EverQuest Tutorial – Not Quite Ready for Prime Time, But Where Else Are You Going to Go?

Ever eager to ride whatever EverQuest nostalgia wave rolls in, both Potshot and I have been rolling up characters on the new Vox server now that EverQuest has gone free to play.  This was egged on by the epic opening post for the EverQuest goes Free to Play thread on the Something Awful forums, which may be one of the best summations and guides to the game I have ever seen. (And it is, for the moment, up to date, unlike a lot of what you find when you use Google.)

However, one of the problems with the whole thing is that the EverQuest tutorial doesn’t seem to be quite up to the task due to what seems to be problems of SOEs own making.

A tutorial instance can hold up to 100 characters.  This I know because SOE broadcasts that number quite regularly as the tutorial instances exceed this limit quite regularly.

More than 100 is bad

How do they manage that?

Well, you will note that I said 100 “characters” and not “users,” or “accounts.”

It seems that mercenaries count towards the total in the instance, and they are characters of a sort.  SOE put them in the total of players for the zone.

One aspect new to the tutorial since I last ran it is an NPC who tells you about mercenaries and lets you acquire one right there to use in the tutorial.  The thing is, people enter the tutorial individually, and then within a few minutes have a mercenary added to the total.  And then the zone-wide announcement starts that there are 104 players in the instance and the server will be suspending some mercenaries to reduce that count.  Which is all very amusing until it is your mercenary that gets the chop.

Hard to read, I know. Click to see full size

Which makes me wonder why SOE routes so many people into a given instance of the tutorial in the first place.  100 players, even if it is 50 people with 50 mercenaries, is too much for the zone.  The place is packed, often out numbering quest mobs by a significant ratio.  Any “kill that one guy” quest can turn into a competing camp fest, all the more so if it is like the Kobold Locksmith who drops on key per spawn, so if you are in a group, you need to kill him once for each person.  All while other people are milling around trying to grab him as well.

Of course, there are alternatives to the tutorial.  Crescent Reach, jewel of The Serpent’s Spine expansion and the city to which all new free accounts are initially sent, has quests starting at level 1.

Start your questing right here!

It is pretty easy to get there even, you just exit through the cave at the back of the slave revolt where all the training NPCs are and you get plopped down right in Crescent Reach.

Unfortunately, I had done the Crescent Reach quest chain through into the 20s before, and I just wasn’t up to it again.  It very much follows the “kill 10 rats” thing over and over again.  That is not EverQuest to me.  Furthermore, the communication for quests is always a bit annoying.  Not as trial and error as the MUD days, but it can get on your nerves if you are doing a lot of quests.

And I do not recall any big rewards from the quests in Crescent Reach.  The tutorial quests, if you completed them, now send you out well equipped to face the world.  I wasn’t sure I would get the same thing in the city of the Drakkin.

So I decided to scout ahead, to get to Qeynos and see how things looked there, which meant getting to the book that takes you to the Plane of Knowledge from where I could teleport to Qeynos.  Qeynos would be familiar and I though maybe I could run the noob armor quests there.  They are more like the quest EQ should have, a long list of things to procure with no need to run back and get a new quest over and over.

Back when The Serpent’s Spine expansion was young, the PoK book was way the heck out in the next zone over.  I was only level 5 at this point and did not want to risk dying on the run across the big zone to get to the book, so I broke down and bought a horse from the Station Cash store.  I have a pile of Station Cash from a triple cash sale they had last year, so in real dollars the horse wasn’t that expensive… at least it did not seem so until I realized I had a free horse I could /claim on my account.  Ah well, I will save that for another character.

So I got out on the horse, with its sill animation, and rode across the zone to where I expected to find the PoK book… where it was marked on my map… where I had visited it before.  And it wasn’t there.

A few questions on the OOC channel helped me locate it.  SOE decided to fix their own “run across the wetlands” low level trial and moved the book to just outside of the canyon that leads to Crescent Reach.

There is the book!

Potshot, on as the bard Garfinkel, joined me and jumped to the Plane of Knowledge, where we bound ourselves, and then jumped to Qeynos.

The big Q was still there and a few players were visible, having also decided to skip the tutorial for more nostalgic pastures.

The problem was that the quest armor NPCs were gone.  The armor quests that we had such a good time running down a year back on the Fippy Darkpaw server were not there on Vox.

While we were they, we killed a few things.  I even got a pair of crude defiant boots as a drop, which appear to be, compared stat for stat… and in color as well, pretty much the same as the equipment you get in the tutorial.  However, the drops are random so you are not really in control of your destiny.

After playing in front of Qeynos for a bit, we pretty much decided to grit our teeth and get the tutorial finished so as to be equipped to face the world.

Of course, that was back to the old set of problems.  In addition to lots of people hunting the same thing, just getting into the same instance of the tutorial together as well as into one with enough space that we could have our mercenaries presented a challenged of its own.  I saw somebody say on OCC that there was a way to switch versions of the tutorial from the Plane of Knowledge, but that tidbit came so late in our adventures that I never ran it down.

But we did manage to pick our way through and finish out all the key quests that had equipment as rewards, ending on the battle with Overlord Gnikan for the Freedom’s Stand group quest.  For this one a stranger actually joined our group.  I had tried to find groups in the past, but with mercenaries, everybody seemed to want to try to solo every thing.

The battle with Gnikan

Freedom’s Stand was an important quest for me, as the reward was a new weapon.  Weapons are the one thing I will go out of my way to obtain.  My memories of EQ are always colored by the constant search for a weapon upgrade.

Oddly, the Station Cash store will sell you armor set kits that will fit you out appropriate for your level, but there are not any weapons in the store.  The one piece of equipment I would consider buying.  Anyway, the quest reward weapon was a serious upgrade from the initial weapon you are given.

Not a huge damage machine, but fast and with lots of stats, most of which increase as you level up.

And so it was last night that Potshot and I finally finished the EQ tutorial zone.

Wilhelm and Garfinkel in Tutorial Blue Armor

Thanks to crowding in the tutorial zone, it took quite a while to get through it.

Tutorial quest log, four nights of questing

Alone, we could have bowled through the quest chain in a couple of hours.  But where is the fun in that?

And being done, we bid farewell to the Mines of Gloomingdeep.  I only died there once this time.

Yeah, don't go into that one cave alone...

We headed to Crescent Reach, where we stayed only long enough to get to the Plane of Knowledge Book and teleport out.  On the PoK, we found the armor quest guy who sent us off to more familiar places.

Seriously, where does this eerie light come from?

Now to figure out our post-tutorial plan.  Do we do some old-school camping in the Karanas?  How do we get started with the Lost Dungeons of Norrath?  What gear quests should we be looking for?  And am I going to be able to afford this mercenary once they start charging me for it?

11 thoughts on “EverQuest Tutorial – Not Quite Ready for Prime Time, But Where Else Are You Going to Go?

  1. Troy Christensen (@ShalimarTroy)

    I have tried several times to create characters on the Vox server and run through the drudgery of that tutorial. I wanted to puke after an hour.

    It is a shame they just don’t open up the Progress Servers so that we could all go and play the original game as we remember it.

    Until they do, I have no gumption to wade through the horrid tutorial or that mishmash city that everyone starts in.

    Poor thought and implementation. But it is Sony.,

    Like

  2. Sweet, Man

    Holy shit. You’re Pilsner? Wow, I’ve been reading your posts for ever and a day now. I had no clue.

    Like

  3. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Sweet – Shit, no. That was a typo. I meant “by” not “my.” B and M are right next to each other on the keyboard, and I fat fingered that one.

    Pilsner is bright and worth reading and his EQ opening post is a thing of wonder. I have never written anything so epic, I just slum around here and mumble to myself.

    On SA I am wilhelm2451 and my few posts are more along the lines of, “I crapped myself again.”

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  4. sikkun

    I didn’t start on vox so less tutorial problems, but FYI if you complete the heroes journey achievements they will keep you geared appropriately. Which is mostly just defiant gear, but not a random drop. So skipping the tutorial and starting in crescent reach will be better (I did both and ended up with mostly duplicate rewards 1-10) but by 20the your fully geared on every slot…hell even with some flowing thought.

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  5. bhagpuss

    I fear my Paladin on Vox may never get past level 3. I’m back on Fippy, leveling up.

    On the other hand, thanks to the House of Thule expansion, which was the first EQ expansion I didn’t buy, coming bundled with F2P Mrs Bhagpuss spent all last evening investigating the housing zone, choosing a plot and buying houses.

    That wasn’t exactly an intuitive process either and I revisited your post of a couple of years back to check a couple of things. You may be interested to note that the high prices you complained of back then have been slashed. It’s very affordable now for anyone that might actually be playing regularly.

    I imagine you’re familiar with my views on tutorials in general and Gloomingdeep in particular. I also have no time for or patience with Crescent Reach, one of the ugliest and dullest starting zones ever to scar the face of Norrath. It’s very easy for anyone to get to PoK within a couple of minutes of creating a character and I’d advise anyone to do so. From there, Norrath is your oyster.

    I don’t see the point of doing armor quests unless it’s purely because you enjoy them. I just kill stuff and wear what drops. With a merc you can kill non-stop. In the old days I also used to generate cashflow by collecting crafting drops (primarily spider silk) and either selling them myself in the Bazaar or selling to people using the Barter system there. That would always give me several hundred plat by the end of day two, which would fund spell purchases for weeks of play. Sadly F2P players can’t sell in the Bazaar and when I checked on Vox no-one was buying anything on Barter. Also the changes to tradeskills a while back largely wrecked the spider silk business and I’m no longer up to speed with what to make money on.

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  6. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Bhagpuss – I liked the armor quests because they were more like quests from the days of MUDs. Rather than being “go kill 10 things” that are often within sight of the NPC, it was more in the vein of a scavenger hunt. Go find these 12 things out in the world, and with them I will craft you this nice breastplate.

    I also tend to fret over unfilled equipment slots, again because of the days of MUDs, though once I have something equipped, I become much more relaxed about getting upgrades.

    The only exception is a weapon when I am playing a melee class. My pally way back in the day had crap random drop armor (all slots filled, and it wasn’t all crap), but he had a friggin’ Ghoulbane to hit things with.

    I’d go through the armor quest chain just to get the weapon at the end of it.

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  7. Grimjakk

    I have to second Sikkun’s comments about the Hero’s Journey quests… when you complete a set of ’em you get an Achievement and a set of rewards that are… well… SICK!. I swear, I don’t think we pulled stuff that good out of raid mobs back in the day.

    Oh, be sure to check whether or not you have the Lost Legacies reward available to claim. It gives out 3 level appropriate armor pieces and a class/level specific weapon.

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  8. GV

    A lot of this crowding could be alleviated if they opened up the option to start in racial cities for non-gold members. I’m currently camping out in steamfont mountains and faydark and have yet to see A SINGLE player. The whole world is my own – pretty nice, although it would be nice to feel like I’m actually playing an MMO every once in a while. I’m playing on Fiorina Vie

    EverQuest is really two games – classic (where nobody goes anymore) and modern (where everyone is at). Classic players seem to whine about how SOE screwed EQ, yet I NEVER see those whiners hanging out in the classic zones that they seem to talk so highly of.

    Like

  9. zentr

    I started a froglok (an alt) a week before f2p. I wanted to go to the froglok starter area. I figured it was one of the later expansions with a new race and racial city (a tent city apparently). It’s an area I had never been and I figured I would be getting something for my money. When I got there the quests were pitiful. Go talk to x, go talk to y, go talk to Z. That was a lot of hopping around. I don’t think I leveled once after I left Gloomingdeep at level 4. Now, I can choose to grind mobs by myself in the nearby swamp, or start the Hero’s Journey achievements. I don’t really want to do Crescent Reach, etc. again, but I might. Right now it will be mobbed so it’s best to play my main (at lvl 51) anyway. But when I get back to that froglok, I’m not sure what I’ll do. I guess it is good to have choices.

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