Unlike Tipa’s nearly fruitless search, Fry’s had plenty of copies of Everquest 2’s latest expansion, The Shadow Odyssey. Despite the one per customer limitation, I was able to wrangle two copies (one for me, one for my wife).
I did note SoE’s continuing nonsensical pricing when it comes to these expansions. TSO is comprehensive, including all previous expansions and the original Everquest 2 all for a reasonable $34.99. I believe they still had the previous expansion Rise of Kunark for $19.99 and the next-to-last Echoes of Faydwer for $29.99, both of which included all the then-previous expansions. I guess it never pays to buy a la carte.
Since returning to EQ2 with Wilhelm, Gaff and Mrs. P a few weeks ago, I’ve been eagerly anticipating this expansion. Why, you ask, when I’ve barely got any characters above level 20 and most of the content is aimed toward the Level 80 crowd? I wont bore you unless you want to jump to the section following my initial impressions to hear of my saga.
The install went smoothly, the patching proceeded at a reasonable pace (under an hour start to finish) and the noob areas around Freeport where my lowbie characters are was generally lag free. Win.
Dire Bear Mount
Having my main over 20 the new Dire Bear pet/mount was a big win. He looks cool if a bit slow, but what’s not to love about being an evil character riding a bad ass bear? And the pewter figurine is a bit bigger than a Monopoly game piece, but you wont need to clear off any desk space for it…
The first thing I noticed was the addition of the new minimap. Another example of convergent evolution as most MMOs have some form of mini or “radar” map to aid navigation in your local area. Not content to just implement a feature present in most other MMOs, the new minimap is both freely zoomable and sizeable.
I love this. Best improved feature I’ve seen in a game in a long time. Still not perfect, but pretty darned good. Give me the ability to toggle different landmarks and I’d be a happy camper. The one weak spot was the actual icons used to indicate vendors, trainers, etc.– they are done in EXACTLY the same style as the minimap and as a result blend almost perfectly into the map itself. So well blended as to be really hard to tell apart from the map itself.
New Zone Map
With the new minimap came a revamp of all the zone maps and it was about time. Gone are the horrible all but useless old ones, replaced by something akin to a more realistic, less abstracted map. I’m sure some will say its dangerously cartoon-ish, but its such a functional improvement that I can only say good things. You can add points of interest, the entire zone is on one map, its freely zoomable and resizeable while retaining the ability to make transparent, etc.
Lots of win for a noob and an explorer like myself. I saw a bug or two (griffon towers not showing up on the big map, etc.) but overall, I like.
Might have just been me, but after the installer forced a Direct X upgrade on me, my impression was that the scenery was more lush. Could just be me, but it sure seemed like there was more vegetation, etc. as I roamed around the Commonlands. Anyone else notice this?
I didn’t check the options labyrinth to see if there were new settings, but I know that I didn’t tweak anything.
Being a lowbie an EQ2 noob, I didn’t get much chance to check anything else out, but sure seemed like another well executed expansion.
On to the saga if you dare…
Well, an interesting thing happened to me on the way to the expansion…
Long story of memory failure and stupidity to follow. Proceed at your own risk.
Once upon a time I had an Everquest account. I had that account for a while, and then canceled, moved, changed ISPs and emails, etc. The earth cooled, single cell life evolved and eventually, I found myself lured into Kelethin with the Echoes of Faydwer expansion which conveniently came with all the previous expansions.
Well, I couldn’t for the life of me remember what my (or Mrs. P’s) old station account name was (or what old emails and passwords might have been associated with them) from the Everquest days, so I just made a new account for each of us, installed EoF and played for a while until getting sucked into other games.
Time passed, the dinosaurs went extinct, and then this summer, SoE launched its Living Legacy promotion, so Mrs. P and I dabbled a bit more. I, however, was having trouble with my installation so I decided to delete it and reinstall. Fading memory and infrequent access to my account conspired to make me forget which account name I used for my most recent EoF installation.
To complicate things, at some point, I had mystically remembered my old EQ account name and password and evidently subbed to PotBS on that account. So when I reinstalled EoF and tried to access the game with the EQ/PotBS account to no avail. In frustration, I think I just installed a trial account to play with Mrs. P with the idea that “I’ll get this sorted sometime in the future if I stay with the game.”
With the recent return to Norrath, I was yet again perplexed how I could have Fae and Arasai characters, but not be able to create them. The game told me that I didn’t have the expansions installed. I could play the Arasai, but not the Fae, but he started in Darklight Wood… Curious.
Furthermore, when I tried to put my account key into my account, assuming that it just didn’t know who it was dealing with, it told me that the account key had already been used. Doh.
This all wouldn’t have been a big deal, except, noob that I am, I noticed that I didn’t have access to any AA points, nor could I even voyage to Kelethin which was a pain for our little group chasing heritage quests. Time to deal with it.
Based on my interactions with the SoE account site and the infamous patcher, I was not hopeful of any contact with customer service. Jaded too, by Blizzard’s utterly opaque, but somewhat effective email-only customer service, I was not looking forward to contacting SoE.
Gaff, however, has apparently contacted them several times by phone and had great results. On his encouragement I decided to try and fix this thing Once and For All. Being at work, I went for live chat.
After a brief conversation, the kind CSR was able to determine a few things. First, my account key was associated with another account. To my surprise, the CSR was able to tell me what that account name was which is when it hit me…
I tend to recycle a number of account names for my online games. This time, I had managed to cleverly misspell one of my usual suspect names which explains my inability to either access or retrieve the account information for it when I was trying to reinstall.
That said, my only key was associated with this other account and all my new characters were all on the keyless account. So I had a couple of solutions– buy another key, transfer the new characters to the account with the existing key, or simply sit tight for a week or so and get the new TSO all-inclusive key. The answer was simple. Go get the new expansion.
Simply put, SoE customer service was prompt, polite, helpful and got to the bottom of my problem which ultimately was the result of my own stupidity. Go them. I wont hesitate to contact them live again.
SO, TSO in hand, I gleefully plugged in my new cd key and now had access to my AA trees, the previous expansions and most importantly my new Dire Bear mount. Since you can still get AA experience for old grey quests, I can backfill to catch up.
Apparently I have an account death wish, because I nearly repeated the same mistake when updating Mrs. P’s account. For the life of me, I couldn’t remember which of the usual suspect names she’s been using to log on to her EQ2 account (she was running errands at the time). I went to the SoE account site, entered what I thought was here usual account and usual password and got in. When I went to put in her account key however, there was no EQ2 listed only an old EQ subscription…
Somewhere in the recesses of my brain, her original EQ account name and password– the one lost and forgotten for years– flowed from my subconscious to my fingers. Fortunately, I launched EQ2 and saw the account name she had been using lately which we set up for EoF now long ago. Same reasons, forgotten account names, old inactive emails, etc.
I quickly realized the error and logged to the correct account, entered the cd code and she had her Dire Bear as well. Believe me, if I had screwed that up, I wouldn’t be writing this.
So, despite having four station accounts, we actually have two fully functional updated subscriptions to EQ2 now…