Thursday, September 12, 2019

Let's Go To The Moon: EQII

With all the focus on WoW Classic I still managed to find an hour to run through some of the pre-expansion quests in EverQuest II yesterday. There's a lot going on in EQII right now and I'm conscious of missing out. As Telwyn's finding, it would be very easy to immerse yourself in Norrath if it wasn't for all the other distractions.

I saw some grumbling on the forums about excessive timesinks, mostly concerning the number of mats that had to be gathered for some of the crafting quests. This seems to have been addressed in Tuesday's patch although the update notes don't mention  it.

That something has changed seems evident from the enormous discrepancy between the details on the wiki walkthrough I used and the actual number of mats required by the quest I was doing in the game itself.

According to the wiki, Shoot For The Stars requires
  • 54 solid ethereal filament found around Teren's Grasp 
  • 18 Salty Loam
  • 8 Rough Turquoise
  • 18 Tuber Strand
  • 54 Glowing Incense 
That's to make six Astral Transposition Acceptors, six Multifaceted Transpositional Spellshards and six Quadrolith Corporeal Sublimators. Don't you wish you got paid for making this stuff up?

In the game itself, though, the quest only asks you to make the Sublimators. No mention of the rest. And to make those takes just one of each of the mats plus the regular amount of fuel.

I'm assuming the quest was changed although I guess the wiki could just be wrong. I doubt it. As I've said before, EQII has one of the very best wikis of any MMORPG I've ever played. It's comprehensive, accurate and usually has full information on new content the day it appears in game, thanks to the ever-diligent crew on the Test server. As I also said, this time the quests weren't on Test before they went Live so there was a day or two's lag before the walkthroughs appeared.

 One Deepwater Coin for every six grimlings. Seems like a bargain. I'd kill the little buggers for nothing.
Given my recent comments on how refreshing it is to be playing Classic with nothing to help me other than the information relayed by NPCs when they pass on the quests, it may seem counter-intuitive, not to say hypocritical for me to be praising another MMORPG community's ability to provide comprehensive out-of-game help but it serves to emphasize something I'm coming to believe quite strongly: there are, and should be, many different types of MMORPGs.

I've played EQII for fifteen years. When I play new, low level characters there I still enjoy all the same running and exploring and detective work that so appeals to me in WoW Classic. When I play my max-level character, however, all that changes.

My Berserker is powerful and experienced. I don't get anything like the same satisfaction from spending 30-60 minutes taking him running and searching across a large zone, in which nothing is a threat, hunting for three or four small ground items that an NPC has helpfully told me are "somewhere" in the region. It's annoying and not fun.

In these cases I want to see the new content and gain whatever rewards it gives, not spend literally hours nit-picking through zones I know like the back of my hand. For the same reason, in EQII I absolutely love my flying mounts (or wings, as I prefer to use), not just for the sheer thrill of feeling like I can fly but also for the huge timesaving they provide.

That highlight isn't exactly giving much away, is it?
Equally, I love the unlimited Instant Travel available free for subscribers. I love being able to open the map, click on my destination and be there in as long as it takes for a loading screen to clear. I also do just about every new quest with the wiki's detailed and comprehensive walkthrough open on a Firefox tab.

I don't find these positions in any way mutually exclusive. These are different games but also different stages with in the life of those games. What is appropriate for one isn't necessarily appropriate for another.

And, of course, it's also a choice. If I wanted, I could play EQII just how I'm playing Classic. Only I don't want to and that's perfectly fine. We are allowed to want different things and we are allowed to change our minds. And change them again. As often as we like.

In this vein, I was interested to see that, for the pre-expansion quests, the map once again highlights the general area where you need to go. This feature was, somewhat controversially, removed in an expansion a few years ago (from memory I think it was Kunark Ascending), at least for new content. I remember Kaozz from ECTMMO being particularly annoyed about it and she wasn't alone.

Since then it seems to have crept back in. I'm not clear any more on what the official policy is, if indeed there is one, but I'd be very happy to have it re-instated as standard.

Using the walkthroughs, Instant Travel, flying and the map highlights I was able to knock out most of the repeatable quests, some of them more than once, in an hour. I liked all of them. They're simple but satisfying.

Doesn't look all that grim to me.

It was particularly pleasant to be sent to the Grim Shales region in Phantom Sea. I'd forgotten how misleading the name of this place was. It's a gorgeous area of natural woodland. I took tourist photos as I flew around picking up shards of Luclinite and smashing runestones.

You never have the chance to appreciate the scenery when you do this stuff at level, I find. Too busy trying to stay alive. It's always a revelation to return a few levels later and realize how much you missed.

I collected 22 Deepwater Coins and browsed the vendor. There was such a great choice (and most of it very cheap) that I couldn't decide where to start buying. Instead I resolved to spend a good few more hours doing repeatables over the next couple of months so I can have everything I fancy. I particularly want the hover platform which, at 50 coins, is the most expensive item in the catalog.

As yet I haven't touched the permanent quests. Those will require proper attention and a block of time. I'll get to it in due course, I'm sure. Before the expansion, I hope, but if not sometime later, by which time the extra ten levels and gear upgrades will no doubt have reduced the difficulty considerably.

Speaking of the expansion, I am now all but certain we're going to Luclin. As someone on the forums pointed out, one of the released PR shots is clearly The Nexus as remodelled by the Shissar. The excitement and enthusiasm for a return to the moon is already building.

Could be a great expansion. Here's hoping!

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