Sunday, May 31, 2020

Flying Easy: EQII

More than six months after the expansion arrived I finally took a second character to the conclusion of the Blood of Luclin Signature adventure questline. Everyone I was planning on levelling hit cap in adventuring, crafting or both long, long ago but there never seemed to be any urgency (or point) in finishing up the quests.

Back in January, when my Berserker muscled his way through the Sig line, it felt like moderately heavy going at times. Nowhere near as slow as some previous expansions but certainly not a quick stroll around the park.

The first time around, I was focused on winning the right to fly on the moon. I don't think I really noticed just how subdued the ending was. The whole thing just kind of fizzles out. Other expansions have had really big, kick-ass finales, throwdowns between gods that I found very impressive. This one just ends with a downbeat debriefing in an office.

Being able to fly around Luclin turned out to be no big deal, either. It's convenient, sure, but once I worked out you can either wear a cloak with the Featherfall effect or slot a leaper or glider into your  mount slot to get about eighty per cent of the effectiveness of actual flight, it really stopped being any kind of issue.

I always had my Necromancer pegged as the next character who'd finish the adventure line. I'd been gearing her up in anticipation so by the time she picked the story back up she was already seriously overgeared. The questline naturally provides sequential upgrades so that by the time you finish you have decent starting gear in every slot but the worst item she was wearing was already better than the best the reward she got.

Which was absolutely perfect. It meant the whole thing was a cakewalk. Boss fights that took my Berserker ten minutes or more back in January lasted barely thirty seconds. In one case, when the Necro got teleported into a pitch black room with the boss at thirty per cent and she was running round in circles trying to find the door in the dark, her pet and her mercenary finished him off without her before she could find the way out. 

I've been playing my Berserker a lot recently, plowing through instances in the hope of upgrade drops, the way you're meant to do. As I wrote, his power levels make that a fun romp rather than the effortful grind it has been in previous expansions. I've been very happy with his time to kill and general, all-round capability.

Well, I was. Until I played my Necromancer in the same content, that is. She's still not as well-geared as he is but the difference is staggering. Those six-minute instance clearances I mentioned someone boasting about in general chat suddenly seem entirely plausible.

It's not just the time to kill, either. It's the way the pet tanks everything without apparently dropping a beat. With a healing mercenary backing her up the pet seems invincible on this solo content. It also gives me a much wider range of options in awkward situations. When mobs do that infuriating power drain, for example, my Necro can simply stand back out of range and let the pet deal with it.

I've been thinking of making the Necromancer my primary character for instance farming. I played a Necromancer for several years back on the Test server and I know how satisfying a class it can be. The Berserker is enormously good fun but it's very much a one trick class. Two, if you swap between offensive and defensive stance, which I haven't done for a long time.

If it's pure speed in killing I was after I'd probably gear up my Wizard. Even in basic gear she's already faster than either the Necro or the Berserker. I'm always a litle nervous of playing pure DPS casters, though. I have it fixed in my mind how fragile they are although I'm not sure that's been true for many years.

Then here's the Warlock and the Bruiser to think about. Warlock, as a class, for some reason I have never really taken to. I always think of my Warlock as a crafter even though he's max level in both disciplines. Bruiser was another one I played for a long time on Test. I liked it a lot but I was almost always in a duo there. I fear that played solo it would end up feeling very similar to the Berserker, only with frustratingly fewer AEs.

As for the Fury I was levelling up from scratch, she's stalled at eighty-nine. It was really very good fun into the seventies. It's still fine and if it was the only way to level I'd be more than happy to keep going but I'm sitting on several Level 100 and 110 boosters and I'm more than half inclined to use one of those and just be done with it.

Overall, things are progressing very handsomely. Soon we'll have the next round of holiday events and then we'll be into the Summer Ethereal season. This looks like being the first year I'll actually be ready to take full advantage of that, assuming Darkpaw roll some of the drops out to solo content as they did last time.

From there we'll run up against this year's Panda quests, if that tradition continues. Then, if precedent holds, we'll head into Gear Up, Level Up and the pre-expansion events, whatever they may be. Atlhough maybe there won't be quite the same focus on getting everyone caught up this time around, seeing there's no level cap increase this year.

Whichever way you look at it, it's a full dance card. I haven't been so invested in EverQuest II for years.


  1. It still amazes me sometimes seeing your screenshots of the more recent EQ2 content. It is night and day difference to what I remember EQ2 looking like. I only ever made it to level... er... 30-40 perhaps? So very much still in the classic content.

    It really SHOULDN'T surprise me too much, WoW has had the same trajectory in graphics over it's life... But still does. I guess with WoW I've just been more exposed to it along the way.

    Anywho, I don't know how EQ2 handles between expansion content at all -- but when you noted the ending of the current expansion's story -- it made me wonder.

    Are they moving to (or do they already do?) something similar to WoW's 'major' content patches that progress the story, add to the quest chains etc, between expansions? And that EQ2 might not be done with this expansion's story yet?

    Or is that very much not how they roll? Hehe

    1. Darkpaw have a very real problem with the graphics, I think. They got a new set of tools quite a few years back, which allowed them both to make zone art much more quickly and efficiently but also upped the quality by what felt like a couple of orders of magnitude. It means all the later expansion and new zone content looks very different to what came before, but of course the old, much more clunky stuff is what new players see if they start at level one and level up the old-fashioned way. And as I've read on many blogs and forum posts, most people who do that never get even close to the newer, better-looking graphics. They tend to quit way before then because they're playing solo in content that looks quite old. No wonder Darkpaw want everyone to start at Level 100 these days.

      And then, contrary to that, there's the huge nostalgia market EQ/EQII have that wants everything to look and play like it did fifteen years ago. It's a difficult situation. Blizzard handled it by retrofitting the noew graphics to the entire game and then splitting the game into an Old and New version to please everyone but Daybreak obviously don't have the resources to do that.

      As for the storyline, EQII has a very long-term plot that just about spans the entire life of the game. We had the Ages End plotline that finally culminated with the imprisonment of Kerafyrm within the remade moon, Luclin, That pretty much lasted ten years, from launch in 2004 to 2014. Now we basically have the aftermath of that. Individual expansions wander off in various directions to focus on other things - the afterlife, the far ocean, underground etc - but that bigger plot always affects and directs everything even then.

      What's changed in recent years is that only raiders ever used to see the details of all this whereas now all the essential plot points are also covered in solo instances. Which is why I have some idea what's ging on these days. I never did before!


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