EQII Extended – The Trial of Inconvenience!

Certainly Sony Online Entertainment has given us a lot to chew on with their announcement of EverQuest II extended.

Let me put up that chart again.

EverQuest II Extended Membership Matrix

Certainly, the idea of free EverQuest II has appeal.  Free anything does.

There are also obvious downsides illustrated by this chart.

If you are a current EverQuest II subscriber, I am sure that none of the subscription models hold a lot of interest.  For $15 a month, you’re already getting more than what is being offered for $200 a year in some regards.

And the idea of playing under the restrictions imposed by the free version of the game… well, let’s call those out.

  • 2 Character Slots – Well, I guess you won’t have to worry about being distracted by alts
  • No Shared Bank Slots – With no alts, who needs them?
  • 2 Bag Slots – It encourages traveling light!
  • 4 Races – Well, you were going to be a barbarian anyway, right?
  • 8 Classes – EQ2 has too many classes as it is, eight is enough!
  • Inbound Mail Only – Only gold spammers use in-game mail in any case.
  • Spell Tier Limited to Adept – No need to farm for master drops!
  • Broker System Restricted – Who wants to play the auction house game?
  • No Legendary or Fabled equipment – Less stress trying to get upgrades!
  • Cash Cap of 5 Gold Per Level – You are encouraged to live off the land!
  • 20 Active Journal Quests – Feel what it was like to play EQ2 on day 1!
  • Restricted Chat Abilities – Nobody listens to you anyway, you don’t need /yell.
  • Cannot Create a Guild – A guild is a state of mind.
  • Only KB Access for Problems – If you have issues, just rage quit.
  • Limited to Level 80 – You can “win” the game with 10 less levels!

Now, certainly from a the perspective of a current player, this probably looks like something of a nightmare scenario.

But you can view this from another angle.

Back when many of us were playing the original Diablo, after having mastered the basic game, used to try to defeat it in other ways.  One way was what we called the Iron Man method.  You and your friends went into the dungeon and were not allowed to leave until Diablo was defeated.

No going back to town to sell, buy potions or equipment, repair, or take a breather.

You had to survive off of only what you could pick up.  And if you died along the way, the attempt was over.

Now EverQuest II offers a similar sort of Iron Man option.  Call it Inconvenience Man, or the Trial of Inconvenience.

This is actually a viable game play style, since SOE plans to offer all the content and then sell convenience items as opposed to Turbine’s approach to F2P with LOTRO, where they will be selling both convenience as well as content past level 20 or so.  You could still do an Iron Man attempt at the level cap in Middle-earth of course, but it would mean grinding mobs from level 20 to 65.

What do you think of a Trial of Inconvenience attempt at the level cap?

I would suggest picking a server and forming a guild for a group attempt… but you cannot form a guild without paying in and getting some of the convenience.

18 thoughts on “EQII Extended – The Trial of Inconvenience!

  1. Green Armadillo

    The irony is that the restrictions on non-subscribers actually don’t really get in the way of the solo leveling game, provided you can get a race/class you want. (Currently, races can only be bought in bundles of three – two races that you don’t want included with the one you do – for $7.50, and classes cannot be bought at all.) Solo content isn’t balanced assuming high end gear and spell upgrades, so players won’t really be missing much. The restrictions only really affect you when you try to group, which relatively few players try to do at low levels anyway.

    (Well, there may be a rough spot around level 68 because the content gets harder in Kunark, and quest rewards start including forbidden legendary items. I don’t think that stretch is insurmountable, though, and at that point you’re 12 levels away from a buy/don’t decision on the current expansion anyway.)

    As nearly as I can tell, the primary design consideration in setting up these tiers was to keep current subscribers from jumping to F2P and opting out of the monthly fee. Grats on a job well done, I guess?

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  2. Wilhelm2451 Post author

    The tale I have been told is that solo content from Kunark onward is balanced for people with raid level gear and master skills, since those are the people who were in the beta for the expansions.

    Still, taking that on is part of the challenge.

    And yes, much is clear when you take into consideration the need to defend their current revenue stream while seeking new ones. The EQII Passport subscription option, with its three consecutive days limitation, springs to mind.

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  3. Wilhelm2451 Post author

    @Potshot – Sorry, that is new business. If you have been following the agenda, we are still discussion old business for for the special executive subcommittee for footwear itemization, special appearance items sub-group.

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  4. Thomas

    I have always been curious about EQ2 so I will at least take a look at it. As for LOTRO I wonder if some people might grind skirmishes to get to 65. You would never have to leave town.

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  5. sente

    The lowest level for EQ2 Extended is just a free trial without time limit, with the same type of restrictions that usually goes with free trials to avoid gold selling etc.

    The only options that you can pay to upgrade without getting a subscription are the kind that is not much of a concern for gold sellers, it seems.

    I would say it is a quick&dirty approach to change the payment model and that a quick response was the better choice in their minds, that could be done with a minimum of change to the game.

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  6. Green Armadillo

    “The tale I have been told is that solo content from Kunark onward is balanced for people with raid level gear and master skills, since those are the people who were in the beta for the expansions.”

    The transition from Kunark to the current expansion (TSF, which F2P players will have to pay for) is a seamless, Wow-style transition. The level 82 TSF quests are easier than the level 78 Kunark quests and offer previously raid-quality loot as rewards.

    It’s just the transition to Kunark that was originally brutally hard as recently as a year ago, when I did it without the use of any gear that would be unavailable to free players. To compensate, they have since nerfed the entire first zone of that expansion, which should on paper be enough to get you the gear to do the later zones. I don’t know how the nerfs have worked out in practice, but easier should mean easier.

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  7. Bhagpuss

    Your bullet point list covers most of the reasons Mrs Bhagpuss and I will be making a free Bronze account when this thing goes Live, even though as Station Access subbers we get Gold on our existing accounts. We do indeed see most of those things as positive benefits, not restrictions. Like all elderly MMOs, EQ2 is getting a tad bloated and the restrictions offer a chance at some refreshing, cleaner gameplay.

    As I posted before, though, the Bronze and especially the Silver deal are actually MUCH more generous and much less restricted than that comparison chart suggests. Greem Armadillo covers some of that above.

    On your point that “The tale I have been told is that solo content from Kunark onward is balanced for people with raid level gear and master skills, since those are the people who were in the beta for the expansions”, this is nonsense. I’ve levelled several characters into and through the Kunark/Ykesha/Odus solo content and it’s all very easy. You don’t need raid gear to do it. You don’t even need group dungeon drops. You don’t even need Legendary or Mastercrafted.

    All the solo content in the whole of EQ2, from 1 to 90 is tuned to be comfortably achievable using the quest rewards obtained by doing it. There is a very slight bump occasionally when you move from one expansion to the next when you need to use the top quest gear from the last expansion to get the entry-level quest gear from the next, but that generally lasts maybe one play-session, if that before you’re rolling again.

    The issues of bag storage are also completely misleading. Yes, you only get two bag slots, but tradeable, player-made bags and boxes in EQ2 go up to 44 slots and have no level restrictions on use. That gives a basic Bronze account nearly 200 storage slots just in the Inventory and Bank alone, way more than most F2P games offer and more than some offer even AFTER you’ve paid for all the available space in the cash shop.

    But wait, that’s nowhere near all! Two hundred slots not enough space? Don’t forget your house vault. Basic Inn roooms, weekly rent 5 silver, come with two house vault slots (or is it three now since they added the third room?) and you can get a house with up to 6. That’s potentially another 250 or so storage slots. And of course you can place quite a few things into your house itself. And you can increase your space with crafted Vault Extenders. Etc etc.

    As for the gear issue, the prime gear for levelling is player-made Mastercrafted. It’s better than almost all Legendary in the 1 – 80 level range and better than a lot of the Fabled too. (In fact, the level 40ish Treasured drops in the recently revamped Lavastorm and Everfrost are better than most Legendary. I have characters who couldn’t upgrade those until they were in the 70s).

    People playing EQ2 on the Bronze plan who aren’t hung up on what other people are using (most soloers, in other words) are going to have an absolute blast in EQ2X just on the Bronze plan alone. The Silver plan, for the one-time $10 fee, which gives you access to the one element that you might miss, crafted “Expert” spells and abilities (the spell equivalent of Mastercrafted gear, in fact, so that’s one thing I think should have been included in the Bronze plan).

    Mrs Bhagpuss and I reckon EQ2X is going to cost us $16.50 each, or around one month’s regular sub, to get everything we’ll need. That’s $10 to upgrade to Silver and $6.50 to buy the Ratonga/Iksar/Ogre race pack. From there on its all gravy.

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  8. Noizy

    The one thing about the $200/year Platinum package that is an upgrade is the 10 character slots. When I played EQ2 I had a Station Access account so I could have more than 7 character slots. I wound up paying $360/year for that, which was okay when I was really into EQ2, but now is a bit expensive when I’m playing Eve at the same time.

    If I go back to EQ2, I’ll do what Blagpuss is going to do, except I might have to spring for paying to roll a ranger or a mystic. The only thing I’d be concerned with is the restriction on the broker. I do like my crafting.

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  9. Wilhelm2451 Post author

    @Bhagpuss – Glad the Bronze plan looks good to you. I was being pretty serious (no humor tag) about the total free to play option being viewed as its own game and I am waiting to see somebody blog somewhere about making the 1-80 trek without spending any cash.

    But “The issues of bag storage are also completely misleading?” Are you saying that people who pay don’t get as many as 6 bag slots and thus can have 3 times as many bags thus 3 times as much storage on their character when out in the world? The statement seems pretty clear to me.

    Well, except that it doesn’t say what size bag you get by default. One 8 slot bag and a couple of 4 slot bags if I recall right, once you get through the first few quests.

    But I am interested to know where you’ll be getting 44-slot bags. I would have to call your statement on that misleading. Somewhere at six months to a year after launch they might be readily available on the broker for a price you can afford. But I’m thinking that in the first few months, you’ll be on your own for bag and box support.

    @Noizy – Last time I had Station Access, I got 12 character slots. Did they cut that back recently?

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  10. Grimjakk

    Currently you get a 24 slot bag and a 4 slot one (on Alpha).

    Last time I had Station Access was way back before SWG’s meltdown… and I’m pretty sure it was just 10 slots back then.

    My only issue with the Membership matrix at the moment, is the lack of a way to unlock the restricted classes as a Silver member. The devs posted that CURRENTLY (emphasis theirs) only Gold members could play the other classes — and only while their subscriptions were active.

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  11. Wilhelm2451 Post author

    @Grimjakk – Glad they boosted the initial bag. I remember back on day one getting no bags, just six slots, so you could carry six things.

    I think Station Access got boosted to 12 character slots when regular accounts got boosted to 7. I still think that SOE was being extremely stingy with character slots. Better than day one EQ2, when you got 4, but EQ was 10 per server on day one.

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  12. Bhagpuss

    I meant that for anyone but a crazed packrat (holds up hand), storage space is unlikely to be an issue. The 40+ slot bag/box thing was an illustration of the potential storage space available to a Bronze player. You don’t have to start with that, nor would you need to. What I’m saying is that, for no out-of-game money, you have a very large amount of potential storage space available. That you may have to either work for it in-game, or save up in-game gold for it is what I’d call gameplay – attractive gameplay in fact.

    Since Bronze and Silver accounts can’t use the Broker, the economy below Gold account is going to be interesting. Dave Georgeson has already said he hopes it brings back something like EQ1’s pre-Bazaar EC Tunnel economy and I hope so too.

    Normally Mrs Bhagpuss and I would just split all the crafting classes we need between us and level them up for self-sufficiency, but the limit to 3 character slots under the Silver plan prevents us having all of them. Still, one player can cover Cloth/Leather/Chain/Plate armor, most weapons and bags by levelling Tailor/Armorsmith/Weaponsmith, which are probably the essentials, leaving the other to do spells/CAs/Jewellery etc. It generally takes us about a week of normal play to get a crafter to 80th, although that’s on the Test server, which has a 50% xp bonus and no competition for resources. On the other hand, it has no economy and if you want something you have to get it or make it yourself so it probably evens out. The painless way, though, is to level the crafter at the same rate as the adventurer, of course.

    Of course, I’m approaching this as I approach most MMOs, as a self-sufficiency project in which the main purpose of the game is to pull your character up by his own bootstraps. For people who don’t enjoy putting in the hours making-do and mending, the basic free game probably won’t look as attractive as it does to me – but then, that’s what the Cash Shop is there for, isn’t it? :P

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  13. We Fly Spitfires

    I think the Bronze and Silver plans are fine. They are meant to be an inconvenient in order to encourage people to cough up cash, after all. My big problem is really with the server segregation and the pricing structure which means EQ2X players will end up paying more than a normal Live subscriber in order to access the same amount of content. Bit of a sham IMO.

    I like Turbine’s model because it’s essentially keeping the normal subscription model (and makes it appealing) whilst still offer free versions to tempt new players to join and sign up. SOE seemed to done this whole thing in a very muddled way.

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  14. Wilhelm2451 Post author

    Oh yes, I am a charter member of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Role Play Game Packrats (BPORPGP – our motto “But I Might Need That!”), so running around with two bag slots would be a test of my inventory management abilities even if I had 44+ slot bags.

    But I think that is part of the beauty of the Bronze plan. It does pare down the game to bare essentials. There is certainly some potential to bring back some of the more interesting social dynamics of the game. I would like to see something like the commonlands tunnel trading area appear again.

    Also, this will be a day 1 new server event, so I will have to be there if only to report on what I saw.

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  15. Noizy

    @Wilhelm – The Station Access still gives 12 character slots as far as I know. But the regular sub only gives 7, which is why I got the Station Access account. With a Station Access account, I could have all 9 crafting professions on the same account in normal EQ2. The Platinum plan has 10 character slots, so I can do the same thing, with all my crafters being able to sell on the broker. From what I can tell, if you have Station Access, you will have a Gold account, which means only 7 character slots. But from what Blagpuss says, it shouldn’t be hard to just open up a Bronze account for the other 2 crafters if I were to create crafters for all professions.

    In real life terms, Platinum cost is $200/year that includes $50 in Station Cash plus it sounds like you wouldn’t need to buy the next expansion. Station Access ran me $360/year plus I had to buy an expansion, which next time could cost $40-$50. Even if I had to buy a racial pack to get my beloved wood elves (which could come out of the $5/month in SC you get as a Platinum member), I’d be coming out ahead money-wise.

    And you’re right about a brand new server. How can you pass it up? How do I get a beta invite since I cancelled my sub last year?

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  16. Laniala

    Hmm… how old or updated is that image/chart? Because what hits me as the most ridiculous/annoying is that with all the membership plans, even platinum, you only get access to 4 races, unless you pay more $$. What an excellent reward for choosing the highest membership plan! (Not) (Although, thinking on it I suppose you might be able to pay with Station Cash which you get a small amount of for “free” (if you choose platinum), but knowing SOE the SC cost to unlock a race will be higher than the amount you get for “free”.)

    Not to mention that as a current subscriber you are automatically converted to gold membership (if I understood correctly from the chart). With gold (and lower) membership you hit a restriction of level 80 as max unless you pay more $$. What?! That *really* sounds like a slap in the face for current subscribers.

    I must have misunderstood something… I suppose characters already above the level cap or of different races are being kept, but what about characters not at max-level? Like new alts you might want to make? *ponder*

    My first impression as a former player is pay $$ for a subscription fee then pay more $$ to level to max and then pay even more $$ to unlock the races. Or maybe I misunderstood something or maybe I’m the wrong target audience since I already quit in disgust over SOE (among other things).

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  17. Wilhelm2451 Post author

    @Laniala – Hey, long time no see! What are you playing these days?

    The chart above is accurate and of recent vintage as of this writing. The key item you are missing, I believe, is that EQ2 Extended will be run as though it is a different game. The old EQ2 Live servers will remain as they are.

    You can pay $35 to have a character and some part of that character’s equipment “copied” over to an EQ2 Extended server, if you want to be part of the Station Cash Experiment Part 2.

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