Monday, 1 September 2014

Ding 95! : EQ2

Discounting the all-feature expansion Age of Discovery, Altar of Malice, the forthcoming expansion for EQ2, will be the first I've bought at release since Sentinel's Fate way back in 2010. I haven't yet decided whether to buy it for both my accounts but while I think about that I can at least make sure I have a max-level character on each.

I thought I already had one level 95 but I was wrong. Turns out the Berserker stopped leveling half way through 94 when he completed the signature quest line for the expansion before last, Chains of Eternity. The prime candidate on the other account, the Beastlord, was a lot farther behind than that at somewhere south of halfway through 92.

There's a dragon under there somewhere.

Last weekend was a double xp weekend, extended by a day to compensate for the lag and log-in issues brought about by the DDOS attack caused by the same jolly crew who brought down WildStar and GW2 a few days earlier and had John Smedley's flight diverted through the very old-school means of a bomb threat. Possibly a tactical error on their part, that last one. We shall see.

Anyway, what with the Beastlord being Gold on the All Access account, and having full vitality, double xp from the server and a potion running, even though I only managed to play him for a couple of hours he's now sitting close to 94. Given that every level in the 90s is a good old-fashioned hell level that takes about as long as five levels in the 80s, that was pretty good progress.

The Berserker, ironically by far my most fully-developed, rounded and filled-out character in EQ2, is on the original Silver account. Not sure what those are called now Silver isn't a thing any more. Just "An Account" presumably. That means his experience bar is perma-locked at 50/50 with half the xp going to level and half to AAs. Only he is maxed in AAs already.

At first I thought that meant he was losing fifty per cent of the xp altogether but fortunately that isn't how it works. The "lost" xp was going into the Prestige Point Pool, Prestige Points being what SOE decided to call new AAs when they got bored one day.

I tried leveling the Beastlord the proper way, following the Signature quest line through the relevant expansion, in his case Destiny of Velious. That lasted about half an hour before I threw in the towel, recalled to Freeport, talked to the Chronomage and set off for Sebilis, mentored down to 80. Still the best way to grind the higher levels solo after all these years. Enjoyable too.

Last night and today, in a couple of one-hour sessions, while I was on leave from WvW duty, the Berserker took his turn beating up sarnaks. Even at half-speed the xp flowed in very comfortably, as did the loot. There are a lot of Nameds in Sebilis and these days they all seem to be up most of the time.

Gimme five!

It's a busy old place, especially on a double-xp weekend, but it's also huge and everyone was doing a pretty good job of letting each other play through. The change to how xp is allocated in a group (you have to do something now or you get none) seems to have seen off the professional power-levellers that used to make it impossible to find a living mob some days.

The Beastlord will need another few runs before the expansion pops in November but the Berserker is prepped and ready. It was interesting to find out that the full set of Reinforced Icewall Armor that I got for both of them last Frostfell by running a few sessions (alright, quite a few sessions) in The Icy Keep is exactly comparable to the first set of quested armor in the still-current Tears of Veeshan expansion.

The difference, and it's a huge difference, is that you can wear the Icewall at level 92. Having level 95 armor three levels early is a massive advantage, not surprisingly. I'm so glad now that I took the trouble even though at the time it seemed a bit self-indulgent. I did it because I could see how good it was even though I wasn't really sure I'd ever need it - the Beastlord couldn't even equip it at the time, still being 91.

Since he was 95 I thought I'd take the Berserker to Vesspyr Isles, the Ethernere version of Kingdom of Sky, where the ToV storyline and Signature quests take place. He'd been there already at 94 and had a little explore but even though he could survive and even kill some of the lesser wildlife it was all a little bit beyond him then. This time it was perfect.

Vesspyr Isles is a delightful zone visually. It feels just like you've fallen into a Roger Dean album cover only without the inevitable reek of patchouli. I did the first few quests, got my Sokokar mount and a couple of pieces of armor, met Harla Dar (even I know who she is). I was thoroughly enjoying myself but then it occurred to me that I might need this xp when the new expansion drops.

I Get Up, I Get Down (One for the Yes fans out there)

SOE are notorious for designing expansions that don't have sufficient quest xp for the additional levels that come with them. Tipa can tell you all about that. Also all the xp was going to AA (the "Silver" slider flips to 100% AA when you reach max level) and I don't believe my Berserker can get any more AAs. He has 340, which I think is the limit, and they're not adding any with AoM, since the flavor of the month is still Prestige Points. The bar is still filling up though so I could be wrong.

The story is good so I will definitely follow it through. Just not necessarily right away. Most of EQ2's storylines are good, I think. It's just as well because they take a long time to play through and once is usually enough. I might save the story for the Beastlord, who still has plenty of AAs to make up.

Decisions, decisions.

8 comments:

  1. Congrats! I felt as if the last expansion was really lacking all around and will probably skip this one but i always love seeing more EQ2 posts.

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    1. These days I only see the solo parts of expansions. I was looking forward to Velious because I so loved the original but I thought the EQ2 version was lackluster, until the final installment in Cobalt Scar, which I really enjoyed. Two expansions in the Ethernere was probably one too many.

      I'm very happy to be getting back to Antonica and adjacent property in the next expansion. I've been waiting to find out what the Far Seas Company are up to for a long time now. Let's hope it lives up to expectations.

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  2. I am reinstalling for the umpteenth time. I can't decide if I should work on my Troubador or my Warden. Both are in the early 50's.

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    1. Two classes I cannot get on with at all! I really struggle badly with scout/rogue classes in any MMO and I've never attempted any in EQ2 (except for the Beastlord, which SOE decided should be a scout for reasons that are completely incomprehensible). I have a Warden and a Fury but I found both really slow.

      I hope you stick with EQ2 for a while. I'd love to see your thoughts on leveling up there.

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  3. Roger Dean does KoS. LOL! Exactly....

    Gratz on the ding, and gratz on having gotten that FF armor when you had the chance -- even though you didn't realize what it was at the time. heh

    -- 7rsly

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    1. I knew it was good! I'll be getting some more this Frostfell, assuming its on offer again.

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  4. Congrats! You have more fortitude than I when it comes to post-Cataclysm Norrath. As much as I dug into the game for its first year, and another long streak with Faydwer, I have never been able to come back and stick with it past level 62 since. I think there is some time frame after which it becomes increasingly difficult to return to an MMO and play seriously, as everything changes so much while you are away.

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    1. I agree with that. Coming back after a long gap is really tough. The trick is to keep the plates spinning. No matter what other MMO I'm spending 75-80% of my time in I always manage to give 5-10% to one of the EQs. The last time I could have claimed to be anywhere near the leading edge for EQ2 would have been 2010 and for EQ itself more like 2007. Even then that would only be in solo play.

      A good comparison would be LotRO. I liked LotRO when I played it. Didn't like some of the players but that was my fault for playing on an RP server. I sill have it installed and I get the urge to play now and again. I am SO far behind now, though, that if I log in pretty much all I can do is ride around admiring the scenery, take a few screenshots and log out. If I really wanted to play I'd have to start again from scratch.

      It's a real shame your Instance Group had such a bad experience with EQ2. There are a ton of top-class instanced dungeons (dozens of them) that I am sure you'd all have really enjoyed had you been able to just skip the extremely group-unfriendly build up and get stuck in to them. Ah well - onwards and upwards!

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