Choose My Adventure: Through the starting gates of EverQuest

And we're off! The gates of EverQuest have opened, and thanks to the advice of my very own pit crew (that means you!), I am planted firmly in my saddle as ready to take on this wild Choose My Adventure ride. So let's get this show started, shall we?

Figuring out where in EQ I was going to go was pretty cut and dried; Firiona Vie was the server winner by a landslide. Either you know me well enough and placed me accordingly, or you're just saying that's an awesome place to be. Of course, it could be both, which is a double bonus.

The racial fight was more of a nail-biter. Tier"Dal, Iksar, and Froglok battled it out, but in the end, good won. Well, actually let's not be too hasty tossing that "good" label around: As for classes, only two choices were running pretty much neck in neck, and both were decidedly evil! Ultimately the caster lost and tin can won. So instead of summoning and commanding my own hordes of undead (for which I thank you profusely), I dub myself Sir MJ, the Shadowknight. As much as I have rarely played plate or tank classes, I do appreciate this; necromancy is definitely not a favorite pastime of mine. Add in your final decision to start me off in my racial lands and we are all set to go.
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Choose My Adventure: EverQuest

My first experience was one of bleeding ears. Holy heck, whose idea was it to blast the intro music while loading and creating at levels that will burst eardrums? Try as I might, I did not find a setting options to shut that sound level down, and even adjusting my headset volume did nothing. The best solution was to either mute all my PC sounds (even on the lowest level it was significant) or remove my headphones. I chose the latter, and everyone in the room could hear it all quite clearly.

I want to be clear, though, that I did wait for the pain to subside before diving into the character creation so I wouldn't be swayed in my judgment!

Making a new me

Obviously, the first place we head is to character creation. (I'd love to see someone try to play a game without actually creating a character!). I am going to be very upfront: I was pretty disappointed. For a feature that is fairly important to me, this system leaves a lot to be desired.

When deciding on your personal representation in the game, players have the following choices in customization: heritage, face, hair, hair color, eyes (color), facial hair and color, tattoo, and details. Except that you don't. Your race selection limits which of these options is even available to you to use. For instance, as a Froglok, I was able to select only face (which was my entire body color and pattern) and eyes. That's it -- just two. Within each of those, I had 10 choices.

To make matters worse for me, of the 10 bodies I could select from, the pattern and colors were set. The pattern I wanted did not come with the color I wanted. That was quite disappointing. Even more annoying, upon playing around with the generator I found that male Frogloks got to be an awesome black, rich vibrant greens, and even red and black, whereas I was stuck with pastels for a female. Really, pastels? I hate pastels! I really detest when game designers (or anyone else for that matter) equates female with one certain type of look.

I do understand that EQ is an old game, but after my experience in EverQuest II, I admit I was expecting a bit more variety than was available. Luckily, not all races are as restricted as mine; the more human-like races get a bit more. Of all the races, only the Drakkin can use all the slots, but hey -- female dwarves can have beards!

Another thing I was not expecting was that the advanced tab went not to advanced looks customization but to stats. As a long-time tabletop player, I fully grasped how important stat allotment can be, and since I didn't have the chance to check with you all, I had to resort to a guide for this part. According to this guide (which is five years old, so hopefully not too out-of-date!), stamina was where I should focus. And since it was the only stat I could change, I left it alone.

Although some folks expressed concern that starting in the racial area would frustrate me because of the lack of fellow players around, I am glad I'll be seeing the unique starter town. Those types of areas have always been a bigger draw for me than a conglomerate hub.

You'd think that limited choices would at least speed the creation process up for me, but alas, I still spent an long time on it! But I can finally introduce you to the star of this whole shebang: Kurobi, the mighty knight of all that is... dead? And she's set to begin life in the Mountains of Rath.

Hopping into the tutorial

Although I am far from a noob when it comes to games and I know EQII so well (I am well aware that the two games are quite different -- just get players from both camps debating their games together and you'll hear it all), I still started off with the tutorial. Besides, you never know when a game will throw a curve-ball at you as far as commands are concerned, so it's better to learn about those the easy way. To ensure I made it into the tutorial, I had to make sure the button on the character creation page was depressed and showed as yellow. At this point, I also put my headset back on.

I liked that the game was starting off with a story to explain why I was there. The narration was smooth and pleasant. Soon I realized that my attempts at being an ambassador for my people failed and I was captured! I found this a neat lead-in to where the tutorial began. So began my adventures in the mines of Gloomingdeep.

Once I awoke in the tutorial, I focused on moving my interface to the positions that are most comfortable for me. I loved how easy EQ made this process -- I just had to grab the windows with my mouse and move. It was a bit of a shock to not see any hotbars (you've seen the nine I use in EQII, right?), but a quick click through of the window selector bar at the top helped me find those things that my UI was missing. Then I realized that maybe the tutorial would actually walk me through some of that, so I jumped in.

This is where I really started to see some of the differences in EQ. For starters, there's the whole talking-to-the-NPCs-quest thing. You don't just click dialogue options to advance your quest; you have to actually chat with them -- as in type in responses. I know I have heard about it (and in fact after running the tutorial, I have vague memories of doing it on my previous attempt to play many years ago), but it is still different to actually experience it. And I like it! Talk about feeling as if you are personally involved in the action. One thing I did notice was that while the tutorial told me to type a specific sentence, my own variation worked fine. Will I have to be exact later on? That I don't know. But I do know that the key this time was to use the key highlighted word in the NPCs text. Now that was very cool!

One thing I didn't like was how the necessary windows seemed to pop up on top of one another, but I quickly moved the loot window and have been content with it since. Another thing I really detested was how I always targeted myself when trying to target a mob (there is no tab-targeting here, folks). Luckily during my first rat-slaying battle, a message appeared in chat directing me to head to options to enable Click Through Self in order to stop accidentally clicking myself instead of the mob. What a godsend! That also goes to reinforce the idea that you do not want to avoid messages that appear -- you may need them!

Topping off my tutorial adventures, I was trained for the first time! While AFK sitting on a box in the first room (full of benign rats) so I could upload the gallery here, someone managed to bring Queen Gloomfang down upon me until I finally croaked. I know this, because right before she started damaging me, she was damaging someone else who got away and remained alive -- it says so right in my damage log! At least I got that out of the way really early, right?

Moving into the world

I must make a confession here: It was only after playing for a spell (and wondering why I had a spell ability on my hotbar anyways) that I noticed that I accidentally clicked Shaman during creation. Oops! Yes, I had to go back and remake. And since I had to log out immediately after remaking, I apparently lost the chance to reawaken and earn my first level fighting the jailer. Ah well. On I go, back through to finish the tutorial and head out to the wide open lands of starter-ville.

Unfortunately, with only one short weekend and a remake, I didn't get as far into the game as I would have liked. And though there were definite detractions, I am still pretty eager to continue on. I look forward to a full week of adventuring. But in order to help me start in on those adventures, you need to tell me what I am doing! Should I even worry about finding others to play with, or should I just plow ahead on my own? Should I cram as much XP as I can into my playtime with the goal of hitting the first dungeon? And on a fun and possibly challenging note, should I choose a mob type that I absolutely refuse to kill under any circumstances, even if it means my own death?

Cast your votes before 11:59 p.m. EST on Friday, February 8th, to direct the next stage of this rodeo. And be sure to tune in to Massively TV for CMA Live! on Thursday, February 6th, at 9:00 p.m. EST to join in the adventures.%Poll-87026%%Poll-87029%%Poll-87033%

Strap yourself in for the ride of (six weeks of) your life! Where are you going? Well, that's entirely up to you, the Massively readers, to decide -- the where, the what, and the how are all directed by you. The who is MJ Guthrie! For the duration of Choose My Adventure, her virtual life is in your hands! Join MJ in-game, on-site, and live on Massively TV to be a part of the adventure and watch the story unfold.
This article was originally published on Massively.