Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Fresh Starts And Second Chances

As I write, all EQII servers are down for the regular Tuesday re-start. When they come up there will be one more: Rivervale.

First announced in the Producer's Letter last month, Rivervale is a "fresh start" server. It will have all expansions available ("no gated content") and everyone will get a free Heroic Character boost to Level 90 (current cap is 110, soon to be 120).

There's more that wasn't revealed in the original announcement. The new server will follow the same "Free Trade" rules as 2016's Isle of Refuge server, meaning "almost all items can be traded freely between players". Rivervale will also have "comparable" xp rates,, according to the FAQ, which is an odd way of putting it. Are they the same or not? If not, what's the difference?

I never paid much (or indeed any) attention to the IoR server. I can't remember hearing much about it since the original launch. Looking into it now, I see that although it was originally stated that "There are no plans to EVER allow transfers off the Isle of Refuge server", "ever" turned out to be just over a year.

Return to the moon.

In a dev post from August 2017 Kander confirms that "Character transfer tokens are being made available to players on Isle of Refuge who have been on the server for more then 30 days". The same post confirmed that "status applied towards leveling your guild has been permanently set to five times the normal value".

I can't see any mention of either transfers off the server or guild status in the Rivervale FAQ, although it does state that no transfers to the server will be allowed, so as to "keep the economy new and fresh". In a couple of comments following the FAQ, Community Rep Dreamweaver gave an informative reading of Daybreak's reasons for choosing this particular ruleset:
"With new servers, we’ve learned a lot from progression servers in the past several years because that’s primarily what we’ve done. We also realized we haven’t tried a “live” or different server that celebrates content we’ve done in more recent years. Most importantly, we’ve learned that the energy created by an excited group of people creating a new home and community on a server with an identity all its own is a real joy for a lot of players who choose it. There’s something really great – and devs have experienced this through progression ourselves – about a community that’s fresh and new and how that server’s own culture and character evolves. Building a life online is what we’re all about. That in mind, we want to give enough variety and opportunity for players to choose what feels right for them. Progression isn’t for everyone, so we wanted to try this. We are always looking to try new things and deliver options for our players that can offer a flavor that’s tasty to some and might not be to others. This isn’t about leveling. It’s about living in Norrath with friends."
I nodded in agreement when I read that, although I was surprised to find that it has in fact only been just over three years since the last non-progression fresh start - Isle of Refuge. Still, three years is quite a while in the life of an MMORPG, so maybe we are ready for another go round.

Easy-to-see nodes make harvesting a pleasure.

The specific timing is interesting and rather clever. Launching a month or so before the new expansion gives the server time to bed in and find an audience, with the enticing prospect of having a clean slate (and a clean economy) all set up nicely for the upcoming content.

Whether that will appeal to people whose characters are already raid-geared I'm not sure but it might look very atractive to those who feel they're a little behind the curve. Starting at Level 90, determined guilds could easily be ready for the new stuff when it arrives, putting them in prime position to to rule the Rivervale roost instead of fluttering around in the dust kicked up by the current cocks of the walk on their old servers.

I don't think I'm quite in the market for another by-my-bootstraps trip through Norrath just now. Starting at 90 would also put me squarely into some of the content I've done most often, most recently.

While the servers remain down, however, character creation is still available and I did take the opportunity to make a Dark Elf Shadowknight so I can pop in and enjoy that new server smell for a while. In fifteen years of EQII I don't believe I've ever played a Dark Elf, so that will be a novelty, at least.

Before the servers came down I spent a very pleasant hour or so completing the pre-expansion tradeskill quest Piercing the Darkness: Carving a Legacy. I read only a few days ago, at EQ2 Traders, that completing this quest is a pre-requisite for starting the signature tradeskill questline in Blood of Luclin, so I thought I'd better get on with it.

I don't believe I even wore the Sash for a single, meaningful fight.
The quest, like the Adventure version, which I also should do something about, is a permanent addition to the game but it would be quite annoying to embark on the expansion only to find out you didn't qualify for some of the opening content. Better to get the prep done ahead of time.

It's a fun quest, if you like gathering. I love gathering so I was in my element. Even if you're not so keen, the whole thing only takes about an hour, hour and a half, a blink of an eye in MMORPG time. And the rewards are excellent.

I recently completed all of Yun Zi's Days of Summer 2019 quests which let me kit my Berserker out with a full set of Bold Crusade and Daring Adventure gear. Even though I consider him to be well-geared for a solo character, I ended up swapping out almost every slot apart from one Mythical and two Relics.

The adventuring belt I got from doing the tradeskill quest was a very significant upgrade to the Panda item I'd slotted only last week. Assuming it represents the standard for entry-level gear in the new expansion I doubt my Berserker will be wearing Crusade/Adventure gear for long. And you also get a tradeskill belt that gives a 5% bonus to your chance of finding rares when you harvest.

Now all I need is for Daybreak to open pre-orders. That's supposed to happen today but as yet... nothing. For alleged greedmongers they seem astonishingly slow to take my money!


  1. I was a bit surprised myself to see that last minute "free trade server" addition to the mix. I asked myself the same thing I did back in 2016, is there demand for this feature?

    On the experience curve, the FAQ says it will be "comparable" to the Isle of Refuge server, and the Isle of Refuge server FAQ says that it was set to the same xp ride as live, so it will be close to, if not exactly, like a live server maybe?

    Clarity isn't always their strong suit. But they do have a new community person, so maybe they aren't up to speed yet.

    1. As I said, I haven't been following the fortunes of the Isle of Refuge server but I had somehow formed an impression that it was something of a damp squib, so I was a little surprised to see they'd used the ruleset again for Rivervale. On the other hand, Firiona Vie, the EQ version of a "free trade" server, is possibly the busiest non-progression server. As I write this, in the middle of the night US time, FV is at "High" on Daybreak's server status page.

  2. There are some rewards for playing Beta: https://www.everquest2.com/news/eq2-blood-of-luclin-beta-testing-rewards-2019

    Just in case you missed it. Great blog, BTW.


Wider Two Column Modification courtesy of The Blogger Guide