Yesterday we had the chance to sit down with EverQuest 2 Senior Producer Holly Longdale and EverQuest’s Director of Development Dave Georgeson to talk about the Hero’s Call program coming to EverQuest 2. The game has been around for about ten years now and the development team is offering new players the chance to create one free permanent Heroic Character during the event. After the two weeks players will be able to purchase the characters to keep using them. Current or returning players will have the opportunity to upgrade an existing character to level 85. Not only that, but players will be able to “Try Before You Buy” so you can test out different classes and play styles before you make your decision. So with all of these opportunities coming to EQ2 we jumped at the chance to talk to Holly and Dave about this potentially controversial promotion. Here is what they had to say.
Our first question was what was the motivation for the Heroic Characters offer? Holly explained that it really came from the community. They had been planning for this shift over the last few months and the team is now ready to launch it into the game. So many of the players are at the top levels that they want some of their friends or former companions to rejoin them and this creates that opportunity. New or casual players can be overwhelmed by the size of the world and this system allows them to get right in and join their friends.
Holly said it was also a response to returning players who wanted to come back and just didn’t have the time to level up or go through all of the now layered-on content. Dave added that EQ2 is a huge game and this is one of the side effects which can cause a separation between players. It is just geography Dave explained, players now huddle near the end game and we want more people to join them. With the Heroic Character system, over the next two weeks players will be able to reunite and start adventuring again.
This immediately brought up the question of the impact on veteran players who have been with the game since day one. We asked if they feared some player fallout from the decision. Holly said they do not expect much, if any. They run regular veteran player rewards every November and also many of the veterans welcomed the chance to upgrade an alternate character to level 85. Also, many of the vets liked the idea of playing a different class with the “Try Before You Buy” concept. It really is a great way to test other characters. Even if they don’t buy a character at the end of the two weeks they can see what it is like to play all the other classes.
The biggest challenge that the team faced was building out the interface for this new event. The developers set up custom hotbars for each class so that players could adapt to them much faster. Instead of having to go through the heavy learning curve of how to play your character, the team wanted to make it easier for players to test the different builds. After a lot of testing the team really concentrated on paving the way for new and returning players to get into the game without any barriers. They have removed a lot of the content locks on systems to open a free environment on Norrath. They are even enhancing items with bonuses to gold and loot. The store will also be offering a 280 AA bauble so characters can gear up for the higher level of content.
The EQ2 team has really tackled the undertaking of making it as easy as possible for players to get into the game and play using the preset builds. Once they were comfortable, they could unlock and customize their bars as they got better. Holly also mentioned that the team has redone the tutorial on the game and continues to make it easier for players to join. Looking at what is coming next for EQ2, besides the expansion, Holly said the team is really focused on “facilitating the health and fun of the game.” They want to fix some of the mistakes in the past and work towards growth. Dave added that they want returning players to feel like they are welcomed back into the world without hitting a huge learning curve or hurdle. Also, the developers continue to work with the lore and story to make sure events that happen are impactful and memorable for players. Holly said that they have a very strong internal system which keeps the lore intact and gives them a great resource to work from.
So, if you have never tried EQ2 now might be the time. And if you’ve just been put off with a mountain of leveling to go through to rejoin the 2nd iteration of Norrath, it’s gotten even easier to jump back in. The Everquest name is synonymous with the MMO genre and it is great to see SOE making changes for the players to keep the game fresh. If you are waiting for EQ Next to come out, you have a good chance to play in Norrath before that by taking advantage of the Heroic Character offer. What do you think of this promotion? Let us know in the comments!
Read more MMORPG.com coverage: