Monday, April 25, 2022

Good Things Come To Those Who Wait. No, Really. They Do! Don't Walk Away!

Overseer progression in EverQuest II is a painstaking and time-consuming affair, which I'm guessing is why there are so many offhand comments on the forums about how tedious and/or pointless the feature is. It's also only of sporadic benefit to the more committed players, by which I really mean anyone playing much above solo difficulty. I very much doubt Heroic II Dungeon players would be interested in anything that drops from an Overseer reward chest, let alone raiders. Even H1 players probably find the pickings slim.

For a solo player, things don't look great at the start, either, but the trick is to keep going anyway. At the top end, gear drops from Overseer missions are on a par with drops from solo instance bosses, at least, and they're a lot easier and quicker to get, especially if you have a stable of characters to dress.

It's possible to see some of that in advance. EQII, like Guild Wars 2, has a facility whereby you can preview the potential contents of reward chests. I believe there was some legal reason this was added so as to remove any hint of gambling from the chests you can buy from the stores for cash money but for some reason it was extended to in-game loot containers as well, a change about which I have somewhat mixed feelings. 

On occasion it can be useful to know all of the possible drops from a reward chest but it does mitigate strongly against the sense of elation that an unexpectedly good drop can bring. The option is very useful, however, in determining just how the progression ladder for Overseer works, something that's anything but intuitive. 

I really enjoy the Overseer system but the way it works can be quite oblique. It occured to me it might be an idea to write a detailed guide on the subject, something for which there's obviously a demand. "Overseer" is currently one of the five top-trending searches on the EQII wiki. People clearly want to know more.

Unfortunately, wiki-users are likely to be disappointed if, like me, they're trying to find out more about the new Season 4 rewards or mechanics. Although there's a very extensive Overseer page, it has yet to be updated beyond the end of Season 3. I'd like to be able to do something about that but having thought about it I realize I have nowhere near enough understanding or experience of the changes either to write my own guide or to edit the wiki, always assuming I could figure out how to do it. I've never actually edited a wiki. Maybe I should.

Still, I thought it might be useful to lay out a few of the basics, as much for my own reference as anything else. I've been diligently doing my missions every day since the update and some progress has been made. Not nearly as much as I'd like but at least I think I can begin to see the shape of things now.

As far as I can tell, each tier of rewards contains the seeds for the next. At the beginning of a new season you get a pair of the shortest, lowest-quality missions, blue-colored Treasured missions that take an hour to complete and have a half-hour cooldown before you can take them again. The loot for those is generally about the same as you'd get doing solo quests in the Signature questline.

These missions have the chance to drop alot of other utility items, boosts and so on but what you're really after at this point are some of the more than twenty further missions. These range from more blue, sixty-minuters to longer blues and even longer yellow "Legendary" missions. I'm vague on the exact numbers and details because, while you can examine the contents of the basic reward chests from the Overseer menu at any time, the only chance you get to look at what's in the more desirable "Bonus" chests is when one pops up as an actual reward for a mission you've completed .

As I write this I have a screenshot of the Bonus chest from a Legendary mission to refer to but I haven't had the chance to snap a picture of the inventory of a Treasured Bonus chest. Should have thought of that before I started, really. As you can see I didn't do my homework.

Leaving the exact provenance of the missions aside, what you're trying to do at this stage is to upgrade your mission options as much as possible. While you have only Treasured missions, the best you can hope for is to add some Legendaries. It can be a slow process. To date I've managed to acquire just two.

The new season began a couple of weeks ago and so far I have a total of eight missions: three Treasured (one-hour), three Treasured (ninety minutes) and two Legendary (two and a half hours). That allows me to do the full ten missions per day simply by taking them all first thing in the morning and then re-taking two of the blue ones when I collect the yellows, which is a big improvement over having to keep logging in every couple of hours to recycle the few blue ones I started with but still isn't really getting me where I want to be.

While just banging out all eight missions then doing two more blues on re-pop may be convenient, it isn't the best use of resources. The blue missions can only give me more blues or yellows and what I really want are some purple "Fabled" missions or better yet, some green "Celestials". I still need to keep coming back to retake the two yellow missions when the cooldown fades.

Or at least I think I do. It's at at this point that I realise I can't say with any certainty what the yellow missions do offer. I'm assuming yellows can give purples and purples can give greens but I don't know that for a fact. Since facts are kind of the important part of this post and since I just realised that "looking inside the box" trick doesn't work for missions on cooldown, which both of my Legendary missions are right now, what say we reconvene in two hours from now, when they're up again?

Intermission. Ice creams are on sale in the lobby.

Okay, everyone back in their seats? Good. Then let's see what we've got.

That was worth waiting for. It doesn't give you the specific quality-rating for the missions but you can tell by the number of agents required that some are going to be Fabled and some Celestial. The rest are Legendary. No Treasured.

There are also a bunch of new agents, ranging upward into the Celestial category. Higher-level agents don't perform better per se. They have more talents, meaning you can find more missions for them and also there's a chance that they could fulfil more than one of the talent requirements for a given mission all on their own. They might even have one of the very rare talents you hardly ever see.

And finally there are the new Overseer Items. I read about these in the update notes, where they only got a passing mention, but now I can see they're familiar iconic items from the game. The conceit is that you can equip your agents with these powerful items when you send them out on missions although I suspect what actually happens is that you slot the item in one of the agent slots. Probably more of a flavor than a mechanic.

Of course, first you have to get lucky with the rng. There are a very large number of other possible rewards in the chest, including a lot of armor. It's the same level gear as in the blue chests, there's just a lot more of it. The better stuff comes from the bonus chests.

The good thing is, the luckier you are, the luckier you're going to get. Every time you do get a better mission it makes it more likely you'll get another. I'm sure someone could do the math but you don't need to math know that increasing the quality of the input will increase the quality of the output. 

That's the key to a successful Overseer career: persistence. At the start it can be very slow going indeed. And if you don't roll well the start can drag on. As I said, I've been doing it for two weeks and so far I've only managed to get two yellow missions. I'm not yet at the point where anything that's a real upgrade is dropping. It would be easy to decide not to bother any more.

From my experience of the last two seasons I can say that that will change and when it does, after a while, it will start to feel like a snowball rolling downhill. The new missions begin to build up until you're filling all ten daily slots with Legendary and Fabled. The chance for bonus chests goes up the better quality the mission is so that it becomes more likely you'll get one than you won't.

If you keep at it, there's a glorious time when almost every day brings some kind of upgrade for your main character or your favorite alts. Then you reach the far side of the plateau and it all starts to get a bit repetitive, with most of the drops being duplicates or things you don't need. You'll have enough potions to last you years

You hang on, though, for the few choice pieces you still want until eventually it all starts to feel like more effort than it's worth and you drift away.

So far, for me, each season has taken several months to run through that cycle. It seems like a pretty well-judged progression and drop rate to me but then I find the process itself enjoyable and I'm in absolutely no hurry. I guess if all you wanted was the rewards you might get somewhat ticked off with how long it all takes and how little direct control you have over the results.

Then again, what else have you got to do with your time? You're playing an mmorpg, aren't you?

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