Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Next EQ2 Expansion

The Ancient Gaming Noob posted his predictions on what the next EQ2 expansion might be. For the most part I agree with him. I think that the next expansion will probably be something in the style of Planes of Power. It might not bear the name Planes of Power, heck it might not even take place on different planes but I think the fundamental idea behind the design will be present in the next EQ2 expansion. You will be expanding your character outwards instead of upwards, you will be gearing up through a progression, you will be following a storyline through a progression. I will even go out on a limb and say that there will be an area introduced that will fundamentally change the way the game is played the way PoK did. I don't think it will change it the same way as PoK (travel is fine already in EQ2) but it will shake things up big time.

Why?

Because it is time. EQ2 had a rocky start, it is really only in the last year that this game has both feet on good solid ground. There was a period of awkward adjustment as the dev team was defining exactly what the game would be (go ahead try and play the game using the original strategy guide). They did a very good job with this and went on to release, in my mind, the two most solid MMO expansions ever done. The last two EQ expansions really improved and cemented the quality of this game.

So now it is time to branch out a bit. They will have to be careful to make sure that they do not change the game that already exists the way SOE did with Star Wars Galaxies or even the combat and class changes made to EQ2 (even though those changes were for the best). They will have to add new stuff that makes the new parts of the game distinct from the old game. WoW did this to a limited extent with Outland in that you had player controlled flying mounts and some different PvP zones.

If they go with a Planes of Power type progression system I think they need to adopt an idea like WoW's Heroic Instances where there is really tough content raid style but for a small group. You should be able to progress through the same story content in solo, small group, and raid mode. It should be challenging in all three modes and should have ability, lore and gear progression. Obviously the gear would be different for each progression but gear optimized for raiding isn't necessarily optimized for soloing anyway. They have done something close to this before with Split Paw and I would like to see that idea built on as a whole expansion.

I have no idea what change they might introduce to really change up the game, but I do know what I want to see. I want player created dungeons. Other games have toyed with this and there are rumors of more, if FFXI can even think of this with its limitations then I am sure that EQ2 can pull it off. This would have to be well thought out, because it would be best if you could get actual gear and XP as awards. They would need to use something like D+D's challenge rating system to ensure that reward was balanced with risk. Give us a decent scripting option too, something on the level of Neverwinter Nights.

I think it is time for MMO devs to let go a bit, and I think that EQ2 could be the game to do it in a big way.

1 comment:

Brenda said...

I agree -- I think user-created content is the way forward for MMOs. We'll see how Areae's Metaplace does, but I think that is just the very tip of the iceberg.

- Tipa

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