It’s not quite the legend that its predecessor was, and it’s not the heavily anticipated Next Big Thing, but for a “middle child,” EverQuest II is getting a lot of attention from it’s “parents” these days.
Last week, we heard about SOE’s offering players the opportunity to be autoleveled up to 85 in EQ2 – one character for free from Oct. 1 to Oct. 15, and costing Station Cash otherwise – and the removal of item restrictions for free accounts. I recently got the chance to chat with EQ2 Senior Director Holly Longsdale and EQ Franchise Director Dave Georgeson about these changes and how they reflect on the future of the EverQuest franchise.
MMOBomb: First, give us the basic concept and reasoning behind your upcoming promotion, Hero’s Call.
DG: One of the reasons why we’re doing all this work right now in EverQuest II is because that experience of coming back into the game was pretty boring after some of the changes we made in the last couple of years. People were coming back into the game and having to remember not only what their characters were like five years ago when they quit, but having to learn all this new AA stuff, having to figure out item unlockers, all this crazy stuff.
So by letting people come back in Hero’s Call and letting them have come to level 85 where all the other players are, and being able to get into it as easily as the team could make it, we’re hoping that this event is really fantastic. We hope that when people come back, they’ll find it a very comfortable, very entertaining experience than the last time they were in.
MMOBomb: That sounds great for returning players, but what about new players? The level cap is 95, and don’t you need to pay for an expansion to access post-85 content?
HL: No, because as of Oct. 1, Destiny of Velious and all the updates we’ve done in the past year will be part of free-to-play, and that all goes up to 95.
DG: Level 85 is reasonably close to level 95. Players can play together pretty easily, but this still gives players the opportunity to get in, get geared up, and learn how to play their class before they’re in the endgame.
HL: Also, we’re getting rid of item unlocks for free players. One of the biggest issues we had for returning players coming back into the game as free-to-play was that their gear was locked, and they felt ineffective. So if you used to play the game before free-to-play and had some cool, epic items, you can now come into the game and everything’s unlocked and you have all the stats you expected.
MMOBomb: What about crafting/tradeskills? Any boosts for that?
DG: Crafters require some level of demand, or there’s just nothing for them to do. One of the ways that you maintain demand is by making it difficult to become a high-level crafter, which is why we’re not providing a shortcut.
MMOBomb: So you obviously understand how older MMOs are faring, with regards to how people don’t want to spend forever leveling just to get to the endgame. How are you planning to approach this sort of thing in EverQuest Next?
DG: Well… we don’t have levels [in EQN]! We might have population situations in the future, but it’s hard to tell because it’s a radically different kind of game. There are ways to vertically progress, but it’s very much designed so that even if you play a couple of years and one of your friends joins, you’ll be able to play together.
MMOBomb: Great to hear! Thanks, guys!