I’ve been waiting on the reveal of EQ Next, much like everyone else, since the news of it restarting as a sandbox. I was excited mostly because i was interested in what SOE had up their sleeves and not so much because of the IP. I never really got into the franchise mostly because i was a hardcore FFXI player. That game was essentially the Japanese version of EQ with better art and class system, so i never felt the need to venture into Norrath. I did however play EQ2 briefly, which i enjoyed for what it was.
I do also admit that the other reason for my excitement was because i absolutely knew the reaction old school EQ players would have if anything diverted from their personal expectation of what this game should be. It’s the same exact players that I’m used to from FFXI. They’re extremely loyal, unwilling to change, extremely stubborn, but also community driven. Now some of those qualities are great and some get in the way of progress. It’s a daily discussion we have on TS where we compare how things used to be and how similar players and situations from both those MMO’s really were and still are.
None of us were surprised that as soon as the art was revealed, the cries of “cartoon art – this game is dead to me” started pouring in. I could only imagine what kind of backlash we’d get if Square decided to change things like that in FFXIV. It would be a complete catastrophe. I absolutely understand because it was that exact reason that i couldn’t make it past level 5 in WoW. If i don’t like what I’m looking at, no matter how great the combat or content is, I’m not going to bother spending time there.
Here lies the problem i have with this thinking for this game, and keep in mind it’s all my opinion. EQ and EQ2 had not only terrible character models but also really bad art style. If you go look at FFXI today, you’ll be blown away that it’s an 11 year old MMO. It still looks great. What I’m trying to say is, i feel the art direction is a huge improvement over the old one in the EQ world. I know this won’t be a popular opinion, but it is what it is. I think it’s a perfect middle ground between the terrible WoW art and something like Black Desert. At the same time, i understand all the hate it’s getting. You really can’t win when you’re creating something new for die-hard fans.