|I've spent a good amount of time with Everquest II ("EQ II"), sequel to the granddaddy of all MMORPGs and I can sum up this preview in one sentence: I'm having a great time! EQ II will change the Everquest franchise in ways that will shock and awe, to borrow a phrase. The game is so deep that I will be breaking my preview into a number of parts. The first part is on EQ II's class system. |
EQ II changes the Everquest class system in a very drastic way. Now instead of immediately starting in the class that will define your time in the game, EQ II creates a branching class system that offers more specialization as the player moves through the game. All players start as commoners on a refugee ship bound for the Isle of Refuge. Very soon characters choose an archetype. This concept, familiar to player of the PS2 version of Everquest, represents the primary roles that a character is expected to play. The four archetypes of EQ II are fighter, priest, mage and scout. The difference between the archetypes is broad and meaningful. The game's developers assert that their intention is that any member of an archetype should be able to fill that archetype's role adequately in any situation. The further development of abilities reinforces this. From levels 3-9, a character is only a member of his archetype; there are no Paladins, or Clerics, or Necromancers. All of those classes are eventually possible, but early in a character's career, the character is a member of his archetype and gains the basic abilities of that archetype.
To illustrate, when I choose my archetype, I choose to become a priest. Upon becoming a priest, I was granted a healing spell, a club, a buffing (protection) spell, and a divine damage spell (called smite). From levels 3-9 I played as a priest, learning to heal and buff and defeat monsters with divine magic.
At level 9, players must choose a profession for their characters, which represents a much different philosophy for handling the archetypal role. For example, a priest can choose to become a cleric who specializes in powerful damage absorption buffs, or a druid who specializes in regeneration, or a shaman who specializes in warding (protecting before damage hits) damage. The choice of class marks a change for the character in focus, but not in overall healing ability. This is something that the developers are very serious about. No member of an archetype is intended to be significantly more useful than another at that archetype's role. Going back to the priest archetype, healing strength is intended to be equivalent between the healers. Earlier in beta, clerics were the masters of instant resolution healing. Once the developers saw that giving clerics this specialty made them superior to druids and shaman in healing, the developers made instant healing the role of the archetype and gave clerics a new specialty, that of the damage absorption buffs.
At level 20, the final specialization takes place and your character chooses its sub-class. Sub-classes are significantly different within an archetype, but the basic tools for doing that archetypes role is still there. Unfortunately, I am verboten to say much more about the 20+ game because of the NDA (non-disclosure agreement) of the beta test.
Each of the archetypes has three classes that a player can choose at level 9 and each class has 2 sub-class that a player can choose from at level 19. The Class Tree looks like this:
The Class Tree
Fighters – Fighters are the tanks of EQ II, they do melee damage and protect the party
Warrior Berserker Guardian Brawler Bruiser Monk Crusader Paladin Shadowknight
Priests – Priest use divine magic to heal, enhance and damage foes
Cleric Templar Inquisitor Druid Warden Fury Shaman Mystic Defiler
Scouts – Scouts are melee fighters who rely on stealth and cunning
Rogue Swashbuckler Brigand Bard Troubadour Dirge Predator Assassin Ranger
Mages – Mages use arcane magic in various ways to enhance their allies and destroy their foes
Sorcerer Wizard Warlock Enchanter Illusionist Coercers Summoner Necromancer Conjurer
The archetype system is a substantial change for EQ vets. It's a similar, but even broader concept that the archetype system of EQOA, the PS2 version of Everquest. It will take some getting used to for many people and it will require that many give up their preconceived notions developed through years in Norrath.
Nowhere is this more evident than in the Fighter and Priest archetypes. Many EQ vets are used to depending on a Warrior and Cleric as their tank and healer respectively. In EQ II that will no longer be the case. Brawlers and Crusaders can each play the tank role adequately and Druids and Shaman can both play the healer role as well as clerics. No necessary power is limited to only one class of the archetype.
While there is a lot subject to change, what is clear is that the developers of EQ II are serious about making sure that ever person who plays EQ II will feel needed and have a role from level 1-50.
In part two, I will discuss questing and other means of obtaining experience. Stay tuned!