Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Two Weeks Later


Time for a very quick update on how things are going in EverQuest II's latest expansion, Reign of Shadows. Really well.

Okay, that was too quick, wasn't it? Just a little more detail, then.

I finished the signature adventure questline on my Berserker. I thoroughly enjoyed it. It felt well-paced and entertaining until the very end, when I came to the final instance expecting an epic battle, or at least some relatively tough bosses, only to find everything had dropped an order of magnitude in difficulty. For the first and only time I can remember in at least two years everything was actually flagged "solo", not Heroic. It felt strange at first but then I fell back into it just like the old days. It was nice not to have to do any boss dances. Didn't miss 'em at all.

After I knocked that off it was back to meet up with the Duality again for what has to go down in the annals of Norrath as the most anticlimactic debriefing session ever. I'm guessing we're either finishing this up in one of 2021's big updates or there's a third Luclin expansion on the cards. Whatever, I loved it! I'm on board with wherever the writers want to take us next. Great storyline.

Come again?

Of course, when I say "great" I mean EQII-great. The writing is often funny in the hamfisted, amateurish style that's so much a part of what makes EQII the game it is, while elsewhere it's so cod-serious as to verge on self-parody. There are speeches where it seems as though more than half the words are pure gibberish. God alone knows what anyone who hadn't been following the plot for a decade or so makes of it, but then no-one who hasn't is ever going to come within a mile of any of it in the first place so I guess it doesn't matter.

As is often the case in expansions with no level cap increase, the final reward for completing the signature line was a bit of a grab-bag. There was a title, because there's always a title, and there was a prestige point for the newly revamped AA system.

I suppose I should write something about that at some point but first I'm going to have to understand it, which I don't, yet. I tried to spend my new points and couldn't. There's been something about that in the Message of the Day for weeks but I've been ignoring it because until now I didn't have any points to spend. It suggested I should clear my AA profile and re-commit, which is a thing you can do, so I did and it let me spend my points. I still didn't really follow how the new version works or indeed why it's supposed to be different to the old one. It just looked like some new AAs to me.

I do know a bit more about how the revamped guild system works, although not much. The new perks don't seem to start until your guild hits a very high level. It might be 200. Before then it all carries on as it was so at least Daybreak appear to have avoided the traumatic deconstruction of small guilds ANet inflicted on Guild Wars 2 a few years back.

The weird part is that you now get absolutely huge injections of guild status, the fuel that levels your guild, from the occasional quest. My guild jumped about twenty levels on one hand-in when I finished the Sig line. At that rate I'll get to the new benchmark sooner rather than later. I think I'll save any detailed discussion of the new system until that happens, in the hope that by then I might have some vague idea what's going on.

With the adventure questline finished I started on the tradeskill signature storyline next. I've only done the first couple of parts and so far it's excellent. Very funny and also mechanically quite interesting. I like making things and then using them for purposes that make sense in the context of the narrative. EQII has always been good at that where crafting quests are concerned.

There are gnomes involved so naturally everything's a little haphazard and over-confident. Some of the contraptions are impressive. You get the little one-seater dirigible as a house pet, which is nice. 

Actually, you get a lot of house items as rewards from both the adventure and tradeskill quests, which suits me very well, although I'm not sure what hardcore raiders must think about it. Then again, what else are you going to give them? It's not like they're going to use the gear from solo quests. 

I made that! Not exactly sure what it does...

Since there are no new levels I was a bit puzzled about what would be in all the new recipe books, of which there are a complete set for all crafting classes. I looked it up on EQ2 Traders and it seems the major complaint of last year's Blood of Luclin, that no-one other than spellcrafters could make anything anyone wanted, has been addressed. Mastercrafted gear has a purpose again. 

Some of the books you can buy immediately, some you need to have completed parts of the crafting questline and some come from the new set of public crafting quests, which also tie into the signature line. I like that a lot. I'd do the signature questline just for the story but the rewards give it a nice structure and meaning as well.

Speaking of public quests, I've been doing some of the adventuring ones. They're all out in open world zones this year, which is much better than sticking them away in instances. They're also very well-attended right now, with certain public-spirited individuals taking it upon themselves to orchestrate pick-up raids and keep everyone informed.

Some evenings there have even been enough people interested for there to be organized attempts to force multiple iterations of the zones to open so we can move from one to another as the PQs pop, farming them. I did about half a dozen in a row like that the other night and the atmosphere was excellent. It's exactly the kind of self-generating, broadly social activity I feel mmorpgs were made to support so it's great to see it happening.

There's been so much to do I haven't really had time for Frostfell other than to pop in when I remember to pick up my daily present from Santa Glugg. Some of those have been nice enough that I'm hoping to make the effort before the holiday ends and cycle all my characters through once or twice. Plus there's double xp on Kaladim until the New Year, which is why I was over there last night putting another level on my Dirge.

Next on my EQII to-do list is to make a Vah Shir, the new race that was added with RoS. All my character slots were full so I bought another with my Daybreak Cash stash but then I couldn't decide what class to pick. I'm thinking either Conjuror or Dirge, neither of which I have on the account and Live server where I spend most of my time. Maybe I'll get on that later today. 

Two weeks in and I'm almost ready to say I like Reign of Shadows even better than Blood of Luclin. I'll have to wait and see how long its legs are but suffice it to say I'm a very happy customer right now.


  1. I just wanted to say that even though I've never played EQ2 and likely never will, I always enjoy these stories of you simply having a good time in it. :)

    1. Thanks! And I entirely reciprocate in regards to your stories of SW:tOR and WoW, which I only kind of dabble at and know very little about at the levels you play.

  2. Glad you are enjoying this expansion. I should be able to check it our in more detail soon.

    Happy holidays!


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