Kunark: Boon or Bane for Casual Guilds?

Posted: December 11, 2007 by Kendricke in Everquest 2, Rise of Kunark

It seems that there’s some kind of nasty bug spreading from guild to guild since the release of Rise of Kunark:

“It’s got to stop, soon, I hope. How did things go from being fine and having 24 people easily one day, to having maybe maybe 5 people log in now. Officers who are off completing major quest lines with other guilds and leaving their own behind. The theory of “every man for himself” is just so much clearer now and I dislike it immensely. This game wasn’t supposed to be WoW. That’s why I liked it.” – Stargrace, MMOQuests.com

“Want a group to clean out some of your quests from the Rise of Kunark expansion? Go play another game, because Everquest II is not your home for group play anymore. Nooone wants to help you, unless they are on the exact same step as you are on a quest. Sat in a guild group we threw together and for 30 minutes we sat there trying to decide on what quest we all had in common. This quest oriented expansion is the most dissapointing pieces of junk I have ever seen.” –AverageJoe, Average Joe Gamer

“I think my guild’s reluctance to group together or to help on quests aside from a core group of early adopters, at least partially explains why people just don’t log on anymore. My son gave up leveling at 75 because it got too dull and now just plays on Xbox Live all the time. The former MT of our guild has been in and out of the guild many times in the last couple of weeks because he can’t find anyone to group with him in RoK.” – Tipa, WestKarana.com

Now, I could start posting links from the official forums for Everquest II to continue to show complaints, but suffice it to say that there certainly seems to be something in the Kunark water that appears to be giving a lot of guildmasters headaches these days.  Unfortunately, for the near future at least, there doesn’t seem to be any real relief in sight

I’ve been discussing this issue with several of my own guildmasters quite a bit lately, and we’ve been pretty proactive in trying to head the problems off at the pass. Luckily for us, we’re a fairly serious guild with some fairly serious members who don’t mind putting up with a grind to advance a bit.

However, I’m definitely seeing where there could be a problem, even on Guk server. We’ve actually been approached by small groups of players lately from other guilds, who are frustrated with the current lack of advancement or coordination in their guilds. I can tell you right now that if want to get a Guildmaster’s attention, show up on his doorstep with four or five of your guildmates claiming that your current guild isn’t able to keep you interested in playing. You want to give that same Guildmaster cold sweats – make sure you’re from a guild that’s friendly to his.

I’ve had that happen not once, but a few times since Kunark released. Groups of members from guilds we’ve raided alongside have suddenly sending tells to me asking what it takes to be a member. I couldn’t really decide whether this speaks more highly of our guild or more critically of their guilds that this is occuring, but after seeing other players with similar issues out there, I’m beginning to think at least part of the issue could be in the way Rise of Kunark has been designed.

For those of you not at level 71 or higher, let me try to paint some context here.

For nearly two years, the character level cap has been 70, last raised with the release of Kingdom of Sky back in February of 2006. When that cap was raised from 60, there was a lot of heroic content right away. In fact, there was actually hardly any solo questing content at first, so most level 60 characters moved into the first real dungeon in Tenebrous Tangle, the Sanctum of the Scaleborn.

Now, Sanctum was huge. It was absolutely massive, with multiple levels, and tons of quests and named targets. Each room was a camp, and lots of really interesting (for the time) items were dropping, even from the earliest targets.

Though admittedly there could have been more solo rated content, for guilded players who liked to group, this was a great expansion (especially after Desert of Flames). In addition to the basic dungeon quests, there were lots of Heritage Quests, and of course, the massive Qeynos Claymore questline.

Even if you didn’t want to run the quests, the sheer size and scope of the heroic dungeons (Sanctum, Palace of the Awakened, Nest of the Great Egg, Vaults of El’Arad) ensured a lot of grouping opportunities and replayability (especially in regards to the new Achievements system which was also released at this time).

Because so much of the content was geared toward groups, many guilds tended to form up groups frequently to tackle many of the quests or just to hit some of the dungeons. This meant that even classes which couldn’t solo as quickly as others were able to keep up while levelling together.

Contrast that against the release of Rise of Kunark which seems to have taken a completely differetn approach – where the initial levelling content seems to be built almost completely around the concept of soloing, almost to the exclusion of grouping. Some of the open dungeons like Karnor’s Castle and Chardok seem to be virtual ghost towns with hardly any groups there (a distinct lack of quests, coupled with lower experience rewards, tied to erratic and relatively poor itemization seem to be the culprits).

It’s virtually impossible to find groups forming for any type of overland content. This seems to be a combination of the fact that virtually all overland content is solo rated, which is paired up against an almost unfathomable number of solo rated questlines which each have several steps of progression (which leads to the issue AverageJoe mentions regarding the difficulty groups find in actually picking out common quest steps).

What this leads to is a wide gap between the haves and have-nots, where the possessive quality in question is grouping with guildmates. In a nutshell, grouping in the lower half of the tier (up to around level 75) seems to be almost actively discouraged. It’s actually faster by orders of magnitude to level up solo than it is to group with other members of your own guild.

This is an issue for quite a few players. It’s one that SOE seems to be taking too long to address, as well – at least for some casual guilds. As Scott Hartsman said, it seems that this process of levelling is simply considered “transitory” and it seems to many players that SOE feels the issue was fixed with their recent boost to dungeon experience for Karnor’s and Chardok (at the very least, their silence on the issue would seem to perputuate that belief).

Where does this leave the casual guilds, which frequently have the widest diversity of players? Some of the members of these guilds are already 80 and wanting to hit content which they find to be rewarding, while other members of the guild are still working their way up to 75 and not necessarily enjoying the trip at all.

I’m sure there are other guilds which seem largely unaffected. I’m certain there are players who love the amount of solo content available. But for players like those I quoted above, it seems that Kunark’s unique design seems destined to continue to create ill will and sore feelings within their guilds.

I can only hope for their sake that SOE’s statements regarding the issue as just a temporary sitatuation are true. Till then, I’ve got to set aside some time to speak to a couple of guildmasters I’m friendly with, to try to smooth over some confusion as to why their members are suddenly trying to join my guild.

  1. tipa says:

    My guild was having trouble before RoK; RoK finished the job. The people who made 80 all have left by now, and I intend to follow them. Now that I am over that level 75 “hump”, I am starting to get groups and loot, but it’s not nearly enough to level.

    The majority of people who haven’t had much luck leveling, I don’t see online anymore. I imagine they will be back someday.

    Karnor’s should be re-done. It should drop more loot, be better experience, and be less treacherous than it is today. It should be the alternate way to level to 75. You can solo, you can camp and grind in KC, or do some combination.

    It’s all about the choice.

    KC and Sebilis are both way WAY smaller than their old-world counterparts. Everything else about RoK is so large. Why are these dungeons so small?

  2. Kendricke says:

    Sorry to hear about your guild, Tipa.

    I’m lucky. We’ve got a strong guild with good members who understand that we expect them to be self sufficient first and foremost. Even then, we’ve already dealt with some complaints from members who felt left out or left behind. In at least two cases, we’ve had to take them aside and talk to them very bluntly about what is expected from them. In one of those instances, we removed the members who were complaining (it’s easier in guilds like mine to drop members who aren’t happy with the guild than to let them stay and continue to loudly complain).

    Of course, we’re not exactly what I’d consider a traditionally “casual” guild (we’re far from “hardcore”, though). So my question here is whether or not Kunark is an issue for such guilds. Is Kunark a game designed so well for the extremes of soloing or raiding that there’s a wide gaping hole right smack in the middle where the average guild player used to like to play?

    It’s up for debate, but a lot of the complaints I’ve seen seem to be coming from those players, whereas the kudos seem to be coming from players who aren’t necessarily into group play or who are simply playing to raid as a primary playstyle.

  3. Zygwen says:

    KC is smaller than in EQ1. Seblis is bigger than most people realize. I haven’t had the chance to properly explore Seblis yet, usually we are either making a bee line to CoA or a raid zone but from what I’ve seen fighting our way down to Venril Sathir’s Lair Seblis is big and nasty and some people won’t get to see all of it till they are 90 if ever.

  4. Kendricke says:

    I don’t doubt that Sebillis is huge. Of course, it’s hardly an entry level dungeon, either.

    Let’s face it, Chardok is huge as well. The problem isn’t in the size or scope of the dungeon, but in the perceived rewards versus effort ratio. Frankly, most players simply skip it right now. The experience is low, the rewards are spotty, and it’s a great deal of work to deal with. On the plus side, if you enter Chardok right now, you’re all but guaranteed to have the place to yourself (at least on Guk server).

    I can only hope that both Karnor’s and Chardok are required for Epic quests when they’re eventually released. Of course, that won’t necessarily make the dungeons a better place to spend your time, but rather a necessary means toward an end.

  5. Xeavn says:

    I have to admit that there is quite a lot about this expansion that makes we want to stop logging in, and go play say Mass Effect on my 360. If it wasn’t for the fact that I really enjoy grouping with all of my guildmates, I probably would have stopped playing before now. I am looking forward to raiding, but I still have to wait until the rest of the guild hits 80 before we can think about doing that.

  6. […] Kendricke over at Clockwork Gamer has a post which sums up my feelings pretty well.  I find myself in the group of players being “left behind” by the expansion due to the constraints my “real life” puts on my play time.  A good chunk of our guild is already at or nearing level 80 and are running the upper-level RoK instances regularly.  I’m still working on the solo quests in Fens.  Furthermore, I recently switched “mains” from Davyydeous (73 Berserker) to Elrahir (70 Mystic) due to the abundance of plate tanks available compared to the miniscule raid spots available for them.  Elrahir was level 55 on the first of November, two weeks prior to the release of RoK.  I started working on all the relevent quests and zones, mainly Lesser Faydark and Kingdom of Sky.  Once the expansion hit, groups were extremely difficult to find.  Being level 60 meant I was too low for the new zones, yet there was almost noone to be found up in KoS as I’m assuming everyone was checking out RoK.  I soldiered on, hitting level 70 on December 7, and find myself still struggling to find a group.  At least I’m 70 now and can do some of the KoS and EoF raids right?  Unfortunately, those raids are being left behind and forgotten by our guild already as our schedule shows RoK raids for the next two weekends.  Oh well, I guess I’ll keeping pushing myself to 80. […]

  7. Steventhearmy says:

    I did all the quests up to fens and hit lvl 74, and havent logged in since. Just no desire at all, I miss my guildies and grouping ALOT, but it just seems the same ole same ole to me.

  8. Illuminator says:

    Know when to get out of Fens. 74 is just right for Kunzar Jungle, and the gameplay improves dramatically there.

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