Friday, May 25, 2018

Never Enough : Free Heroic Characters For EQ2 (Again!)

There may come a time when I find myself thinking "You know what? I really have too many characters already. I think I'm going to give this free Level 100 thing a pass". That time is not now.

I knew, the moment I read about DBG's latest EQ2 offer, I wouldn't be able to resist. Even though I already have a clutch of bumped-up characters from previous giveaways I'll never have time to play.

It's not just free stuff (although... free stuff!). It's an excuse to fiddle around with the character creator, add a new gnome or ratonga to the roster. That's pushing at an open door. And there are so many classes I've never even tried yet. Granted, most of them are scouts, but still...

Oh, why even pretend there was ever any doubt? I just spent the best part of an hour creating two new Level 100 Heroic characters in EQ2 because of course I did.

I had to buy a new character slot on my All Access account but that wasn't going to stop me. With the 25% holiday discount it was only 750DBC and I have over 20k saved up on that account. I was glad of the chance to spend some of it.

Oh, go on then!

Running through the many options of races and classes I just about managed to avoid the rats and gnomes for once. I remembered how surprised I'd been to find myself enjoying playing a Fae for one of DBG's many Progression Server outings a while back. I don't have a winged wonder on Skyfire, my regular server.

Well now I do. And she's a Wizard, a class I don't believe I have ever played. I ummed and aahed over trying a Ranger (did that back at launch - didn't end well) or a Defiler (my original EQ2 class, long since retired) but in the end it was the knowledge that I have (or will have, when I get around to doing the Tradeskill Signature line from the latest expansion on my Sage) a character on the account who can craft upgrades for spellcasters.

Which would totally be a valid reason - if I was ever likely to need spell upgrades. For that, I'd have to play this new high-level character. That's not going to happen, is it? I already have an Inquisitor waiting to finish the last three or four levels and the aforementioned Sage, who also needs to do the final ten levels as a Warlock. Then there's the Necromancer impatiently tapping her claws...

And that's just on Skyfire - on this account. I don't want to think about all the characters on other accounts and/or other servers, some of whom got bumped up to 90 or 95 back when that was top end. Let alone the ones still trying to level up the hard way.

That's just a month and a half of the stipend you get for All Access. Bargain!

That'll be why I parked the Wizard as soon as I'd grabbed her free familiar and her mercenary so I could log in a second account and make a fresh, free Level 100 Dirge. A dirge is a scout. Which explains why I have never played one.

I have, however, seen Dirges played. A lot. Mrs Bhagpuss, who has a history of playing scout/rogue classes stretching from early EverQuest to this minute, played both a Dirge and a Troubadour in EQ2 (also all the other scouts but those are the two I most remember duoing alongside). The Dirge seemed particularly powerful, I always thought.

I have also used  Dirge Mercenaries quite extensively with several characters, to very good effect. If there's a scout class I might be able to tolerate, I think Dirge could be the one. If I ever find time to play the one I just made I guess I'll find out.

Before that can happen I have to log in the other four free to play accounts and make Heroic characters there, too. Because of course I do. I almost did it before writing this post but I gave myself a smart slap instead. The Free Level 100 Offer runs until June 7th. There's no rush. Just so I get them all before I go away or the offer does.

I'd have to log him in to be certain but I think my Level 110 plate-armored Berserker now has fewer
hit points than my new Level 100 cloth-armored Wizard. 
[EDIT] - Actually the zerker has double the HPs! Also all my augs were returned to bne refitted so maybe they also upgraded all the armor with the update?

Heroic characters come fully equipped with gear, of course. They'd be more of a punishment than a prize if they didn't, after all. While I was on I took a quick look to see how good the gifted gear was and... it's too good.

Seriously, I think some of it might be better than the gear my 110 Berserker is wearing. It's definitely better than the free Level 100 gear you get at the start of the Planes of Prophecy expansion because that's still available in the chest next to where you spawn in and I went and checked.

Another feature of GU106 (which the free Heroic is promoting) is a revamp to the way EQ2's ever more arcane and abstract stats are displayed. The new, simplified version reveals the stark difference between the latest free gear and the last lot. It's all better. Power Creep in EQ2 seems to be turning into Power Jog, if not Power Sprint.

Since the current offer requires you to make a brand new Heroic character not, as you might have assumed and as has been the case in the past, apply the boost to an existing one, there's no option to grab the new (No Trade) gear for an older character. I might have done that, looking at how good it is.

The mysterious free house item. Unique is a word for it, I guess.

Stats aside, there's a Pegasus mount, a familiar, a house item and a mercenary to consider. The merc is particularly desirable, being a "Personal Avatar" ("You can call me Peva"), an exact doppelganger of your own character. I wonder if that's obtainable separately? Indeed I wonder about the "unique armor variants" and "other unique items". EQ2 veterans are notoriously intolerant of exclusives that they feel are being denied to them - in this case they will be able to get the excusives for their accounts but not for their Mains, which should add a new level of controversy to the forums, Reddit and Discord

As well as the free heroic and UI revamp, the latest game update also has content. The revamped Shard of Hate, which features in - and is a direct result of  - the Tradeskill Signature line, is now open for business as a dungeon. It comes in Solo, Heroic and Raid flavors and when I finish this post I'm going to make a coffee and go take a look. I'm sure Innoruuk will be happy to see me. I did put him back on his Throne of Hate after all and he's not a god to forget his friends, is he?

Character creation and posing for screenshots: the only time you ever see your characte from the front.
There are also new Expert and Expert Event versions of the expansion dungeons, none of which I am ever likely to use but which I'm sure will be of great interest to someone. Then again, the update does add a new option - the Elixir of the Expert - a consumable under whose effects any player, however poorly prepared, will find "their stats increased to a level which will allow them to contribute effectively to their group".

That does mean that, if I were so inclined, I could join Heroic PUGs and supposedly pull my weight. Indeed, DBG seem to be going flat out to level every last bump in the playing field so that anyone can play with anyone in any content. It's a great design philosophy that I wish all MMOs would adopt. Even if the motivation behind it is almost certainly an ever-dwindling pool of players...

Last but certainly not least the update co-incides with the first wave of Summer Ethereals and there's a double XP event for the holiday weekend. Which is actually not a holiday where I am and I'm working Saturday and Sunday but never mind.


  1. Thanks for the info! I'm trying to figure out based on the wording on the EQ2 site -- does this only apply to a new character, or can we boost an existing one? I do have a low-level alt I could delete to take advantage of this, but I'd rather just boost an existing character if possible.

    1. A lot of people seem to be confused about this. The offer this time around isn't a free Heroic Boost, as it has been in the past, but a free Heroic Character, so it has to be a new one. Still definitely worth doing if you have an unused character slot, I think.

      I had no free character slots on my AA account but plenty of lower level characters and there was no option to use the free Heroic on any of them. I had to pay for a new character slot. I just checked it again on one of my free accounts and it's the same story. Not sure yet whether I'll buy extra slots on my free accounts - depends if they have the DBC already, I think.

    2. Thanks for clarifying. Reading your post, I saw that you bought a character slot, so I thought this might be the case. I'll have to look into it, but I'm not sure what class I'd roll. I think I have one of all of the classes I was interested in already. But yeah, I have a free slot, so it would be silly to pass up.

  2. In EQ II have a character that's about half way through Kingdom of Sky, and that's as far as I've ever made it. I absolutely consider EQ II to be one of the best MMOs out (best value, most content, most fun), but it only makes it to the top of my play list every few years. The only criticism I would level at it is that there isn't a very clear path through the game, save at the very early levels. Once I get done with whatever zone I'm working in, more often than not I have to hit the web and do research out of game to figure out where to go next. It really breaks my immersion, and it's usually during one of those "where the hell do I go next?" transitions that I always seem to drift out of the game.

    1. It's a very fair criticism. I like to do my own thing so it works for me but many people get lost/confused/overwhelmed without at least a nominal structure to support their adventuring. Both EQ2 and EQ do have some kind of recommended progression, often known as the "Golden Path". EQ takes it fairly seriously and has an in-game prompt and hints that attempt to guide you but EQ2 is a lot more vague about it. These days I get the strong impression that the EQ2 team would much rather you started at Level 100 in Tranquil Sea and progressed from there - or better yet jump straight to Plane of Magic and the current expansion. (Ironically, when I made my Level 100 today the window that opened when I zoned into Plane of Magic suggested I might like to go to Velious!).

      If you do want to do it the old way, the best thing to do is probably play through the expansions in the order they were released or use the excellent Zones by Level info on the wiki but that does involve tabbing out of the game. If you want to keep the immersion I guess the thing would be to do the research before you start playing and perhaps even transcribe the necessary details into a player-made, in-game book, which you could carry in your bags and refer to as needed.

  3. Last time I made a 100 character, I took him to the 95-100 level adventuring zone and promptly got my ass kicked by solo lvl 95 mobs. So either someone needs to enlighten me, or I need to pass on making another character that can't actually do anything. :-p

    1. If you make the current one and take it a 95-100 zone below Plane of Magic you will be as powerful as if you were in a newbie zone. The gear you get is orders of magnitude above what you would need for Shattered Seas, let alone late Velious. My wizard that I made yesterday had over four million hit points...

      The bar keeps moving and the Heroics attempt to keep up with it while the older content stays as it is. I should also point out, though, that the xp in older zones does also stays where it is, and has indeed been nerfed relative to characters over 100, so while you can see and do everything there with ease, you'll need to go to the zones you're meant to go to if you want to level up at a normal rate.


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