A new threat to Qeynos?

Brenlo recently posted this on the EQ2 forums. It describes the new “Golden Path” which will help lead folks from zone to zone.

I have been poking around ingame and on the forums and have noticed a lot of confusion regarding the “Golden Path” and what exactly it is. People are looking for specific NPCs or quest lines, and finding themselves stuck. So I wanted to take a moment to clarify a little and talk about what it is currently and where it is headed.

The golden path is the first step in a larger revamp of our new player experience. We took a look at the starting areas, other than Qeynos and Freeport as we plan to move away from those, and reworked content so that it had a better flow. We wanted the quests in Darklight, Timorous and Greater Fay, to give you a better progression path. What you will find, is that if you start a new character, or jump into any of the quest hubs in those areas, is a more guided experience through content. We have hundreds of zones and for non veteran players, it can be intimidating trying to figure out where to go next. We wanted to remove that intimidation and give them a better play experience. So phase one is the “Golden Path” of content. A better progression of quests through various hubs starting in the three new player areas above. If you go to any of the zones listed in the update notes and start questing at one of the hubs, you are now on the “Golden Path!”

Phase two, which is following in the upcoming months, will introduce the Storyteller window (which is a much better name than Golden Path) which will link quest lines together in an interface, providing the visual representation of the golden path. We want players to understand why they may be collecting 10 oranges or killing 15 Goblin Scouts and show how that evolves into a larger story. The Storyteller System will move players along through content that we feel will give them a fun and exciting experience. While also engaging them in the world, the story and their character.

All sounds great. Except for this line, which I found hair-raising:

We took a look at the starting areas, other than Qeynos and Freeport as we plan to move away from those, and reworked content so that it had a better flow.

What does that mean? What is in store for Qeynos and Freeport?

I can’t believe they’d actually remove Qeynos and Freeport. I would suppose that it’s something more like leaving them to obsolescence, and perhaps removing their status as starting cities. Really, we’re just guessing at this point. “move away from” could mean quite a spectrum of things, but the fact that they were left out of the starting area improvements does suggest that they’re not considered worth fixing, which makes me sad.

Qeynos and Freeport have been neglected for years, alongside many of the older zones. It’s a bit of a sore point for me the way older content like Splitpaw is practically disowned, when with a bit of a tidy from time to time it could still be a vibrant part of the game. For instance, the boss loot in the Down Below still has no stats at all on it, and never has. I remember reporting that in the week after launch. Nevertheless, I still find that the original zones have far more depth to them than many of the newer ones. Places like Crushbone and Kaladim are very nice, but they are quickly consumed snacks compared with the questing feasts that are Stormhold or Nektropos, or even the Crypt of Betrayal.

There’s nothing wrong with the original cities that couldn’t be fixed by going through their sewers and surrounding areas and bringing the gear up to match the newer zones, and doing a little polishing. Maybe bring back all the quests that have been removed from them too.

If they really did do away with Qeynos and Freeport, I think that would be something of an NGE experience for some of us, especially if it was for so poor a reason as the newfangled streaming technology not working well with them, as has been suggested.

If they’re not streaming client friendly, simply don’t let people with the streaming client start there unless they’ve already downloaded the right zones. (Though I would have thought the average new player would have downloaded most of Qeynos by the time they had finished the Isle of Refuge for the first time.) Please don’t go throwing away places that we care about.

It’s almost as if the developers themselves believe that the game doesn’t start until you reach max level, and are trying to rush everyone there, and so don’t think the lower level content is all that important any more. I’m sure they don’t really think that, but the game does seem to becoming ever more that way. Not the best of ideas, because max level content is a rather small percentage of the game. It’s true that a lot of players do hang around at the level cap, but quite a lot of us don’t, and even most of those that are capped like to mentor down and explore the world sometimes.

I wish there was a Developer with the job of keeping older content viable. I’m not talking about zone revamps such as the recent Lavastorm one, though those are welcome. We just need someone to make sure that the loot and quest rewards are comparable to similar-levelled gear from later expansions, and that quests don’t get broken. That’s the real reason why the older zones aren’t popular.

When the flood of new players arrives for the new player experience, they’re not going to know what is new content and what is old content. Everything will be equally shiny to them, so it is illogical to value the new over the old when it comes to taking care of it.

Hopefully we’ll soon get more detailed information as to what is in store for our homes.

7 comments to A new threat to Qeynos?

  • I played at launch and I will tell you that FP and QY were too of the WORST starting zones ever created! You were zoning in and out all over the place. Both areas need to be more then just given a golden path….

    I like the new starting zones, why they feel they need a golden path is beyond me though…Currently I am leveling a character in Darklight woods and the quest seem to direct poeple along nicely. I will say though after level 20 it is very confusing on where to go next….that could use some work for sure!

  • Longasc

    The “Golden Path”: How much do players want to be guided? WoW does that, but it also lets players pick this or that zone or this or that quest path now and then. Qeynos and Freeport won’t be the starter zones anymore. People will apparently start in a few new starter zones.

    But it looks more and more like they believe players need to be guided by the hand through the content, in order to experience it “the right way”. Maybe the answer would be to make content that is compelling and not depending on players approaching it exactly at the supposedly “right” time in their levelling career.

    The pure sandbox bores and is too much for many players, as what you get from playing a sandbox depends a lot on what you put in. In general I favor this kind of design nevertheless. (But this is already diverging, so I will say, people should have something to do and not cry so much for daily quests that tell them what they have to do for this or that. :( )

  • I’m not sure I understand the difficulty. I played at launch too. You do the Isle of Refuge. You arrive at your racial village. You do the quests there, and it’s associated adventure area, which will then send you elsewhere, such as The Caves and Antonica. If you explore a bit, you’ll find quests for t1 and t2 everywhere within the city.

    Sure, there’s a bit of zoning. I suppose some people might get annoyed by that, though I never did. But these days there are ship bell routes to almost every city zone. Before the bells, I used to get around quickly via the sewers.

    The newer starting zones are almost totally linear, and hold your hand throughout. I like the greater exploring and adventuring opportunities offered by the great cities of Norrath. Let the newer starting zones carry on what they’re doing, if some folks like them, but there is no need to get rid of Qeynos, or turn it into another single-path experience. Everquest 2’s great strength is its support for multiple playstyles.

  • Freeport and Qeynos are a total disaster right now and do need to be fixed. Not so much hand holding but since EQ2 uses zones even for home hamlets it makes the entire thing confusing and disjointed. They should have done a pass on these areas 2-3 years ago instead of using new “expansions” to force people to start in other cities as an excuse to make things right.

  • Well, sadly, it sounds to me like they’re just going to be sidelined, rather than actually fixed. So neither of us will be happy. I’d be perfectly fine with them adding more linking quests and guidance to help folks find their way around, so long as they don’t mess up whats already there.

  • I think the game still supports multiple play styles, but with way people are these days you have to find a way to make the start of a game simple enough to grasp, and then open the world up a bit and allow for choices. 1-20 should be about LEARNING, and getting to know the game. 20+ should be a point in the right direction, or many directions and a pat on the butt, to get the player moving. This will open up to exploring and branching out.

    • Eve

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