Saturday, September 2, 2017

A Rush And A Push : EQ2, EverQuest

I seem to have a million things to do at the moment, most of them things I'd rather not be doing, which makes blogging something of a challenge. It's tough enough finding the time to play the MMOs let alone write about them.

Typically, Daybreak decided my busy period would be a great moment to drop a five-day double xp "weekend". And as if that wasn't enough, they make it open to everyone - no membership required - and run it in both EQ and EQ2 at the same time. They never play this card when I have a week off work and nothing particular to do. I should send them my diary.

Anyway, enough with the moaning.

Like Keen, I'm aware of the paradox in preferring the journey to the destination, while still welcoming anything which gets me through it faster. Although, looked at more closely, perhaps its not such a paradox after all. The upper levels in many MMOs aren't so much a journey as a forced march. Even after all these years of what's generally imagined to be a downward spiral of difficulty and commitment, every one of the later levels in both the EverQuest titles take hours rather than minutes. Or days. Sometimes weeks...

In EQ2, on the account I currently  have subbed to All Access, I have three Level 100s, the current cap. Only one of those, the Berserker, got there the hard way. The Inquisitor and The Necromancer were beneficiaries of free level 100 boosts. My Warlock also got a leg-up but in his case it stranded him at 95. 

He's been laboriously grinding his way through those last five levels for what seems like years now...mostly because it has been years. Not years of gameplay, obviously. Even I don't level that slowly. No, years of getting the odd session in here and there, whenever a double XP weekend happens to co-incide with... well, with not much else going on.

When SOE made the peculiar and short-lived decision to increase the level cap in increments of less than five levels at a time, going from 90 to 92 and then from 92 to 95, if I recall correctly, they also chose to extend the expected leveling curve to make each level seem like a lot more than just the one.

They also added Prestige Points at the end of every 20% of the level so that you get what sounds and feels like a "Ding!" five times before the number next to your characters name rolls over. Maybe they thought that without that kind of encouragement people would just give up. They needn't have worried. EverQuesters are too stubborn to know when to stop.

Playing today, I had full vitality (+100% xp), Veteran Bonus (+20% for each max level character on the account, total 60%), Server Bonus (+100% for the XP Weekend) and I was running a Veteran's XP Potion for an additional 110%. Grand total +370% XP bonus. I think there may have been an item bonus in there somewhere, too.

With that much of a following wind it still took me an hour and forty five minutes to do the second half of level 98. Just imagine what the flat xp rate would be. No, don't.

I chose to do it as though I was playing normally. I did a daily solo dungeon quest, two weekly solo overland quests and a chunk of the main solo storyline from 2014's Altar of Malice expansion. It was a fun session.

It might have been faster to chronomentor and run laps round Chelsith or clear Sebilis for the hundredth time but the AoM zones are gorgeous; all open sea, blue skies and lush, tropical islands. I'd rather be there than a dank dungeon any day.

And I really like the story in The Shattered Seas. It's recursive, meandering, complex and often funny. It may be nonsense but it's quality nonsense. I even learned a new word: vilipender, although I'm not at all sure it means what the writer thinks it does...

The rewards are worthwhile, too. Everything's an upgrade, although the significance of that diminishes almost to nothing when you realize that in just one more level you'll be 100 and able to equip gear that's literally orders of magnitude more powerful...then in a couple of months the next expansion will arrive, bringing entry-level gear to make most current best-in-slot items redundant. So it goes.

Fortunately, there are other rewards that don't date. Some superb housing items for a start and, if you make it all the way to the end, a Pteranodon flying mount.

My Warlock is close to getting his Anchor of Wanderer's Dock, which is one of the most useful items I have ever had in any MMO. It's a no-cooldown, unlimited use clicky that teleports to you to the eponymous dock, next to which stand a banker, a broker and a crafting vendor. Better yet, there's a World Bell there.

It's like an infinite transport system and utility center in your pocket. My Berserker has used his several times every session since the day he got it and the Warlock can't wait to have one of his own. It is entirely worth doing the questline up to that point just to get one. There are always benefits you don't get for just taking the easy road.

One more level to go, then. Might finish it this weekend.

As for EverQuest, where my Magician is currently beached in the low 90s, I think that's going to be too big an ask. One does not merely log in to EQ and level up. I don't think I have the time (or stamina) for the prep, let alone the fights.

Shame, though. Maybe I could at least fit in a Lesson or two, somehow...


  1. I have hardly played this summer but I did log in and run a few advanced solos since I was pretty close to the next ascension level. The main reason for logging in was to get started on the summer event quests. Making those rewards account wide was enough to lure me back. Not enough free time this weekend to really take advantage of the double xp.

    Looking forward to some more expansion info. Did not enjoy this current expansion much so want to see what they do next.

    1. I enjoyed both Kunark Ascending and Terrors of Thalumbra but playing through Altar of Malice again reminds just how much better that expansion was. It's one of my favorites, I think.

      I hope the new one is less cramped than the last two but I fear that's a symptom of DBG's reduced circumstances rather than any kind of deliberate change of direction. I'm just glad we're getting another expansion at all.

    2. I did like Terrors and I enjoyed the content in Kunark Ascending. The main questline was fun and I liked all of the solo/advanced solo zones. I just really did not enjoy what they did with gear/resolve and the ascension skills.

      And the mention of the next expansion was a pleasant surprise. They kept quiet about it for so long that I was not expecting one.


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