The Tattered Notebook: GU58 reactions and a happy ratonga


So the yin/yang monster has caught up with me this week, and it's taken the form of EverQuest II's latest game update. A few weeks ago, my Ratonga alter-ego was positively crushed under the weight of the awful spell effect changes wrought by EQII's Game Update 57. He was so upset, in fact, that he called me during a meeting and insisted I write a rather ranty column about it, complete with sidebar pictures depicting the gruesome before-and-after details.

Happily, GU58 has arrived to right that horrible wrong (as well as add some other cool stuff). Turn the page to see what else the folks at SOE have stirred into the pot for the denizens of Norrath.

GU58 is, for lack of a better word, huge. Rather than listing out all of the changes (a cheap and evil word-count trick), let's look at a few of the highlights from the lengthy patch notes and engage in a bit of discussion about each.

Spell FX revamp

Yeah, it's a revamp to fix what the last revamp borked (gosh I love MMORPGs) but at least SOE is moving in the right direction this time. Whereas GU57 was all about optimizing lag caused by EQII's (formerly) splendorous spell animations, GU58 is an attempt to meet players in the middle after a couple of months of less-than-stellar feedback.

Combat sounds were also nerfed into oblivion with GU57, but happily, last week's update restored many of the class favorites, relieving a bit of player consternation. Of particular note are the updates to Wizard fusion and ro's blade spells (yay!), Coercer stupefy and velocity spells, Warlock rift spells, and Shadowknight grave sacrament spells. There's a pretty detailed thread chatting up the changes on the official boards, if you're interested in further reading.

UI tweaks

Ro's blade rebornGU57 also did a number on EverQuest II's UI, and though the changes were roundly booed by many players -- mainly due to the increased inevitability of the Station Cash buttons and assorted paraphernalia -- I always thought the new UI was leaner, meaner and altogether more appealing in almost every way. SOE apparently isn't content with it though (and that's a good thing), as the team has added the long-awaited "click-to-cure" functionality as well as new currency and mount windows.

Click-to-cure has been a mainstay on third-party UIs over the years, and it basically allows for players to deal more easily with those annoying detrimental spell effects placed on your avatar during raids and boss fights. If you're anything like I am, you've got at least five rows of hotbars, stuffed to the gills with spells, abilities, and usable items that always seem to be hidden away when you need them most. Now, all that's required is a quick click of the offending debuff icon and you'll automatically dispel it, assuming you have the requisite ability or healing item.

The currency window is a similar boon to players who struggle with inventory management (or who have severely limited space to begin with, like bronze-level EQ2X users). Prior to GU58, all your city tokens, marks, cogs, and assorted other event currencies (aside from the usual copper, silver, gold, and platinum) took up valuable bag space. Now, simply open your character pane ("C" by default) and click the currency tab at the bottom. Voila! No more wasted bag slots.

Mount windows are another godsend as they free up inventory space (can you tell this is an ongoing issue for some folks?). In addition to alleviating the need to store mounts in your bank or bags, mount windows allow you to use the statistics of one mount while displaying the visual skin of another, thanks to the new mount appearance slots. Check out all the details on these nifty new UI features at the official website.

New content

Another bone that long-time EQII players picked with Sony over GU57 was the fact that the patch lacked new content. It was (rightly) seen as the free-to-play patch, a game update almost entirely devoted to getting the client, the UI, and the store ready for the influx of EQ2X folks. Happily, GU58 marks the return of content additions to the world of Norrath, which in turn makes one of the largest worlds -- if not the largest world -- in the genre that much bigger.

The addition takes the form of a new dungeon called Zraxth's Unseen Arcanum and tasks players with surviving the powerful planar forces (and associated beasties) unleashed by the titular Zraxth while delving deep into the bowels of Guk. The heroic dungeon is designed for small groups of max-level players and features a chance to score some new appearance armor as well as a new mount. Check out some of the baddies you'll be facing as well as a rudimentary map, once again courtesy of the official website.

Betrayal quest tweaks

The betrayal quest lines have always been some of the more enjoyable portions of EQII, and they've undergone some significant changes with the current patch. The biggest noise comes from the fact that players will no longer have master-level spells taken away from them upon completing their new citizenship tasks (assuming they keep the same class). If you're betraying to another city and another adventuring class, you'll retain access to the master-level spells you acquired prior to betrayal should you choose to return to your original class at some future point.

Well, I'm about out of time for this week. Norrath is calling, and my favorite ratonga is just itching to fill up his newly acquired inventory space with goblin heads, cheese, and arcane spell books (not necessarily in that order). As I've just barely scratched the surface of many of the changes introduced in GU58, I encourage you to log in and check them out for yourself if you haven't by now. If you have, well, let me know what you think in the comments already!

Jef Reahard may be an eternal EverQuest II newb, but he writes a weekly column about the game anyway, through the eyes of a Ratonga Wizard (or any one of 3,720 other alts). If it has to do with the huge and ever-expanding world of EQII, it's been jotted down in The Tattered Notebook. Send Ratonga fan mail to jef@massively.com.

This article was originally published on Massively.