Saturday, May 14, 2016

Lucky Number 13 : EQ2

It wasn't until I read Wilhelm's post yesterday afternoon that I realized it was Friday 13th. I'd been having a pretty good day until then. Afterwards it only got better.

I'd spent the morning sorting out my bags in EQ2. Despite the game having by far the most generous storage in all MMORPGs, all my regular characters still manage to end up stuffed to the gunwales.

My berserker has something in excess of three hundred inventory slots just on him, leave alone the twelve hundred in his bank. Counting his house vault he probably has storage for well over two thousand items and then there's four tabs of the guild bank he has all to himself, given he's the only guild member who's logged in in over two years.

There's just no excuse for it. It's out of control hoarding is what it is and I need to get a grip. Three hours of sorting, selling, transmuting, infusing, and adorning later left me with three completely empty bags and a significantly upgraded character.

I even bit down hard and attuned and equipped the Fabled breastplate I'd been dithering over for weeks. It does put me in a tizzy when I acquire gear I could use then realize it sells on the broker for more than ten times all the money I have in the bank. It was, needless to say, a massive upgrade.

EQ2 seems to be in the throws of uncontrollable inflation right now. Broker prices are spiralling up in the way I remember EverQuest's did in the mid 2000s. The gear I'm getting from soloing The Scourge of Zek outshines raid gear from the last expansion, which is barely six months old. There's a thread on the forums warning that if it goes on like this individual DPS on boss fights will soon parse in the billions.

I love it! My Berserker is a total joy to play. It feels great being this powerful. It feels great picking up spare collects and knowing they'll sell for fifty or a hundred plat each on the broker. And fast. Most of the things I put on the broker at the end of a session have sold by the next time I log in. The economy may be bloated but it moves!

After lunch I finished off the GU100 solo signature storyline. It took me an hour of killing orcs to get the final twenty-one sigils. I did the hand in, took my reward and that was that. So now what?

I went and played GW2 for a few hours. One of our smartest commanders led a golem charge around Eternal Battlegrounds while one of our loudest commanders commentated the whole thing in Team chat as if it was a sports event. It was hilarious.

After the excitement died down and Mrs Bhagpuss went to bed I logged back into EQ2. I thought I'd just have a potter. My Berserker happened to be at the dock in Phantom Sea so I picked up the weeklies and an Advanced Solo dungeon daily for good measure.

I flew around marveling at just how gorgeous the two ocean zones from the Altar of Malice expansion are, especially after the raw ugliness of Zek. All the Nameds I needed for the weeklies were up but not for long. Fights that went to the wire a few months ago now ended so quickly I barely had time to hit a button. I was one-shotting some of the level 105 mobs with the first arrow that was meant to pull them.

Weeklies done, I went to Zavith'loa. I thought I'd been there before but apparently not to this particular version, The Lost Caverns, because I got explore xp on zoning in. That was only the first surprise. I killed the two lizardmen lurking at the entrance and suddenly I was riding a dinosaur!

It reminded me of the Goblin starting area in WoW, where you're always hopping on unlikely mounts and being whisked across hostile territory. Never seen it happen before in Norrath.

Once again the fights were short, explosive and final. All the Nameds I needed to kill put up the challenge of a wet paper bag. I had a walkthrough up just in case but none of them lived long enough to get any of their tricks or traps out.

It was brilliant! It felt absolutely right. This was payback. My Berserker did the grunt work, grinding through all the quests in the expansion at level in old gear and it was fun but it was also hard going. Some of the Advanced Solo stuff back then was a real challenge. Returning, battle-hardened from tougher campaigns, being able to treat these creatures with disdain, was immensely satisfying.

It was so satisfying, in fact, that I wanted more. I thought about running another Shattered Seas Advanced Solo dungeon or maybe even trying a Heroic and seeing how that went. Then I had what turned out to be a much better Idea.

Leveling up to 95, I completed all of the excellent Cobalt Scar content plus the full Signature quest line from the Chains of Eternity expansion. When the cap shifted to 100 I did it all in the Shattered Seas or mentored down, chugging xp pots in old Kunark dungeons. I skipped the intervening level 95 expansion, Tears of Veeshan, almost entirely.

That means I have a whole unused expansion just sitting there. What's more, at my Berserker's current power level, those level 95-100 mobs might as well be level seven Antonican rats. I blew into the Vesspyr Isles late last night ready to pick up where I left off on my last, brief visit.

I vaguely remember I'd been doing something for some dragon or other. At the time it had been hard work, requiring me to pick out the mobs I needed from among scads of other hostile critters. There was either a great deal of unnecessary clearing or else sneaking and hiding and it wasn't a lot of fun, which is why, back then, I never got past the first quest hub.

This time it was different. So very different. No need to clear when you can just run into the middle of whatever's in the way and fire off every AE on your bar. Everything dies. Immediately. If there were quest mobs in there, updates chime. If not, move ten paces and repeat.

Even when I had to harvest and forage and mine it was a pleasure. I just moved from node to node and let my new best friend, Zhugrus, deal with the wildlife. He is, I must say, by far the best healer Mercenary I have had the pleasure of employing in EQ2. He's like Stamper Jeralf on steroids.

Not only does he heal me promptly and efficiently but most of the time he remembers to heal himself too, which is more than any other healer merc I've ever had has managed. Maybe it's that streak of orcish self-regard. Of course he didn't need to do much healing in Vesspyr. He barely ever had time to get a Verdict off.

The best part of returning to Vesspyr Isles, though, was finding just how staggeringly beautiful the whole zone is. The first time I really didn't notice because of having to watch my health bar but now that's no longer a concern I was able to look up and around.

It's like being inside a Yes album cover. I believe I may have mentioned this beforebut someone on the EQ2 art team was clearly exposed to Fragile or Tales From Topographic Oceans at an impressionable age. I'm no Roger Dean fan but when it comes to inspiration for evocative, ethereal fantasy imagery there are worse role models.

I spent a long time just flying around taking screen shots until I realized that the entire zone is one huge, never-ending screen shot. There's pretty much nowhere you can point the camera without getting something you'd be happy to use a desktop background. And it all feels so fluffy!

I logged out with the satisfying knowledge that there's a whole new-to-me expansion just waiting to be explored. What's more, now my Berserker is a virtual demi-god in most content more than six months old, it's going to be all fun and no hard work.

What a great Friday the Thirteenth!

1 comment:

  1. I skipped that expansion as well. I recently finished it on an alt while I leveled him up. It really is a great looking zone.


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