Recently I (and everyone else) has been messing around with some new characters in Darklight Woods. It’s really an excellently put together zone, there’s lots of quests that tie together, good exploration and collectible options, you get to fight werewolves and vampires, and I really like how there are non-heroic named monsters in most of the monster groups. In short, it’s a fantastic place to level.  Greater Faydark is also, in its own way, an excellent place to bring up a new character.

The problem is that the two really nice lowbie zones really show off the weaknesses of the original lowbie zones, Antonica and Commonlands. These zones could really use some fixing to bring them up to even close to the level of GFay and DW, and I think this will help even out the experiences of new players and make it more likely that they will stay with the game. They don’t need a total revamp, just some changes to make them more usable.

Achievement Experience

A major problem with Antonica and Commonlands is that a lot of the quests there are not set up to provide achievement xp, even this long after it was introduced. Believe me, I have first hand experience, as before Neriak and DW came out I levelled up a shadowknight in Commonlands with combat xp turned off, and the AA you get from quests is spotty at best. In fact right now I view this issue as the primary reason I won’t level characters in Antonica and Commonlands, you get so much more achievement xp with fewer quests in the newer zones. Fixing this would go a long way to making the older zones workable.

Fix Broken Quests

It’s been discussed in several forum threads on the official boards lately, but there’s some broken quests, particularly in Antonica, that really need to be fixed or removed. This is the kind of issue that really makes the game look sloppy, and people respond very negatively to a quest they don’t get a reward for, or a quest mob that never shows up.

Fix Itemization

I know that there are a lot of older zones that need itemization improvements, and I’m not saying that SOE needs to put a huge amount of work into Antonica and Commonlands. But at the least there should be the kind of things you see in GFay and DW, useful equipment for new players, and some kind of path to arming and equipping yourself. Right now it’s fairly random, and it’s very difficult to put together a decent armor set or appropriate weapons in the older zones. All I’m asking is to change some of the existing quests from random or junk rewards, and (for example) make a low level armor set that you can get from doing quests. This would be a great bonus for new players or new alts, and would tie in well with the level 20 AQs. DW has a low level armor set, and it has a lot of weapon drops (two different sets for different levels) for all kinds of characters. Commonlands and Antonica have neither.

Helping new characters get started

Another suggestion I have is a larger one and would help new players or old players without a lot of cash to hand down from other characters. Someone posted on the FOH forums recently that a major obstacle to low level characters are the prices of adept spells, and this is definitely true. Check the markets, it’s very difficult for a true newbie to scrape together 7-10 gold for a basic adept spell.

What I suggest is a new system, to complement the training spells that are already given out, a quest system that allows a player to complete a quest for a spell upgrade for their class every five levels or so from 1-20. This wouldn’t have to be anything terribly difficult, but such a system (perhaps with rewards of the unused Adept II?) would provide an option for new players or old alike to get some decent upgrades, and keep in place the existing system for players with the cash who don’t want to bother with the quests, they can still buy it from the broker. The rewards of the quest could be a choice of four upgrades, similar to the current training system.

Also, one of the major problems for new characters is not enough storage space. There are some quests that provide a second bag, but this often fills up very fast.  What I’d like to see is a way for new characters to get another bag, possibly even making their own. I don’t know if this is possible, but wouldn’t a better idea for the current intro to crafting quest be a situation where you would be given directions to a crafter and given a kit so you could make a bag for yourself? It would introduce new players to the crafting system by making an immediately usable item, and if it was handled well, with no-trade items, wouldn’t threaten existing crafters. The same system could also be used to provide a basic market box and introduce players to the broker selling system at the same time!

I understand that there’s a lot to be fixed and improved in the game, but some work going toward improving the new player experience and improving the older newbie zones would go a long way toward making the game an even more welcoming one for new players.