El Mariachi, Lobsters and Gamer's Heaven
As most of you have heard by now I'm sure SOE recently held a Fansite VIP Event where representatives from various sites around the web were invited out to beautiful San Diego to hang out with members of the development team and get a hands-on look at the elusive EQ2 itself. Fortunately I was lucky enough to be picked to represent our site at the event, thank God for the existence of 10 Year High School Reunions and Craig not being able to make it! ;) In any case, I went, and I had a blast. What you're about to read is one VERY long, but also quite informative transcript of the panel discussions and interviews I attended while there, but we'll get to that after the intro and my impressions of the game itself from what time I spent playing it.
I arrived in San Diego on Thursday night, about 7pm and after checking into the hotel and dropping off my bags in the room I headed over to the hotel bar where we were all meeting up for a meet & greet type of thing. I hung out there for a while just getting to know everyone, both the other Fansite reps and the SOE reps. Eventually we headed to our rooms for the night to prepare for a long day of playing EQ2 and interviews and such on Friday. Friday morning rolled around and we all hoped on a bus and headed over to the SOE offices. We all spent the morning and up until lunch playing EQ2 in SOE's rather luxurious "Game Room", aka Gamer's Heaven, which consisted of a bunch of top of the line Alienware computers and various other computers of varying powers.
After a delicious lunch of BBQ we reconvened inside for either more playing time on EQ2 or breakout interviews depending on what each person wanted to do. I chose to sit through all of the interviews and discussions rather than spend more time playing the game so I could bring back as much information as I possibly could about the game for all of you. So we spent the rest of the day, until about 5:30pm or so doing panel discussions and interviews, which you can read the full transcript to below. Saturday we were treated to a trip into Mexico. We stopped at several different places, including an absolutely breathtaking hotel/restaurant which is built into the side of a cliff overlooking the ocean. We ended up in Puerto Nuevo where we had some of the most delicious lobster I have ever had in my life. I definitely put a hurting on those things. And Sunday we all flew off to our respective homes. And now here I am telling you all about it.
Hands-on Gameplay Impressions
I didn't spend as much time playing the game as a lot of the other people did, but I spent a good hour or two playing. I have to say that I was thoroughly impressed with the game. One of the concerns I had from watching the videos was how slow the combat appeared. After playing the game all these fears were laid to rest. The combat flowed just as fast and smooth as any other game I've played. Of course it didn't hurt that I was playing on one of the 3.2 GHz Alienware's with 2 GB of ram and an nVidia 6800. But I made sure to question one of the devs on this matter:
So as you can see a lot of the emphasis that has been put on "OMG I need a new system so that I'll even be able to play the game" has been needless. Granted the better your system is, the better the game will look and run, but you should be more than fine on today's midrange systems. Several of the computers in the "Game Room" were only 2.2 GHz systems with 1 GB of ram and a Geforce Ti 4600 and the game looked great and seemed to play great as well. Now, enough with my rambling intro, you have a LOT of reading ahead of you, there are roughly 5 hours of interviews and discussions transcribed into text for your reading enjoyment. So kick back and enjoy:
General Overview, Combat, Mechanics, etc:
Everquest 2 is following in the footsteps of Everquest; we're trying to make it a great massively multi-player online world. We're trying to do things different, we're trying to take innovative steps where we can and where we see fit, but we're also trying to preserve the integrity of what made the first Everquest so successful. So it's kinda like choosing different areas to progress in… One of the ways we're doing that is with combat, right now we have what we call Combat Arts, which kinda brings a lot more decisions into basic melee combat. For example you have your fighter who can choose to perform some special attack. The fighters can do various things, which are not strictly limited to melee damage, they can do effects like mages or enchanters would do. Not the exact same types of effects, but they do have options to do other things in combat besides hack and slash or be the meatshield.
The four archetypes that we have are the Fighter, Mage, Priest and Scout. The Fighters are obviously the tanks, the ones whose main purpose is to deal damage and take damage. The Scouts are more of sort of a group resource guy. They'll be there to affect various things, and also they can deal a good bit of damage, but aren't as durable as the fighters. Where they really shine is when they have a tank there to take the brunt of the attacks and they are free to do things like backstab and more be the tactician of the battle instead of being on the front lines. Priests' main goal is to be group support as far as casting buffs and things like that along with keeping the party alive. And then we have the Mages, who just deal a lot of damage and do various other magical effects.
The Archetype system will really be the core of how you want to pick your group also. While we have this many classes we want to give them an individual feeling, especially as you start getting to Class and Subclass levels. But we want it to be balanced so you don't HAVE to have this particular one out of twenty-four guys. A Priest archetype of whatever sort will be able to serve in the priest role regardless of their class or subclass. If he's a Druid, or even later an Inquisitor, he may be specifically wonderful for this exact situation, but ANY Priest should be able to fill in. This should make it a lot easier to fill out your groups in the first place, without having some of the interdependence problems that EQ Live had, where there wasn't a role in the group for everyone, just a specific group of classes.