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I started playing EQ right after Kunark went live. Played through velious and luclin. Then I kept taking breaks from the game, coming back once a year or so. So, at least in my limited opinion here are some things that made the original too frustrating:
1.)Mandatory researchable spells. Getting your skill level up was a pain in the, you know what. And then trying to get the drops to be able to research that specific spells could be nearly impossible. By the time you got the spells for that set of levels, you were up to the next tier, unless you were in a guild that had a high level toon doing research for the guild.
2.)Not a complete negative, and fun in its own right, but the lack of in game map. It was fun when you first got into Lesser Faydark, when you were trying to get to butcherblock. But when your character ran into the Nightblight Sisters, with all your hard won gear, your night was over. Though on the flip side, when you were level 5, just doing foot races with other newbies in "high" level areas, was a blast.
3.)Plane of Knowledge. Great place to get together, but the instant it opened, with the ability to go wherever you wanted, took a lot of the immersion of the world away. A warrior could be on Odus one minute, and the moons the next. Luclin at least made you have to wait long periods of times, or felt like it, to get the port.
4.)Excessive death penalty. I have no real problems with an ACTUAL penalty to dieing, but when you were in the hell levels, and things weren't clicking for you, even for a minute or two, hours of work was lost at least once, that's not even counting going for a nekkid corpse run with mobs that were already difficult for you. It was easy to lose a level in no time.
5.)Unfortunately corpse runs. I appreciate the penalty of dieing, same as the above one, but to lose all items on your body, and have a significant chance of losing them permanently was frustrating beyond belief. Though admittedly Necros could summon your corpse, so it made the lose, not so bad. If you could find a willing necro, and the money to pay them. It was a good way for them to make money.
Everything below is going to be more recent changes that hurt the game
6.)Defiant armor. The sense of pride of getting a decent piece of armor when you were level 20 was lost. Now your armor at level 20 is better than some beginning end-gamers used to have. I know it was put in there to make the game more accessible to people just getting started out. But the thrill of new equipment was completely lost.
7.)Too fast of leveling. I came back last year again, when EQ became F2P. Couldn't really remember the game, so I rolled a new toon. In less than 3 days I was up to level 60 or so. My skills were abysmal, and I didn't really know the mechanics of the class. I loved, how originally, classes started out slow, adding skills/abilities a bit at a time, letting you slowly master the class. Finally when I got up to 85-90's, when I could finally find a group, consistently, I was a weak group member, and some of the people I grouped with, including tanks and healers, had no idea how to play their intended roll. As a ranger, I was able to out tank a warrior, which should have never happened. Sorry, ranting here
8.)Small feeling zones. When there were only 3 or 4 spots that groups could camp, which is only 18 to 24 people, not counting mercs, finding rewarding exp groups was miserable. Early zones, at least to me, had tons more camps, some more contested than others, but, GENERALLY, zones could handle more groups than the current set of zones.
9.)Mercs, I loved the addition of mercs for a soloer, which I enjoy doing when I only have an hour or so, but allowing multiple of them to be group members, to the exclusion or human players, really hurts the player base as a whole. There are times, like 3am on a Tuesday night, when you can't find a player to fill a role, but when there are only 3 people in the group, all with mercs out, the game loses its appeal.
10.)Forgettable expansions. Admittedly, I have missed some expansions due to losing interest in the game. Some of the expansions that have come out, are nearly empty, excluding a few classes that find 1 or 2 zones "profitable". Take DoDH, PoR, and DoN. Other than HS, I have never been to any of those zones. While other expansions, I still enjoy, Velious, PoP (to a limited extent), SoF. Rushing out expansions too quickly hurts the game. Content becomes trivial quickly. Miss half of a year, and you miss whole areas of the game. If EQ is around in a few more years, VoA, could become one of those expansions, I played through it, but I never really felt that expansion. I can't comment on the most recent expansion as I've lost interest in the game again.
So what things do you think has hurt the game, either in the beginning, or things that have changed and hurt the feel/game play of the game?