(EDIT – we’re talking a baker’s half-score here. Blogging’s not an exact science, you know! Thanks to all who have made suggestions for additions.)
1. EQ2 has a dizzying number of classes…
but it’s not as confusing as it seems. There are 4 basic class archetypes and three paired subclasses per type. Most pairs are good/evil alignment, but one pair for each archtetype is neutral. Paired classes play sort of like each other, but aren’t just alignment-mirrored versions; there are some substantial differences even though the class basics will remain the same.
Note that the descriptions below are heavily circumscribed by my own lack of experience with several of them — but it should be enough to at least give you an idea of the basic differences.
Every single class in the game has buffs, whether they’re self-buffs or ally buffs or group/raid buffs.
G = Good, E = Evil, N = Neutral
Guardian (N) / Berzerker (N) — G is slightly more geared to soaking lots of damage, B slightly more to dishing it.
Monk (G) / Bruiser (E) — light-armored tankish types. Bruiser a little more offensive than Monk and a little more multi-target (I think).
Paladin (G) / Shadowknight (E) — heal/harm tank combo. Paladins heal more, SKs have damage soaks and many tasty AOEs.
SCOUT archetype (all types can wear chain)
Troubador (N) / Dirge (N) — happy bard, sad bard. One mostly buffs, one does lots of debuffs. Happy happy high runspeeds.
Ranger (G) / Assassin (E) — Ranger very range biased, Assassin very stealth biased.
Swashbuckler (G) / Bandit (E) — positional classes both. High DPS, some tankability with shield equipped and the right AAs.
Fury (N) / Warden (N) — Druid classes. Fury is more nukey, Warden is more melee(ish). Many HOTs, many buffs. Leather armor.
Templar (G) / Inquisitor (E) — Templars are the plate-wearing, low-damage healing heavy-hitters. I don’t know much about Inquis except that they deal a little more damage.
Mystic (G) / Defiler (E) — Shamans who see dead people and bend them to their will. Or something like that. Damage soak spells, direct healing a little weaker than the other priests. PET class (if desired), though the pet is relatively weak unless AA-boosted.
There’s a reason I put these guys last, since I don’t play them much and have never got one past 30. Take these comments with a grain of salt.
Wizard (N) / Warlock (N) — Wiz is more direct damage, root & nuke, Warlock is more encounter-based (linked group of mobs). No idea what buffs they have.
Conjuror (G) / Necromancer (E) — fairly standard pet-wielding mage classes. Forgiving for newbies since the pet can cover a multitude of newbie sins.
Illusionist (G) / Coercer (E) — kinda-sorta pet classes. The illy can create a duplicate of herself, while the coercer can (temporarily) charm enemies. Both classes are said to become extremely powerful when played well, but can be hard to master, especially the coercer.
2. EQ2 alignments made simple
Here’s the really important part: Alignment DOES NOT affect a character’s ability to group with other people. It does not affect an account’s shared bank slots. It does not affect tells or mails or guild joining options — basically, it’s not the insurmountable dividing wall that Alliance/Horde is in WoW. In practical terms, alignment determines what cities you may become a citizen of without betraying, which determines where you can buy housing. It also determines which guards will try to kill you on sight. Other than that, alignment really only affects roleplaying.
Your choice of class and starting area is what determines your alignment in most cases. Shadowknights can’t be good and Paladins can’t be evil. EQ2 currently has five capital cities, three of which are very strongly aligned with one side or the other (you’ll get killed if you’re the wrong alignment and the guards can see you and aren’t grey to you) — Qeynos (G), Freeport (E) and Neriak (E). The remaining two cities — Kelethin and Gorowyn — are somewhat good and somewhat evil aligned respectively but are happy to tolerate visitors from both sides provided you don’t stray into certain areas (like the Royal Platform in Kelethin, where the guards are good-aligned).
HOWEVER… You can “betray” your current city and, by gaining faction, eventually move over to the opposite alignment. This isn’t nearly as painful and grindy as it used to be (though it’s still a bit grindy). The important thing to note here is that if you are an aligned class, you will have to swap to your opposing class if your alignment changes. So if a Paladin betrays Qeynos for Freeport (or anywhere else), they will become a Shadowknight. Neutral classes can stay as they are, so a Fury can betray Qeynos for Freeport and still be a Fury at the end of the process.
It’s worth knowing that even neutral classes are presented with the class confirmation event when they betray, so it’s a way to turn a class into its paired class (e.g. Warden <–> Fury) if you discover you’re not entirely happy with the gameplay or want to try something different.
Note that even if you’re playing a “neutral” class, your character still has an alignment. A Fury living in Qeynos WILL get beaten up on by Freeport or Neriak guards.
3. Bank slots — use them!
Each character has access to 12 personal bank slots that can be filled with bags that can, in turn, hold more stuff. (You can’t nest bags.) Each account has access to 8 shared bank slots that can be seen and used by all characters on that account, regardless of location or alignment. (The only exception to this is that betraying characters who are temporarily “In Exile” cannot access the shared bank.) This personal/shared bank arrangement also includes money — each character has their own savings account, and each account has a joint money area available also.
4. Chat commands, EQ2 haz dem
Lots of things that can be clicked on can also be done via chat commands, which I much prefer. I don’t click the EQ2 button and then the Camp (or Logout) menu option — I just type /camp. Or /camp Charname, which will log my current char out and log in the one I just specified. Or /camp desktop, which cunningly enough will neatly log my current char out and then exit the client. (I’m not a fan of /exit in any game, because half the time it means any options you set up or UI changes you made don’t get saved. This may not be the case for EQ2, but it always pays to log out properly if you have time to do it.)
In the basic setup, hitting T will start a tell, R will reply, and G will open a group chat line. (Okay, those aren’t technically chat commands, but they’re handy.)
EQ2 also has an auto-complete type feature. If you think there’s a chat command for something, say inspecting another player, but you’re not sure what it is, you can start typing a command — such as /inspe — then hit TAB, and the game will list all possible commands starting with the string you just typed.
5. Hotbars and bags can be resized
Right out of the default, unmodded UI that is. Right click on a hotbar and pick “Hotbar options” and you can set all manner of fun things. Right click on an open bag (not the bag icon in inventory or the bank, for some reason) and you’ll get an equally useful “Bag options” window. Default bag sizes are ludicrously huge, at least for me; mine are all mushed down to 29 pixels per bag “slot”, which is probably too small for new players unless you’ve got sharp eyes, but 34-ish pixels is more than big enough to see what you’ve got without handing over all your precious screen space.
At my 1920×1200 resolution I can have 12 (personal bank) + 8 (shared bank) + 6 (personal inventory) 36-slot bags all open at once on screen. And neat, too. I may be a messy slob in real life but I’m OCD about game inventories.
6. Right-clicking is your friend
It’s amazing how many hidden interactions you’ll find when right-clicking on stuff in EQ2. A banker NPC will suddenly reveal their alternate Guild Banker identity (if you’re in a guild). UI elements will suddenly reveal customisation options. Creatures will spontaneously explode. (Okay, I made that one up.) You won’t be constantly right-clicking, at least I don’t, but it’s worth knowing that sometimes that’s what you need to do in order to access the game’s arcane optional underbelly.
7. EQ2 has more options than you can shake a stick at
Srsly, I think EQ2 has more options than I’ve ever seen in any other game. You can customise the graphics to a pretty large extent (and can do even more if you’re willing to go in and mess with .ini files). You can customise how verbose the combat text is. You can customise whether you see floaty numbers in combat or not, and what colour your various chats are — if you want experience messages to be in red, you can do that. It is absolutely worth hitting ALT-O and poking around in the options; it’ll take a while, but there’s a treasure trove of customisations in there.
One default setting I’ve always hated is the mob-naming. The default setting shows mob level in a pretty circle, along with some pretty curlicues that are supposed to give you an idea how tough the mob is. The alternate setting dispenses with showing the level (though it’ll be visible if you actually target the mob, and names are level-relative colour coded anyway) but also dispenses with the silly curlicues in favour of far more obvious down \/ or up ^ arrows. A triple-down mob, as they’re known in EQ2 parlance, will probably die if you cough on it. A ^^^ (or triple up) mob will probably kill you by coughing on you, especially if it’s also “heroic” (which means tougher than usual).
How to change this: Options –> User Interface –> Name and Chat Bubble –> NPC evaluation. Change that from Simple (frames) to Detailed (arrows). Tada!
8. Alternate Advancement is your friend too
It’s certainly not as scary as it seems at first glance. For one thing, you don’t even have to think about it till you’re level 10, since you can’t start gaining AA xp till that level. For another, your choices there are not as final as they may appear. Each separate tab in the AA window can be respecced once for free just by clicking a button at the top of the window (which won’t appear till you first spend points in that tab). After that, there are NPCs you can talk to for respecs, though as with other games this process becomes progressively more expensive. You don’t want to be changing your mind every 5 seconds, but neither are you locked into a choice forever.
9. EQ2 spells/combat arts upgrade automatically as you level
Unlike WoW, you don’t have to visit a trainer every couple of levels to get new versions of your stuff. HOWEVER — characters are only given the basic “potency” of any given spell or combat art, when in fact there are increasing levels of power. So if you get, say, Jalapeno Breath II at level 14, you’ll only get the “Apprentice” version of the spell; you can obtain improved versions from crafters, loot drops, Research Assistants, or specialisations you can select every few levels as you go. Jalapeno Breath II (apprentice) does less damage than Jalapeno Breath II (Journeyman) which does less than Jalapeno Breath II (Grandmaster).
10. Not all starting areas are created equal
This was suggested by Spinks, though I would add the caveat that starting area quality will to some extent be dependent on player preferences. Fact is, however, that EQ2 has been added to and refined over the years, and some starting areas really are easier, more friendly, and generally more fun and flowy than others.
Playstyle caveats aside, I did find that the Darklight Wood and Timorous Deep starting areas are way more streamlined and organised than older starting areas; sadly, they’re both evil. The Greater Feydark (Kelethin) starting area, in contrast, I found to be really tedious, but I gather lots of people like it. Similarly lots of people hate the “Isle of Refuge” starting area (which is the oldest), but I’m sentimentally partial to it and it too has been somewhat streamlined over the years.
If you just want to get to grips with the game and don’t want to have to worry too much about what and where, I’d say start in Neriak or Gorowyn, where the new player experience isn’t too overloading. You can always start a good character somewhere else once that initial new-game-overload feeling is gone.
11. Hit J and RTFQ
Most of the time quests are fairly self-explanatory… except when they’re not. Some of the older EQ2 quests, in particular, can be exceptionally opaque and can contain a lot of info that isn’t presented during the dialogue with the NPC. Be sure to check your quest journal (J) when confused. That same quest journal also contains tabs so you can see all the quests you’ve finished, all the collections you’re doing (or have done), and what achievements (not AA) you’ve completed or are working on.
12. Learn the Way of the Shiney
If it’s on the ground and it’s shiney, whether it’s gold (the most common), purple, red or blue — or even green — pick it up. It’s a collection, and collections are fun. Collections reward xp, AA xp, and often some pretty nifty items too. Just remember, it’s a slippery slope; shineys are EQ2’s version of crack cocaine and they can severely inhibit your ability to get from A to B in reasonable amounts of time.
13. You don’t have to get mods, but only a dummy doesn’t get EQ2Maps
Seriously, it’s what the EQ2 map should be. It’s got a wealth of information provided by other players and most of it is even accurate. And if you feel overly slapped with information, you can filter what shows — but still have decent maps if you need them. And believe me, you need good maps in Norrath sometimes. Get it right here.
14. How to disable the welcome scream
Not so much for newbies, unless you’re comfortable editing .ini files. Not that it’s particularly arcane or anything. Here’s how. Open the “eq2.ini” file that lives in the top level of the Everquest 2 directory (notepad is best for this). Add the following line of text, minus the quotes: “cl_show_welcome_screen_on_startup 0″ (that’s a zero at the end there, not a letter). Et voilà.
Now that this post is done, I can admit that these weren’t the 10 things I wanted to post. Stuff keeps occurring to me, usually when I’m not at the keyboard, and then disoccurring because I have an awful memory and never think to write stuff down.
So we’ll consider this a post in progress. If folks want to suggest things they don’t know but want to know, things they discovered and wish they’d known sooner, and so on, please do so. I’ll amend the post accordingly.