So I found out that Everquest is having a month-long "event" of sorts where every extinguished account is reactivated and you can log in and see what's new since you quit. I got my curiosity piqued and downloaded the client, and after literally 7 hours of patching (glad I started it at lunch and left it running!), I was able to log in to my old account and see what the heck there was to see.
The first little shock to my system was that my human monk, Amano Jyaku, was deleted. I don't remember deleting him.. who knows what has happened in the 6 years since I quit, though. But fortunately, my halfling druid "Babalouie Bigtime" was still there and intact, and he was higher level anyway.
I played on Rallos Zek, the PVP server that let you loot an item (and all the cash in the pockets) from the players you kill. Seems all the PVP servers have been merged into one now.. no more Tallon Zek or Vallon Zek or whatever they were called. I had logged my druid out in the extradimensional zone known as the "Plane of Growth" in the Velious expansion... and it was a good thing too because I could not remember for the life of my how the hell anything worked in this game. It took me 45 minutes to be able to find my way out of the freaking zone. The reason I say that's a good thing is because that zone is so "old news" apparently that nobody goes there... so I didn't have to worry about somebody nuking the shit out of me and stealing my gear while I stumbled around groggily trying to remember how to buff myself.
But, eventually I got the hang of things and went to have a look around at my old MMO stomping grounds from 1999.
Apparently sometime after I quit, most of the world of EQ got some kind of crazy face lift. The old low-poly (well, they were reasonable amounts of polygons for 1999) models and textures got a detail increase. Formerly pyramid-like hills got rounded, gullies and ditches with visible vertexes got scooped with a giant melon baller, and grass and plant sprites got thrown in everywhere. The East and West Commonlands pulled a Germany and merged into one zone, as did some others (such as Oasis of Marr and South Ro, etc). Most all of the old school outdoor zones got this face lift, and freeport got totally redesigned.
My nostalgia was tempered by a nauseous sense of wrongness... like the world was not what it was supposed to be. Sure, curving hills and higher poly player models are nice and all, but if you ask me the attention to artistry from the original 99 EQ wasn't there in the rebuild. They've sacrificed artistic design and lovingly crafted textures (which they had to do spend a lot of time on back in the day, since the low poly models and terrain were VERY blocky back then, to make the game look good) in favor of softer curves through increased vertexes.
And let me just tell you, what they have done to the city of Freeport should be considered a crime in need of a very stern military tribunal. North freeport is GONE, and west and east have been totally redesigned, but awfully. Gone is the court of the tranquil, where I trained my monk. Gone is the little moat outside it where I worked on my swimming skill. Gone are the inns, streets, buildings, stores and other random empty buildings that built a grown-up virtual playground of the imagination for hundreds of us at the turn of the century. The new freeport, despite higher polygon count, is artistically bankrupt. The textures are awful, the streetplan is even more confusing than the old one, and all in all it felt like a very alien place I would want to spend as little time in as possible, even 9 years ago.
All very strange, considering that, for instance, rivervale is 100% untouched in all its low-poly glory. The only difference I noticed there (aside from some of the NPCs using the new models of course) was that the constant loop of rivervale.mid was missing. Which could really be considered a good thing... I remember thinking back in the day that if I heard that happy hoppy hobbit song just one more time I'd go insane. Still, it would have been a huge nostalgia rush to hear it in its original setting... as it was, the silence punctuated the statement that this is not the Everquest I left 6 years ago... and I'm not sure all of it has been for the better.
There's all kinds of crap all over my inventory and character sheet I can't even begin to fathom. I'm not sure how much time I will invest in figuring it all out since I don't have the slightest inkling to stick around after the Legacy event runs out in late July.
Playing DAOC, WoW and Conan though have spoiled me.. I ran up to a level 1 bat on my druid and it took me 2 melee hits to kill it. It struck me as absolutely insane that a level 50 druid with velious gear can't 1-shot a level 1 bat in melee.
Also, I /claimed my "living legacy" reward pack, and it gave me pieces of gear that so far outstripped my pathetic old-school gear it was flabbergasting... I remember having to fight tooth and nail for the spawn to get my paltry little +4 wis +4 con sleeves, and the legacy pack gave me something that literally raised 20 different stats by double digit numbers. When I think of all the others on Rallos Zek who tried to kill me for my (now pathetic) gear (sometimes succeeding)... it just... wow.
Well, at least medding back mana was just as slow as I remembered it to be.