EverQuest 2 Heroic Characters: Good or Bad?
News that EverQuest 2 added an interesting game mechanic has caused quite a stir among gamers. The venerable mmorpg has added Heroic Characters to its roster, in which a player can choose to create a level 85 character immediately or raise an existing character to that level. This option doesn't come cheap as players will have to shell out thirty five bucks for the privilege and opinion has been sharply divided over this new mechanic. We'll examine the whole ruckus going on as we consider EverQuest 2 Heroic Characters: good or bad?
Some gamers consider the Heroic Characters option in EverQuest 2 as a pay-to-win scenario. Players who shell out some cash get a pretty big boost as compared to non-paying players. These same players also argue that by having the option to get pretty close to end-game, that renders the lower level content useless. These are valid concerns but Dave Georgeson disagrees with that viewpoint. He states, “I just don’t feel like a Heroic Character is pay-to-win, or even pay-for-power. It’s all in how you define things, but to me, pay-to-win is buying something that gives you an advantage against other players. This just isn’t like that. A level 85 character is still 10 levels from max level cap. They still have many AA to gain, and despite starting with decent gear when created, they still have a long way to go to gear up for end-game raids and big events. To me, a Heroic Character basically just gives new or returning players more options. The world of EQII is just gigantic. No amount of players can fill it up. It’s just not possible. So players tend to congregate at the higher levels. It’s just natural. That’s where all their favorite characters are located, because those are the ones they play the most."
So, are Heroic Characters in EverQuest 2 good or bad? My personal opinion is that they're a good thing for several reasons. First, it's not like the player is purchasing a maxed-out character brimming with legendary artifacts and gear. The character still hasn't reached max level and the gear that they come with is decent but not earth-shattering. Players will have to spend a bit of time figuring out the nuances to that character and how to get the best possible play out of them. Second, mmo games have to make money to stay in business. EQ2 is a free to play mmo, and SOE has to make their money somewhere. This choice of whether to purchase a Heroic Character is a voluntary one and if somebody wants to spend the money to do so, I don't have a problem with it. If you don't want to purchase one, you can still continue to play for free.
EverQuest 2 isn't the only game to give players the chance to play a high level character right away. Dungeons and Dragons Online has added such an option with their Shadowfell Conspiracy expansion where players can create Iconic Heroes, which are level 15 characters that have a specific class. If players are agreeable to such a game mechanic (and I believe that they are), gamers are likely to see it expand into other mmorpg games.
Another facet that makes EverQuest 2's Heroic Characters a good option for players is the ability to skip the grind. One of the bad features of online games is that when you create an alt, you'll have to grind your way up through the content you've already played before. This can get quite tedious and I know I've abandoned many alts at the mid-levels out of sheer boredom. With the ability to get close to max level with the Heroic Characters option, players can wade into the end-game content that they're looking to play alongside their friends.
The only way that I can think Heroic Characters can be a bad thing is if they're so overpowered with abilities or special gear, that normal characters that have been leveled the regular way are unable to compete with them. This isn't fair and does make the option pay-to-win. Fortunately, it appears that EverQuest 2 is aware of this danger and is avoiding it. The other bad facet that could be associated with this mechanic is one of cost. I do think $35 is kind of steep and will keep the option out of price range for many gamers. I would prefer to see a cheaper cost for purchasing this option.
Overall, while many gamers are divided over whether EverQuest 2's Heroic Characters are good or bad, I lean heavily towards good. It allows players the option to skip ahead close to the end-game content and avoid the tedium of grinding out levels. The Heroic Characters themselves are not overpowered and come with good, but not legendary gear. While I do think the price is somewhat steep, online games have to make money to survive and if players want to shell out the cash, it's their choice. Players should be allowed to play a game in the manner that they wish as long as the mechanics don't become pay-to-win.