Monday, November 26, 2018

Brand New Bag : EQ2

Yesterday's post kind of got away from me. It's amazing just how often that happens. I sat down to write about how much I was enjoying EverQuest 2's new Chaos Descending expansion. Instead I ended up rehashing the whole "wither DBG?" debate from months back.

I was meaning to talk about the way the new progression mechanics actively encourage the kind of louche, relaxed gameplay I relish as an explorer archetype, while still retaining sufficient structure to keep me from wandering off and getting lost altogether. I was planning on pointing up how having four open world zones instead of the usual one or two has allowed the Mission system to expand into something more organic and natural than we're used to seeing.

I also had praise in mind for the astonishingly vibrant visuals, particularly the spectacular spell effects, which these days not only rival but often outdo Guild Wars 2's infamous fireworks, even when the only player-character on the screen is my own. I had things to say about the stunning landscapes, from the densely populated wasp hives of Doomfire to the ziggurat in Vegarison, possibly the largest single structure I've ever seen in an MMORPG.

I love the way you can pick out my Familiar's Santa hat and my inquisitor Merc's Gavel as it delivers her Verdict, but of my actual character or whatever he's fighting there's nothing to be seen.

To that end I'd already taken, prepared, cropped, named and saved a selection of screenshots, some of which I did end up using even though they weren't entirely appropriate. Yeah...nope. Knowing exactly what I want to write and doing all the prep for it is still apparently not enough to stop me freestyling on a Sunday morning.

At the risk of repeating myself (hard to avoid if you're trying to be emphatic) I'm loving this expansion. After I finished blogging yesterday I ripped quickly through my GW2 dailies, spent an hour or so on the frontlines defending the increasingly irrelevant Honor of the Yak in World vs World and then spent the rest of the day - some six or seven hours - playing EQ2.

For the first time since chaos descended a couple of weeks back, I decided to follow a detailed walkthrough on the wiki. Up until now I have been winging it, taking whatever quests appear, doing missions and generally concentrating on exploring the new zones and gearing up my Berserker to meet whatever challenges lie ahead of him.

As far as the main Signature questline goes, I'm guessing I'm maybe halfway. I still haven't checked that timeline. I've opened all four of the overland zones and completed an instanced version of each of them. Next up is the Plane of Water, Awuidor, which doesn't have an open world version.

Boss fights in instances are generally too intense for snapshots. I think this might be one but then again it might be an overland boss. Hard to tell with nothing but honey for a backdrop.

I might take that on today. All the instanced solo dungeons required for the main storyline in EQ2 use the same template: there's something you want and either the last Named (aka Boss) in the dungeon has it or he's standing between you and where you can find it.

You can't just skip straight to him. Every dungeon has a specific set of steps to complete to open successive areas and no matter what other variations are in play it always involves killing every Named in the instance.

Instances are persistent for up to three days. Mobs don't respawn and your progress is saved. You don't have to do it al in one session but I find I always want to finish what I've started so I try not to open a storyline instance unless I have about two hours for uninterrupted play. On average it takes me about ninety minutes to clear one using a wiki; longer if I have to figure out mechanics for myself.

So far I haven't had to follow a walkthrough for any of the dungeons. They've been relatively straightforward. I did look up the mechanics on a boss or two as I got to them, mainly because I wanted to avoid that annoying situation where the mob has a massive power drain and I end up flat out of mana and taking half an hour to kill him using auto-attack.

A nervous moment...

The wiki entry I consulted yesterday was something entirely diferent. Somehow, I found myself doing the Signature tradeskill timeline, which as you'd expect involves a huge amount of crafting. Crafting takes some preparation. You can't just wade in there and set off all your AEs at once, my Berserker's go-to tactic. There's nothing more annoying than making your way to some far-flung outpost with your bags full of mats, only to find you can't do the combine because it needs candles or incense not coal and the nearest fuel vendor is several loading screens away.

If you've ever wondered why people sell fuel on the Broker for ten times what it costs to buy it from an NPC - that's the reason. One of the benefits of Membership in EQ2 is being able to use the Broker anywhere in the game by way of a drop-down menu. Your purchases are magically delivered straight into your bags. Sometimes you just have to bite the bullet and pay the inflated mark-up rather than trudge all the way back to town.

Well, I wanted to avoid doing that. Okay, I wanted to avoid doing it again...hence the wiki. The walkthrough  tells you exactly what mats you need for each step and more importantly what fuel and how much. And it's not like there's that really a plot to spoil. This year's crafting timeline is solid, entertaining and very rewarding but you can tell Domino's not writing the scenarios any more.

The reason I started doing the tradeskill line yesterday was because I'd picked it up a few days ago and still had one of the steps in my quest tracker. I thought I'd just get that out of the way before I went adventuring. Well, one thing led to another, the way they do, and five hours later...

Crafting Crew. Same as Adventuring Crew, except for the pony.

Crafting is very relaxing so it was a good fit for a lazy Sunday. Still, I might not have done it had it not been for the rewards. One step, early in the chain, gets you an 88-slot bag. Eighty-eight slots! That's literally twice the size of most of my bags. It's bigger than the 66-slot Naylie's Nebulous Newsbag that has players dropping everything to grab the quest whenever a Guide broadcasts.

152 slices of heaven!
In a serendipitous co-incidence, an earlier step in the sequence had me making boots for a snail (don't ask...) which required me to use a tailoring station. My berserker isn't a tailor but, just as these days all adventurers are Wizards, so all high-end crafting revolves around everyone being an Artisan.

He was in his Mara Prestige home, which is where I keep all the Personal Storage bins for the account, and although I only have a Forge and an Engraved Desk installed to service my max level Scholar and Weaponsmith, the berserker can summon temporary versions of any crafting station.

They last ten-minutes but it only took thirty seconds to make the snail shoes. I hate to waste a good summoning so I had him thumbing through the recipes to see if there was anything else he could stitch together, when I spotted the recipe for the 64-slot Rallic Pack.

It turned out the Berserker had all the mats on him except for a strand of Crystalline Spider Silk, which he grabbed from the broker for a couple of hundred plat. A few moments later, voila! Rallic Pack!

All of which meant that in half an hour I added more than sixty slots to my inventory and found myself all fired up to see what else the crafters had to offer. One thing leads to another and that's how I spent my day - gathering mats, handing out cheese sandwiches, polishing statues and eventually re-organizing my banks all over again, because if you gain storage space you have to fill it. You just have to.

Among the many rewards from the crafting line so far were a couple of pieces of Horse Armor. Armor for mounts is a feature of this expansion that, until I did the crafting timeline, I'd all but forgotten about. I spent a while pondering the options available from the Archivist's Tradeskill Tack but even after googling for help I didn't feel I had enough information to make an intelligent choice so I left it in my bag, unopened. And the next one, too.

I have no idea...
As a result of fiddling about with that, I did at least discover that you can now train your mounts in exactly the same way you train your Mercenaries. I set mine going, a couple of weeks late but at least it's started. Now I need to go through everyone on the account and set the timer running on whatever beast they ride.

I also took my Inquisitor to Myrist to check the free gear in the box by the Registration Desk, which led to a trip to Qeynos to see her class trainer, who sells (for one copper piece) the absolutely essential unlimited use Adornment Remover that was once a major reward for finsihing the Signature timeline in another expansion.

Swapping adornments and changing out gear for the Inquisitor took the best part of an hour but the end rseult was another max level character with nearly 40m hit points and 37k potency. Next comes the Necromancer and after her I need to decide who gets to use the Level 110 boost that came with the expansion.

Maybe my Warlock, who's a max-level crafter but only a level 100 adventurer. Or I might spend some of my DBG Cash on another character slot and give myself a max-level Shadowknight. SK's are a lot of fun.

From which descent into me chuntering on to myself, making plans and cackling, you can surmise that so is Chaos Descending. Fun, I mean. And so is EQ2. At the moment, every time I sit down at the desk it's the game I want to play. It feels like there's a huge amount to do and very little in the way of my doing it.

Can't ask for more than that.


  1. I will say this for EQII, no matter how full my bags or bank get, the game always shows up with an upgrade that plays to my packrat nature. You never know when I might need those out-dated tier 2 alchemist products.

    1. I'm pretty sure 88 slots is the biggest bag I've ever seen in any game. EQ2's storage options are so far ahead of anyone else's it's ridiculous. And they don't milk it in the cash shop, either.

  2. I'm trying to resist playing this expansion at the moment, so much to do, it does sound well worth getting though. Maybe it'll be a Christmas present to myself...

    1. If you liked last year's then I'd be willing to bet you'll like this one even more.

  3. I think it was ToT expansion that had the tradeskill signature line give you an item that can summon a fuel vendor. It has helped me a bunch of times.

    A few posts ago you mentioned reforging. I tend to not infuse or reforge an item until I feel confident that I will have it for a little while. Heroics need a huge amount of potency and I think most players are reforging to add potency. You can always reset an item and reforge again.

    1. I'm going to have to read up on Reforging. I wa playing when they added it years ago but i never really paid attention. I infuse everything I get for a few goes when its new because its very cheap to do then but as soon as it goes to three figures a pop I only carry on if I'm expecting to be using it for a good while. On the other hand, with infaltion the way it is, one good sale of a shiny on the broker pays for a lot of infusions.

      I didn't even mention experimentation, come to think of it. That's another one I vaguely remember being added but have never looked at since...

    2. Experimentation is adding to a stat value onto a crafted item. So I have one tradeskiller who can refine materials. You use the refined ore/wood whatever to craft your item and some of the stats will be bumped up.

      Then I have another tradeskiller who can experiment on that item. It works just like crafting a new item and when you are finished one of the stats that you chose is bumped up. you can do it 5 times per item with each successive experiment getting much more difficult.


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