EQ2: Progress Report

I’ve been subbed to Everquest 2 again for about a month, and because of the holidays much of that time was wasted, but I’ve paid my next month’s subscription already and I’m making progress nonetheless. Initially I was torn with whom I wanted to use the level 100 boost on, and eventually chose my low level Wizard who has actually been around since 2009 according to my /played stats, but had only reached his mid-30s in that time due to being an alt and not getting much attention.

My Wizard “Fohs” on one of the fancy mounts that came with the expansion.

After using the boost, it turns out that boosting a character to 100 doesn’t quite work as well as one would like. Some of your skills and factions are unaffected, so there’s some potential for back tracking there. You also don’t get any of the boons you may have collected over the years like tradeskill pack animals, various teleportation devices, epic weapons, etc. You do get leveled to 100 and earn 320 AAs right off of the bat, and can also use a boost for your tradeskill level (which I did, so Fohs is also a level 100 Sage), but there are still things to work on and sometimes that means backtracking to learn languages or build faction here and there. I have spent the entirety of my play sessions doing just this, and haven’t even begun on the new expansion, but of course I don’t play as religiously as I once did. I’m still finding enjoyment in this and that’s rare for me; I typically burn out during the slog but being so close to new stuff (and actually the old stuff is still new to me) is a motivator, and seeing something new at every turn has kept me engaged.

The long and the short of things was that in order to be truly viable in the new expansion, earning “Ascension Classes” was optimal. In the last expansion, Kunark Ascending, these classes were added as another alternate form of advancement, as the prior two expansions did not raise the level cap. There are four Ascension classes, and it appears that any class can be any/all of them, and each can be leveled up using a different form of experience. Once you have unlocked all four there is a best-in-slot mythical trinket that raiders are still using even in the current meta, so apparently it’s a necessity. There is a list of prerequisites to get started here, and though my original two characters would likely have most if not all of those done already, my boosted character did not. This meant having to learn Draconic (had the tablet in the bank though, so that was less of a hassle), Goblish and Satherian languages, completing the Greenmist HQ from Rise of Kunark and also earning some faction in the Terrors of Thalumbra expansion.

ToT was an “overland” zone that was underground, and despite being mostly rock formations it still had some interesting sights to see, but I was basically in and out of there. After completing a few quests you earn enough faction to head into the city of Maldura, which is where the Ascension trainers are. Next, I had to start on the Kunark Ascending signature timeline, which sends you into ToT for a little bit before teleporting you to the Obulous Plains, the main overland zone for KA. At this point, I have completed 4-5 quests in the chain but there are a few more to go. Obulous Plains is another one of those throwback zones, much like in the original Kunark expansion where it hearkened back to EQ1 zones like The Overthere and Lake of Ill Omen, this new Kunark zone hearkens back to zones like Warslik’s Wood and I think that’s really cool. The zone design is pretty impressive as well for a 13 year old game, they seem to have figured out ways to improve use of the engine because the newer zones look damn fine.

The Kunark Ascending timeline is supposed to run me through the entirety of the zone and there are a few instances as well. After completing this timeline I will have access to the trainers, and at that point I can buy a bauble from a merchant for 100 plat that allows any alts to skip all of these prerequisites and get straight into the Plane of Magic to start on the newest content. However, I know that my Brigand is level 94 and had a couple of expansions to go before even getting to that point so perhaps he will see a bit of the older content and won’t even need the bauble. My Paladin will likely need the help though as he hasn’t been played with any regularity since the level cap was 70 or 80, so he’s probably missing some of the quests.

So far I’m enjoying my time spent in the game. I will finish off this timeline soon and immediately get involved in the new stuff. I think within a month or so I should have this character at level 110 and then can focus on bringing up my other characters. It would be nice to have three characters at the cap, so that if I do take a break again (let’s say by summer) then I can come back at expansion time and be ready to go instead of always playing catch up!

Entering The Planes of Prophecy

As promised, I was gifted a copy of the newest Everquest 2 expansion, Planes of Prophecy by my Dad as an early Christmas gift. The purchase was made last night, and I took the opportunity to jump in game and get started. The first order of business was to make my decision on who to use my level 100 boost on.

Having spent some time playing around with my Wizard earlier in the week, I had grown quite fond of the character and even leveled him a bit through his 30’s. He ended up being the character that I used the boost on, and then I received a bag of gear along with some of the other goodies provided in one of the upgraded editions. The instant level to 100 netted me a bunch of achievements based on levels, and granted me 320 AAs, which was about 200 on top of what I already had. I used one of the server side builds for now just to get the points assigned, and then finished off the other character development choices and was ready to go. Or so I thought.

My Dad was online, and started familiarizing me with other things that were new to the expansion, along with giving me a laundry list of other things I would need to do in order to really get started in the new zones. First off, we headed to the Plane of Magic, where he took me to a vendor that gives you more new gear that is supposed to be semi-raid gear from the previous expansion. I equipped that gear and my stats were through the roof compared to anything I was used to. Seeing millions of hit points on a cloth wearer was shocking!

Next up was grabbing the new Mercenary that came bundled with the expansion. Apparently this ugly little troll/goblin/thing is an Inquisitor and from what my Dad tells me he’s pretty awesome.

Not very cute though. Some of the other goodies included a familiar that can be leveled up and provides a buff, along with some rather cool looking mounts and other things like a vendor cabinet that reduces all broker fees to zero. I didn’t get to do much else in the new zones, because as I said there are some things I need to do before I can really get started. But I did get a couple of good shots of our entry:

We headed back to the guild hall afterwards, and I realized that I needed to redo all of my hotbars and make sure I had the best versions of my spells set up. Apparently I can start off in the Plane of Magic right away, but then I’d be missing out on Ascension levels and other things that were added previously. I guess there is a signature quest line that I need to complete on one character before I can skip it on others, and some faction grinding to do so I’m not KOS somewheres. Essentially a bunch of information was dumped on me in a very short amount of time so I’m just going to take his word for it that there are some pre-requisites to do and then I can level through the new zones. I’m actually pretty excited and looking forward to getting started!

While we were in the guild hall he showed me some of the new additions he had made; new amenities that are helpful and some other ways to instantly teleport to zones that didn’t exist the last time I had played. The guild buff is nice, and being able to expedite travel is good too. He also made me an officer, so if anyone is playing the game on the Maj’dul server, I can offer you guild membership if you are interested!

There was a stack of in-game emails that came my way and will be starters for new quest chains so I’ll have more to figure out and to get started on. It’s likely that I’ll be able to put in good amounts of time before long, as I’m off from the 24th until the 2nd of January.

So I’m back in Norrath, and it feels good.

Considering a Return to Norrath

Like the little engine that could, Daybreak Games keeps churning out new expansion content for the old guard of MMOs, Everquest, along with its heir Everquest II. It’s been a long thirteen years since the sequel released and like clockwork, the 14th expansion is upon us. I can usually count on Wilhelm over at The Ancient Gaming Noob to report on these sorts of things, and can get more in depth looks at what’s going on in Norrath from Bhagpuss over at Inventory Full. Their writing piqued my interest to say the least.

Reading up on the new expansion and seeing that there is in fact a level cap increase and some other interesting features (plus the return of more Planes, which I never got to experience in the original EQ, though I’ve been to those present in the sequel to this point) got me thinking about a return to my MMO home of sorts. It was EQ2 that had me addicted to the genre, and as Bhagpuss points out, “After all these years I still can’t find an MMO to compete with EQ2 when it comes to settling down in a virtual world” — a sentiment I can certainly relate to. When I do come back around after a year or two break (and have invariably done so since 2006) it still feels like home and I miss being as addicted to it as I once was. I’ll never be that same addict and the game will never be the way it was in its hey day, but it’s still the one game I can’t seem to stay away from for long.

It seems that the last time I wrote about it was a little over two years ago. I remember having the itch and going back to do some leveling while on a free account, taking my Brigand from level 90 to 94 while clearing out a couple of the expansions between where I had left off the time before, and the current expansion of the day, Altar of Malice. I know that I was in Tears of Veeshan at that time, and shortly thereafter I wrote a post about the announcement of Terrors of Thalumbra, and then my EQ2 stretch was over again for a while. That expansion would have released a couple of months after I stopped playing again, and since then there was also another expansion in 2016 and now the Planes of Prophecy. It seems that it was probably a good time to leave the game, if for no other reason than they didn’t really do much to add to the leveling content of the game. Two expansions in a row and no cap increases, only new zones and other bits and bobs.

Planes of Prophecy changes that. The cap has increased to 110. There is a level 100 boost you can use right out of the gate. My thoughts intensified. I could theoretically boost a brand new or low level alt and immediately experience the new content without the slog of catching up. Granted, my level 94 Brigand and my level 90 Paladin would need to be shown some love, but I imagine that wouldn’t be too bad give the fact that I would still have a couple of expansions worth of content to explore anyway, but could actually check out the new expansion “while it’s hot” rather than years after release.

Turns out my Father has resubscribed and is already in the new expansion (he tends to stay more current with the game than I do). It also seems that members of his guild are returning and there’s a real chance at being able to experience the end game again, which is something I haven’t done since the cap was 90 and we’re talking 5 years ago probably, if not more. He’s also offered to purchase the expansion for me for Christmas, one of the higher priced packages to boot, because apparently some of the add-on loot is highly desirable.

So here I am, two years removed from the game (again) and very much considering a return to the game. As I said, a level 100 boost on one of my existing alts or a new character could be a blast, and would put me right at the beginning of the new content. Then I could take my time with my mains and grind them through some of the older content that would still be new. It would be an interesting experiment one way or the other and at this point I think I’m going to go for it.

I reinstalled last night. I’m thinking I might log in and see where I left off. Maybe tinker around a bit before Christmas comes. The itch has been there and every other MMO I try just doesn’t hold my interest. This one has its ups and downs too, and I’m sure I’ll break away from it again in the future but right now I really feel like going back.

Hello Norrath. It’s been a while.

Rest In Pieces, Everquest Next

EverQuest_Next_Wallpaper_-_Kerra

Today is a sad day. Just a couple of weeks ago, myself and Wilhelm had a long discussion about the state of Daybreak games on the podcast. A large chunk of that conversation saw us fanboying over Norrath, and how the company has done a good job of not letting the classic versions of Norrath die, including creating new progression servers and releasing new expansions. The big question on our minds though, was what is happening with EQ Next?

That question has been answered at this point, with the president of Daybreak Games announcing today that the game has been cancelled for simply being “not fun.”

I sort of wish they would have let us be the judge of that, but that’s more than likely developer speak for “we don’t have the money to finish it” or something to that effect. It’s unfortunate for people like me, Wilhelm, and others I’m sure, because some of us had our first MMO experiences in Norrath, and we would love to go back to the world in which we first fell in love. As I said on the podcast, I would be happy with a visual and client overhaul of the original or the sequel with today’s technology, but it’s not likely that’s going to happen. Here’s the snippet from the President:

To Our Daybreak Community,

I’m writing today to let you know that, after much review and consideration, Daybreak is discontinuing development of EverQuest Next.

For the past 20 years EverQuest has been a labor of love. What started as a deep passion of ours, as game creators, grew into a much larger passion shared by you, millions of players and Daybreakers alike. Watching EverQuest’s ability to entertain and bring people together has inspired and humbled us. It’s shaped our culture and has emboldened us to take aggressive risks with our game ideas and products. When we decided to create the next chapter in the EverQuest journey, we didn’t aim low. We set out to make something revolutionary.

For those familiar with the internals of game development, you know that cancellations are a reality we must face from time to time. Inherent to the creative process are dreaming big, pushing hard and being brutally honest with where you land. In the case of EverQuest Next, we accomplished incredible feats that astonished industry insiders. Unfortunately, as we put together the pieces, we found that it wasn’t fun. We know you have high standards when it comes to Norrath and we do too. In final review, we had to face the fact that EverQuest Nextwould not meet the expectations we – and all of you – have for the worlds of Norrath.

The future of the EverQuest franchise as a whole is important to us here at Daybreak. EverQuest in all its forms is near and dear to our hearts. EverQuest and EverQuest II are going strong. Rest assured that our passion to grow the world of EverQuest remains undiminished.

Yours truly,

Russell Shanks
President, Daybreak Games

Reading through the press release, it seems like they just threw their hands up and are either just going to focus on H1Z1 and the classic EQ games, or perhaps they do have plans to do something more with the franchise, but we won’t know for a while from the sound of it. I for one will play a new version of an Everquest game, just based on nostalgia and love for the franchise, but I’m not holding my breath for that title to ever surface.

Like I mentioned in my post about H1Z1 splitting up, I have been losing faith in the company as a whole. This announcement that there isn’t a new Everquest game on the horizon and the fact that I have basically found myself done with the classic titles in the franchise makes me lose it altogether. I still own H1Z1 so I’m likely to play it sometime after it releases, but unless they come up with some new title that is worth my time and enthusiasm, I may no longer be a fan of the company that was once Verant.

Couch Podtatoes Episode 80: A Daybreak Retrospective

CP4

I should actually be posting episode 81 by now, but due to some scheduling difficulties and yet another recording mishap, we managed to be a week late posting episode 80. Had something gone better, I would have gotten number 81 out around now. Doone was supposed to record with us again last Friday, but then I went out of town and Eri wasn’t able to connect with him. Then on Sunday I managed to get Wilhelm from The Ancient Gaming Noob on as a guest and the three of us attempted to record the show, but my recording program decided not to record anything. Thankfully Wilhelm was a good sport and I managed to connect with him Tuesday evening to record this episode, though due to time zones we couldn’t get Eri on at the same time. We still managed to have a lengthy discussion about the first year of Daybreak Games and the highs and lows that came along with it. As a fellow Norrath lover, we gushed about the glory days of EQ for a while as well.

Overall it was a fun show, hope you all enjoy it after the long wait. We’ll hopefully get back on schedule for next week as well. Until then.

 

Download this Episode Subscribe via RSS Download on iTunes Listen on Stitcher

Couch Podtatoes Epsiode 80: A Daybreak Retrospective (runtime: 58:12)

What are we playing? (starts at 2:00)
Discussion: A Daybreak Retrospective (starts at 10:29)

Host Contact information:

Izlain
Blog: Me vs. Myself and I
Twitter: @mevsmyselfandi

Wilhelm
Blog: The Ancient Gaming Noob
Twitter: @wilhelm2451

Music Credits:
“Bit Rush” by Riot Games
“Not A Daughter” by Agoraphobic Nosebleed (from the Arc EP)
“Enchanted Rose” by Bury Your Dead (from the album Beauty and the Breakdown)

Couch Podtatoes is a podcast about gaming, though we might stray into other forms of media. Sometimes we use strong language, but we try to keep that to a minimum. All opinions expressed by us or our guests are our own and are in no way to be interpreted as official commentary from any companies we discuss. You can visit our official podcast page at Libsyn.com. Be sure to follow us on iTunes, and/or Stitcher Radio.

You can also find the show in video format at The Gaming And Entertainment Network YouTube page. Or, view it here:

Questions, comments and feedback are welcomed and encouraged!