Back in Norrath (Again)

Everquest 2 has been free to play for a few years now, but every time I played the game in the past I was always a subscriber. After my initial stint I would almost always come back for an expansion, during a promotion, or just because I felt like it. But I always resubscribed to the game. With many of the limitations having been lifted from the free to play version of the game, and knowing that I have two expansions worth of content ahead of me just to get caught up to the latest expansion (which I would have to buy, mind you), I figured free was a viable option this time. So far, it has been. I don’t have that subscription guilt where I feel like I need to play the game to get my money’s worth, and I can still experience parts of the game that are new to me.

The new login screen

When I took a trip back to Norrath last year, I managed to get my Brigand past a barrier to entry for the next expansion, which was having 280 AAs. That was the point in which you could finally level beyond 90. However, playing through a bunch of old content I hadn’t seen before sort of gave me my fill for the game, and I was distracted by friends who were playing Rift. That also lead to a bunch of other MMO experimentation which I’ve written about over the course of the last year. I am still playing a few of the MMOs I’ve tried since then, and currently have about 5 or 6 installed on my system, so I can jump between them all at a whim. But I’m getting off point. Since my last excursion, the game has seen another expansion and a DLC (which is the model Daybreak has since chosen to follow), and that meant another balancing of the experience curve. As such, my Paladin who would have needed to grind out another 60+ AAs to be able to level past 90 earned them all just for logging in. So basically what I did last year on the Brigand doesn’t have to be done over again, but it kind of makes me wish I would have waited. However, there were tons of dungeons we cleared that I wouldn’t have been able to solo and hadn’t seen, so I suppose it was worth the experience.

Anyway, I had left off in the Withered Lands, which was a free content patch that came out somewhere between the release of Velious and Chains of Eternity. It’s a full zone with everything you’d expect, including quests galore, collections, named and raid mobs, and a series of dungeons at the end which are designed to be soloable, however I’m not quite to that point yet. This is supposed to get you prepared for the next expansion and so far it has been more of what I’ve come to expect from the game, but for some reason it’s grabbing me like it hasn’t in a long time. However, I know writing this won’t mean that I will stick with it… I’m still rather fickle when it comes to how I want to spend my gaming time. There’s something about the depth of systems within the game that keeps me interested, even if I’m just spamming abilities and skipping quest text. I just like Norrath. It feels like home.

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As you can see the Withered Lands are rather dark and foreboding, but this doesn’t stop flashes of brilliance it their design. The questlines lead  you through the zone in typical themepark fashion, but I still enjoyed clearing the zone slowly but surely. There were raid bosses who crossed my path, named that I killed who also dropped some nice fabled gear, a quest that rewarded a new fluff pet, and I even picked up a new elite mercenary who heals but also churns out steady DPS.

The overall lore of the zone deals with the Remnants of Growth faction (followers of Tunare) who are trying to push back the corruption of what was once a lush land. Dragons have over taken part of the zone and are maintaining a spell that causes the corruption, but it is supposedly for a good cause. More is learned from the Dragon who resides in the Village of Alivan with the Droag. I sort of know what comes next, but I won’t talk about it til I know more.

During my travels I picked up quite a few shinies and ended up completing one of the collections for the zone, which ended up being all I needed to hit level 91. I still have a few quests left to round out the zone before moving on to Skyshrine, but all told I ended up with 5 extra AAs and 5 prestige AAs along with the level.

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It took quite a bit of time to make this last level, much longer than I remember levels taking to earn in the past. However, this was during a time when the game stopped doing ten level incremental increases with expansions, and instead only raised the cap two levels, opting to added extra AAs instead. This is a process I’m aware of and I don’t mind, because the AAs really feel like you can full customize your character, and its a feature many games seem to lack. But I’ve droned on about horizontal progression in the past so I won’t do it again now. It also took a bit longer because I’ve had my AA slider at 50%, so half of my earned adventure xp converts into AA, since there are a lot more of those to earn than levels at this point, and because I know that I have a lot of content ahead of me, so leveling shouldn’t be an issue. For posterity, here’s my AA trees as they stand now:

That’s all I have for this update. I will add more as I progress through more content that’s not necessarily new, but new to me and probably most of my readers, who probably don’t play the game.

#everquest2 #daybreakgames #mmorpg

Epic Conversion

It’s been almost three years since I last played Everquest 2. This was always my MMO of choice, despite having burned out on it multiple times and having played quite a few others, I still always feel like I’ve come home when I get back into it. This is by far the longest break I have taken however, and as such there was a lot of information to absorb. Let’s do a quick history recap.

I started playing the game in 2006. My Dad was already on the Butcherblock server with some of his EQ1 friends, so I joined up there as well, and brought some of my own friends. I bounced around between characters, and then even jumped servers to Nagafen and played some PvP for a while. Growing tired of that, I went back to Butcherblock and started fresh. This time I rolled a Paladin, and he became my main, all the way to level 70 which was the cap at the time. He saw all of the end game dungeons, and even got into raiding for a time. Before the level cap raised to 80 with the release of the Kunark expansion, I created a main alt, who I was rushing to cap as fast as possible. I managed to reach the high 60s when the expansion came out, and then traversed into Kunark. Somewhere around this time is when the Epic weapons were released, but I didn’t get mine til later. I ran through much of the overland portion of Kunark, and then burnout set it.

I wouldn’t come back until the next year when The Shadow Odyssey came out. I didn’t stay long that time either. The next time I would put some serious time into the game was when Sentinel’s Fate released. At this point, the cap was raised to 90, and my 80 Brigand and 70 Paladin needed some work. Doing “shard” runs (a currency that was used in a gear treadmill) I leveled my Paladin to 80, and I ran through the overland content of TSO and SF to get my Brigand to 90. I then went about doing everything needed to get my Fabled Epic, Havoc, for the Brigand. I got to the point where it was time for another grind, this time “marks”, and then moved on again. Finally, I came back when Destiny of Velious arrived, mainly because of the fact that flying mounts were introduced and I got an email about some free play time and a free mount. At that point the cap was still 90, but there were more places to explore. I got into the guild my Dad had created with friends, and it seemed that my Paladin was in more demand than my Brigand, so I started devoting some attention to him. He made it through a chunk of the expansion, hit level 90, and I got his Fabled epic as well. Even maxed out his tradeskill level, which is something I thought I’d never do. I don’t remember exactly what turned me off this time, but I ended up forsaking MMOs altogether, until now. Here we are, three years later.

What has changed? Not only has there been two (technically three) expansions in my time away, but a new race, two new classes, all kinds of quests/dungeons/raids, new AA trees, mercenaries, a dungeon maker, and more. Purchase of the newest expansion Tears of Veeshan also netted a copy of Chains of Eternity. Another “expansion” was released before that one called The Age of Discovery, but that has been split into parts and added to the Marketplace. I would like to get the mercenaries opened up, along with the Beastlord class, but the rest isn’t really necessary. There were also a couple of large areas added via patches, that sort of bridge gaps between expansions. So there’s quite a bit of content in front of me. After getting my UI all set up and going through all of my bags/AAs/etc. it was time to figure out what to do first. The logical choice was to finish the epic weapon line. See, when epics were released,  you had to do heroic content to get the Fabled version. This was ok, but not as good as the Mythical version, but the latter required raiding. People who didn’t raid didn’t get the Mythical. Then, further expansions made the Fabled and Mythical epic weapons defunct. To combat this, SOE decided to make a further quest where you take your Fabled or Mythical epic, break it down, and gain it in buff form so that doing the whole thing was worthwhile still.

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The quest started off easy enough. First I had to visit a guy up in Tenebrous Tangle, and then another in Lavastorm. After that, I had to run around portions of Sundered Frontier and Stonebrunt Highlands collecting stuff. There was a lot of back and forth, particularly during a precursor quest where I had to create a Jewel of the Underfoot. Eventually I got to a point where I had to do dungeon running. At my level, everything in these zones was even or higher, and I wasn’t really geared for end game zones so I did a lot of squishing. For my guildmates who helped out, it seemed like a piece of cake. They did mention that when they were level 90 they had a hell of a time with it too though, so I didn’t feel so bad. I had to get a book in the Library of Erudin, and that was easy enough with just my Dad. Everything else required a healer, so our little Fae Warden came along. I had been in The Hole before, so getting that update was in and out. The Erudin Research Halls was similar, we killed a couple mobs and got the update. Same with Demitrik’s Bastion. Where the challenge really kicked up a notch was clearing Vasty Deep: The Vestigial Cella.

The first few named weren’t that big of a deal, but the final named Naga-like creature “Queen Gwarthlea” was a scripted nightmare. After whacking her for a while she would spawn adds that were fairly easy to kill, but then would do so again at other health totals. Then, where she got down low enough, so puts up a protective forcefield, and someone has to go run around and look for a clickable shell that gets rid of it. Thankfully they were both way over geared for this encounter, so he was tanky enough to survive during the chaos and we got it all done. I had to do a couple more turn ins, and then the reward was mine.

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Don’t mind the text there, it has changed a bit, but that’s still basically what the buff entails. I was too lazy to log back in and screen shot it, so that’s a random image from the web. Still, the buff made enough of a difference to warrant doing it all over again on my Paladin, but I’m in no rush. I still have a lot of new content to check out. I’ll leave you with a picture of my Brigand, on a new veteran reward he claimed. A flying disc, that actually flies, rather than hovering above the ground like one I had before.

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