EQ2 on the Live service turned out to be my primary MMO gaming outlet over the summer. I played a great deal of it and was having fun but once school started again my ability to get much gaming in was greatly curtailed. Now, with a break of a couple of weeks on the horizon and the consolidation of the game back to a single payment model coming in the next few days, I will most likely return to it. That I will also regain access to my characters on Antonia Bayle will be very nice as well.
As to exactly how or what I will play… I’ll wait and see how things shake out from the merge; I’m not clear, even given Smokejumper’s explanation of how it will work, how many character slots I will have when all is said and done. It does happen that all of my highest level characters are in freely available classes, and mostly races as well, so while I expect to have to pay to unlock something (thankfully, I have Station Cash left over from a previous sale,) I’m not altogether sure what, yet.