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Copy of my post on the newbie EQ forum.
About six weeks ago I returned to EQ after a hiatus of many years. I see many people posting the exact same questions that I had before I took the plunge, and thought I would share my thoughts after playing for awhile.
I played from 1999-2001 on Brell Serilis server, leaving just before Dark Age of Camelot released. I returned for the launch of the Fippy Darkpaw progression server and played to the level cap of 50, then left at the time of the great SOE hack. I am an old timer by gaming standards and cut my teeth on UO back when it first came out.
Like many of you, I have played most of the major mmos that have released since EQ, but these days found myself missing what made the granddaddy of mmos so great. I got fed up with the antisocial solofests that most modern mmos seem to be.
Enough background, on to what I have experienced.
As to which server to choose:
When I first came back I decided to dust off some of my characters on the progression server and see if I could catch up. Then I decided to roll a fresh toon on that server. Personally, I did not care for the community on Fippy Darkpaw. I was able to get groups regularly, but they almost always had a high level bard, shaman, or druid box, buffing and helping the group.
I didn't care for most of the people I met on that server and I didn't like the focus on power gaming that I saw. Not to say I didn't meet some nice people, I just didn't like the community overall. I'm sure you all know what I am talking about. Servers have a vibe, either you like it or you don't, and I didn't in the case of Fippy.
I think it would be good for someone who wants to get to max level and start raiding the highest end content on the server as quickly as possible.
I was worried about rolling on a normal "blue" server, but took a chance and rolled up a character on Vox, which is the most recent server to launch.
I think I have found a home there. At around level 40 I joined a nice guild and am now level 79. I have been able to group reliably, both with guildies and in pugs. I have met many returners and old timers and highly recommend Vox to any returning players. With the exception of a few trolls in general chat, I really like the atmosphere and have had generally positive interactions with people I have met in game. Another bonus is that the economy isn't as inflated as some of the older servers.
This is my opinion only and serves as my answer to the question which server you should choose.
How the game is different:
Ok, there is a lot.
1. Experience gain -
You level extremely quickly in the beginning. You can go from level 1-45 in no time at all. I mean you just rocket through those levels. I also found the game to be pretty easy at the beginning.
You cannot judge the game in its current state by the entry levels however. XP starts slowing down around 45 and the game starts to become more difficult. At 75, the xp slows down substantially and starts to feel more like the EQ of old. It takes longer to level and the game becomes less forgiving with more severe death penalties and tougher mobs. I cannot speak to what its like from 80 to 100, the current level cap, but I do see that it seems to take people even longer to progress at the high end.
2. Mercenaries -
There are now mercenaries in the game and you can Molo. Moloing is soloing with a merc. At level one you can hire a mercenary to accompany you in journey. You can choose a tank, healer, or damage dealer. Up to 79 I have found them to be very effective.
I was not wild about this idea at first as I thought, gee if I want to solo all the time there are about a hundred newer games I can play. Mercs do make it easier to solo if you need to and you can now have a full group with three players and three mercs. All and all, I like the idea. I have been told at higher levels mercs become less effective.
3. Gear -
There is now something called Defiant gear. There are grades ranging from Crude, available at level one, up to Elegant, available at level 70. These armor and weapons drop from mobs or can be purchased from other players in the game bazaar and increase in strength as you level.
The stats on them renders basically almost all loot that you used to camp obsolete. For armor, it has been my experience that you are always better to equip level appropriate defiant gear. For weapons, I usually used defiant, except there are some items that drop that you are better off using because of higher dps. The stats are insane compared to launch and it is intended I believe, to help low level players catch up more quickly.
It is my understanding that post 80, it all changes and you will then start seeking out drops and upgrades just like in the old days.
4. Other -
There are no naked corpse runs. When you die you leave a corpse and you can recover it with a res to gain back experience, but your gear remains on your person. Also, there are summoners in the plane of knowledge if you want to get a corpse to res that was in a nasty spot. At low level it isn't worth rezzing. At higher levels it most certainly is.
There is an in game bazaar where players can sell their wares, so no bartering in ECL any more.
There are armor dyes. I was really happy about this as I always hated wearing multi-colored armor. You can now buy dyes off of other players through the bazaar and color all of your armor however you wish. Yay!
Plane of Knowledge, mounts, and maps. If like me, when you left, unless you were a druid or a wizard you spent a lot of time running around. Also, if you were like me, you spent a lot of time lost.
There is now something called plane of knowledge, which is accessible through a portal found outside all cities and a lot of zones. From this plane you can teleport to all cities and a fair number of zones throughout the world.
There are mounts available in the SC store. These increase your speed a ton and make getting around a lot more quickly.
Remember the days when you had no map, no compass and had to push the True North button til your finger was sore? That is a thing of the past my friend. There are now in game maps for many zones, you have a handy compass and even an in game "find" feature. I can't tell you how many hours I wasted in the old days being lost, or just looking for that darn cobbler in Freeport.
Graphical upgrades...there are new character and npc models you can turn on. Some people swear by the classic ones, but I think the new ones are really nice.
Also, some old zones have been redone, and the new ones actually look really good. I have commented to my groups many times how impressed I am with some of the newer zones..especially for a 13 year old game. If you want your classic feel though, switch on classic models and hit up Unrest, or any of the many many old time zones. Its like you never left.
How the game is the same:
As stated, you rocket through levels 1-45. Since that level, I have spent 95 percent of my time grouped. Grouping is far more efficient than soloing. In my opinion it is more fun, and one of the main reasons I came back. I'm not playing a single player game and I want to group with people. Like I said, I have had very little trouble finding groups and it feels good again to have a puller, a healer, a tank, people assisting, and using CC.
Post 50 the game gets pretty hard, post 75 it is downright difficult by today's standards.
It still captures the old school pen and paper feel better than any game produced, ever.
Community and reputation matters. There is no dungeon finder and you want to be able to find groups. This like in the old days, is the best incentive for people to behave and act considerately toward their fellow players. You will be seeing people again and they will remember how you treated them last time.
Well here are my thoughts, and answers to many of the questions that I had when I first got the bug to come back.
I am not all knowing and these are largely my opinions I have stated. I am still learning everyday and haven't even experienced content post 80. Please feel free to correct, contradict, or supplement anything I have offered.
As you can probably tell, I am really happy that I came back. This is still one of the best MMOs around. It has something that is missing in modern MMOs. I'm having as much fun playing a game as I have in years.
If you have the itch, I say go ahead and scratch it.