Friday, December 3, 2021

The Return Of The Necromancer or How To Turn A Bug Into A Feature.

After yesterday's cheery assessment of the new EverQuest II expansion, Visions of Vetrovia, I ran smack-bang into an unfortunate glitch. A very unfortunate glitch. A glitch worthy of Amazon's New World, except that if it happened there it would probably affect everyone and make news around the world rather than just affecting me and making one tiny ripple on the EQII forums.

Remember how I said after I remembered to put on all the gear from Tishan's Lockbox, everything was fine and the only death I had was self-inflicted? Yeah, well that didn't last. When I logged back in after finishing the blog post something very strange had happened. Something much worse than the original problem I'd been having.

Somehow, instead of being better able to withstand the blows in his new armor, my Berserker had become about as brittle as one of those roses supervillains like to dunk into liquid nitrogen before shattering to let the hero what's coming next. 

He'd become the absolute definition of a glass cannon. If Ihe opened with one of the Ascension spells and blasted a mob - any mob - from a safe distance, the mob would drop to the ground, dead. If, however, he was careless enough to let the mob hit him first, it would be his turn to hit the floor, instantly.

It made for some very odd gameplay, especially for a melee character. It's possible if he'd been a wizard I might not even have noticed but the traditional Berserker pull tactic of charging up to something and spinning was working about as well as running face-first into a steel door. Hard to miss that.

I spent a while reading combat logs and checking settings. I managed to get some questing done but it wasn't enjoyable at all. In the end I posted on the forums about it and went to bed.

This morning someone had replied, suggesting I might need to reset all my AAs. He'd had the same issue and it had fixed it for him. That has actually happened to me before and it worked for me that time, too. I'd forgotten all about it. So I did that and it didn't make any difference at all.

Being me, I then decided to run a few tests and make a few notes. I wondered if it was only happening in the new expansion. Before all this happened, my Berserker had felt extremely comfortable killing stuff in the opening zones of the previous expansion and close to godlike in the one before that. Would he feel the same way now?

I went back to both, walked the Berserker up to an aggressive mob, stood there and let it hit him. 

He died. Instantly. 

Not every time. A few mobs seemed to do normal damage, but most of them were happy to one-shot him in his fancy new armor. Some of the adornments from VoV don't work in earlier content but even with those out of action, he still had over 800 million hit points. When he did some of those older zones the first time he probably didn't have a tenth of that.

I made a note of the damage he was taking. It was spectacular:

Sand Rock Lizard , Svarni Expanse - 9,293,912,700
Swamp Needler, Svarni Expanse - 4,215,656,200
Rock Growler, Echo Caverns - 5,973,298,500
Enormous Rhino Beetle, The Blinding - 2,947,716,400

Clearly, a character with 992,827,858 HP, as he has in the new expansion, is not going to get far if he's been hit for several billion hit points in a single attack. Also, just as clearly, this cannot be working as intended. 

I went back to the forums and found someone had added a comment to say they'd seen this happen in beta. They also said there'd been a thread on it in the bug forum but the explanation had been misinterpreted as the reporting player not having equipped the right gear and the thread had been marked closed.

The commenter had helpfully opened a new thread reporting the bug was not fixed after all so I added my findings to that. I also did an in-game bug report. We'll see if anything comes of it.

That still left me largely unable to play but I still wanted to play. I was also curious to test whether the problem affected my whole account or just that one character. It seemed like an ideal opportunity to throw a rock at a couple of birds and see if I could knock them both out of their tree. 

It's at times like this that having multiple characters at the cap begins to feel like an insurance policy rather than an indulgence. I've been aware for some time that a Berserker isn't the best class to take through new content and I've been wanting to transition to using my necromancer instead. Well, here was my opportunity. 

Luckily, I'd already tidied her up and got her ready in anticipation of playing her in VoV. All I had to do was port her over and swap out all her panda gear for the stuff in the box. 

I was more than a little anxious that the same thing would happen to her as had happened to the Berserker but I'm very happy to say it didn't. I wheeled her through all the quests the Berserker had done at breakneck speed, not needing to read any of the dialog since I could still remember most of it from last night. 

Her pet could tank everything without seeming to take any damage at all and when I deliberately let things hit the Necro to see what kind of damage they were doing, the numbers in the combat log were as you'd expect - nothing much over 20-40 million hit points. With a health pool of almost 200 million that's barely going to raise a bruise.

I ended up taking her into the first instance, where she acquitted herself well against the regular mobs. The first boss proved to much for her but mostly because of the really awkward positioning. He's an archer who stands on a high rock and also teleports. She died but not for any weird reasons. 

All of which leaves me in a slightly odd position. I'm a little annoyed that I can't play my Berserker, especially since he's by far my most prepared character out of combat, being a maxed Weaponsmith and Adorner among other things, but it's past time I transferred my attention to the Necromancer and this is a nudge in the right direction.

I also ought to take my Warlock, who's a max level Sage and can make the upgrades for the Necro's spells, through the tradeskill signature line rather than the Berserker, because who needs a weaponsmith? No-one! Certainly not me.

There's absolutely no doubt that a Necromancer in EQII is much better suited to my solo playstyle. The Berserker is enormous fun to play in combat with all his AEs and death saves but the Necro is the Swiss Army Knife of classes, able to pop out the right tool for any occasion. She kills everything much faster than he does and she can do all kinds of other things, too. Not to mention she can always drop and feign dead if I need to go answer the door. That's incredibly handy.

I very much hope someone at Darkpaw takes note of the report and fixes the bug sooner rather than later because I do want to keep my Berserker up to speed but I can't say I'm unhappy at the turn of events. This could and indeed should mark a turning point, where I return to my EQII roots and go back to playing the class I played so happily for years, before I was lured away by the knockabout fun of first the Bruiser and then the Berserker.


  1. So if I am reading this right, on Night 1 your Berserker did OK, then when you logged in a 2nd time he was broken.

    Then you logged in your Necro and she was OK. But have you logged her in a second time?

    Cuz now I'm worried that the same will happen to her on her 2nd login.

    1. I took a couple of breaks last night and she was fine. We'll see how she is this morning. I think the bug is pretty rare so fingers crossed she'll be okay. She's level 124 now so it's going well.

    2. Whew, glad the bug didn't bite your necro!

  2. After reading your cheery bit about the expansion I bought a copy to try out last night, though I was very paranoid about fighting mobs also using my berserker. The first set I needed to fight were level 126, so I was careful to get attacks in fast and, as you noted, they seemed to die very quickly via ascension skills. But when I slipped up and a mob was able to hit me, it didn't seem to have quite the same devastating effect. I wonder what is triggering this insta-kill thing? I put on all the armor from the supply box at the first camp and haven't touched my AAs. Hrmm...

    1. As far as I can tell it seems to be a pretty rare bug. I haven't really heard anyone else complain about it and everyone around me seems to be doing fine. My Necro has no problems at all and neither did the Berserker at first. If you're not having problems I wouldn't touch the AAs - resetting mine made no difference thatt I could see.

      The expansion itself is very good, judged by the internal standards of EQII, I think. I've made it to the second zone now and the visuals are superb given the capabilities of the graphics engine. The art dept. has done an amazing job. The story is also pretty good if you're invested in EQ lore although I doubt it will make a lot of sense to anyone who isn't. The vibe I'm getting from general chat and what I've seen on the forums seems unusually cheerful and accepting. We'll see how it goes but at least it's a good start.


Wider Two Column Modification courtesy of The Blogger Guide