The lazy part comes not in relation to the actual decorating (which did become easier thanks to another recent update, by the way) but in travel. Indeed, now all Norrathians may never have to walk home through city streets again! Join me for a look at what could rightfully be billed as the new Norrathian transportation system. Oh, and the spiffy house management features, too.
Let's explore the new fast-travel system that may make walking a thing of the past in Norrath's cities. Last Thursday, EQII servers came down for an update that included the new "Housing & Leaderboards" window. Perhaps you've missed this little change; after all, the news heralding this new feature took only a tiny bit of space (albeit at the top) in the patch notes. But it's going to revolutionize the way you get yourself home after a long day of combat, crafting, and carousing. This window opens up a new inter- and intra-city fast-travel system utilizing housing. And it's available to each and every player.
Anyone who owns prestige houses already knows that using strategically placed portals can make an impressive network spanning Norrath's populated hubs. I myself have one such network for friends to travel safely to opposite-aligned cities. But even with recall, you still had to hoof it to the housing door and enter to take advantage of it. If your guild owns the housing transportation device, a recall there could grant you access to all houses on which you are listed as a friend or higher. However, if you happened to be caught with your recall or guild recall on cool-down, you'd be stuck and forced to travel the old-fashioned way. Oh, the horror!
But now, you needn't weary your feet by wandering through Norrathian streets to visit your -- or anyone else's -- houses ever again. The new Housing & Leaderboards window (accessed by hitting the EQII menu button) allows players to enter any of their homes at any time from any zone that has either housing or guild halls using the My Houses tab. Talk about lickity-split travel, especially if you have homes in various cities!
Don't even bother to go to the housing portal in Qeynos or Freeport to access your personal home; clicking it will just bring up the H&L window. You do, however, still have to travel there to purchase the home initially after acquiring the deed (even if you buy it from the window). Same goes for all other housing; players must visit the door for the first time to buy it.
The reason I say supposedly is that each of the four times I tried using the visit tab with different toons, I had issues bringing up a house I was friend or trustee on until I actually clicked on the door and searched once. After that, zoning and logging out seemed to have no effect and it was listed each time.
So even though you can't go between cities using the Visit tab (and might have to visit a door once more), it all still sounds totally convenient, right? And it's not even the only convenience offered through this new window.
You've noticed the commercials where folks are depositing checks by snapping a photo and sending that off? Well EQII has taken that idea of remote management and applied it to player housing. Now all Norrathians can pay rent for any of their homes via the My Houses tab. This means no more trying to port into a house or guild hall that needs upkeep and being blocked until you run to the door and pay it. Also, folks out adventuring can instantly pay rent on their property remotely to let customers in. This tab provides your house's basic information, including upkeep price and due date, escrow balance, how many items are placed, and any coin and status reduction.
But wait -- there's more! This same tab allows you to rename your house. Tired of the generic "Bufflewump's Inn Room" when you enter and on the minimap of your carefully crafted Dungeon of Horrors? Just rename it "Dungeon of Horrors." Sadly, visitors will still have to search for the place using your name and type of house, but when they actually enter, they too will see your new moniker on their minimap.
Another item added to this new H&L window is the ability for owners to easily add two screenshots of their home to the My Houses page. Stand where you want and simply click the button right on the window in edit mode -- it shows the whole screen sans UI. Just remember to hit save, or you'll have to do it all again.
And finally, players can also nab themselves a portal to their prestige houses right from this new window. Yay! This is especially helpful because whenever you actually need a portal, you are inside another home ready to place it. However, unless you happen to carry the right portal in your pack, you'll have to travel to your door and pick one up. Why expend so much energy and waste that precious time that could be spent doing other EverQuest-y things?
Of course, you can still see and visit and vote on published homes from this window using the Ratings tab. I'm going to admit that I just tested it out and zipped between my properties. I even found one house I had forgotten I had!
Although I was all excited to use the new window (I found I owned a house I'd totally forgotten), I knew there'd be a catch somewhere. As I mentioned before, there are some limitations to this new mode of fast travel. Players must be in any city zone -- not the general world -- to enter their personal homes. And to visit someone else's home, even an alt you have trustee status for, you must be physically in the correct city zone.
This last feature involving the trustee access is actually a bit annoying; homes that you are trustee on will redirect you to the My Homes tab, allowing you to pay rent and such, but you cannot see those houses listed. You can't even access them unless you are in the proper city zone where the house is. It would be nicer if there was a tab for trustee status or if those houses were actually listed on the My Houses tab and viewable with the filter.
Players also cannot manage who is allowed in their house from this H&L tab. For that, they have to travel into the physical structure and make the changes using the housing interface. Same goes for adding to the escrow, checking the history, and other activities on that interface (with the exception of moving items or relinquishing house).
As much as I was initially enjoying these changes, my exuberance was tempered a bit when I realized that this bow to convenience may have a larger impact on the game than folks expect. You see, many players already tend to be isolated away from others in their homes and their guild halls, which are stocked with all the amenities one could need. Brokers, bankers, portals, crafting, and more are all accessible within guild housing, and crafting and harvest depots are available in personal houses. There was already less and less interaction among the general population in cities because there was little reason to travel to them anymore. And now, I won't even have the chance of bumping into folks as they travel home or head out to knock on a friend's door.
As someone who enjoys random encounters with others, I worry that this new travel convenience will all but do away with them. And honestly, I love just wandering the world... including Norrath's cities. I am hoping this won't be the final nail in the coffin making these areas nothing but permanent ghost towns, where my only company will be the thoughts I keep as I walk along the streets.
EverQuest II is so big that sometimes MJ Guthrie gets lost in it all! Join her as she explores Norrathian nooks and crannies from the Overrealm to Timorous Deep. Running every other Saturday, The Tattered Notebook is your resource for all things EQII and EQNext -- and catch MJ every 'EverQuest Two-sday' on Massively TV!