EverQuest Online Adventures: Frontiers
Revisiting EQOA's online world with this expansion, I really hoped to find a healthy community of roleplayers at all levels to join me in my mock-medieval adventure. I figured that, almost a year after EQOA's initial release, this community just had to be there. Instead, I wandered the same lonely hills--many times as the only person for miles--killing beetles, ants, and the odd rabid badger while I imagined how much better this game must get at higher levels. Newbies have to invest upward of 15 hours in the same boring location until they can even look past their starting area, and without a couple other freaks to keep it lively, this dull intro phase will seriously deter anyone but the hardcore. But the hardcore do have a solid game to play, with noticeably improved graphics, plus new locations, monsters, and loot. The new Tradeskill system (in which you craft your own items) also adds depth for serious players. Getting mad experience points and rare magical items for killing some hideous high-level beast lurking in its hidden lair is still fundamentally addictive--too bad it's so hard to get that far.
EQ has never been a game that people choose to play, exactly. Instead, the game chooses its players: You either cheerfully log hundreds of hours to build that coveted level-54 monk or you wonder what the fuss is all about. Frontiers fixes many of the problems online-RPG nuts pinned on the original Online Adventures-- you can build items, there's more customization, and the graphics are slightly improved. The gameplay's still boredom defined, though, so unless you're already into the EQOA community, you're probably better off avoiding this slippery slope.
Frontiers' biggest problem really has nothing to do with the game itself. It's a respectable RPG that was impressively shoehorned onto PS2. It's got a deep character-development system, its world is vast and varied, and this expansion offers a lot of new content for veteran players. The problem, really, is its future competition. See, this is the kind of game that you have to sink many, many hours into, so you might just want to wait for the vastly superior Final Fantasy XI.
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Hi. My name is Kenny and I'm an Everquest addict. I, along with thousands of other gamers across the world, have been bitten by the MMORPG bug, and like a bad flu, I don't see the addiction going away for a long, long time. EverQuest took the world by storm in 1999 and it's been raking in the cash ever since. At its peak, it had about 500,000 subscribers each shelling out 10 bucks a month. You do the math. Needless to say, the EverQuest brand is a force to be reckoned with on the PC, but the EverQuest franchise recently branched onto the PS2 in EverQuest Online Adventures. Not even a year has passed since its original release, but EverQuest adventurers are already treated to an expansion with EverQuest Online Adventures: Frontiers.
For those who have spent some time with the PC version of EverQuest, EverQuest Online Adventures is essentially EverQuest-light. EQOA has the same gameplay core as it's PC counterpart -- level up, gear up, and learn skills in a persistent online world -- but the entire game is a much more simple affair when compared to most MMORPGs. The adventuring aspect is represented well as the lands are huge, dwarfing most MMORPGs in sheer size, but leveling up is the same ol' boring experience grind native to most every MMORPG.
Although the game plays as a simplified MMORPG, EQOA still requires a lot of time and dedication to advance. You really do reap what you sow in MMORPGs, and EQOA is no different. If you plan to be one of the few 60 level characters in EQOA, then kiss your social circles good-bye ' it's gonna be a long ride to the top.
Frontiers can be called an upgraded version of EQOA, with several new worthwhile features and zones included. First and foremost, the level cap has been raised to 60, and once you're 60, you can still grind out experience for class mastery skills that add a bit of depth in how you shape your avatar. Several new zones have been added as well, some of which will need to be tackled by high-level raid forces. I'll have to admit that since I had to start from scratch, I didn't get to check out most of the Frontier zones since they're mostly geared towards the high-end crowd, but what I did see I liked.
Frontiers is not the best looking MMORPG out there, but what's there works. Frame rates often stutter when there are a lot of particle effects thrown on the screen, and oddly enough, even when there's fog. Character models look nice and animate well, but there aren't a lot of options on how you can customize your character's appearance. But on to end on a positive note, the servers have little to no lag and despite the huge worlds, there's not a whole lot of loading.
Hardcore MMORPG gamers will likely snub EverQuest Online Adventures: Frontiers due to its simplicity. That's fine ' EQOA: Frontiers will offer little for them. Instead, think of EverQuest Online Adventures: Frontiers as a great stepping-stone into the world of MMORPGs. It's a lot easier to learn, a lot easier to get into, but still as fun. Granted, there's little depth, but it's a decent tradeoff for the ease of play that only EQOA: Frontiers offers.