Back in Norrath (Again)

Everquest 2 has been free to play for a few years now, but every time I played the game in the past I was always a subscriber. After my initial stint I would almost always come back for an expansion, during a promotion, or just because I felt like it. But I always resubscribed to the game. With many of the limitations having been lifted from the free to play version of the game, and knowing that I have two expansions worth of content ahead of me just to get caught up to the latest expansion (which I would have to buy, mind you), I figured free was a viable option this time. So far, it has been. I don’t have that subscription guilt where I feel like I need to play the game to get my money’s worth, and I can still experience parts of the game that are new to me.

The new login screen

When I took a trip back to Norrath last year, I managed to get my Brigand past a barrier to entry for the next expansion, which was having 280 AAs. That was the point in which you could finally level beyond 90. However, playing through a bunch of old content I hadn’t seen before sort of gave me my fill for the game, and I was distracted by friends who were playing Rift. That also lead to a bunch of other MMO experimentation which I’ve written about over the course of the last year. I am still playing a few of the MMOs I’ve tried since then, and currently have about 5 or 6 installed on my system, so I can jump between them all at a whim. But I’m getting off point. Since my last excursion, the game has seen another expansion and a DLC (which is the model Daybreak has since chosen to follow), and that meant another balancing of the experience curve. As such, my Paladin who would have needed to grind out another 60+ AAs to be able to level past 90 earned them all just for logging in. So basically what I did last year on the Brigand doesn’t have to be done over again, but it kind of makes me wish I would have waited. However, there were tons of dungeons we cleared that I wouldn’t have been able to solo and hadn’t seen, so I suppose it was worth the experience.

Anyway, I had left off in the Withered Lands, which was a free content patch that came out somewhere between the release of Velious and Chains of Eternity. It’s a full zone with everything you’d expect, including quests galore, collections, named and raid mobs, and a series of dungeons at the end which are designed to be soloable, however I’m not quite to that point yet. This is supposed to get you prepared for the next expansion and so far it has been more of what I’ve come to expect from the game, but for some reason it’s grabbing me like it hasn’t in a long time. However, I know writing this won’t mean that I will stick with it… I’m still rather fickle when it comes to how I want to spend my gaming time. There’s something about the depth of systems within the game that keeps me interested, even if I’m just spamming abilities and skipping quest text. I just like Norrath. It feels like home.

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As you can see the Withered Lands are rather dark and foreboding, but this doesn’t stop flashes of brilliance it their design. The questlines lead  you through the zone in typical themepark fashion, but I still enjoyed clearing the zone slowly but surely. There were raid bosses who crossed my path, named that I killed who also dropped some nice fabled gear, a quest that rewarded a new fluff pet, and I even picked up a new elite mercenary who heals but also churns out steady DPS.

The overall lore of the zone deals with the Remnants of Growth faction (followers of Tunare) who are trying to push back the corruption of what was once a lush land. Dragons have over taken part of the zone and are maintaining a spell that causes the corruption, but it is supposedly for a good cause. More is learned from the Dragon who resides in the Village of Alivan with the Droag. I sort of know what comes next, but I won’t talk about it til I know more.

During my travels I picked up quite a few shinies and ended up completing one of the collections for the zone, which ended up being all I needed to hit level 91. I still have a few quests left to round out the zone before moving on to Skyshrine, but all told I ended up with 5 extra AAs and 5 prestige AAs along with the level.

EQ2_000034

It took quite a bit of time to make this last level, much longer than I remember levels taking to earn in the past. However, this was during a time when the game stopped doing ten level incremental increases with expansions, and instead only raised the cap two levels, opting to added extra AAs instead. This is a process I’m aware of and I don’t mind, because the AAs really feel like you can full customize your character, and its a feature many games seem to lack. But I’ve droned on about horizontal progression in the past so I won’t do it again now. It also took a bit longer because I’ve had my AA slider at 50%, so half of my earned adventure xp converts into AA, since there are a lot more of those to earn than levels at this point, and because I know that I have a lot of content ahead of me, so leveling shouldn’t be an issue. For posterity, here’s my AA trees as they stand now:

That’s all I have for this update. I will add more as I progress through more content that’s not necessarily new, but new to me and probably most of my readers, who probably don’t play the game.

#everquest2 #daybreakgames #mmorpg