Everquest II: Ascension

This post has been a long time coming. I felt like making smaller incremental posts was a bit silly, because I haven’t been devoting the sort of hours you normally would to an MMO. I don’t have the time that I used to for starters, and I also promised myself that I would continue on my streak of finishing off games from my backlog — so time is split. It’s fine though, I can afford one MMO subscription and I recently paid for my third month and basically cleared one expansion’s main questline at this point. Kunark Ascending released a year prior to the current expansion, Planes of Prophecy. It was recommended that I finish the signature questline from KA prior to heading into the new expansion’s content for one reason: Ascension. There are four Ascension classes and each can be leveled up to 15 (it was 10 at the time of KA’s release but the cap was raised with PoP). I have some baubles to help with the leveling effort, and apparently you get some books once a day so I am now at a point where I have to try to commit to logging in each day, if for no reason other that to pick up these free books.

My father explained all of the mechanics to me a while back but I’m a bit fuzzy on the details at the moment. I just know that I have to do things in a particular order or risk being stuck in the boat he is where grinding out the last bits of experience for the Ascension levels will be a pain in the ass. I’m going to follow his advice, just need to get a refresher course first. I stopped once I had finished the signature quest last night, so I’ll report back on my progress there as I get back into it and check out the new expansion finally.

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I’ve written about some of my exploits throughout KA in my past couple of EQ2 posts, and above you’ll see the scope of things — from landscapes to dungeons to other planes of existence. The storyline seemed to follow a ploy by one of the gods to take down her father Innoruuk. You were a pawn in this, doing various errands for different factions, interacting mostly with Iskar and Sarnaks, culminating in a battle with a God’s (or demi-God?) pet who is a raid boss level. She kicks your ass and the quest is over, and then you unlock the Ascension trainers. Honestly I didn’t read a lick of quest text except for the ones in the above screenshots. It was still fun, and I really enjoyed the Kunark levels, also that the new zone filled in the Kunark map and touched on all of the old school EQ1 zones that I remembered. In the end though, this was just a stepping stone. Despite doing all of that content I only netted about 11% of a level, but apparently the XP starts to flow once you start on the new zones so I’m looking forward to finally hearing DING! again.

I’m going to try and get started this week, so hopefully I’ll have some impressions of the new content for you by the weekend. Until then, happy gaming!

Bioshock Infinite Complete

Over the weekend I was able to put a few more hours into the final entry of the Bioshock series, and can finally strike another game off the backlog list! I started the trilogy back at the end of October, finishing each in about a month’s time and I’m finally done. I have to say that it was a fantastic series, and I’m glad that the third game finally swung around and linked itself to the first two. While the second game ended up being a more direct continuation of the original, this game didn’t really seem related except for the base concepts. Rapture was underwater and created by someone who fancied himself better that the society on Earth. Columbia was floating in the sky and created by someone who fancied himself a God. Both were unique yet similar scenarios. Where Infinite set itself apart was through the main character who actually held an identity and throughout the story twists into something different. I won’t spoil anything (though the pictures I’m about to share might be spoilery!) but you aren’t who you think you are and the ending was similar to the ending of the second game — but a bit of a shock.

Overall I really enjoyed the series, and despite the sequel being the weakest of the bunch, they were all fantastic games played in fairly rapid succession. Here’s some screens from the end of my playthrough:

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Columbia was a bit of a different beast from Rapture, but it was beautiful. I loved the graphic design and character of the game. Having a partner to help you out through your fights was a boon as well, and something sorely missed in past titles. It’s a shame we won’t be seeing more of this multiverse, as co-op was the next logical step and would have been a blast! If you haven’t played these titles (or it’s been a long time) I’d recommend running through the remastered versions of the series — it was very enjoyable.

Next up on the list: The Order 1886!

Thoughts on Antihero

Antihero was one of those random games that I discovered and had my eye on for a while, without really knowing much about it. It finally released last year, and though my initial impression was that it was sort of a 4x game, but it turns out that it’s actually a digital board game. Having had a fling recently with some video game inspired card games, I thought this would be right up my alley. My girlfriend agreed, and she actually purchased this title for us to play. We’ve been sitting on it for a couple of weeks, but we finally got around to playing it this weekend, and in short, it’s a lot of fun!

There’s a Campaign mode where you play against AI controlled opponents, and it essentially leads you through the various mechanics you’ll need to know. I played through a level of that to get my bearings, and then we jumped into a multiplayer skirmish, playing hot seat mode together. Most of the game takes place on the above screen, where you’ll move your “master thief” around the map, exploring and burglaring. You’ll earn resources like coin and lanterns, the former which you’ll use to hire goons and the latter is used for upgrades:

There are a few different trees, each of which has its own new units to unlock and abilities to grant your master thief. For instance, you start with two action points per turn, but can eventually unlock up to 5 points per turn. You can open up Urchins who infiltrate businesses, Thugs that guard areas or Gangs that can attack other NPCs and rival gangs. Truant officers will evict Urchins from a rival’s building, allowing  you to send your own Urchins in their stead.

There are several different master thief skins, though they don’t appear to have an effect on gameplay. There are also several different maps to skirmish on, but on the particular map we were playing, you had to buy bribes and deliver them to “The Agency” for victory points. There was a limited amount of them to be bought, along with two blackmail contracts that you could capture on the map.

For most of the game we didn’t interact much, but eventually it was clear that I had fallen behind, as my girlfriend managed to buy up most of the bribes while I focused on other upgrades. I moved in to take over one of her businesses, but then she retaliated by taking the blackmail I owned, which won her the game. It was close at the start but she ran away with the victory!

Overall I think it was a fun experience. It’s simple to pick up, and easy to play — no twitch skills required! You can play online in bigger matches as well, so I imagine things can get pretty hectic. I love the art design and the Victorian era themes. It’s not too expensive a title either, though I got it on sale. I’d recommend this for those who are looking for something a little different to play, particularly if you have a non-gaming partner!

Everquest 2: Housing

While running around doing various quests on my freshly boosted Wizard, I found that I was starting to fill up my bags with various housing items, and though he did own his own little Inn room in Timerous Deep, I really don’t care for the Inn rooms in the game. Each city has different themed Inn rooms that look a bit different but all have one thing in common — they’re tiny! A long time ago I decided to move my Paladin from his home in Qeynos to a new larger Manor in Halas, and at that point I didn’t have much to fill it with. As such, I decided that I would give “trustee” access to the house to my Brigand and combine all of their housing items into one place. Because of this decision, I thought it wise to also give that trustee access to my Wizard and put all of his stuff inside as well. This was basically a post I had through about writing years ago but never got around to doing so.

I did recall seeing some housing deeds in my veteran rewards however, so I decided that before I moved my Wizard into the Halas Manor, that I should check out some of these new housing options and perhaps move everyone into one of them instead. Three different deeds were on my account, so I claimed all three and went exploring.

Sprocket’s Interlocking Plane

This “house” actually came with the specific edition of the newest expansion. It’s not really a house per se, but it does have a couple of buildings on it that you could theoretically set up as your house. You can fly here (hence the screenshot) but I don’t really like the fact that it isn’t a house itself but your own little dimension. It did provide a portal house item that I placed in the Halas house though, so perhaps I can sort through my belongings and deck this place out.

Isle of Refuge

So for those of us who played the game at launch, this is a hit of nostalgia. They also brought back the original opening tutorial area of the game recently, but for a long while it was a thing of the past. They basically gave you the entirety of the zone to use as a house though it is not populated. There was a little kit of NPCs that came with it, so you can actually populate it a bit, but I don’t think I’ll ever have enough housing items to fill up an island.

Mistmoore Crags Estate

This is the only one that you could remotely consider a house, but it’s actually bigger than my Manor in Halas, and kind of drab. I was considering using this house because it is rent free, but at the moment I am not using it. I finally decided that I would just roll with the Halas house for now for all three of my characters. At this point, I thought I’d share the house, and take you on a virtual tour of sorts:

Main entry way
Opposite end of table, facing main door
The study, complete with L&L + HQ items on the wall
A bunch of various books and HQ items
The back patio complete with various older mounts I have collected.
Downstairs, more mounts, L&L + HQ items
The entry room from upstairs
One of the upstairs rooms where many of my pets were congregating, along with religious altars
The bedroom, also some mannequins with old school armor sets that used to be good
Plushie collection and fireplace
The last upstairs room that I designated as a bathing area

I feel like having an actual house is a nice touch, and seeing all of the cool items that I worked hard to get throughout the years is satisfying. I truly thing EQ2 has probably the best housing system out of any other MMO I’ve played. The newer houses feel more like the housing in Rift, where it’s more of a zone and not just a house. I may find a way to use those yet, as I added portals to them from the Halas house. Either way, I thought it was a cool trip down memory lane!

EQ2: Progress Report

I’ve been subbed to Everquest 2 again for about a month, and because of the holidays much of that time was wasted, but I’ve paid my next month’s subscription already and I’m making progress nonetheless. Initially I was torn with whom I wanted to use the level 100 boost on, and eventually chose my low level Wizard who has actually been around since 2009 according to my /played stats, but had only reached his mid-30s in that time due to being an alt and not getting much attention.

My Wizard “Fohs” on one of the fancy mounts that came with the expansion.

After using the boost, it turns out that boosting a character to 100 doesn’t quite work as well as one would like. Some of your skills and factions are unaffected, so there’s some potential for back tracking there. You also don’t get any of the boons you may have collected over the years like tradeskill pack animals, various teleportation devices, epic weapons, etc. You do get leveled to 100 and earn 320 AAs right off of the bat, and can also use a boost for your tradeskill level (which I did, so Fohs is also a level 100 Sage), but there are still things to work on and sometimes that means backtracking to learn languages or build faction here and there. I have spent the entirety of my play sessions doing just this, and haven’t even begun on the new expansion, but of course I don’t play as religiously as I once did. I’m still finding enjoyment in this and that’s rare for me; I typically burn out during the slog but being so close to new stuff (and actually the old stuff is still new to me) is a motivator, and seeing something new at every turn has kept me engaged.

The long and the short of things was that in order to be truly viable in the new expansion, earning “Ascension Classes” was optimal. In the last expansion, Kunark Ascending, these classes were added as another alternate form of advancement, as the prior two expansions did not raise the level cap. There are four Ascension classes, and it appears that any class can be any/all of them, and each can be leveled up using a different form of experience. Once you have unlocked all four there is a best-in-slot mythical trinket that raiders are still using even in the current meta, so apparently it’s a necessity. There is a list of prerequisites to get started here, and though my original two characters would likely have most if not all of those done already, my boosted character did not. This meant having to learn Draconic (had the tablet in the bank though, so that was less of a hassle), Goblish and Satherian languages, completing the Greenmist HQ from Rise of Kunark and also earning some faction in the Terrors of Thalumbra expansion.

ToT was an “overland” zone that was underground, and despite being mostly rock formations it still had some interesting sights to see, but I was basically in and out of there. After completing a few quests you earn enough faction to head into the city of Maldura, which is where the Ascension trainers are. Next, I had to start on the Kunark Ascending signature timeline, which sends you into ToT for a little bit before teleporting you to the Obulous Plains, the main overland zone for KA. At this point, I have completed 4-5 quests in the chain but there are a few more to go. Obulous Plains is another one of those throwback zones, much like in the original Kunark expansion where it hearkened back to EQ1 zones like The Overthere and Lake of Ill Omen, this new Kunark zone hearkens back to zones like Warslik’s Wood and I think that’s really cool. The zone design is pretty impressive as well for a 13 year old game, they seem to have figured out ways to improve use of the engine because the newer zones look damn fine.

The Kunark Ascending timeline is supposed to run me through the entirety of the zone and there are a few instances as well. After completing this timeline I will have access to the trainers, and at that point I can buy a bauble from a merchant for 100 plat that allows any alts to skip all of these prerequisites and get straight into the Plane of Magic to start on the newest content. However, I know that my Brigand is level 94 and had a couple of expansions to go before even getting to that point so perhaps he will see a bit of the older content and won’t even need the bauble. My Paladin will likely need the help though as he hasn’t been played with any regularity since the level cap was 70 or 80, so he’s probably missing some of the quests.

So far I’m enjoying my time spent in the game. I will finish off this timeline soon and immediately get involved in the new stuff. I think within a month or so I should have this character at level 110 and then can focus on bringing up my other characters. It would be nice to have three characters at the cap, so that if I do take a break again (let’s say by summer) then I can come back at expansion time and be ready to go instead of always playing catch up!