EQ2X: In which we go shopping in the Everquest 2 Extended Marketplace

I’ve covered Everquest 2 Extended a little bit already in my previous post, in which I looked at the different sorts of EX2X subscriber level. Today I’ve got an account up and running, and I’m going to take a look through the EQ2X Marketplace to see the differences from Live.

One change that will be immediately obvious to older players logging in is that SOGA models have become the default. SOGA models were an alternative set of character appearances that were added in 2005, mostly for the Asian market. There’s a good Flickr album of them here. They have a very anime feel to them, and you tend to either love them, or hate them. A major complaint I have heard is that they are less customisable, and more prone to weird glitching with bits of the model sticking through solid objects during animations. You can choose whether to use the original or SOGA models on a per race basis. Ratonga don’t have a SOGA model, so I didn’t notice right away.

The main problem with having two sets of models is that you no longer get to decide what your character looks like to other people. If they’re set to use SOGA humans, you look like a SOGA human to them, even if you hate what that makes you look like. Most current players, though certainly not all, predominantly use the original models.

It’s not a massive deal to me, as I can still choose to set all my models to original flavour, and Ratonga are immune to SOGA anyway. Still, it is a bit of a weird change, until you consider that EQ2X is designed to break into the RMT-centric Asian market, then it starts making complete sense. I’m not sure yet as to whether SOGA will also be the default for EQ2 Live. I hope not.

To the Marketplace!

SOE have desperately wanted to be able to sell statted items to us for years, but have felt hemmed in by previous promises that that would never happen in EQ2. Creating EQ2X as a technically separate entity has allowed them to be able to claim the promise is being kept. The problem with that is, as the Live trial is being ended, and new players are being funnelled into EQ2X with no obvious path from there to EQ2 Live, the Live game is likely to dwindle as EQ2X grows.

So, what sort of things can we buy in EQ2X? Of course, EQ2X’s shop has everything that the original shop has, but with some important additions. The exchange rate is 100 Station Cash to 1 US dollar, so I’m going to use dollars going forward for clarity, as using points tends to obscure the fact that you’re spending real money.

It looks like all the rare crafted gear is in there. You can only see gear that is appropriate to your level and class, so on the Armor screen, Level 1 Maltheas sees this:

EQ2X Marketplace Armor 550x342

A full set of tier 1 bronze plate will cost $6. A weapon will cost another $2. Curiously, how much you’re charged for an item does not seem to have much to do with how many resources are used to make them. All these armor and weapon items all require a single rare ingredient, but the price ranges from 50 cents to $2. As we’ll see in a moment, the price of resources rises with tier, so it seems reasonable to suspect that the price of equipment will also be greater at higher levels.

While making all the crafted gear available in the shop might seem to be pretty awful for anyone who wants to be a crafter in EQ2X, fear not. Crafters too can skip all that pesky harvesting by purchasing their ingredients direct from Brell himself.

EQ2X Common Crafting Ingredients 550x344

A stack of 200 common ore will set you back between $4 and $6, depending on tier. Curiously again, some common resources cost more than others. 200 loam, gems, or precious metal will only cost you $2 regardless of tier. Leather and wood cost from $2 to $4.

EQ2X Rare Crafting Ingredients 550x344

Rare ingredients are, unsurprisingly, more expensive. They are bought in packs of 5, and in this case a pack of 5 rare ore will cost between $6.50 and $10. Most other rare resource are a flat $6.50 across the tiers, apart from Kaborite and Ulteran Diamonds which are a whopping $15 for 5.

The oddest thing for me about all this is the realisation that I own thousands of dollars worth of crafting ingredients, if I were able to sell them for the same price as the Marketplace.

My concern with anything like this is how the tail ends up wagging the dog. If SOE find that people are willing to buy rare harvests, it will be natural for them to consider how many more they could sell if they tweaked the drop rate down a little bit. RMT becomes central to the design of the game, rather than being a little extra bit of income. Interestingly, even a lot of loyalists who have supported SOE on this journey down the slippery RMT slope are now raising their voices in opposition. Too late, I fear, as such realisations tend to be. “It’s a cookbook.”

There are also the race packs, each containing three races, for $7.50. I don’t have a problem with these in principle, as a F2P game does need things it can sell, were it not for it not being included for the gold/platinum subscribers.

There’s other bits and bobs. One surprise is that you will require a guild charter, costing $10, to form a guild. This would seem to be the case even for gold and platinum subscribers, making that one more additional expense on top of a $15 subscription that EQ2Xers will be expected to pay.

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