The Everquest 2 progression servers are officially a thing, with Stormhold and Deathtoll going live tomorrow. Despite my interest in going down memory lane and especially getting involved in the frantic action that will undoubtedly happen on at least the PvP server (my memories of the opening of Nagafen are some of my best memories of the game), I’m not going to commit to it. I came to that conclusion a while back when I really put some thought into it, and realized that I have 3 expansions worth of content ahead of my main two characters. Why go and subscribe to the game just to play through content I’ve already completed more times than I can count (I had severe alt-itus back in the day, despite having only brought two characters through to the end game)? If I’m going to subscribe, it would be to gain access to the newest expansion, but I still have to get there first. As such, I’ve been plugging away at some older content that’s new to me, but only sporadically. As I mentioned in my last post, I have a bunch of MMOs installed on my hard drive, among countless single player games, so finding the time to commit to one game or another just isn’t going to happen.
I know that I would probably enjoy myself, but there’s that whole issue with nostalgia tricking you into thinking things from the good ol’ days were better than they actually were. There’s also the issue of paying for a subscription, when that would only guilt me into playing that game, regardless of if I really wanted to. Finally, as I said already I would much rather see more of the game I have yet to experience, rather than seeing more of the same — for free I might add — without the pressure of feeling like I “wasted” subscription time. The freedom of F2P is great for this reason, despite the fact that there are some drawbacks to the system. My fear of commitment has manifested itself in all facets of my life at this point, but hey, I am who I am and you either accept it or block me on Twitter. The choice is yours.
Moving on, let’s talk about what I’ve been doing in Everquest 2. It was previously mentioned that I had cleared the remaining quests in The Withered Lands and that I was now able to move onto Skyshrine. This entire zone and dungeon were introduced as a free update to bridge the previous expansion Destiny of Velious and the next one, Chains of Eternity. DoV was the last expansion I had really played through prior to my 3+ year break. Even though I revisited Norrath a year ago, I mainly visited dungeons and other bits of group content that I had missed throughout the years as my playtime was very sporadic post-Kunark. During that time I was grinding to 280 AAs so that I would be able to level past 90, and then when I returned this year with the F2P option, found that the XP curve had changed and all my other characters got a boost to their AAs. This means my play time a year ago was basically a waste, though it was great to see many of the dungeons and other areas I had missed, so we’ll chalk that up to being a learning experience.
So the last chunk of content available to me before moving into CoE, was Skyshrine. This is a contested dungeon accessible via a griffin in The Withered Lands, that has various questlines inside, but is Heroic, meaning a group is needed to complete the content. Grouping in EQ2 is basically non existent at this point, especially for older content unless you have a guild or otherwise know more people with whom you can group. I am in a guild, but it consists of my father and a couple of other people who apparently are still playing the game but aren’t usually on when I’m playing, so maybe I’ll get around to doing the content of the zone eventually, but for now it’s a bit out of my reach. Perhaps in a few levels I will be able to solo it, as my mercenary actually did fairly well in keeping us alive through a couple of encounters, but I think we need to level up a bit to make it manageable. So that leaves the other option, which is a concept that is fairly new to me, but was added into the game circa 2011/12 — Solo Dungeons. Thinking about it now, there actually were solo instances in one of the early adventure packs, but that’s neither here nor there. So, I completed my first solo instance last night, and it was fairly enjoyable.
Apparently there are three different “missions” that I can go on, though I assume they all use the same instance, and are just populated by different mobs, but I won’t know until I do the next. There is a lockout timer on these missions, so I was only able to complete one last night, and plan to do another tonight. The mission I did run through required beating 4 named within the zone (with trash mobs in between) which would then spawn the main named to get the update for the quest. From there you return to the Skyshrine lobby, turn in and then wait til the lockout timer expires. Overall it was easy going with my merc, and I earned both the achievement for completing the instance but also the achievement for completing it rather quickly. Kudos to me. From there, I ran into a hiccup.
I had no problem with waiting on lockout timers, I figured I would just move on to the next expansion and come back to Skyshrine later. However, it turns out that you won’t be able to pick up quests from NPCs in the next expansion without first being level 92. At the time I was sitting at 20% into level 91. This also helped me to discover a limitation to the F2P system in EQ2 that I was previously unaware of. It turns out that your AA slider is locked at 50% and you can’t touch it when you’re F2P. This is fine when you aren’t at the level/AA cap, but when you do hit the maximum amount of AA, you are effectively losing 50% of your XP at all times. I don’t see this being an issue while I level through older content, but that definitely makes subscribing later on a more definite possibility. Due to the fact that I had been sitting at this 50-50 split between adventure XP and AA XP for my past few play sessions, it actually has slowed down leveling to the point where I need that extra 80% to hit level 92 before being able to traverse into new territory. Not a huge deal, as there are plenty of older quests in my journal along with HQs, Signature Series and more — I just had to decide what to work on first. I perused my journal and ended up deciding to work on the HQ “The Book of Thex” as I had already completed some steps for it. This required a bunch of back and forth to a secret hideout in The Moors of Ykesha, and I didn’t actually finish the quest before calling it a night.
Looking forward, I am going to try and work on this and other HQs along with the other solo missions in Skyshrine until I hit level 92. From their I can go back into the Eidolon Jungle and progress through the Chains of Eternity expansion. From there it’s on to Tears of Veeshan before I won’t be able to progress any further. At least I hope. We’ll see what happens as I get there. I know that I purchased ToV while subscribed last year, so I should still have access to that, but I’m not sure on other F2P limitations. I have not purchased Altar of Malice, so I know I will have to do so and subscribe when I get to that point. Either way, it’s been pretty enjoyable to this point.