Arctic. What can really be said that would do this amazing game justice?
Let me begin by giving an idea of what kind of experience I am drawing from. I have played just about every video game ever made, and over the years this is the one I come back to every time the rest lose my interest. Since discovering Arctic in 1994 I have been a constant and hopeless addict. Also, I am a player, not staff. Because I started mudding with Arctic, there was a period of time when I used TMC to find and play other MUDs, not knowing what a gem I had already found. I’ve played stock and custom, big and small, 'hero'd' on dozens, 'remorted' on dozens more, of every codebase.
I've played through every race and class combination known to the mudding universe. I've maxxed out on all the 'tiers', I've been in countless clans, and crushed the “hardest” mobs on so many muds. I've even been a high-level Immortal a few.
And throughout my mudding life, I have NEVER found a mud that came anywhere close to the amazing gameplay of Arctic. I always found my way back. Here are some of the many reasons in detail:
World: Extremely rich and detailed zones, every one designed specifically for Arctic over the years by its own staff. And the world has a logical, realistic layout. You don’t have a zone full of smurfs across the road from outer space, and go up in the sky to find a forest. There is a huge world here to explore, full of forests, roads, towns, castles, keeps, dungeons, and yes, you can even take a magic ship to the moon (but whatever you do, DON’T open that hatch). But it makes SENSE here, it’s not just one long road with a bunch of random unrelated garbage zones everywhere.
Quests: 90% or better of the zones have internal quests, from simple find-and-deliver to complex multi-part quests (some of which still aren't 'public knowledge'), with hidden objects or mobs and secret keywords leading to whole new hidden areas of the zone.
Other quests span the game world and involve serious work and persistence, with very great rewards. You won't find any 'AutoQuestors' here with tedious repetitive so-called 'quests', just good old-fashioned exp/equipment/magic item/spell rewards for paying good attention and hard work.
Ranks: Exclusive to Arctic is the “rank” system (as far as I’ve seen). This is where the real “staying power” of Arctic shines though. The highest level you can reach is 30. At level 30, you gain experience until you are literally 1 experience point away from level 31 (known as 1X), after which no more experience can be gained. It is at this point that one begins the journey of gaining ranks instead of levels. Rank points are gained by killing special or unique mobs in every zone, more or less like the ‘bosses’ and ‘mini-bosses’ that each zone has.
After killing enough ‘rank mobs’ to gain a new rank, you must journey to the ‘rank merchant’ in a remote location and spend your rank points to gain new abilities and improvements to your character. At rank 20, you can choose to undergo a special quest to become a ‘Legendary’ Arctic character, opening more advanced and very elite options for spending your rank points on. For examples, log in and type “help legendary [class]”, eg. “help legendary cleric”.
Balance: Each of the classes has unique class-specific skills and/or spells and each one matters. You won't see a huge list of garbage you'll never use as in other muds.
In fact, if you don't train and use the skills and majority of spells you learn, you WILL die - early and often. No healing mages, no casting warriors, no clerics with lightning bolt. Thank heavens. But a well-trained warrior CAN bash you to the ground and keep you there until your death.
Pk: MOST pk actually happens between rival clans, so chances are you will probably be left alone if you don’t actively try to start something. Getting randomly attacked is possible though.
There is no class that is decidedly 'more powerful' than any other, it really all comes down to how well you play your character.
One on one, I've seen a cleric get eaten alive by a warrior, then, that same warrior got steamrolled by the same cleric 20 minutes later.
I've seen a 320 hp mage absolutely crush a 900hp barbarian without getting touched, and I've seen the barb plow through the mage in 3 rounds. Luck, skill, and focus all come into play. It's beautiful.
The most impressive pk-based action I’ve seen is the large groups of clan vs. clan “wars” crashing into eachother and raising cain. 10 vs. 10 well-equipped and experienced players is insane to be a part of. Best not to stand by and watch if you don’t want to get involved, because sooner or later an area attack is going to smack you in the face.
EQ: There are no level limits. If your class and alignment can use a certain piece of eq, then you can use it at level 1.
Grouping: Class matters, and reaching the highest levels is fairly hard without a well-rounded group that has your back. Trust me, you'll need friends - but luckily they aren't hard to come by if you're friendly and seek help honestly.
Combat: The group/combat dynamics of this game are also the best I've ever experienced. This of course is the best part of the game. I've been in VERY many fights where I was literally afraid to blink. Many fights are so hard, that there are specific actions everybody MUST take for the group to have a chance, and an experienced leader will make this known before the fight. An example, from a leader: 'okay everybody listen up. next fight, kill guard/guard/priest/high priest in that order. keep priests bashed. mages, frag the guards HARD, druids try to silence them then frag hard, or they'll shout for help and 4 more will track in and assist them. after high priest dies, a demon gets summoned in. it has ‘reflect’, so do NOT cast on it, and KEEP IT BASHED AT ALL TIMES or it will cast area spells for heavy damage. it has a special attack that knocks ppl out of the room at random, so if you find yourself sitting, stand and come back n asap.' My personal favorite? “NOBODY FLEE or you WILL die!” Yep. Imagine the suspense after instructions like that. It makes this game so intense you won't believe it. But when it’s over, and everybody lived (or almost everybody) and the leader pulls an awesome piece of eq from its corpse…oh yeah.
Classes: After all these years, I still can’t decide on a favorite class. I’ve played them all, and I’ll play them all again. For more detailed info, check out Arctic’s “Guilds” page.
Clerics keep people alive and well with healing and protective spells. They, and only they, get the spell ‘heal’ (if they complete the proper quest), which is a full heal for all hps. (Sound overpowered? Wait till you see your healer get bashed, or better yet just flat out die, when you’re taking heavy damage from 5+ mobs that are all kicking, punching, casting, and bashing you down. I can almost hear your pants getting wet.)
White/Black/Red Robed mages do massive damage and provide vital utility spells and group buffs. Each alignment has its own robe color, and each robe has different spells. Barbarians soak up damage like a drunken sponge - literally shoving their way to the front lines. Skilled barbs are amazing to behold in a fight, the perfect tank.
Warriors keep mobs on the ground with 'bash' to prevent them from casting or healing themselves or running away, and rescue the casters that are unlucky enough to be targeted by melee.
Thieves disable traps and pick locks, while providing combat support in the form of backstabs, unbalancing the opponent, and crippling poisons.
Druids have some of the most devastating area attacks in the game, representing nature's various forms of fury. Tornadoes, lightning storms, ice storms, and Elementals are all in their repertoire.
Shamans provide both heavy damage through multiple spirit pets, and impressive healing abilities, including 'heal boost' which augments any healing done to the target by a large percentage. Scouts, like mages, also come in 3 flavors called 'Paths'. Paths of the Ocean, Sky, and Mountain. Each has 'instincts' gained by defeating different special mobs attuned to that path, then binding that animal’s spirit to their own.
Paladins wield the powers of Good, with specialized combat-trained mounts (such as pegasi, or griffons, and finally at the highest levels..a dragon) , group protection, self-preservation spells, and insane bonuses vs. evil opponents.
And finally, the Dark Knight. A paladin’s equal and opposite in every respect. They too get dragons at high-level, and while paladins MAIN focus is on defense, the dk’s is on damage. Truly awesome and terrible to behold, the high-level DK calls on the powers of darkness to overcome and quite literally consume their foes.
All in all, Arctic has been my life’s love as far as gaming is concerned. And I’m not alone, about half of the people that play Arctic are solid veterans, I have friends now that I met on Arctic several years ago. What we need, and why I’m taking the time for this review, is new people.
Arctic underwent several major changes recently to make adjustment easier for the new player. A few clans are geared towards recruiting newer players and teaching them. The helpfiles have been reworked, and help is available for every single spell, skill, command, class, race, area, etc. in the game.
Then log into Arctic, select Yes when asked if you’re a new player, and start in Solace. You’ll be glad you did, I promise. Toss me a tell if I’m on.
Check arctic.elay.org for some good logs of fights and whatnot to see what it looks like from a player’s view. I really hope to see some new faces around. -Sephas
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