Onto Chains of Eternity

As I mentioned in my last Everquest 2 related post, I found out that I needed to be level 92 before I’d be able to enter into the next expansion, Chains of Eternity.

I had taken up doing various tasks to try and grind out the XP needed to hit level 92. After finishing off The Withered Lands and the first mission in Skyshrine during my last post, I still had two more missions to do and had started working on the HQ: The Book of Thex.

That HQ saw me wandering back and forth between The Moors of Ykesha and various dungeons added during that expansion (the HQ was a bit old, sitting in my journal for a while). I ended up having to clear out a one of the Befallen zones completely, hitting a couple of targets in the other two Befallen zones, clearing Evernight Abbey in the Loping Plains, and then killing another named in the Obelisk of Ahkzul. Finally, after gaining entry to a tomb in the Commonlands, I killed another named and from there it was just FedEx steps til completion.

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Ironically after all that the NPC I had been working with (or more correctly, had been sending me to do all of his dirty work) ended up dead by the end of the quest line. He did leave the Book of Thex and the Mallet of Thex on his person though, so the HQ was complete and I had a couple of new house items for the trouble. From there, I still had two more missions to complete in Skyshrine, so I managed to squeeze those in as well.

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The 2nd mission took place in an area different from the first mission, as Skyshrine consists of three districts. The first mission I completed in my last post was in the Covenant District, this second mission was taking place in the Lyceum of the Recondite. It still was the same sort of tank and spank instance, where I was required to kill a few named for the final to spawn, followed by killing him and collecting my reward.

The third mission in Skyshrine takes place in Dracur Prime, and is called an “advanced solo” which leads you to believe the difficulty would be increased. Overall, clearing the mobs and the named was pretty easy, though the final named Dragon did end up killing me once. It was the first time I had died since coming back to the game, so that’s something? Either way, it was the same sort of mission, and it was completed readily enough.

At this point I was only 50% into level 91, so I ended up coaxing my Dad into running me through the contested portion of Skyshrine. I had attempted to go in here with just my mercenary previously, and though I did alright, I knew I wouldn’t be able to kill any of the named by myself. He agreed, and we ended up clearing most of the named in the zone along with plenty of trash mobs. I chugged an XP potion and within a bit over an hour, I was level 92.

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From there I assumed I was clear to enter the Eidolon Jungle finally, but it turns out that I had mail. When I was back at the guild hall I checked said mail, and it was the beginnings of a quest line to gain access to the next expansion. The letter directed me to Freeport, where I was to meet with someone. It turns out the whole of the quest was mostly FedEx quests, so it was easy enough to complete. During the chain, I ran into Firiona Vie which was the first time I’ve seen this iconic character in a game, despite having graced most of the covers of the Everquest boxes over the years. The quest culminated with a run into a small druid circle instance in Antonica, killing a spirit, and then heading to the Feerrott, where a “tear in reality” allowed me to teleport to the Eidolon Jungle.

So there you have it. I’m finally inside of the next expansion, finally into new territory for the first time in a long time. Granted, this expansion is almost three years old, so it’s not exactly new content, but it’s new to me and that’s what matters. It seems most people who are playing EQ2 are having fun with the new Time lock expansion servers, but I’m having a good time working through the end game stuff. That’s all I can ask for.

#everquest2 #eq2 #daybreakgames #chainsofeternity

SkyShrine and Beyond

The Everquest 2 progression servers are officially a thing, with Stormhold and Deathtoll going live tomorrow. Despite my interest in going down memory lane and especially getting involved in the frantic action that will undoubtedly happen on at least the PvP server (my memories of the opening of Nagafen are some of my best memories of the game), I’m not going to commit to it. I came to that conclusion a while back when I really put some thought into it, and realized that I have 3 expansions worth of content ahead of my main two characters. Why go and subscribe to the game just to play through content I’ve already completed more times than I can count (I had severe alt-itus back in the day, despite having only brought two characters through to the end game)? If I’m going to subscribe, it would be to gain access to the newest expansion, but I still have to get there first. As such, I’ve been plugging away at some older content that’s new to me, but only sporadically. As I mentioned in my last post, I have a bunch of MMOs installed on my hard drive, among countless single player games, so finding the time to commit to one game or another just isn’t going to happen.

I know that I would probably enjoy myself, but there’s that whole issue with nostalgia tricking you into thinking things from the good ol’ days were better than they actually were. There’s also the issue of paying for a subscription, when that would only guilt me into playing that game, regardless of if I really wanted to. Finally, as I said already I would much rather see more of the game I have yet to experience, rather than seeing more of the same — for free I might add — without the pressure of feeling like I “wasted” subscription time. The freedom of F2P is great for this reason, despite the fact that there are some drawbacks to the system. My fear of commitment has manifested itself in all facets of my life at this point, but hey, I am who I am and you either accept it or block me on Twitter. The choice is yours.

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Moving on, let’s talk about what I’ve been doing in Everquest 2. It was previously mentioned that I had cleared the remaining quests in The Withered Lands and that I was now able to move onto Skyshrine. This entire zone and dungeon were introduced as a free update to bridge the previous expansion Destiny of Velious and the next one, Chains of Eternity. DoV was the last expansion I had really played through prior to my 3+ year break. Even though I revisited Norrath a year ago, I mainly visited dungeons and other bits of group content that I had missed throughout the years as my playtime was very sporadic post-Kunark. During that time I was grinding to 280 AAs so that I would be able to level past 90, and then when I returned this year with the F2P option, found that the XP curve had changed and all my other characters got a boost to their AAs. This means my play time a year ago was basically a waste, though it was great to see many of the dungeons and other areas I had missed, so we’ll chalk that up to being a learning experience.

So the last chunk of content available to me before moving into CoE, was Skyshrine. This is a contested dungeon accessible via a griffin in The Withered Lands, that has various questlines inside, but is Heroic, meaning a group is needed to complete the content. Grouping in EQ2 is basically non existent at this point, especially for older content unless you have a guild or otherwise know more people with whom you can group. I am in a guild, but it consists of my father and a couple of other people who apparently are still playing the game but aren’t usually on when I’m playing, so maybe I’ll get around to doing the content of the zone eventually, but for now it’s a bit out of my reach. Perhaps in a few levels I will be able to solo it, as my mercenary actually did fairly well in keeping us alive through a couple of encounters, but I think we need to level up a bit to make it manageable. So that leaves the other option, which is a concept that is fairly new to me, but was added into the game circa 2011/12 — Solo Dungeons. Thinking about it now, there actually were solo instances in one of the early adventure packs, but that’s neither here nor there. So, I completed my first solo instance last night, and it was fairly enjoyable.

Apparently there are three different “missions” that I can go on, though I assume they all use the same instance, and are just populated by different mobs, but I won’t know until I do the next. There is a lockout timer on these missions, so I was only able to complete one last night, and plan to do another tonight. The mission I did run through required beating 4 named within the zone (with trash mobs in between) which would then spawn the main named to get the update for the quest. From there you return to the Skyshrine lobby, turn in and then wait til the lockout timer expires. Overall it was easy going with my merc, and I earned both the achievement for completing the instance but also the achievement for completing it rather quickly. Kudos to me. From there, I ran into a hiccup.

I had no problem with waiting on lockout timers, I figured I would just move on to the next expansion and come back to Skyshrine later. However, it turns out that you won’t be able to pick up quests from NPCs in the next expansion without first being level 92. At the time I was sitting at 20% into level 91. This also helped me to discover a limitation to the F2P system in EQ2 that I was previously unaware of. It turns out that your AA slider is locked at 50% and you can’t touch it when you’re F2P. This is fine when you aren’t at the level/AA cap, but when you do hit the maximum amount of AA, you are effectively losing 50% of your XP at all times. I don’t see this being an issue while I level through older content, but that definitely makes subscribing later on a more definite possibility. Due to the fact that I had been sitting at this 50-50 split between adventure XP and AA XP for my past few play sessions, it actually has slowed down leveling to the point where I need that extra 80% to hit level 92 before being able to traverse into new territory. Not a huge deal, as there are plenty of older quests in my journal along with HQs, Signature Series and more — I just had to decide what to work on first. I perused my journal and ended up deciding to work on the HQ “The Book of Thex” as I had already completed some steps for it. This required a bunch of back and forth to a secret hideout in The Moors of Ykesha, and I didn’t actually finish the quest before calling it a night.

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Looking forward, I am going to try and work on this and other HQs along with the other solo missions in Skyshrine until I hit level 92. From their I can go back into the Eidolon Jungle and progress through the Chains of Eternity expansion. From there it’s on to Tears of Veeshan before I won’t be able to progress any further. At least I hope. We’ll see what happens as I get there. I know that I purchased ToV while subscribed last year, so I should still have access to that, but I’m not sure on other F2P limitations. I have not purchased Altar of Malice, so I know I will have to do so and subscribe when I get to that point. Either way, it’s been pretty enjoyable to this point.

#everquest2 #daybreakgames

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.

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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

Nostalgia Strikes Norrath (Again)

Shortly after the feeding frenzy that was the new Everquest progression server’s launch, another was added, as Daybreak was probably shocked and overwhelmed by the flood of new and returning players. Ragefire and Lockjaw are currently up and running, and I’ve seen plenty of tales around the blogosphere from newbies and veterans alike. People are enjoying the old-school grind that they had distanced themselves from for years. The more recent glut of samey themepark MMOs seems to be getting old for these folks, and I don’t blame them for having a taste for nostalgia. Everquest was my first MMO experience after all, and I too felt the urge to go back and play the game.

Rumors began spreading that the same treatment might be applied to Everquest II, and I was struck with that nostalgic twinge again. More so this time, because despite having played Everquest first, my first true MMO love was the second iteration of Norrath. You can go back through my archives here if you like, but rest assured I blogged plenty about the game, and would gladly do so again given a similar feeling. The trouble is, as I’ve discussed before, that nostalgia is a backhanded mistress that will lure you in with false security, but soon enough you realize why you stopped playing a game in the first place. In the case of a game like the Final Fantasy VII remake, nostalgia for the game makes me want it, but I also know I couldn’t possibly sit through the original again. Recent news has revealed that the game won’t be just a visual update, but rather a re-imagining and that makes it far more tolerable. But I digress.

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Wilhelm has a fantastic review of what is being presented in-game right now, via an inbox poll, so we can glean a bit about what may become of this new idea. It sounds very real, and as if it will be happening very soon. One new feature that will be available during this launch that wasn’t present back in 2004 is a separate PvP server. They didn’t actually put PvP into the game until 2006, which coincided with my first foray into this version of Norrath. Another post covering the “time-locked expansion servers” was over on Inventory Full, and I had this to say in the comments:

I’m in agreement that the PvP server will probably be the more successful of the two. I was actually just talking with my Dad about it, us both being long time EQ2 players. I remember when Nagafen first launched during the Kingdom of Sky days and the huge amount of players flooding Antonica and the Commonlands was amazing. It was a fun time for everyone. However, seeing as how PvP wasn’t a launch-time option, it will also be a different experience than the one I had when Nagafen launched.

Is it worth paying the sub price though? Will the populations stay and play through the content or will they just pop in to check things out and then head back to whatever else they have been doing? Time will tell. I just feel like if I was to subscribe again I should probably level my two mains up through the last couple expansions that I haven’t played, despite nostalgia tugging at my heart strings.

Also, I’d prefer keeping the game locked at EoF or Kunark, and not really going beyond that. Even SF was a decent expansion but I was pretty burnt out on the game by then. Knowing that it will indeed move past those points in time, and possibly at a very fast rate, I feel like participating wouldn’t be worth it unless you got in on the ground floor and played nothing else til you had your fill again.

The PvP side of things actually interests me far more, but that’s probably more due to the fact that I actually participated in a server launch, rather than PvP being the make-or-break factor. However, I do remember the PvP system in EQ2 being rather fun. You’d be locked to one faction or the other, and couldn’t group up with or even communicate with the opposing faction. You couldn’t attack anyone +-10 levels of yourself, unless you went into higher level zones where there weren’t restrictions. I have told the stories time and time again but I can’t express how much fun I had with MMO PvP in this game and it alone. Nothing has compared since. Still, as I said in the above comment, I don’t know that the populations will stay solid and I don’t know if it will really be worth the sub time, considering my nomadic nature with gaming these days.

In a related note, though the post isn’t pertaining to this subject, Murf wrote a piece on culling one’s backlog, and I commented:

I’m kind of the opposite in that I used to beat all of the games I owned as a kid. I didn’t always have new ones at my disposal either, so any that were too difficult sat unfinished until later when I had nothing else to do or my skills had improved. It wasn’t until I discovered RPGs that I realized some games take a very long time to beat, if you even get that far. Of course I did beat many of those early RPGs, but not all. Now days it’s hard to keep up with the pricing and the ability to spend a couple bucks on a bundle of games. Those seem to be the easiest to dismiss though, as I really only paid for the game(s) I wanted, and the others were just a bonus (or not).

I try to keep a stable of games that aren’t necessarily beatable. MMOs, MOBAs, lobby shooters, amongst others tend to be something you can let sit for a while and then go back to. Where I feel the most guilt is the games that I purchased years ago, that I know are great games, that I loved playing but dropped for the next “new shiny” and haven’t gone back to. That, and the sheer amount of money wasted on MMOs and expansions or the sub time itself. This is why I don’t really subscribe to MMOs anymore, because F2P/B2P absolves that guilt of letting the game collect dust.

What I don’t understand about myself is that ten years ago I could literally play only one game, and be satisfied. I can’t do that anymore and I don’t know why.

It seems I have come full circle in my gaming career. I started as a nomad, became committed to a single MMO (Everquest II) and then became nomadic again. Still, I have had issues with committing to one MMO, or playing religiously even when I do have a sub running. I’m not sure why this happened exactly, but I know that it’s what will probably keep me from partaking in these progression server experiences. I just know that despite subscribing to the game, I would likely not play it enough to warrant the money spent, unless perhaps I had a dedicated group to play with that could coincide with my fucked up schedule. Not only that, if I was to pay for a subscription to this game, I should probably just stick to leveling my two characters who aren’t max level but were capped out a couple of expansions back. Theoretically I could do this on my own time as the game is F2P and has dropped most of its restrictions anyway. I’d at least be able to do solo content, and then if I needed help or wanted to delve more deeply into the end game, there would be players there who are still dedicated to the game.

My pattern with the game was strange after I took an extended break when Kunark was in its prime. I have gone back for expansions, seen chunks of content and then have left again. I took 3 whole years off and missed a bunch of stuff. A year ago I made an excursion back into Norrath and saw much of the dungeons and group content I had missed through the years, but when the (then) newest expansion sat unfinished in front of me, I had no further desire to play. There has been one expansion since then, so I am even further behind. I just find it hard to justify going back to the “good old days” of EQ2 when I have so much left to do in the current game. But damn it if I don’t really want to play some EQ2 PvP again.

If nothing else, my blog’s title should make more sense now.

#everquest2 #mmos #progressionservers #nostalgia

Bullet Time Four

It’s been a little while since I’ve done a round-up, mainly because I’ve been busy with NBI stuff, and, well, gaming. I’m pretty sure I’ve played more games than what I’m going to talk about today, but I’m just going to cover the meat and potatoes.

  • As usual, Hearthstone took up a lot of my play time. Dailies keep me coming back day in and day out, and I feel like I’m getting somewhere, even when I’m disenchanting whole packs of cards after an arena run. That dust still goes towards more cards I want for various decks. I still have a lot of love for my Hunter deck, but I’m starting to transition back to my first love – the Warlock. Of course the reason for this is obvious, the hero power. From the time I first played the game I knew that was one of if not the most powerful hero power, and that seems to be the case according to various meta-tracking sources. I’ve mentioned my Zoo deck already, and that’s been in pretty heavy rotation. I’ve also had more success with Arena runs when playing the Warlock. Today’s run netted me my first Legendary in a very long time; unfortunately it was Gruul and not one that I really wanted. I’m tempted to disenchant him, but I’m going to try him out a couple times first. My new personal-best arena run happened the other night, I went 6-3 with a Warlock, which netted me the platinum(?) key. Anyway, here’s my stat sheet for posterity:
    Hearthstone_Screenshot_5.5.2014.19.22.13
  • I’ve picked League of Legends up again after having not really played for about a month. Me and that game, we have this relationship. I play religiously for half the year, then sporadically, and then back again. I’ve been practicing to prepare for the League of Legends night that I’m hosting next weekend, cause you know, hosts can’t suck at the game (ask J3w3l). Not that I would suck after just a month absence, but it’s still a good idea to warm up a bit. Those of you who are participating should do the same. I did hit a milestone the other night — 300 ARAM wins. That’s still not more than my classic wins, but it’s getting close.. and honestly I prefer ARAM most of the time; less pressure, more fun. I also picked up the Headhunter Nidalee skin, and I love Nid particularly on Howling Abyss. How many ARAM wins do you have?
    aramwins
  • After our Hearthstone tournament (see post below this one) ended, I was presented with choice of prizes. I picked a copy of Civilization V. Why a game that’s a few years old and not a new one? Well quite simply put: I FUCKING LOVE CIV V. I borrowed a copy of the vanilla game shortly after it released and played the shit out of it. I won by conquering the world as Germany. I was the first to space while playing as America. I loved the game and have been dying to try the expansions. Unfortunately, a borrowed copy means I had to give it back, so I hadn’t played in a couple of years at least. I also missed the opportunity to blog about it, although I do believe that I mentioned it in a post or two. At this point I’ve started a new game as Japan, and I have expanded to take over a large portion of my starting continent. I’ve had two civs declare war on me but have successfully defended my borders. I’m just now in the Classical age, so there’s still a long way to go. Of course, this playthrough only started a couple of nights ago. Here’s a strategic view:
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  • Finally, I’ve been playing more MMOs than I have been in the past few years. In Everquest 2 there was a double xp weekend, so I managed to get my Brigand to 280 AAs. That means that I can run the new content and level beyond 90, finally. I’ve also installed Rift and created a Cleric, because I’ve only had tanks and dps at max level in MMOs before.  More on all this later. Here’s a pic of the cleric:

    Izlain.. the cleric? wait, what?
    Izlain.. the cleric? wait, what?

#bullettime #roundup #mmo #ccg #moba