Monday, October 2, 2023

And Relax!

This is going to be a very short post (Yes, really!) for the very simple reason there's no time left this evening to write a longer one. And the reason for that is I spent nearly six hours today playing EverQuest II.

That's probably the most I've played in a single day over the whole of the year. It wasn't exactly planned but it was a lot of fun and I wouldn't rule out doing it again sometime.

I only meant to play for an hour or two this morning. I was going to log in, run the next instance in the Renewal of Ro signature quest line, maybe finish a couple of side-quests and that was going to be all. I figured it would take an hour and a half, tops.

In the event, the instance alone took over two and a half hours. It wasn't that it was particularly long or difficult, although I did die half a dozen times, mostly through connection issues and some bad pulls. It took a long time mainly because of a particular mechanic that meant it was a bad idea to leave any trash mobs alive - and there were a lot of trash mobs.

It also turned out to be the final proper combat instance the main quest sequence, something I hadn't realised, which probably explains why it was obviously designed to take a while. I could tell I was closing in on the end of the storyline by the way some of the drops from the bosses were beginning to reach the level of some of the gear I was wearing, although nothing that dropped was an actual upgrade. 

I still had a considerable advantage, wearing mostly gear that I'd acquired from post-expansion content, but it wasn't such a great lead any more that I could just ignore all the mechanics and tank and spank every boss the way I'd done in the last couple of instances. I had a walkthrough up, of course and I read ahead on every boss but there were still a couple of surprises that caught me out.

Not so tough without your buffs, are you?

All things considered, though, I had a good time. Even though the instance ran long, I was never bored or frustrated. There were a lot of mobs to kill but individual kill times were quick. None of the boss fights were attritional. The mechanics I had to contend with were easy to follow and to execute.

Even so, by the time I finished and broke for lunch I was a little apprehensive about what might come next. If that was the penultimate - or even pre-penultimate instance, what would the finale be like? 

The bizarre but very welcome answer ------ Spoiler incoming ------- was that there were no more proper dungeons, just one instance where all I really had to do was watch Lord Nagafen having a tantrum and another where both the "boss fights" turned out to be scripted insta-kills.

So why, once I'd decided to carry on and get the thing done, did it take me another three hours and change? Because there was a lot of open-world questing to get out of the way first, that's why.  

EQII devs have always enjoyed making players play dress-up. I can't count the number of times I've had to disguise myself as an elf or an orc or, in one memorable case, a rat.

This time I had to get a whole shoping list of items to make my disguise and one of those came from the very end of another long quest chain. I spent the whole afternoon running around poisoning water supplies and barrels of fish, collecting driftwood, building a ballista... all the usual shenanigans. 

One of only a couple of on-rails flight paths. Could do with about a dozen more.
It was mostly good fun, especially since I was one- or two-shotting most mobs, but the zone in question, Sandstone Delta, like most latterday EQII zones, makes extensive use of the z-axis, making getting from anywhere to anywhere else a constant challenge. It's ironic in the extreme that every expansion now restricts the use of flying mounts until the completion of the zone storyline, when the time you really feel the need of a pair of wings is while you're doing the fricken' quests.

I got everything done and earned the right to fly in the final zone of the expansion at last. I was a little surprised that came before the end of the Signature Timeline itself but at least it made the very last couple of chapters zip by.

And yes, that does mean I have finally finished the Adventure version of the main questline from last year's expansion! Yay, me! I'm pretty sure that makes it the latest I have ever completed the Signature in an EQII expansion I bought at release. 

Leaving it this late has both positives and negatives. It's certainly easier and for me easier is almost always better. Very little slowed me down in the latter stages. I was able to rip through everything at a comfortable pace, frequently ignoring annoying mechanics and just getting on with it as I much prefer. 

That's not to say there was no challenge at all. The second half of the questline, the part I left until I was more powerful, mostly sat in that sweet spot where you know for sure you're going to win every fight but not so easily you don't still have to pay a modicum of attention. I don't think I had to attempt any boss more than twice and most went down on the first try, which is just about right for me.

Now that's what I call a promotion!

The downside, of course, is that most of the rewards and drops aren't much use. As I said, it was only at the very end that I started seeing gear as good as the weakest pieces I was wearing. More annoyingly, all of the quest rewards are No Trade so I can't even hand them down to other members of the team.

I did get a very nice Legendary Mercenary unlock as a drop, although it's a "Support" class, not the healer I need. Still, definitely worth having. Other than that it's mostly the ability to fly everywhere and the various Account-based unlocks that are worth having, along with the satisfaction of having "finished" the expansion.

Obviously, I haven't really finished it. For most players, the end of the main quest is where things begin not end, and for Renewal of Ro that's even more the case than usual. The expansion introduces a whole new set of Epic Spells for all classes. You have to have done the Signature line to start working on those and even then you first have to do another humungously long collection as well.

I had a brief look at it on the wiki and it doesn't actually look as bad as most Epics. I might give it a go sometime. Not yet a while, though.

For now I'm just going to bask in the satisfaction of having met my self-set goal in very good time; not just before the arrival of the next expansion but before it's even officially announced. Which should be any day now, I guess.

I'm ready when you are, Darkpaw!

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