Let me begin by saying, I love public quests! Last night, I leveled my little squig herder “Dreggle” up to rank five and came into my first PQ area.

This particular quest took place over three stages. The first stage involved running through the woods and killing 80 Tenacious Sprites; according to da orc boss, they’re also known as “wood things” probably because they look like little trees. These mobs were about level 4-6 and relatively easy to kill. I have to admit though, I was a little startled the first time one of them used their DoT ability on me; this spell causes an explosion of green liquid to engulf your character. To visualize it, just imagine standing on top of a green-water spouting geyser stuffed with exploding dynamite. Thank goodness for Squiggy, otherwise I may have been sprite food.

Once all of the sprites have been killed, you move into the second stage. For this portion of the PQ, you have to cut down 10 giant trees and kill 10 Dryads (I forget their whole name). The Dryads are level 5-6 Champion level mobs which generally took several players to make into sawdust. In appearance, they looked like taller versions of the sprites. Now, call me easily amused or whatever you’d like, but I got a thrill out of cutting down those trees. I thoroughly enjoy being able to interact with the environment in a meaningful way, so attacking a tree, seeing my attacks hack chunks out of the trunk, and eventually make the pine fall leaving a stump… whew. Not to mention, it was exciting to be standing around with trees falling all around you. Fun. Stuff.

Anyhow, once that stage is done you move on to the third and final stage in the PQ. During this stage, a giant Hero level mob is released. If I remember correctly, it’s name is Sephora, but I could be wrong. This mob takes the cooperation of all members of the PQ to kill. The fight itself was a simple tank and spank but that’s to be expected for a player’s introduction to the world of Public Quests. In total it took maybe 2-3 minutes of solid DPS to take her down.

Stage three was simple but there were a couple of things that I found neat. First, the cooperation of everybody for a common task was really refreshing. In my past MMO experience people were generally out for themselves mostly. Mythic really hit a homerun by implementing the PQ system. Second, it seemed that the classes tended to group together. For example, I did this PQ three times and the squig herders lined up together for the end boss each time. That makes the first time in an MMO where I’ve ever felt that I had a defined role. I don’t mean DPS, tank, etc. I was part of a line of archers! Massively cool.

The first time I did the quest I came in third and won a white loot bag. There weren’t any real gear upgrades in the bag, so I wound up just taking the money. The following three times I didn’t win any loot; however, I did level up twice and pocket a good deal of silver from all the mobs I killed, so it was definitely worth it. Plus, I managed to pick up a couple of greens from dead npcs too. Unfortunately, none were for my class.

Some people have commented that the game forces you into repeating PQs to gain influence in an area. I can see how this could be true as I had to participate in the one above four times to max out my influence. Personally though, I don’t see this to be a problem. Any MMO is going to have some form of grind. It’s part of the genre. I think that Mythic has handled this very well with PQs though. They’re rewarding and competitive which encourages players to get engaged in the content. It’s not mindless. So, even if you are pushed into grinding a little bit, it could be a lot worse.

Others have also commented that PQs can be too easy when there are too many participants or if a higher rank player is helping their lower rank friends. This I could definitely see as being a problem. When I did my PQ, I noticed that there were so many people involved that it was sometimes hard to find sprites and dryads to kill. This is easily solved by helping others (which is really a big part of the purpose of PQs) but if it was overwhelmed, it could certainly become too easy. Part of the fun in these quests is in the challenge. I would imagine that if it becomes a big problem (like say, soon after launch?) Mythic could implement something to address it. Bolstering the target mobs based on the amount and level of participants would be an easy and quick fix, in my mind.

Even though I thoroughly enjoyed myself, I did have a couple of questions. First, I wound up wandering outside of the PQ zone inadvertently. Maybe I missed it, or didn’t have some setting checked, but by default the PQ area was not marked on the map. Since all of the other quest areas are marked with a red circle, I have to wonder why PQs don’t get the same treatment. It’s no biggy though, as when you leave the designated area the PQ box on your screen disappears. Second, I’m not sure how a player’s contribution is calculated. I’m sure this is somewhere out there but I think that it would be helpful if there was a help file in-game that explained this. One would think it’s relatively self-explanatory, but here’s how my ranking went doing essentially the same thing with essentially the same participants: 3rd, 14th, 10th. I’d imagine that it would have to do with people becoming familiar with the PQ’s objectives but it still makes me wonder.

I also experienced a Java run-time error which caused a CTD during my last attempt at the PQ. Not sure if it was because of the game or because of my system but it may be worth noting. Personally, that makes three CTDs in the past two days: one in the greenskin starting area, one in Nordenwatch, and one during the PQ. I’m not really concerned though as Mythic has posted on the WHA forums to let us know that there were issues causing CTDs in Nordenwatch and PQs alike and that there are fixes on the way. Apparently it may have something to do with certain video cards; however, they haven’t stated which ones. I’m satisfied that they’re aware of it and are promising fixes for release.

So apart from that one crash and my questions regarding the how’s and why’s of PQs, I had a lot of fun participating. I’m especially excited as this was only the first of many in the game. I look forward to the challenges that they’ll present and the fun that they’ll allow me to have while working cooperatively with my fellow players. If you weren’t lucky enough to get into Closed Beta or Preview Weekend, definitely spend some time on these when you’re in. You won’t regret it.