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Level 85 in EverQuest… Now What? March 17, 2014

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EverQuest, World of Warcraft.
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these new boost 90s are ruining the game

-Search term of the day

Last week we got insta-level boosts in both EverQuest and World of Warcraft.

In WoW they are a $60 option, though you get one “free” with the purchase or pre-order of the Warlords of Draenor expansion.

In EQ they are a $35 option… or maybe less, depending on how you acquired your 3,500 Station Cash… and you can get one that is actually free for a limited time.  The offer for that ends on March 26.

So I had to go try these out.

I went for the WoW option, boosting up a Death Knight, which I covered in another post.  There were quirks.  Some of them have been addressed.  You no longer get dumped at Timeless Isle when starting out, which is probably good.  But there are still points where you wonder how a new player is going to handle an insta-90.

I had to go look up how to play my Death Knight now that he had all of his skills and access to all of his talents and would be expected to have glyphs in group content.  I went to Icy Veins this time around, which has a nice set of class guides.  A new player might do that as well.

However, I did have a serious advantage over a new player in that I knew what I wanted this character to do at level 90.  He is already out and exalted with the Tillers so I have another farm for trillium when I need it.  I have him on a couple of other faction hunts and running through some content that benefits me overall.  I never hit the “so what do I do now?” question.   Of course, he got through some of the things I wanted so fast that I’ve gone back to another low level alt that I am leveling up.  But that is more a matter of being boosted to level cap where there is only end But he is also my third 90, so things like LFR are no longer fresh and new.)

I did wonder how it would feel if I didn’t really have a goal, what the game would be like if I got that insta-level character and was facing a world in which I had no real plan.  I couldn’t do that in WoW.

But EverQuest looked like it might be a different story.  While I have played plenty of EQ over the years, I have never had a character past level 60, so most of the last decade of new content is completely unknown to me.  So I was curious to see how the EQ insta-level plan, which gives you a fully equipped level 85 character, would guide me.  Time to take advantage of that free boost.

Heroic for Free

Heroic for Free

More after the cut because verbosity.

Insta-85 in Norrath.

I logged in and decided I would create a fresh character for this rather than boosting one of my old characters.  I chose a paladin, whom I named Valmont.  I am surprised that name was available, but this was on the Vox server, the one they launched when the game went F2P, so it probably has the most free names.

As for boosting my character, I am not sure if I did things in the right order.  I created the character, ended up in the tutorial, boosted him up, ended up as a level 85 in the tutorial, then left the tutorial and headed to the Plane of Knowledge.

So I was already screwed up when it came to following the path of a new player because I knew how to get to the PoK.  I would have followed the game’s advice, but it did not actually tell me what to do.  Still, the boost seemed to go okay.  At one point I was asked to make a gear choice of some sort.

What should I pick?

What should I pick?

I couldn’t tell you which one I should have chosen, but I chose one and moved on.  I got some gear, which the game equipped me with automatically… except for the weapon slot.  For some reason EQ left the default level 1 newbie weapon equipped, so I had to swap the new one in manually.

The game also asked if I wanted some pre-set hot bars, to which I answered in the affirmative.

Heroic Paladin Hot Bars

Heroic Paladin Hot Bars

I thought that was an excellent idea.  The hot bars included skills and positions for some spells.  No spells were selected by default, and that became my next issue.  The EverQuest spell system made a lot of sense when you capped at level 50 and had maybe a couple dozen spells.  My freshly minted level 85 Paladin however had 211 spells in his spell book, sorted out in the usual way for adding to the active spells.

Not the best selection scheme...

Not the best selection scheme…

I picked a couple, stared at the list for a while longer, then said, “Screw it!” and moved on, assuming that I would figure out what sort of spell support I really needed once I got to a point where I was killing things.  I had a mercenary there set to heal me, time to get stuck in.

Overall, I seemed to be pretty well prepared for that.  I had a full set of equipment, including an awesome Lexan riot shield, a mount that wasn’t that awkward looking raptor (okay, it was a unicorn… I’m a pally, what did you think I would get?) and I was there in the Plane of Knowledge, the gateway to all of Norrath.  Time to set forth and adventure.

Valmont Mounted

Valmont ready to set forth

Only I was wondering where I might go.  There are, according to yesterday’s anniversary infographic, more than 1,557 zones in the game at this point. (Don’t they know how many zones? Why say “over 1,557?” rather than an exact number?)  The choices seemed daunting and I had no real clue as to what was appropriate.

Somewhere in the back of my brain, a little reminder arose to tell me that the game always sends you an email at every level to tell you what zone is ripe for your adventuring pleasure.  Advantage veteran again I guess.  The mail icon is pretty subtle.  But I was right, the game had a zone picked out for me.

Go here fresh pally!

Go here fresh pally!

I was to go to the Old Bloodfields zone!  Excellent!  I now had a destination!  And it was even a Hot Zone, though again, not sure a new player would know what that meant.  Now I just had to figure out where in the 1557+ Old Bloodfields was located was a bit of a mystery.

This turned out to be my undoing.

Standing there in the Plane of Knowledge, there wasn’t much in the way of clues.  The map of the area is fairly… busy.  I went to Google to help out and found out that Old Bloodfields was part of The Void and that I should get there via Druzzil Ro.  However, it wasn’t quite clear if that was an NPC or a location or what.  It did, however, indicated that whatever it was was somewhere around the Priest of Discord.  Him I could get to, thanks to the find feature and the guided paths.

Still better than the EQII paths...

Still better than the EQII paths…

However, while I found the Priest of Discord… or where he should have been… he flashes when I arrived at him then disappeared… there were no likely prospects in and about that location.  But, given the problem with the Priest of Discord, it might have been obscured in some way.  Back to Google.

Another search result suggested that I use the in-game atlas to figure out how to get there.  I wasn’t really aware that the atlas was of much value.

The Atlas of Norrath

The Atlas of Norrath

However, it turned out to have some uses.  There was The Void in the midst things, and clicking on it game me a more detailed map of the area.

The Void Displayed

The Void Displayed

From there, it looked like maybe I just had to get to the City of Dranik or some other location in The Void.  But the zone connection list for Plane of Knowledge wasn’t helping me here.

PoK Zone Connections

PoK Zone Connections

Fortunately, I discovered yet another useful tool I had no idea existed in EverQuest.  The game has a built-in travel planner.  It knows what zone you are in, so you just tell it what zone you want to get to and, hey presto, a route is listed along with a glowy path to guide you on your way.

EQ Travel Planner

EQ Travel Planner

At least that is the theory.

And the route seemed easy enough.  Plane of Knowledge to Plane of Time via a “translocator.”  Plane of Time to The Void via a portal.  And The Void to Old Bloodfields via another portal.  A hell of a lot easier than getting from Deklein to Curse.

The only problem was that the path wouldn’t show up to get to the Plane of Time.  Instead, the game threw an error:

The zone path was unable to determine the exact location of the zone connection to Plane of Time.  If the zone connection is made through an NPC, you may be able to find it by searching the NPC’s in the Find Window.

No amount of tinkering about seemed to be able to get past that and my usual resource for this sort of thing, the now horribly out of date Allakhazam, wasn’t exactly helping out.  After a bit I got distracted wondering if this was the only path the game would send you on or if you might see something else with a different character.  So I hauled out my other EverQuest account and logged in to create another insta-85.  That should have been a viable option given that SOE had written:

For accounts created before Nov 8, 2013, the free Heroic Character option is available one time per account.

For accounts created on or after Nov 8, 2013, the free Heroic Character option is available one time per household.

My second account had been created even before the Fippy Darkpaw Time-Locked Progression server was launched, so I figured I was covered.  After all, that went live back in February 2011.  However, when I got to character creation, I was informed than I had no heroic characters left.

You get zero more.

You get zero more.

So SOE fumbles again.  No second heroic character for me.  I logged Lentil in just to put Valmont in the guild just because.

Valmont and Lentil in the PoK

Valmont and Lentil in the PoK

After which I poked around some more and then went on to other entertainments, as it did not appear I was going to get anywhere productive as a level 85.  Valmont never once drew his shiny new sword in anger.

All of which brings up a question I have been wondering about for a while now, which is who is the real target audience for level boosted characters?

In theory it is for new or inactive players so that they can come back and launch into more recent content.  There have been a lot of words written about how you do not need to level up a character in order to know how to play it, though my experience so far does not bear that out.  I couldn’t even follow the indicated path in EQ.  I still don’t know how to actually get to the Old Bloodfields which, considering that is where SOE told me to go, adds up to at least a flaw in the system.

Sure, EverQuest is an archaic old game and opaque in many ways… look at all those spells, not to mention all the hidden features… but even in World of Warcraft I felt I had to go out of game to look up how to play a character at 90 that I had been playing at 68.  It reminds me of the Dennis Moore line:

This redistribution of wealth is trickier than I thought.

This insta-levels thing is fraught with minor peril.

So my gut says that the primary audience is the current player base and that it is just a quick source of alts.  If you already know what you are doing in EQ, you wouldn’t have even noticed the issues I ran into.

But that seems at odds with some of what I have seen in WoW since the WoD pre-orders went live.  The search term at the top of this post is indicative of some feelings out there.  I did a couple of LFRs over the weekend and the main topic in chat seemed to be an inquest to figure out who had a freshly boosted level 90 and was thus the obvious reason the raid was wiping… or at least wasn’t progressing fast enough.  The assumption seems to be that insta-90s are primarily new players who have been given a shiny toy they don’t know how to use.

(My daughter insta-90’d a priest, a class she doesn’t have currently, went immediately into LFR and, after her first run, actually succeeded as a healer.  I am not sure if that says more about her, the optimism of youth, or the ease of healing in LFR.)

But what are insta-90s supposed to do in a game where the 91-100 content is slated to show up by December 20th of this year?

Who do you think the real target audience is for these boosted characters?  Is it for new players to get into the “good” content, lapsed players to catch up, or just an alt factory for the current player base?

Comments»

1. Shintar - March 17, 2014

That EQ story was quite impressive, to fail before you could even make it to an appropriate zone… talk about obscurity! (Though that travel planner feature looked cool, if it had worked.)

As for WoW, I think once WoD actually comes out, the insta-90s will work okay as a means of getting lapsed players back into the game – I’ve heard rumours that boosted characters will actually get a slightly different expansion intro to help ease them back into the game, and after that there’ll be ten new levels of quests, dungeons etc. to derp around in and at least vaguely get to grips with what they’re doing.

Right now, I doubt there are many lapsed WoW players dying to instantly get back into the raiding game at the end of an expansion cycle, so it’s probably mostly an alt factory. And I do suspect that the effects of such a flood of 90s are pretty dire right now, simply because there are so many of them. I listened to a podcast the other day where the host talked about how he had boosted a warlock and thought himself clever for jumping right into LFR… just to realise that everyone else was doing the same and he found himself grouped with 21 other boosted players, many of which obviously had no clue what they were doing. I avoided LFR this week for that reason alone.

2. bhagpuss - March 17, 2014

I’ve spent most of the day making Heroic 85s. I’m just now tabbed out from doing spell selection for Mrs Bhagpuss’s mage and when I finish this comment I’m going to make an 85 Shaman. So far I’ve made a mage (my own), a necro and an enchanter. I think I have about three more accounts to use before I’m done.

I think they have managed this brilliantly although not, of course, perfectly. Given the insane complexity of Everquest after fifteen years of continual growth I’m amazed that they’ve managed to get it down to the level of clarity they’ve achieved. However…

The enormous irony of your Search For Bloodfields is that, had you chosen to skip the tutorial, your brand-new 85 would have been placed at the safe spot at the zone-in to Bloodfields the moment you logged in. Both my new characters were. Yet another reason to avoid the hell that is Gloomingdeep.

Since you missed out on that you really did fall into a bit of a hole. Access to whichever expansion it is that Bloodfields was a part of is about as counter-intuitive (one could say stupid) as you can imagine. You have to find that guy with half his head missing who stands on the path just inside the wall that separates the central part of PoK from the Neutral Book area. He’s Druzzil Ro, some kind of demi-god with nothing better to do than port you to The Plane of Time.

Hail him, click on the handily-illuminated keyword and presto, there you are in PoTime. That’s step one. Then (and there is no reason you should know this and nothing tells you) you need to scoot round the back of the building you’re standing beside and click on the blue glowy portal. That takes you to The Void.

Now you are getting close but there’s more obfuscation on the way. Each island of The Void is floating separately in, well, in The Void. You have to go through another portal (thankfully an in-zone, instant one) to the island you need. Good luck guessing which one that is if you don’t have the EQMaps add-on running. Still, trial and error will get you there eventually and there are only four or five islands to choose from.

Once you pick the right one, voila, Bloodfields. I am willing to bet that Bloodfields will be too high, though. I’m pretty sure that zone recommend tool sends you to places that are right for you level in a group, not solo. At 85 I’m doing Oceangreen Hills, the entry-level zone in the same expansion as Bloodfields, and that seems about right solo/molo.

As for the pop-up windows with the “choices” of armor – yes, I thought I was making a choice, too. I went and read the forums to see what I should do in case I picked the wrong thing. Turns out it’s just a misleading piece of phrasing. You get *everything* in all those lists – there’s no choice to make other than “Give me my stuff”.

I’ve been playing EQ relatively consistently for the entire 15 years albeit with lengthy gaps of inactivity along the way. I often find it overwhelming when I come back from a break but it does all soon come back – well, most of it. I have, however, played right up to the level we are now being given for free and most of my play in the last year has been at level 83 and 84 so I have a huge advantage over people coming back who never got above, say, 60, like yourself.

On Luclin-Stromm today it has been incredibly busy. I haven’t seen PoK this full for years (although as I always mention, EQ is always bustling when I play – I would bet there are more active players playing EQ regularly than there are EQ2 – it certainly seems like it). I heard a lot of comments along the lines of “I’m so confused – I haven’t played since Kunark!”. I can only imagine how daunting it must be for folks in that position.

That said, there’s surely huge entertainment to be had. There must be 90% of Norrath waiting unseen to be explored, most of it far more accessible than Bloodfields and fully-geared 85s with a merc in tow can pretty much write their own ticket in all content up to level 75 or so I’d guess. There are a few places I couldn’t handle as a less-well geared 84 that I plan on taking a second look at, too.

Oh, and to answer your closing question, I think the primary purpose is to firm up the commitment of the current playerbase but it also does bring people back, especially waverers and fairweathers. I know that when Mercenaries were added, for example, both Mrs Bhagpuss and I returned to EQ from EQ2 (I think that was where we were) and played EQ almost exclusively for more than six months. There’s a chance that will happen again now – I’m keen and Mrs Bhagpuss is talking about playing EQ again for the first time in several years.

3. Wilhelm Arcturus - March 17, 2014

@Bhagpuss – I guess you didn’t get limited to a single level 85 boost per household as I did then?

At Allakhazam it said Druzzil Ro, but I couldn’t find him in the PoK. He does not appear to be on the list of NPCs that the Find option brings up. I ran through it a couple of different ways. Plus some very out of date comments over there mentioned he was missing.

Then the Trip Planner… okay, Zone Info tab… doesn’t mention him at all.

And heck, from what you say, it might not have been advisable to go there in the first place.

As usual, this feels like a very SOE venture, especially after doing the WoW version (or even the EQ2 version). But yes, EQ has acquired so many layers over the years.

4. Jenks - March 17, 2014

Interesting read (both of you guys).

I logged in my lvl 65 Beastlord with 100~ AA’s and applied the boost. I was in the Bazaar, which looks absolutely nothing like the Bazaar of old. I played around with my spells and checked out 5ish new mounts which I recieved for being a veteran (a fire ostrich beast was my favorite), a summonable lizard, all sorts of goodies. Then I didn’t really know what to do, which often is a good feeling. I liked the first time I played UO, EQ, EVE, and had no idea what to do. But for some reason I just didn’t have the drive to walk out of the zone and figure it out, so I logged out and fired up Firefall (another MMO which at least in its current beta form, doesn’t tell you what to do).

I don’t know. I loved EQ. I played EQ from 98 to 2003ish, and then from 2012-2013 on Al’Kabor, so I’ve never seen content after PoP. I have 4 more accounts eligible for upgrades, as well as the wife’s. I’ll likely use them all and then never play.

5. bhagpuss - March 17, 2014

After I posted the above I went to make my Shaman on one of my Silver accounts. No Heroic option. I tried another account (we have seven between us, two All Access and five Silver) and that didn’t work either. So, today I’ve been able to make Heroic 85s on the two AA accounts and two of the five Silver accounts but two more of the Silver accounts can’t do it. Haven’t tried the last one yet.

I just posted on the forums about it and if I can be bothered I will raise a Support ticket for it tomorrow (should be able to even on Silver since it should count as an “Account” issue). Either it’s a bug (that’s my feeling) or there is some criterion they are keeping to themselves in which case I’d like to know what it is.

Druzzil Ro is definitely there on Luclin-Stromm – I used him today. Of course he may be AWOL on other servers. Wouldn’t be the first time!

6. Cuppy - March 17, 2014

I just found out that the screen that LOOKS like you’re making a choice on rewards, actually isn’t giving you a choice. You are getting ALL of those rewards. :) And if you don’t have a weapon equipped, check your inventory. That’s where I found mine.

7. kaozz - March 17, 2014

Sorry to hear you had a tough time with your heroic character. The best way to start off a fresh character is to hit the heroic button on the right of the screen in character creation. It starts you off in a zone where you can get the J5 merc in HoT, where there are many other players starting. Along with a spell lineup. Also, I think you have until the time stated to create and try a few out, or so my son tells me. I didn’t try to delete one. But I think it is much the same as EQ2 dis.

Finishing up a post on how our heroic chars went so I won’t clutter your comments up with my opinion, we had a much better time starting out (with three heroic characters). Then again we still play on a regular basis every few months or so.

Just in case you decide to try to get out there again: http://everquest.allakhazam.com/wiki/eq:directions

That is a great way to figure out how to get where you are going and http://www.mapfiend.net/ is a must if you play these days, the maps in the game are sometimes missing, which still boggles me.

I think the target audience is current players and returning players. EQ was never for the feint of heart, it still isn’t in many ways. It requires a bit more planning and research but it offers a lot still at this point of the game’s lifespan. My son recently started playing and is giving me pointers on things these days, lol. So, I think it still has room to attract new players who want to invest the time into the game, not so much the themepark ‘three monther’ type of player.

8. Rose - March 17, 2014

I had sort of a similar experience last night trying out EQ’s heroic character option, with the exception that I didn’t actually bother trying to find Old Bloodfields. I have no idea how to access the merc perk (heh) and I can’t remember how mounts work in EQ. Good times!

9. bhagpuss - March 18, 2014

I just tried one of the free accounts again and still no dice on Heroics there. And then something occurred to me.

The account that you couldn’t get the Heroic character on – had you actually used that account to play Everquest? By which I mean was it an account you’d made to play another SOE game, EQ2 say, but had never used before to log into EQ1?

I ask because I just realized that the only one of my Silver accounts that can make a Heroic 85 is also the only one I ever played EQ on prior to yesterday. All the others have only ever been used to play EQ2. So I’m wondering whether a free SOE account is only recognized as existing for each game as you actually make a character there.

That would explain everything, because the previously-unknown-to-Everquest accounts would appear to the checks the game makes to have been made yesterday while my IP would already have been flagged by the three valid accounts, ruling me out n the “one per Household” rule.

Or it could be a bug. I’m still going with that, especially since the implication from your post is that you had already played EQ on that account…

10. Wilhelm Arcturus - March 18, 2014

@kaozz – Yeah, I actually go get the latest update from Map Fiend every time I go back to play in any serious way. The whole map tool thing was very much a “we’ll let the community finish it” sort of thing. But you can make your own maps and landmarks, though the tool is awkward in that very EverQuest sort of way.

@Bhagpuss – Unfortunately, the pattern doesn’t quite fit for me. That second account, while I have used it in EQ2, was one that has been used for EQ a lot in the past. It was one of the two accounts I used to play on Fippy Darkpaw and again when EQ went free to play, and both times I had it set as a Gold account.

I’m going with a bug. For me it is annoying… I wanted to try to boost another character, this time changing my behavior to see how it worked out… but I am not sure it was ever going to be a long term thing.

I was thinking I could just use my excess of Station Cash to buy a boost, but then all that SC is on the account where it worked. Plus, I am saving that in anticipation of some sort of actual EverQuest Next game showing up some day. Maybe.

11. Eric - March 19, 2014

Are you trying to make a heroic character on Fippy? I think I read they don’t allow that.

12. Wilhelm Arcturus - March 19, 2014

@Eric – I actually wrote in the post that this was on the Vox server.

But yes, SOE has said no heroics on Fippy Darkpaw server until it reaches the appropriate expansion.

13. Eric - March 19, 2014

Sorry, so you did. If you only played on Fippy, I wonder if that has ed to an erroneous flag on your account?


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