Thursday, April 16, 2020

Stuck Like A Cowboy : EQII

As Kander and Dreamweaver revealed in the recent Kander's Candor podcast, the big spring update for EverQuest II this year has a cowboy theme. And a cowboy theme tune. Several, in fact, some of them sung by cacti.

The singing succulents (that's what they're called) are in the new instance, which comes in Solo, Heroic and Challenge flavors. Don't ask me what "Challenge" dungeons are. I can't keep up with the jargon even though I'm playing every day.

I'll bet they're hard, though. I'm sure I won't be seeing many of them (for "many" read "any").  I've already tried the Solo instance and that's hard enough for me.

In fact, it's exactly hard enough, as in just right.  It's what I guess you'd call "end game Solo", if such a thing exists (and it does in EQII) because you can't even get the quest for it unless you've finished the Blood of Luclin solo adventure signature line.

I have six max level 120 adventurers but only one of them has actually bothered to complete the sig so it was had to be my Berserker who hitched up his chaps and moseyed on down to the Diaku Corral.

The questgiver is a gnome in the small camp just at the top of the hill leading from The Grey to Scarlet Desert. Yet another gnome has gone missing, something of a theme in the current expansion (okay, all expansions...) and it's your job to go look for him. Isn't it always?

It took me a little while to work out where to go although the instructions are clear enough. There's a big island out in the bay and a pier at the foot of the headland where the very scary Diaku ogres live. Once you've had a poke around there and gone back to speak to the questgiver again, you can click a rowboat next to the pier to let it take you to the new instance, out on the island.

Zoning in was a little scary. All the mobs are three-up-arrow orange-con heroics. Level 126s. A lot of them. It looks like solo suicide but the way the game works now is to use the Heroic instances as a baseline and buff solo characters up to match. My Berserker, who normally has around 130m hit points, found himself beefed up to not far short of half a billion. It's a big numbers game, alright, but that's how most EQII players seem to like it.

The ogres hit hard but die fast. Berserkers are happy to fight crowds so all the adds just made things go faster still. As per the current convention the mobs didn't really drop anything and naturally there's no xp to be had at max level but I've long since adjusted to that new normal, so I didn't get that old-fashioned "why am I doing this again?" feeling.

The ogres, all wearing chaps, ten-gallon hats and leather waistcoats, did drop one thing: single-shot crossbows. All of them. And the bows were stackable items, not equippable weapons. There's a hint. I made a hot key for them and tried shooting ogres in the hope there might be some kind of one-shot gimmick. There was. Kind of.

Shoot an ogre with one of those mini-crossbows and his hat flies off! I wish I could have got a screenshot but it happened too fast. I guess I could fire up FRAPS and video it. Or, come to think of it, doesn't EQII have built-in video?

I could go back in and do it now if it wasn't for one thing. I'm stuck.

Little did I know at the time that the key to my progress
(and the gate) lay in my hands...
Stuck as in I've killed all the available ogres and now I'm outside the locked gates of their hilltop fort and I can't get in. I've already re-started the instance and killed them all a second time in case I missed something but if I did I missed it that time, too.

I must either have missed something (Spoiler! And False Edit! Yes I had!) or I'm bugged because I know other people have finished the instance. I'd happily refer to a walkthrough only there isnt one yet.   

Darkpaw Games recently moved to a peculiar cadence of updates where the Test server gets some updates after Live. That does seem to defeat the object of having a Test server. Certainly the very disgruntled Test community thinks so. And since they are, by and large, the people who write all the walkthroughs for the wiki, when they suffer, we all suffer.

I already know how easy it is to miss stuff in the new instance because I missed the mechanic on the one one named ogre I found on on the way up to the summit. He had clear emotes and the mechanic turned out to be obvious but I still had to reset the instance and give him a second go before I tumbled it.

Based on that mistake, I hung around for a long time trying to figure out how to get the gates open. I killed everything I could find, including all the rattlesnakes. I tried interacting with the cacti. (Another Fake Edit: You didn't try hard enough, pal!). I checked the maps for alternate routes and found a possible way in underwater.

That got me two discovery points and one death by shark but it didn't get me anywhere I wanted to go. I've run out of ideas, which is why I stopped and came to write this post. My choices now are a) ask in General chat if anyone knows how to get the gate open or b) wait until a walkthrough appears on the wiki. (Yet Another Fake Edit: or c) read the forum thread properly instead of just skimming it, you muppet! Not to mention d) watch one of the playthroughs already up on YouTube). I guess it depends which is stronger, my pride or my patience.

From what I've seen so far it's an excellent update. I like the instance a lot. I got an upgrade off the named ogre, too, so it could be profitable as well as fun. (And still with the Fake Edits: all the drops so far seem to be at least 165 resolve which makes it a great choice for gearing up after the Sig line).

There's also a major upgrade to the Overseer system, which now has both levels and seasons as well as some very welcome quality of life changes. I'll probably cover all that in more detail when I've levelled it up a bit. Far enough to start the new Desert of Flames themed missions that come with Season Two. That requires your Overseer to be level eleven. Fortunately, leveling the feature seems to go quite quickly. I'd guess I'd be there sometime next week.

The update also comes with some exceptionally
good freebies. There's a very attractive mount with decent stats, a legendary quality familiar and a 66-slot bag (which can also be displayed as a really nice appearance item in the back slot) plus some item unattuners and time-reducing potions. That's a good package deal by just about anyone's standards.

It's one per account but, amazingly, every account gets one. Yes, that means free accounts as well. I logged in my old main account, currently unsubbed, to check and it's true. I'll be logging in all my f2p accounts and Mrs Bhagpuss's too. It would be rude to shun such generosity.

The update also gives some hefty boosts to some of the mage classes, particularly Warlocks and Summoners. They're calling it "Class Balance" but it seems more like a straight catch-up for some classes that were supposed to be upper tier DPS but who've slipped. I already found my mages to be plenty powerful enough in solo content but I won't complain if they become even more powerful still.

Now, if someone would just be kind enough to get started on a walkthrough, I've got cowboys to kill! (Final Fake Edit: as you were guys. I've got this!).

No comments:

Post a Comment

Wider Two Column Modification courtesy of The Blogger Guide