Done with Cobalt Scar

My hopes that the between-expansion zone The Cobalt Scar would give me enough XP to hit 95 did not come true. No, when I entered the zone I had 309 AA and was sitting around 25% into level 93. Finishing the entirety of the zone (minus the heroic dungeon and the advanced duos) I still need a couple of percent to hit level 94. The AA has been flowing though, and I have 321 at this point. So I’m officially done with mostly all of the content from the beginning of the game to where I should be entering the Veespyr Isles, which is the first overland zone of the Tears of Veeshan expansion. However, upon entering the zone via wizard spire, I was unable to see any quest icons, and according to things I’ve read, it appears I will need to be level 95 to get going. That, or I’ve finally hit the F2P wall and can’t access these quests, but I would think that I should be able to access this expansion, just not Altar of Malice (the EQ2 FAQ hasn’t been updated since ToV was the new expansion, so the language isn’t clear). Things are confusing at this point because I’m advancing quickly and this is the most content I’ve ever experienced for free, though ToV was the last expansion I had purchased so I would think I’d be able to access it anyway. With the news of a new expansion coming soon, it’s already been confirmed that a purchase of the pack comes with everything (including the Rum Cellar DLC) that’s already released. There was a sale on both AoM and RC but if they’re both going to be accessible for free soon, why buy them? Either my understanding of the F2P restrictions are off base, or it’s silly to buy that content right now. The day after that sale ends, Pre-orders for the new expansion go up and you get access to the older content immediately, so yeah, I’m waiting for that.

Either way, part of me wants to resubscribe just so that I can control my AA slider. Having 50% of all my XP going to AA has been nice for the AA gain, but it’s slowing down leveling a bit, enough that I think I’d be 95 already otherwise. I don’t mind looking for HQs and other things to do, but at the same time, I’d rather just be at the appropriate level already so I can start down the next quest chain. I loved the Kingdom of Sky expansion, and Tears of Veeshan is modeled similarly with sky isles, so I want to push forward. Ultimately I’d like to be ready for Altar of Malice content by the time the new expansion arrives, so I can just buy the new one, resubscribe and burn through AoM and RC so I can be current again. However, getting that stuff for free and not having to worry about the sub time would be nice too. What will probably end up happening is I’ll get a level, burn through ToV and hit the F2P wall and then sub+ pre-order the new expansion.

The Cobalt Scar was a fun zone. I enjoyed it much more than the Withered Lands zone, which is comparable in size and scope, and was also patched in between expansions a couple of years ago. It was pretty, had a more Butcherblock Mountains feel and I just enjoyed it much more. The quest lines were similar to most zones, yet there was enough variety that I didn’t feel burnt out. This is still technically part of Velious, so the denizens are the Othmir and Ulthorks, along with the New Combine (who sends you here from the Great Divide dock, just like they did with the Withered Lands). There were some awesome sights, plenty of named, some shapeshifting, and a solo zone at the end infested with Sirens. After completing the main questline, a signature quest opened up and continued the story of the Duality and Firiona Vie along with the Overlord and Queen Antonia. There was a particular portion that was pretty awesome, when you go through a portal to another realm and watch a battle between dragons. Overall I enjoyed the entire zone, and it was easy to get into that rhythm of getting shit done.

So at this point, I’ll be stuck making up some XP so that I can break into ToV. From there, I think my path is pretty clear, or clearer than it was when I first started writing this post. I’ve dropped any of the other MMOs I had been sampling in favor of the classic old guard game that’s been with me for years, and I hope to see the end game again after this new expansion releases. Even if I don’t raid, I can at least say I’m at the end and can take a break without being behind this time. Who knows if that will actually happen, but it sounds good in theory.

Here’s some miscellaneous shots of my adventures in the Cobalt Scar:

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A little better than yesterday and the day before, but still not acceptable.

I randomed Steroids, and I actually rather like having two weapons out at once, but I got shit mutations and not many health drops. Such is life.

Obol Plains Done… What’s next?

The problem with being away from an MMO for multiple expansions, aside from obviously being under-leveled and under-geared, is that sometimes you don’t know what to do next. In theme parks, it’s usually pretty obvious what comes next when running from quest hub to quest hub, but sometimes the quests just stop and there’s no clear indicator as to what to do next. Typically, once you’ve done all of the quest hubs in an overland zone, the next step is to hit the dungeon circuit and then raid if you have the time and the means. In this case the means would be a guild that is willing/able to do the content, as in an older MMO with a lower population, pick up groups don’t happen quite as often. This is especially true of someone in my position, who is a couple of expansions behind the end game, and ends up being solo through a whole chunk of content. You have to remember, this was end game a couple of years ago, and most people who cleared this content already over did it and don’t want to comeback. This brings us back to needing an active guild to do these things. Since my guild in Everquest II is comprised of my father and a couple of his friends, and none of them have been playing recently, I am stuck soloing.

In some ways, its actually preferable. I learn more about the game rather than just getting funneled answers. I also can move at my own pace and break when I feel like it. In some ways, I prefer being solo in my MMO experiences. Of course I do miss the days of big group dungeons and raiding, but when it comes down to it, I actually like group finder functions where I can just get into a group quickly, clear the instance and go back to what I was doing. It’s great for mixing things up. EQ2 doesn’t have a group finder like that, and it still relies on the old school LFG spamming or having an active guild. Nonetheless, they have done a decent job of adding in mercenaries and making the advanced solos so you get the group dungeon experience without needing others. This has worked nicely, and actually makes Chains of Eternity one of the best recent expansions for the game, if you’re okay with not actually doing the group content or the raids. They’re still there, to be clear, but I’ll be skipping right over them.

Back to my original point, when I came to the end of the expansion, there were no clear indicators as to what came next. I had similar issues when I was breaching the beginning of this expansion, not realizing I needed to be level 92 before I’d receive in-game mail and that would point me in the direction of what I needed to do to move on. I assume something similar like this might occur, as the live events that lead up to new expansions are typically left in so that you have that paper trail of where to go. However, once I finished the adventure through the Eidolon Jungle, series of advanced solos and Obol Plains, I was only level 93. The level cap at the point in which the expansion released was 95. Tears of Veeshan, the next expansion, didn’t have a level cap increase, and Altar of Malice (which I do not own) raised the cap to 100. Either way, I needed about 1.5 levels before I can access the next area of the game, and basically had nothing in front of me to do. When I had this problem while leveling through The Withered Lands, there was still Skyshrine to do and I got a hand to clear parts of the heroic zone. Clearly there should be a good grind spot or something towards the end, because I can’t see where anyone would have been able to level to 95 during the course of the expansion either. Then I remembered the bit about needing a hand and realized that I wasn’t going to be doing any heroic content anytime soon.

Thankfully, I was looking around at the past game updates, and it turns out that there was a zone added in a patch between CoE and ToV, similar to The Withered Lands (which was also patched in between expansions). Apparently by heading to the dock in the Great Divide and talking to a griffin tamer there, I can travel to The Cobalt Scar, and hopefully there will be enough XP there for me to hit 95 so I can move onto the next expansion. However, at this point I’m calling Chains of Eternity done, so that can get scratched off my Gamer To-Do List.

Similarly to my experience with the Eidolon Jungle, Obol Plains had a long quest chain that leads you around the map, and eventually I had to do some solo instances. Being on a pirate ship as an instance was pretty cool. The fortress was less impressive and not really much of a dungeon, but having to whittle down 10% of a raid boss’s health during the final fight of the story was interesting. Thankfully they gave you a beefed up mercenary for that fight. Here’s some screens of the tail end of the journey through Obol:

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I decided to use the random character select option today, so of course I ended up with Rogue. I like her kit – starting with an assault rifle, and having the air strikes and setting off an explosion when she’s hit are all great things individually. Having the IDPD show up every level makes things tough though.