One of the comparisons I have heard between EverQuest II and World of Warcraft is that it is much easier to level up in WoW. At least to a certain point, level 40 in my case, WoW does seem to be a breeze, guiding you though quests to different zones and making the whole thing a lot more fun than effort.
Just last weekend I hit level 40 in EverQuest II with my fae, Blintz, and decided to compare how long it took to get to level 40 in WoW versus EQ2.
I happen to have a hunter on Hyjal who is level 40. I will call him Joe because, in a moment of weakness, when trying to come up with a name, I borrowed one of the favored names of a friend of mine. That person does not read this blog to my knowledge, but might, so I’d rather just keep the name to myself.
Anyway, I ran Joe to level 40 in what seemed like record time. I thought I would compare the play time for Joe and Blintz and see how much time went into each.
Joe – Level 40 Hunter, 6 days, 1 hour, 9 mins
Blintz – Level 40 Swashbuckler, 5 days, 2 hours, 53 mins
Well, that was unexpected. Blintz had almost a full day less play time on him. Considering how much time I spent running around and harvesting or sitting still waiting for Captain Gaer to spawn, I thought surely Joe would have less play time.
Still, the number for Blintz does not include time spent at trade skills. EQ2Players.com separates the two numbers. Joe did some trade skills and is a leather worker at about the same level that Blintz is an armorer (skill of 200 or so). So I added in Blintz’s trade skill time, 14 hours and 13 minutes.
Joe – Level 40 Hunter, 6 days, 1 hour, 9 mins
Blintz – Level 40 Swashbuckler, 5 days, 17 hours, 6 mins
That is closer and probably pretty representative of comparable time spent online. While trade skills in WoW do not take as much time, nor does harvesting (at least not for leather) I did run the auctioneer addon once in a while, so that probably accounts for a similar chunk of time.
Some might claim that my knowledge of EQ2 gave Blintz an edge. Yet I think the opposite is true. Joe was the 7th or 8th character I ran through to the 30s and the 4th to 40. I had a system in place for levelling at that point, which I call the “rolling green” method, where you pick up and finish every single quest in both the human and dwarf/gnome areas so that you end up doing quests that are mostly green (sometimes yellow) all the way to level 40. You never have to face a difficult orange or red quest and you still have a chain of quests on your plate when you hit 40.
In contrast Blintz is a fae. That meant starting in a whole new area. Now, I will admit that I have strayed back into the old zones, especially Nektulos and Zek, but I have also done a lot in the new zones in Faydwer. And playing in the old zones has hurt my play time a bit, as I have to travel from Kelethin down to the boat, wait for the boat, then ride it to Thundering Steppes or Nektulos Forest. I have only taken a portal once.
So I looked for another metric. How much calendar time did I actually spend playing each character to level 40? Fortunately I was on a data collection binge for Warcraft Realms while I was playing Joe, so I have an accurate list of levels and the date at which they were attained. (I always run the Census addon when I level.)
EQ2Players.com of course provides detailed information, including your location, about every time you level. The data showed the following:
Created: June 17
Level 40: September 22
Duration: 97 days
Created: November 18
Level 40: February 18
Duration: 92 days
The calendar duration was almost the same. The data is somewhat skewed of course, as I dawdled a bit in the 20s then had a hard core (for me, anyway) run and did levels 30 to 40 in a little over a month with Joe. In EQ2 I actually took time off from Blintz while he was in his mid-30s to play Vanguard in January. But in the end, they both took 3 months to get to level 40, the variations in the levelling schedule being something of a function of my attention span more than anything else.
I would say, therefore, that as far as play time and level of effort required, WoW and EQ2 are about on par when it comes to gaining levels.
So what is different?
Quests are certainly different. You end up doing a lot more quests in EQ2 than in WoW. That isn’t a bad thing though. The quests in EQ2 do not deliver as much experience as quests in WoW. However, since you end up doing more quests, and since in the “kill ten rats” style quests, the rats seem to deliver more exp relative to WoW, it still seems to be different yet balanced.
Yet both games have their flaws.
EQ2 quests are often a lot less specific about what you should do or where you should go to accomplish your assigned task. I am much more likely to go and look up a quest for EQ2 than I am for WoW. Now, a lot of the EQ2 quests are very well written and very specific, especially in in the Faydwer zones. On the other hand, some older quests can leave you stumped. In the dark elf quest chain in Nektulos Forest, for example, at one point you have to go kill some owlbears. When the quest was written, owlbears were impossible to miss. They were all over the path that lead from the beach to the bridge. The owlbears have since been moved to an out of the way corner of Nektulos and you could spend a long time looking for them since the quest gives you no clue where to look.
WoW, on the other hand, excels at guiding you through quests. I would say that half of the time I look up a quest, it ends up that I simply mis-read something or had followed the directions almost to the right point, but gave up a bit too early.
What WoW lacks… and this is not going to be a huge surprise… is a diversity of paths for advancement. In WoW, at some point, you find you are on the same path as everybody on your faction and then everybody on the server. The quests paths nicely guide you along through all of the content
By contrast, EQ2 has almost too much diversity. One of my annoyances is the number of quests in my journal that go grey before I get to them. I spent levels 30-40 mostly in Nektulos Forest, Butcher Block, and Zek. Except for some quests that brought me there, I have pretty much ignored the Thundering Steppes, the Enchanted Lands, and Steamfont.
But in EQ2 if I am tired of whatever I am doing, I always have a lot of alternatives for play.
For me, a mostly solo player that falls somewhere between “casual” and “hard core,” the ability to level, at least to 40, seems to been pretty equal in EverQuest II and World of Warcraft.
The primary difference is in how much you want to control your own destiny. In WoW, there is a very solid quest path to follow. If you follow it, finish all the quests, and go to where you are sent, levels will come and you will see most of the world. In EQ2 there are multiple quest paths you can follow or mix and match as you will. You probably cannot follow them all, however, unless you want to do quests that are grey. (When they go grey you still get adventure exp but no AA exp.) Thus there may be parts of the world you never see unless you go out of your way. EQ2 is much more of a “choose your own” adventure proposition.