One thing that NCSoft has inarguably done right over the last couple of Chronicles is add subclassing, where level 75 characters (the max is 78) can do a quest to earn a second character class that they can start at level 40 and experience the upper-end content from a different perspective. After this update, NCSoft added Hero status, where players who have two level 75 classes - their main class and one sub - can participate in a tournament. One representative of each class is chosen to be that class's hero, and their characters earn special equipment, skills, and access to special NPCs and abilities. This addition allowed NCSoft to reuse a good amount of content to create a new and engaging PvP system.
The PvP, too, bears mentioning. Lineage 2 is an open PvP game, where players can be attacked at any point (though there is a penalty for killing players who don't fight back). A large focus of the game is also on largescale PvP battles over the Lineage 2 castles. While there are still some balance issues, the quality of PvP in Lineage 2 is amazingly high. Almost all characters can play an important PvP role, and with the upcoming Chronicle 5, most players will be given a more prominent 1v1 advantage.
Lineage 2's community is its largest weakness, and this resonates through all aspects of gameplay. The game, produced in Korea, expects a collectivist audience with the ability and drive to work together. In the Western world, where we hold individualism above community, players have a hard time meeting many of the game's goals which require teamwork, especially when competing against an abundance of bots and Chinese farmers.
Lineage 2 promotes competition between players and clans, and this intentional strife makes for a cutthroat and dishonorable community. Upper-end items are ridiculously rare, and too many players will scam, hack, PK, and grief to obtain them, or buy adena using real-world currency which only serves to further skew the market.
Where there are buyers, there are also sellers; many farmers, some live and some botted, infect the landscape of Lineage 2, pushing players out of good locations in dungeons and some aboveground hunting locations. Even more traumatic to the game, players barely have a chance to access one of the most important parts of upper-end content, raid bosses, as farmers have them targeted and killed within minutes of their spawn. Poor planning on NCSoft's part, this means that many players cannot progress in key quests that require them to kill or at least attack a raid boss.
Farmers aren't the only ones using bot programs; also due to the difficulty of the game and "the grind," many players set up illegal 3rd party programs such as bots. Many players own two accounts, one account with a damage dealer or tank type character which they play live and one account with a healing and support class which they bot. This method of progressing is the most efficient, as players don't have to share experience or item drops with each other, but it also detracts from the game community and alienates live support classes.
Lineage 2 has certainly had its fair share of lag issues and server crashes in the past, but recent updates seemed to have cleared up a great deal of the problems. Most areas in the game are fairly lag free, and places where you do lag, you understand why (a siege with hundreds of people fighting, a town with hundreds of people selling their wares, etc.). There are a few dungeons that can cause a little chug, such as the Tower of Insolence, but all in all, lag isn't a big issue for this game.
There has been a considerable improvement in Lineage 2's customer service since the release of the game. I remember waiting hours in Chronicle 1 for petitions to be answered, and once I finally received help on an issue, it often no longer existed. Presently, though, all of my issues have been resolved with surprising speed. Petitions reporting botters are often answered in under twenty minutes, and larger issues, such as bugs, are answered with in about half an hour.
The downside to Customer Service is that, while our voices are being answered, they still aren't being heard. Reporting a bot has very little effect; rarely do they actually disappear, not matter how many times you report them.
One of the largest problems that long Customer Service queues caused was fixed in a different way. A new command, "/unstuck," was added a few chronicles back, and while it takes 10 minutes to work, the command will teleport you back to town (the delay is to discourage players from using this as a free teleport).
Lineage 2 is one of the most challenging MMOs out there, and for hardcore players - especially PvPers - it can be extremely rewarding. This difficulty is the game's greatest strength and greatest weakness, as it either brings out the best or the worst in players. A community can make or break a game, and the majority of Lineage 2's community is very crippling.
If you can wade through the community and are up for a challenge, Lineage 2 might be a wonderful game to try. The mechanics of the game are, for the most part, wonderfully done, and the world is beautiful and fun to explore.
|Breathtaking graphics and animations||Poor Community|
|The Grind (hey, some people love it!)||The Grind|
|Awesome PvP||The Economy|
|Constant large updates||Very little roleplaying|