SOE wanted us to get into the action without much ado, so had already prepared a party of level 25 characters for our experience. One of the first impressions I had when I sat down with my Dark Elf Necromancer was how fluid the character animation was. While the game's visuals were simplistic compared to other PS2 RPGs, the in-game models, backgrounds and enemies were solid and consistent. The attention to environmental details such as lighting and weather were commendable but nothing to write home about. The sheer size of Norrath itself was probably the most impressive aspect of EQOA. SOE's decision to go with a seamless world was a good one as there was little to no downtime between fighting and exploration.
Communication with the keyboard was a breeze, but learning some of the shortcut commands took some adjustment. Within the hour, I was able to participate in battle without much difficulty and the layout of the buttons and GUI were logical. Mr. von Minden was also quick to note that several of the button commands could be mapped to the keyboard. What a relief. One of the most pleasant surprises was the game can be played from both the 1st and 3rd person perspectives without sacrificing smooth controls. The respawn rate on some of the monsters was very fast and made for eventful battles. While I did enough dying for the entire party at least three times over, the pace of battle never skipped a beat. I'll admit that while EQOA is not as easy to pick up and play as PSO, the learning curve is marginal and promises to be a much deeper experience. Newcomers to MMORPGs should have no problems slipping into the role of their avatar, and the game appears to offer enough customization to keep fans of the genre happy.
Melding the fast-paced nature of most contemporary console RPGs with the scope of a true persistent online world, EQOA may surprise even the most skeptical RPG fan.