Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Growing Up Fast: EverQuest II

This week I have mostly been killing dragons. I've done my dailies in Guild Wars 2 but I haven't logged in to WoW Classic since Saturday. Instead I've been cycling all my max levels through the four dragons currently attacking wizard spires in EverQuest II to get the dragon mount/illusion on all of them.

This is not normal gameplay for me. I lean towards being a once-and-done player in events like this. Quite often that might stretch to twice if it's a fun event but six times? Unheard of! And that's not the end of it, either.

At the Nektulos Forest spires on Monday night, someone announced in general chat that they'd brought their fresh Level One character to the fight. When the dragon died they gleefully informed us all that the character was now Level Fourteen. And after the next dragon they were somewhere in the mid-twenties.

Now, there's a peculiar phenomenon in MMORPGs that I've discussed before. Even players who don't find levelling too slow or tedious will often jump through hoops to have that process go faster. I've read plenty of posts where people with a history of supporting slower leveling talk about jumping back into a game because there's bonus xp being handed out. I've done it myself, often.

I think it's the satisfaction of getting something for nothing. More reward for less effort and a frisson of somehow "beating the system", even though it's the system that's giving you a pass. Also, these events are always of limited duration, so it's a case of making hay while the sun shines rather than a slide into acceptance of a new normal, as happens when xp gain is raised permanently.

Dragons are big.

Also there's the perennial question of alts. Something that's fun the first time, or even the first half dozen times, may not be so much fun when you hit character number ten - or twenty. That may sound like a self-made problem (because it is) but there are reasons why a player might have a stable of characters that big.

EverQuest II has twenty-six classes and twenty-one races. Even after fifteen years of semi-continual play I have only played half of those classes to any meaningful level and there are nine races I've never even tried. And the differences aren't just cosmetic. The classes play very differently and the races have some substantial variations.

Last night, after I got the dragon mount on my fifth Level 110, I swapped to my Level Fourteen Fae Conjuror on the Antonia Bayle server. She was someone I'd levelled a few years back on one of the Progression servers which was then either rolled into Ant Bayle or we got free transfers off. I forget which.

I took her to Loping Plains, a zone intended for the level 75-80 crowd, back when there was a crowd in that range. That's where the next dragon attack was due.

Because the Dragon Attack event involves dragons attacking Ulteran Portals, one of Norrath's main transport hubs, getting there wasn't a problem. All I had to do was go to a portal in a zone in my level range and click on it. Or if that seemed like too much trouble, as an All Access Member I could just open my map and use the Fast Travel option, which is what I did.

The Nektulos Forest dragon doesn't just have a knockback. It has a knock up.
When I got there the dragon was already in play. I stood at the edge of the combat zone and started casting my kindergarten spells. The dragon lashed his tail and sent me flying (the event features some spectacular AE knockbacks). The trip didn't hurt me. The level seventy-something wolf that happened to be standing just where I landed did.

I revived in a graveyard halfway across the zone. There was no possibility of running back through a gauntlet of mobs sixty levels higher than my little Fae and since you can't Fast Travel to the same zone you're already in I took the scenic route. I opened the map, fast travelled to Moors of Ykesha, where there's a nice, safe wizard spire, used that to come back to Loping Plains and carried on where I left off.

The dragon was still fighting. The crowds are thinning a little, a few days into the event and in mid-week. There were "only" about fifty people there. More to the point, quite a lot of them were well below max level. Word on the xp has gotten out.

The reduced numbers and levels means the dragons are taking longer to kill. This fight lasted fifteen minutes or so. I positioned my conjuror with her back against the spires so she couldn't be knocked back and this time the dragon hit her with an AE and poisoned her to death.

The Everfrost dragon is kind enough to appear on a nice, open, flat ice field. Makes for easy zerging.
Another trip around the maps and back she came for round three. This time nothing killed her although it was a close thing once or twice. The dragon died and a deafening multiple DING! told me I'd levelled. Thirteen times. My conjuror was now Level 27.

I took her through the spires to the next dragon, already up in Everfrost. Everfrost isn't as high level as Loping Plains but it's still out of a Level 27's league. Even so, I managed not to die this time. I only got five levels though. Diminishing returns but then you have to factor in the increased time those five levels would have taken. Still a bargain.

At that point I stopped. I wasn't really intending to start playing on a different server, although I do have a Level 90+ character on Ant. Bayle. I was mostly just testing the waters.

Today and for the rest of the week EQII enjoys double XP (and double status) for All Access Members (and double Familiar xp for everyone) as part of this year's "Level Up Gear Up" preparations for the expansion. I'm keen to see what that does to dragon-kills. I have a few characters left to level on Skyfire including a Beastlord I might actually play one day.

And this wasn't the post I meant to write. I was going to do something on the Tradeskill side of the Dragon Attack event. Maybe I'll get that done between dragons.

IntPiPoMo count to date 59.

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