The new EQ1 (yes, EQ1) servers “The Combine” and “The Sleeper” went up last Wednesday. They’re using a new “classic” ruleset where content from expansions must be unlocked by someone on the server. To open the planes, you have to down Nagafen and Vox, to open Kunark you have to whack Innoruuk, etc. It’s an interesting idea, especially for a game with as much content as EQ1 now has (I think Horizons was the first to have globally unlockable content, if you don’t count abortive attempts such as EQ1’s Waking the Sleeper quest).
What surprises me is how popular these servers are. I just popped on my baby necromancer and there were over 100 people on. Not on the server, in the Nektulos newbie zone. During lunch hour on a Friday. During prime time the newbie zones have been completely unplayable from the crush of people, with over 400 people reported in Greater Faydark alone. And this is the second server that was opened up.
Of course, this won’t last; SOE seems aware of this and is already talking about contingency plans to merge the two Progression servers once things calm down. And playing EQ1 again does remind me pretty fiercely how far the state of the art in make-little-XP-bar-move-from-left-to-right games has progressed; I miss some key innovations in DAOC, much less WOW when dorking around in EQ1. It’s an interesting and I dare say now necessary exercise for a designer.
Still, it’s fun to bop around killing snakes and rats as a necromancer in EQ1 again along with a community of hundreds of others, even if only for a while.