Stick, a candidate for Greatest Boyfriend Ever, got me three months of EverQuest 2 for Christmas. I installed my new game — all 10 CDs of it! It was like an old Sierra game! — and found out that I needed a new videocard. I’d actually just gotten my GeForce 4 when I started dating Stick, so it’s still new and still pretty high-quality. (Am I the only person who measures relationship length in computer upgrades?).
During the installation of my brand-new GeForce 5, Stick did not once tell me the correct way to turn a screwdriver. YEAH! If you’re ever helping me install computer guts, I want to know what needs to go next to the fan. You might even need to remind me to ground myself. But I think, at twenty-three years old, that I’m got a handle on righty-tighty, lefty-loosey.
Another reason that Stick is The Greatest Boyfriend Ever, is that his plans for January break involved bringing my computer over to his house and playing EverQuest until we stare with glazed eyes, argue briefly about whose character is cooler, and fall asleep. My character, who is, actually, the coolest, is Thera. I bet you think I classics-geekily named my EverQuest character after the island just north of Crete. No way! She’s actually named after my Morrowind character who’s named after the Greek island.
All characters start on The Island of Refuge, where you do a couple basic class-dependant quests, get some gear, learn your hotkeys, and get off the island. I was apprehensive about meeting those 300th-level characters who prey on newbies, but it turned out that EverQuest is PvP-free and bad guys respawn fast enough to keep competition down.
Quick sidenote: Who are these people who are level 50 EverQuesters? Do they leave the house? Are they freakishly good gamers, like my roommate Andy, with a high level character in each class? (Andy, AKA the guy who lives in my attic, disagrees with me on the value of City Of Heroes and has a high level character on every server) Or maybe they live in the Artic Circle and they’re housebound with snow for six months a year.
Once on Qeynos (Sadly, a proper noun and therefore no good for Scrabble), you get a room. No, not in the sense that I’m usually thinking about Stick. You get a room at an inn, for which you must pay rent. This room can be decorated, with furniture, books and paintings, and while I know it’s a clever way to keep the in-game economy moving, I love it. I love playing dollhouse! One flaw in the game is that I haven’t seen any really unique clothes yet. That would be a great way to move the economy, to customize your character and to show wealth and rank. Besides, I like playing dress-up.
The quests are a mix of “Deliver this letter to NPC X”, and “Slay 5 sewer rats” (Like all adventure games, EQ2 has a rat-infested catacomb). They seem disappointingly linear now, but there are so many missions that it’s all right. Some of the real highlights of Morrowind or Neverwinter Nights are the social missions. So far, EQ2 has been lacking in fight-or-talk quests, there’s usually only one dialogue option at a time, but that may be a function of character class or level.
There’s also “stuff”. I love Sierra games, and Roberta Williams taught me to take anything that not nailed down. One of my big problems with City Of Heroes was the lack of items. But EverQuest is great for this. Rural areas are filled with rocks to mine, plants to pick, even butterflies and feathers to collect. There are “?” icons to search for collection quests, my favorite was the seashell collection.
In my fluish feverish state this week, I started having creepy EverQuest dreams. With a fever, I usually have nightmares. So far, I dreamed that Stick left me for a prettier girl, that Professor Marathon told me I can’t graduate in spring, and that every time I found a little “?” icon, it turned into an item I already had in my inventory. Pretty terrifying stuff.
Even though I was terribly sick, I managed to play EverQuest obsessively. The highlight being the day I dragged myself out of bed, leveled Thera, and went back to sleep for another 12 hours.