EQ2

Free 100 : Everquest 2

I keep refreshing my sidebar to see if Bhagpuss has already made this post (or one like it) – and I think if I type fast enough that I might just beat him to the punch this time. That is probably because he is away somewhere (is my guess).

Still, Everquest 2 is giving away (yet another) free level 100 Heroic Character.

This is exciting for me as I had recently spent a lot of time levelling several characters from one to as high as fifty – across both live and public test servers. My highest, the Warden, was indeed the most fun to play and as such the Public Test Realm is now my EQ2 “home”. This offer is limited until the first week of June and last time there was a free level 100 I did not log in in time to get the benefit – so now I am feeling the pressure to make a decision and do it quickly before life gets me busy and I forget once again. While always a tough decision I have been thinking out loud about what to do. I basically have three choices, with the third counting as 20+

The first, obvious choice is the Warden. I could zoom by 50 levels on what is (so far) my favourite character. I could then join the “end game” of EQ2 (which for me is solo questing, really. Or whatever solo players do in “end game”). In that case, am I just cheating myself? I have really enjoyed playing him thus far. So it is a conundrum – do I take away the levelling fun to myself or do I just accelerate it because I would then be doing “relevant” content? Is the Warden I see myself as my “main” in EQ2?

The second choice is the Coercer. I love Enchanters from EQ2 and funny enough I had decided to “main” the Coercer in EQ2 at launch – and boosting this character would be boosting the first character I made at launch in EQ2. Oh, the delicious irony of that. I have had fun messing around with this character more than playing it directly in a way that enchanters often do. Can I solo this instance if I can land a charm on that way to powerful for me NPC? Let’s try! The gifts of magic give you fun options in MMOs and to be fair I have never mained a caster class in any of my games. I usually revert to healer / tank to take advantage of being “needed”. (Which is also why i loved enchanting in EQ1 – was a very sought after class). Charming things and pushing limits is a fun playstyle.

The third, of course, is to take a brand new shot at any of the other 20+ something classes and start fresh. This could very much be a waste if I don’t enjoy the character.

At this early stage of thought, I am leaning to the Coercer because I know I enjoy the Warden – which means I won’t mind levelling him up the “old fashioned way”.

Any ideas? Have you used a character boost in EQ2 and how did you decide? Did you regret the choice?

Otherwise – even if you don’t play EQ2 regularly – go install and take advantage of this offer because it is limited – and regardless you get to keep the character. You never know if you ever want to jump into EQ2 you might enjoy it. I definitely have.

If you want to read the posts on my return to EQ2 this year they are here.

Almost Half Way There : EQ2

The other good side to having your blog broken is that the time I would often spend writing was spent gaming instead. I have continued on my EQ2 journey with furor and much attention. Playing an MMO like “the gold old days” again has been a ton of fun. I am playing both on Test and on live (for the extra character slots) and while I have jumped between several classes frequently I have clearly landed on my Warden as my “main”. For now. He is level 48 on the test server and currently following “The Golden Path”, in Lavastorm.

I don’t know what that means, but people always congratulate them so that must be important.

Still, I have spent a lot of time on my Coercer, who is a Freeportian – opposite to my other characters who are Qeynosian – and I find that to still be the biggest barrier. The Coercer has a 6 room prestige home with a patio held over from my live, testserver playing days and I’d love to let all of my characters live there. Seems as though this is not possible – or at least, not easy. This is a bit of a surprise considering how most other parts of the game have been completely streamlined for the player experience. Take, for example, Druid travel spells. The Warden is a melee subclass (when specced correctly) of the Druid class – meaning at level 25 they get the all important teleport line of spells. Many a day were spent paying coin to a friendly druid for such a port. Well, no longer is this necessary as anyone can port if they just  click a bush within a druid circle.

Automation is not just causing lost jobs in the present day.

This is a fair compromise – the Druid still gets the benefit of being able to cast that spell and travel from anywhere, whereas any other player still has to travel to the rings to get benefit. I suspect that the wizard spires work similarly. It is not a big complaint as I suspect with auto port to housing and the like this minor convenience is still nice to have for me, and doesn’t put anyone else out. Still, I am finding that it is the “little things” about the game that still bring me a lot of happiness. The benefits that each race gets is pretty interesting. Take the Erudite, for example, who has a self buff to identify magical creatures. A blue hue for damaging magic types and a green outline for healer types. This is extremely handy when looking for a pet but also is just a clever little fun function. My Warden has tracking due to the half elf racial, and I suspect it is one of the more important ones to have for a solo-adventurer these days. Nice to find the exact mobs you need and/or any named mobs in the area for treasure.

Feeling blue? Good – I’ll charm you. And then you will kill and die for me. This was almost a poem.

I keep getting sidetracked on instances as the Coercer with his charm ability, and invisibility – can get pretty far in exploring and there is a real sense of danger. On a random encounter with a real, live human being on test (which is admittedly extremely rare for me) he tried to explain a self-mentor ‘chronomance’r thingy where you de-level and solo instances for pretty good XP. This would be a better way to explore these dungeons (as long as I can really solo) because by the time I find bosses if they aren’t green I can’t usually win – and if they are grey then there is no loot. And loot is always fun. I will have to explore this feature better to understand it. And by explore, I will just Beetlejuice Bhagpuss here so he can explain it in the comments. Will save me navigating a google system that seems to recognize info from 2009 in EQ2 as up to date. “Bhagpuss, Bhagpuss, Bhagpuss!”)

I love him so much I should marry him. Or her. It.

My new, greatest toy which has completely changed the game for the better is the level 30 mount quest – a Mountain Salaraptor that has an incredibly fun and effective leap ability. I can jaunt across entire zones, relatively safely but much more quickly. This has made the game much more fun AND convenient. I suspect flying mounts will be even better but there is a certain joy of bounding across a landscape, and reaching peaks and areas previously barred from travel. It very much reminds me of the Super Leap ability from City of Heroes, which was amazing too. Another thing EQ2 does exceptionally well is letting you use the skins/graphics you like best. Don’t like the updated models? Turn them off. Don’t like riding a dinosaur around? Equip your horse (or whatever) in the appearance tab – keep the leap, stats, etc but change the model.

My 2H Warden is now a dual wield Warden. LOVE LOVE LOVE

I figured that part out quite by accident – on a forum – but I have always enjoyed playing dual wield characters. Wardens can’t. They can use swords, and blunt, and shields, but not two one handed weapons. This is where the appearance tab shines – I can use an offhand weapon in my shield slot and my shield looks like that weapon. It strikes and swings like that weapon. It does NOT change what the shield abilities do, but just the graphics and the swings. This alone has made me get back to leveling my Paladin as I always played dual wield Paladins in my pen and paper campaign, I just loved the theme of it. Now that I can do that in game as well I am excited to see how that looks. It doesn’t change the core, fundamental gameplay but it really allows me to customize the game to what I want to see and experience. It really is amazing.

Does this match?

It’s probably a really good thing too – or else you end up with outfits like the above. EQ2 does do a good job of varying the sets but you can really tell when a player is in between two. The appearance tab changes this if you can be bothered. Since I am wielding two weapons I feel like it doesn’t matter how bad the rest of me looks.

Now that my “main” is 48 I found two heritage quests – one of which required me to ask for help for the first time, which I thankfully and luckily received from a very happy and willing test server person who enjoyed the change of pace from whatever they were doing. I also ran out of quests in Lavastorm with 4 levels to go before the next “Golden Path” step. I either missed a quest hub or need to go explore more of Norrath. Either way, I am not short of options and am very thankful that I took the plunge to explore this game. It really is easy to come back to, is a lot of fun to play and level in, and there is a lot of depth and interest to hold even the finest connoisseur of MMOs.

And me too.

Up to Four Then Back to One : EQ2

I finished my “one character of each armor type” and “exploring all of the starter zones” experiment in EQ2 and it was a really fun way to spend my gaming time during my holidays. Oddly enough, the Dirge ended up two levels higher than the other characters by the time he had finished Timorous Deep – I am not sure if I missed side quests in other others or not – but each ended up in their main city in an Inn room, with their items placed. They all now have a home and I can continue the journeys (of one or more) knowing that I was fair to them. Odd that I feel the need to treat my online characters with care. Oddly enough – they all have quests pointing them to Butcherblock. Is there a single, recommended path on the way forward through that Zone? Do the four starters funnel into it? (this makes me curious if the leveling experience becomes less varied). I did read of a “golden path” quest line once you hit mid thirties, and Butcherblock goes to 35. Perhaps there is just the one path. I hope there isn’t, because I did enjoy the differences in getting my stable of characters through the varied and interesting zones. Technically, there is still the “original” levelling experience through Freeport and Qeynos. I say “technically because I am unsure if that has been updated to be as smooth as the others.

all items from just doing the story line

The best housing haul (housing items just from questing) hands down goes to the Dark Elves. Look above, all of those things were just from running the starting area. Weird though, the outdoor tent and other items feel very “outdoor prestige zone. Compare that to the haul of the Dirge, below:

also the same. Far more boring!

Four books, a steam machine, and a trophy. Seems like a rip off compared to the Dark Elves, but then again – the DE are probably far more pompous, right?

While it is fresh in my memory, I have different impressions of all of the starter zones. I have different rankings of the four zones for different qualifiers. For example, in terms of story, I would probably rank:

Frostfang Sea – Darklight Woods – Timorous Deep – Greater Faydark

Smoothness of the questing experience (lack of backtracking, easy to navigate, etc) would be in this order:

Greater Faydark – Timorous Deep – Frostfang Sea – Darklight Woods

Housing Items received would be:

Darklight Woods – Frostfang Sea – Greater Faydark – Timorous Deep

Gear Quality received would be:

Timorous Deep – Darklight Woods – Frostfang Sea – Greater Faydark

All of those are very subjective, of course. Just how I felt. I didn’t add up the gear levels or quality. Each had varying named bosses to fight (which I always did when i found them) and those bosses could drop a boring old treasure chest, up to an Ornate one – which had superior loot. That was the luck of the draw.

Since all roads lead to Butcherblock it’s an easy next step. I am still a bit torn on the Paladin or Coercer for this next leg of the journey, but am going to start with the Coercer and see how it goes. I am excited to see what happens next.

On a side note – I hope there is a “shared house” option for your characters and alts where they can all decorate their own rooms and areas and share them all. That really is my hope as I suspect at least two will not see much play as I do want to “catch up” to modern EQ2 eventually – and a little focus will help there. I also have my year in review posts to finish, so experiences with DDO, and my year looking forward posts to complete. I see a lot of blogging to start the year but none of it will be very timely. Whatever inspires me to write will be the subject matter. Also looking for suggestions on best way to give Daybreak some money, they deserve it! I am sure their purchase options will be as interesting and opaque as many of their in game systems. I mean that in a good way.

I am glad to have taken the jump in EQ2, it has been a nice experience.

And Then There Were Three : EQ2

I have spoiled myself with gaming time this holiday season. We often go on vacation during Christmas holidays but due to work and child activities/commitments we could not this year. The family decided to literally take three days and sit in our pyjamas at home, with a roaring fire, cheesy Christmas movies, and lots and lots of takeout/delivery food to eat. It was the closest thing to being lazy on a beach – minus the sun of course – but we kept the heat very cranked. It was glorious in it’s own, special way. My first goal was to complete the Kelethin story line – and I was not disappointing by the plethora of housing items as rewards as I played along.

(with all of my picture posts, you can click on them to expand to full size in a new window)

In the “old days” of MMOs  (wait – isn’t EQ “the old days”? Am I back to the future here? Time capsule? either way..) Quest rewards were a bit of coin. In the newer, old days they were clear upgrades. In EQ2 you get those upgrades AND something pretty/cool to put in your house. Don’t believe me? I was more excited for the hanging luinescent florets than the Sorcerer’s Bracelet above. Sure, I could kill things easier, but hanging things that glow! That is a true adventurers reward!

Not to be outdone Tuathil gave me a bookcase. I was truly happy for this as I had collected several books and had no where ideal to place them. Sure, I had some tables and boxes but not a proper bookshelf. Even better with this reward is that there was no gear upgrade to accompany it. Unless you could equip a bookshelf to swing furiously against enemies. And while I was enjoying the housing aspect of EQ2 I was even more excited to where my adventurer was heading. Crushbone.

I had mentioned before how much I loved Crushbone from Everquest. It was my standard leveling stop. I knew I would visit Crushbone eventually in EQ2 – I could see it clearly labelled on the map – so as I went from quest to quest it was always there as a reward for me for being a stout little adventurer. And here I was, at the gates of it, finally. Of course, one just doesn’t waltz into Crushbone – no! One must do all the quests surrounding the entrance first. Of course that wasn’t true in EQ  but here, in the new guided experience, it was.

The entrance to CB was always a mess in EQ. You had trains going in, and trains going out.  You would often barely escape one train by zoning through only to get crushed on the other side when the loading screen completed. This is where the name Crushbone comes from, I am certain. They have fixed that in EQ2 with a non-loading tunnel that is far longer (and safer) than the original.

The Orcs have also done some housing quests of their own, I see. I wonder how many adventurers they had to kill to get the “Orc Masthead – can be placed in any lair type” item.

EQ2 always plays on the nostalgic heart strings – and it works. The ORC belt quest was one of the first quests I ran in EQ. And every character I had that levelled through the elven zones ended up doing it. Heck, I did it on the progression server to great effect. In EQ it was a repeatable quest, not so in EQ2.

Not to be outdone they also added in the harder, upgraded quest of Orc Shoulder pads. Development of this game must have been easy peasy. Now fueled by nostagia, but I wonder at the time of launch if people were bored of “the same old thing” ?

There was an odd and comforting familiarity to entering Crushbone. It was always an open air dungeon of sorts – and the buildings in the background and wide open areas in between promised me farmable mini bosses, challenge, and “camp checks”. Except no one was in this zone except me, so I had all the bosses to myself.

Except I only found one and he did not drop the Shiny Brass Shield. At least, not in the 4 or 5 times I killed him. The timing was off in CB unfortunately – while the outdoor areas were easily soloable by the time I got there the gear was tuned for low level groups who skipped the quest line and went in as a team. I was level 21 and here level 10 gear was dropping. Still, the nostalgia factor was more important than the actual loot here. One big change in the new and improved leveling experience was that Castle Crushbone was it’s own zone. I went in and tried some soloing but it was truly dangerous for my level and I know I’d want some extra levels to fight there more safely.

I finished Kelethin at level 21 and was given a horse for my troubles. I wish I had the horse a bit earlier as Kelethin is a very big zone, but I still got by. There wasn’t a breadcrumb on where to go next and I was worried I missed something (I very well may have), but I had Google as a guide and it recommended Butcherblock. Which wasn’t the standard levelling swing in the old days but it would do. I took a Gryphon there and decided to take a break. Kelethin had a nice story to it and I was glad to have completed it, and the bits of EQ sprinkled throughout also made the experience a bit more satisfying. What to do next? I remembered a wise, old (?) blogging mentor once told me “there are so many leveling paths in EQ2 you could level several characters and not see it all, young padawan” (misquote and added a bit of style to it). That sounded good. What did the Frostfang Sea hold for me?

And just like that I was level one again. And a Paladin. Since I had a caster type I wanted to try a tanky type and I always aligned well with the theme of the Paladin class in many games. They were always alts of mine – but the stalwart defender of the weak style is how I like to live my life. I may have oversold that a bit.  Off I go again!

I did enjoy questing through the chain in Frostfang but sometimes it is the little things you appreciate. Such as having a potion to turn into a Manta ray to get to quest destinations faster. I also appreciated that when I was swimming around in the sea that the developers had placed mobs in the oddest of places – but it gave the zone and area life. Sometimes it is the little things.

And just like that, before I knew it, I was level 20 again. With more keys on hot bars than I could properly manage and a compelling and fun story line (albeit standard MMO fare) I decided to explore non-prestige housing, New Halas style. It was very quaint and cozy. Small Gallery below.

One thing I wish I had found – and it probably does exist if I searched for it – is a fire. I have fireplaces in my homes but no fires. I need to figure that out. The second experience was much quicker than the first to level 20 – and I ended up finishing the zone right at level 20 (the timing was impeccable) but I did the starter island first on my Gnome and spent WAY more time on housing. I was able to get the Paladin to level 20 in a single day.

Here my curiosity got the better of me. I mean, the “good” guy experience was pretty good. No spoilers but I really helped Kelethin and New Halas. What were the bad guys up to when I was doing all of this goody-two-shoe work?

I needed to find out. “Evil” races don’t normally resonate with me from a story perspective. Yes, my first real main in EQ was a troll warrior – but there was no story for me to be shoehorned into. I was the gently giant and quickly left my hometown in search of people who would understand me and that who I could protect. I became friends with Gnomes, Elves, and even Halflings! I find playing evil races in the new, quest-guided mmo experiences normally out of character for me and I have to do things I don’t want to do to progress the story lines. I picked a Dark Elf because they are often more worried about killing each other than the innocent (well, okay, usually both, but I am reaching here) and while Greater Faydark was all about learning what was poisoning the land, and the Frostfang Sea about how the Orcs were invading – Darklight Woods was about ensuring the current power structure was kept in place. Very Dark Elvish, I was not disappointed.

I chose a healing class – because I already had a tank (plate) and caster (cloth). EQ2 is very bad at explaining classes (as are most guides on the internet). The Fury (which I chose, which I had never heard of) was very satisfying. It was a druid style class (leather) that had offensive and healing spells. Could shapeshift (Wolf, Tiger, Lion – so far) AND could also charm a pet. None of the cool things (shape shifting, charming) were explained at character select. And Charm Creature seems to work on anything living – including people. Basically I have a healing melee enchanter, or something like that, and it was very satisfying and super fun to play. I wouldn’t have known this by reading the tool tips and didn’t fully realize it until I was in my mid teens. Am I going to have to play all 25 classes to level 20?

Much to my surprise I may have a new “main”. The heals, the forms, the charming – it is kind of like a druid and enchanter all rolled into one. Although the charm doesn’t last as long and due to the buffing mechanics you can’t have all of your self buffs up and charm at the same time (there is some sort of mental capacity cap). I don’t want to speak too soon, however, as I have one more mission to do.

I need a scout class (chain) that can adventure in the Timorous Deep. I was leaning Swashbuckler as I love the idea of being a Musketeer, but they are a “good” class. I don’t want to have to worry about positional requirements which excludes Rogue (soloing with those requirements usually means I am in front of the mob, not behind or the side) so that leaves a Dirge, Ranger, or Troubadour as the primary candidates. Is there any secrets I should know? Much like how the Fury was an incredible surprise on capabilities, I don’t want to miss out on a cool class or mechanic because there is not a good explanation on them at character creation.

Thinking Dirge, which has great self buffs as a melee Bard. Any other recommendations?

Home Alone : EQ2

I asked about housing in prior threads to Bhagpuss and Izlain, and finally I decided to jump right in. Firstly because I was getting a bunch of housing items that was taking up precious inventory space and secondly because I checked the /claim rewards and I indeed have a Mistmoore Manor prestige housing reward as the 7 year gift. Prestige housing has no upkeep so what did I have to lose?

A full day, apparently.

I of course have not fought in the EQ2 version of  Mistmoore although I did in the EQ proper version. Thus, I had no frame of reference to what is normally in each of the rooms. I dind’t love the colors and all the checker patterns and at first I found that there wasn’t a proper bedroom. So I started setting up my bedroom in what my best guess was the throne room. I put the bed in, and a table, and a map on the table, and the candles on the corner of the table (which lit things up beautifully) and finally a small jar of honey on the other corner. I might get hungry reading that map. After those few, small moves I was hooked. You can scale, twist, turn – so much customization.

The second fun thing I learned is that some are interactive. Rubbing the bottle took me to a genie themed area, where, I have no clue, but I went and interacted with some NPC’s and learned some lore. I had to exit back to Antonica and run my way back to the prestige housing zone in (before I learned you could access your house from your character screen. Upon re-entering my Mansion I made a wrong turn and discovered there was a whole other wing! In this wing I found there was a better room for a bedroom. I am not sure why the bedroom is the most important room for me but it probably has to do with needing a place to sleep. By that logic, I should find the kitchen next.

Another interaction was with an Orb, and staring into it prompted me to concentrate further, and once more concentrated (ie: do it again) it would open a window into a different land. This was a different view the two times I did it – and the game warned me to be cautious. I don’t think I can travel through the window – it may have just been a view. Below is a gallery of my adventures working on my first house.

Of course, after all of that effort and time I looked deeper into my Veteran rewards and lo and behold there was a prestige housing – Starter Island. Yup, my own freaking island! Bhagpuss had mentioned this before but I wasn’t sure if I had qualified. The /claim section was in Alphabetical order – but not sequential. For example, it Goes Veteran Reward 1 hour, then Veteran Reward 10 years, back to back. It would have made far more sense to have them in sequential order – at least the annual ones. Still, there was an island, and since I did not love the Mansion I picked up everything that I had just done for a fresh start. I remembered there was a mage tower-y thing on the starter island which felt like a much better fit for my Enchanter – plus, hey – who doesn’t want their own private island? Bonus for me was that had a basement that felt VERY bedroom(ish). Plus, fire, and a pond – where I put all of the cool little things I had collected. Finally, I had a space I really liked! I setup my desk very similarly to how I did originally, including the pot of honey, in the top of the tower. I used the basement for beds and other items, and the pond of various treasures.

Bonus to the island is NPC plushies so I put animals and mobs throughout so I wouldn’t be quite so alone. The Gallery below shows all sorts of angles and pictures as I built out my homestead.

In the end I took all the Veteran Rewards with housing items and placed them all. Even the cheesy pirate flag. Now that I had a home it was back to adventuring for me – and looking forward to collecting more items and tidbits to continue to personalize my own very small slice of Norrath. No matter what people have said about EQ2  the housing system is really fun and I spent a full day sorting through it – just with what I had found in the world and from various annual rewards. I haven’t read a single guide but sorted through enough of it on my own to really enjoy it. I don’t know how much deeper I will get into the housing but I know whatever trophies I find out in the wild I will definitely place there. The other bonus of the Veteran Rewards was finding a lot of free and large bags – no more worries about running out of Inventory space.

You are welcome to come visit, if you like.