The problem with being away from an MMO for multiple expansions, aside from obviously being under-leveled and under-geared, is that sometimes you don’t know what to do next. In theme parks, it’s usually pretty obvious what comes next when running from quest hub to quest hub, but sometimes the quests just stop and there’s no clear indicator as to what to do next. Typically, once you’ve done all of the quest hubs in an overland zone, the next step is to hit the dungeon circuit and then raid if you have the time and the means. In this case the means would be a guild that is willing/able to do the content, as in an older MMO with a lower population, pick up groups don’t happen quite as often. This is especially true of someone in my position, who is a couple of expansions behind the end game, and ends up being solo through a whole chunk of content. You have to remember, this was end game a couple of years ago, and most people who cleared this content already over did it and don’t want to comeback. This brings us back to needing an active guild to do these things. Since my guild in Everquest II is comprised of my father and a couple of his friends, and none of them have been playing recently, I am stuck soloing.
In some ways, its actually preferable. I learn more about the game rather than just getting funneled answers. I also can move at my own pace and break when I feel like it. In some ways, I prefer being solo in my MMO experiences. Of course I do miss the days of big group dungeons and raiding, but when it comes down to it, I actually like group finder functions where I can just get into a group quickly, clear the instance and go back to what I was doing. It’s great for mixing things up. EQ2 doesn’t have a group finder like that, and it still relies on the old school LFG spamming or having an active guild. Nonetheless, they have done a decent job of adding in mercenaries and making the advanced solos so you get the group dungeon experience without needing others. This has worked nicely, and actually makes Chains of Eternity one of the best recent expansions for the game, if you’re okay with not actually doing the group content or the raids. They’re still there, to be clear, but I’ll be skipping right over them.
Back to my original point, when I came to the end of the expansion, there were no clear indicators as to what came next. I had similar issues when I was breaching the beginning of this expansion, not realizing I needed to be level 92 before I’d receive in-game mail and that would point me in the direction of what I needed to do to move on. I assume something similar like this might occur, as the live events that lead up to new expansions are typically left in so that you have that paper trail of where to go. However, once I finished the adventure through the Eidolon Jungle, series of advanced solos and Obol Plains, I was only level 93. The level cap at the point in which the expansion released was 95. Tears of Veeshan, the next expansion, didn’t have a level cap increase, and Altar of Malice (which I do not own) raised the cap to 100. Either way, I needed about 1.5 levels before I can access the next area of the game, and basically had nothing in front of me to do. When I had this problem while leveling through The Withered Lands, there was still Skyshrine to do and I got a hand to clear parts of the heroic zone. Clearly there should be a good grind spot or something towards the end, because I can’t see where anyone would have been able to level to 95 during the course of the expansion either. Then I remembered the bit about needing a hand and realized that I wasn’t going to be doing any heroic content anytime soon.
Thankfully, I was looking around at the past game updates, and it turns out that there was a zone added in a patch between CoE and ToV, similar to The Withered Lands (which was also patched in between expansions). Apparently by heading to the dock in the Great Divide and talking to a griffin tamer there, I can travel to The Cobalt Scar, and hopefully there will be enough XP there for me to hit 95 so I can move onto the next expansion. However, at this point I’m calling Chains of Eternity done, so that can get scratched off my Gamer To-Do List.
Similarly to my experience with the Eidolon Jungle, Obol Plains had a long quest chain that leads you around the map, and eventually I had to do some solo instances. Being on a pirate ship as an instance was pretty cool. The fortress was less impressive and not really much of a dungeon, but having to whittle down 10% of a raid boss’s health during the final fight of the story was interesting. Thankfully they gave you a beefed up mercenary for that fight. Here’s some screens of the tail end of the journey through Obol:
I decided to use the random character select option today, so of course I ended up with Rogue. I like her kit – starting with an assault rifle, and having the air strikes and setting off an explosion when she’s hit are all great things individually. Having the IDPD show up every level makes things tough though.