In which I complain about slights both real and imaginary.
Qeynos? There is no “there” there! Let’s talk about me.
Firiona Vie, EverQuest Spokesmodel
Long have the residents of Qeynos suffered neglect as the second city of Norrath. Ever have we been in the shadow of our rival city, Freeport, and have been discriminated against because of our unjustly diminished stature.
In old Norrath, in the original EverQuest, a vast right coast conspiracy placed Freeport at the center of the world’s activity, with many smaller racial home towns feeding naturally into it via the Commonlands or the Ocean of Tears. It acted as a crossroads and became the destination for those looking to trade, and it flourished.
And even as the bounds of Norrath grew, even as the bazaar took over from the Commonlands tunnel, Freeport remained an important destination. Ever is there activity in Freeport. It was important enough to get a complete revamp a couple of years back, along with the Commonlands.
None of the original cities of Norrath have had such attention lavished upon it.
Certainly not Qeynos.
(Conspiracy theories and a few pictures of the new Qeynos after the cut.)
You’re just going to scroll down and look at the pictures, aren’t you?
Qeynos, the rival city on the east coast of Antonica, remains in its original state to this day.
Actually, that isn’t true. Somehow SOE broke the fog effect in Qeynos and its surrounding zones, an act which manages to make Qeynos feel even more outdated and empty. Fog still works east of Highpass though, on the Freeport side of the world.
Qeynos was a good place to be from in the opinions of many, but not a place you would want to live. A waypoint for the Erudin seeking fortune to the east, avoided by the barbarians out of Halas, it was a sad place, badly itemized and bereft of key trade goods. I remember wanting to do blacksmithing and finding out that I had to go to Highhold Keep for raw materials.
Even the half elves… the freakin’ half elves… built a little camp out in the Surefall Glade to avoid the stigma of Qeynos. They didn’t go far enough though. What do you think of your fog shrouded trees now, you ingrate half-breeds?
And, in post-cataclysmic Norrath, in EverQuest II, the emphasis from SOE remained the same. Freeport über Alles!
Freeport was created as the grand master work of Norrath reborn. The phoenix or Norrath (by which I mean the mythical creature, not the city in Arizona which, frankly, ranks behind Qeynos), rising from the ashes left by the rain of destruction to become a beacon around which the faithful would rally.
And to this purpose, Freeport became a grotesque monstrosity of a home town, an overwrought gothic nightmare of detail and design. This maze-like metropolis stood as the grand statement of the favor with which the gods and devs blessed it.
Meanwhile, Qeynos looked to be built up out of the leftovers deemed “no epic enough” to appear in the masterwork of Freeport. While Freeport looked like an evil genius was given free reign, Qeynos felt more like a planning commission was asked to build a new version of the city and decided that the old one was pretty good. So they updated a lot of that and then went back to see if they could get on the Freeport team where all the fun was happening.
All of which ended up seeming a bit ironic in the end, as this time around Qeynos seemed the place to be. At least on my server, Qeynos was a busy place while Freeport was something of a ghost town.
But that never fazed SOE. They carried on as though Freeport was the center of the universe, with high drama, destruction, and an eventual revamp of the city last year. Freeport Reborn!
I was not really happy about that. It did not seem like a wise use of resources. But this is Freeport!
A year has passed since and now, at last, Qeynos has gotten its turn. Granted, it is not getting quite the same billing.
Qeynos Rises sounds like the place finally sobered up enough to stand upright. But being a Qeynos partisan for more than 13 years now, I felt it my duty to see “The New Qeynos.”
So I launched EQII for the first time in months and let it patch. I was 6GB behind. But I wanted to get all the assets downloaded, lest I diminish the experience. So I let that run over night.
The next evening though, I was able to see what had changed. I am afraid my initial reaction was that most of that 6GB must have been art assets for cash shop mounts, because the place did not look all that different. I stood there in Qeynos Harbor and saw the same sights.
It looked like maybe there were new textures. The Qeynos Claymore looked a bit different. And Gary the Magnificent had been moved. But it was hard to tell. My memory isn’t good enough to carry forward textures for very long, and it has been a long time since I stared hard at anything in Qeynos.
I had to go dig out some old screen shots just to compare. As it turns out, I did not spend a lot of time taking screen shots of Qeynos. But I found a few. I had some of the Irontoes East Inn, which used to look like this back in 2007.
But now we can see the impact Qeynos Rises! Now we can visit the New Qeynos!
Well, that new post box sure made a big difference.
Meanwhile, inside Irontoes, we can see what has changed in the shabby old hallway outside of my old room.
And, in the New Qeynos?
I think the primary difference is that in the old one I was carrying a light source that cast a yellow-ish glow. Do they even still use light sources in EQII anymore, or have they gone the way coin weight and mount sanity?
Okay, maybe Irontoes East wasn’t the best point of comparison. But I didn’t have many pictures with which to compare.
I did see a few points out there, like the castle, which did appear to have new textures. And there are some other new things in town, like horses with their legs on fire.
That may be either the best or worst take on leg warmers I have ever seen, and I speak as somebody who lived through the leg warmer craze of the early 1980s.
They did consolidate zones, so rather than Qeynos being made up of four main zones and a bunch of ghettos, it is now two main zones and a bunch of quest zones. This actually was a bit of an issue as my oldest character, Nomu, still had an apartment loaded with stuff in Graystone Yard. And they were not letting people into the place without a racially appropriate quest.
Fortunately, among the dozens of tabs and windows the game has for your character, there is one that tells you where you house is.
The Lion’s Mane Inn is one of those “here are a couple dozen unmarked doors, just try to find the one you are looking for” housing locations that seemed like a good idea back in the day. Still, I managed to find my room, which was still there, scare crow and all.
The damn thing popped up five times in three minutes. I think that is part of the “upgrade to gold” campaign.
But the New Qeynos? Well, it is nice that they merged four of the zones into just two I suppose. And the only problem I have with turning the racial ghettos into adventure zones is that it did not happen nearly soon enough.
And I suppose that some new quests will bring people to the city now and again.
But was it worth it?
Since EQII launched, SOE has added a few new cities, finally focusing on New Halas as the new center for new players and veterans alike. And it is a good city, with fine housing and well located amenities, all contained within a single zone that lacks some of the quirks than make some of the other cities nice places to visit but annoying to live and work in.
So I wonder why they bothered with Qeynos. I can see the reasoning behind turning some of it into adventure zones. Few people were going to those locations any more. But the rest of the city, the joining of zones and the minor changes in textures, why bother?
Or, to look at it from another angle, while I am a bitter Qeynos vet and have long resented the favor that has been bestowed on Freeport, sometimes neglect is a good thing. When it comes to nostalgia time (is it autumn yet?), I am actually glad that I can go back to Qeynos in EverQuest and find it pretty much the way it was some 13 years ago. Better that it be a monument to the past.
I just wish they would fix the damn fog.
How about you? Do you like the update? Should MMOs dramatically revamp old zones or just leave them be?