A nice little dungeon of my own.
Lost Dungeons of Norrath is the latest expansion to Sony Entertainmentí¢â‚¬â„¢s
EverQuest, the biggest massively multiplayer online
role-playing game in the western world. The Lost Dungeons offer
48 new dungeons with plenty of new monsters and equipment for groups and raid
parties levels 20 to 65. But the Lost Dungeons is not just
any old expansion: it has also changed EverQuest in some profound
ways, some for better, some for worse.
gameplay in the dungeons is quite different from the usual EverQuest
experience. First off, you now have to complete a certain task for which you
receive rewards. Once the group leader accepts the mission and the group has
reached the dungeon, it has 90 minutes to complete the mission and get their
reward. This time limit makes gameplay in Everquest much, much
more intense than it used to be. No more ‘away-from-keyboards’ to take a bio-break
or get a cup of hot java – you just caní¢â‚¬â„¢t afford it.
Besides the usual experience points and loot, rewards give you “adventure
points,” which you can trade in for nifty, high-powered equipment. These
includeí¢â‚¬Å“augmentation” items that you can apply permanently to your
gear to give your character better primary statistics such as strength, stamina,
agility, etc. And thatí¢â‚¬â„¢s nice …except that the augmentations are too
Sony has also taken a new feature from the ongoing development of EverQuest II and put it into the classic EverQuest: exclusive dungeons, generated dynamically on the fly. The game will create a dungeon for your group and for your group only. No fighting with other groups for a “camp” anymore, which is particularly handy for raids. Nothing is more frustrating than putting together a 40-person raid, just to get to the camp and find a party already there. Those days are over now.
The auto-generated dungeon is also tuned to the strength of your group: the
more people and higher levels in your group, the tougher the dungeon. Since
the dungeon is custom-tailored for your group, the experience rewards are great.
Higher level characters (50 and up) will not have seen experience this good
in the many months they’ve been playing before The Lost Dungeons
came out. This also adds to the intensity of the game, since people caní¢â‚¬â„¢t
randomly drop out of their groups anymore. If even one character leaves the
group, it becomes much harder to complete the mission, particularly at higher
levels. Unfortunately, an unintended consequence is that if someone drops out
because they lost connectivity or because they are just being a jerk, your remaining
group may suffer for it.
also means that the dungeon content is sort of static and flat. The monsters
doní¢â‚¬â„¢t hold any surprises. Fights are usually well-controlled and predictable.
The dungeon layout is often simple, even primitive. Challenging gameplay and
creative environments are somewhat lost in the Lost Dungeons of Norrath.
One good thing about the Lost Dungeons is that certain classes
that were previously underappreciated are now in much greater demand, simply
because it is hard to complete the adventures without them. No party is complete
without a Warrior as a sturdy meat shield for the casters or a Cleric as a dedicated
healer and resurrector, or an Enchanter to mesmerize monsters when a party has
bitten off more than it can chew. Rogues are a definite must if the party also
wants to loot potentially trapped treasure chests.
But the big problem is that Lost Dungeons is just to generous,
giving out too much experience and astonishingly powerful items too easily,
and that makes the game boring and upsets game balance. It promotes idiots.
You used to be able to count on high-level characters to have enough real-life
experience to know what they are doing, but now there are Enchanters and Warriors
at level 65 who caní¢â‚¬â„¢t find their own butt in the dark of a dungeon. It
brings a frosty note into your group’s social dynamics.
Everquest has also been plagued for years now by an inflation
of uber equipment, and the new “augmentations” simply add to that
flood. Soon we will have level 2 Monks who doní¢â‚¬â„¢t even know how to use
the bank, but run around with “Kwai
Chang Caineí¢â‚¬â„¢s Invincible Staff of Butt Whoopery.”
The bottom line? The Lost Dungeons of Norrath revives some
of the excitement Everquest used to have, and the personal
dungeons address some of the most pressing annoyances of current online RPGs.
On the other hand, the Lost Dungeons are another step towards
nerfing the game to death. Sony has tried really hard to open EverQuest
to a mass-market by making it simpler and simpler. One has to wonder why; it
is putting off the dedicated hardcore players, yet hasní¢â‚¬â„¢t really succeeded
in creating a bigger subscriber base.