Paid boosts to higher levels were pretty much a given for EverQuest at some point. The only real question I have is why it took this long. After all, EverQuest II got its own insta-level scheme… erm, “heroic character” plan… way back in October of last year.
My guess is that they wanted to wait for the game’s 15th anniversary to roll this out.
So here we are. The anniversary is this coming Sunday, and starting Wednesday of this week you can get a level boosted character. Per SOE:
Players should find it much easier to begin their adventures in Norrath when they start at level 85 with a full complement of gear, Alternative Advancement Abilities, and a unique mount. Regardless if you’re a veteran player that wants to try a new class, a new player that wants to get caught up to your friends, or a player that hasn’t visited Norrath in a long time, Heroic Characters are a great way for you to get in the game!
And, from this Wednesday through to Wednesday, March 26th, the first one is free. The second, or the first after March 26th, will run you 3,500 Station Cash, which translates into $35 if you leave aside any possible discounts or stipends. You can apply this boost to a new or existing character.
$35 is the same price as EverQuest II charges for their version of the boost, which was somewhere near the possible price range for Lord of the Rings Online’s experiment with insta-levels (depending on how you value Turbine Points), but is considerably less than what Blizzard is planning to charge for a level 90 character in World of Warcraft.
That last bit makes you think. After all, the prices of other services… realm transfers or race/faction/name changes… even expansions… for these games run about the same. But a boost to a high level character? $35 vs. $60.
What ever your particular market can bear I guess. Or maybe it depends on the target audience for the offer.
Otherwise, the deals are similar enough. You get a boost up into what the company considers the current/best/optimum/most up to date content. You get some good gear and whatever else goes along with the being at that level. In the case of EQ that means Alternate Advancement points, one of those things that went from a way to keep people busy after they hit level cap to “you must have n AA points to join our very serious guild.” And there is even a special mount for you.
I remain somewhat indifferent to insta-levels. They are still something I would only pay money for under very specific, and pretty rare, circumstances. But I get the appeal. And in the case of EverQuest, the idea probably makes as much sense as it ever will.
After all, the content in EverQuest has evolved a lot in the last 15 years. And the bits and pieces of Norrath that I think I “know” represent a tiny fraction of that content. What I might call “my” EverQuest adds up to the original content, much of Ruins of Kunark, the areas around Crescent Reach up to about level 50, the tutorial, the Plane of Knowledge, and a few lower level locations scattered around the game. Anything above level 60 or that was added after, say, Planes of Power, is pretty much unknown to me and likely to remain that way. I mean, I didn’t even find a “lost” dungeon (2003 content) until about two years ago.
If I want to see anything new in Norrath, an insta-85 is probably the best way, as I have long since lost my ability to level up over time in the game, even with reductions in the level curve, mercenaries, and some attempts at directed content. And I suspect I am not alone in that.
And then there is the cash shop in EverQuest. SOE was extremely sensitive to what they put in the cash shop in EverQuest II. In EverQuest though, the felt much less constrained. Things that would make people’s collective heads explode in EQII… like actual gear or trade skill supplies… are readily available for Station Cash in EQ.
But in EverQuest gear acquisition, and the constant flow of gear upgrades, is not as obvious or ingrained as it is in EverQuest II, where you have to pretty much change out everything every 10 levels.
And then there is the whole “this game is 15 years old with a lot of uneven content between character creation and level 85” aspect. It might make sense to just put people into the newer content and leave West Karana and Butcher Block to those with a yen for nostalgia. Of course, you might ask why they chose level 85. That puts you into the House of Thule content. If I recall right, that is about the peak before you have to start buying expansions again, so perhaps that is the right point to put people.
So I will likely go and get my free boost to level 85 later this week, and maybe even run around to see what there is to be seen these days. If nothing else, having a character at that level will make touring the world a little easier.
Actually, I will probably boost a level 85 on both of my accounts. One curious little tidbit:
For accounts created before Nov 8, 2013, the free Heroic Character option is available one time per account.
For accounts created on or after Nov 8, 2013, the free Heroic Character option is available one time per household.
I seem to recall this “one time per household” thing coming up with the free boost EverQuest II. I suspect that people were angered… SOE has a knack for angering customers that boggles the mind some days… and now they have spelled it out in a very specific way while grandfathering older accounts into past rules in order to limit the rage level.
Meanwhile, I am wondering who will offer character level boosts next? Which games have enough content for this sort of thing to make sense.