Looking for Nostalgia in The Commonlands

In a turn of events which should surprise nobody who reads this blog regularly, having spent a chunk of the past week or so writing posts about the demise of EverQuest Next, the seventeenth anniversary of EverQuest, a new feature in EverQuest II, and related… or somewhat related… Daybreak topics, I had the urge to spend some time in Norrath over the weekend.

I am, if nothing else, predictable.  Even I could see this coming part way into those posts.

Encapsulated Norrathian Nostalgia Trigger Warning

Encapsulated Norrathian Nostalgia Trigger Warning

The question was where to go.

I am setup with Daybreak Access at the moment, so all servers are available to me.

EverQuest, the ancestral home of Norrathian nostalgia for me would seem to be the natural choice.  But EverQuest is also difficult for me to get into on a whim.  Basically, the live servers are out as everything past Luclin is “that new crap,” which doesn’t hold much interest for me.  An insta-85 character holds no fascination for me.  I could start from scratch again and visit old haunts with a mercenary in tow, but all of that is off the main path of the game and I would end up with yet another barely equipped and impoverished character.

I have a few characters on Fippy Darkpaw, but that server has probably run its course at this point.  And there aren’t even any mercenaries so I would have to wander about solo.

The Phinigel server, Daybreak’s “true box” attempt to fix one of the loudest complaints about past progression servers, was a possibility.  It has only been around since early December and is still in Kunark.  I might actually be able to find a group, though that was far from a sure thing.

Still, I wasn’t really feeling it for classic Norrath, which meant looking at EverQuest II.

I have a lot more investing in post-cataclysm Norrath, with characters between level 20-75 spread over three of the live servers (even after the server merges) as a start, plus a few characters on the Stormhold progression server.

I decided to go with Stormhold.  While it is down the path and into the Kingdom of Sky expansion, with the unlock vote in progress for Echoes of Faydwer expansion, EQII is also solo friendly enough that not being with the pack of current players won’t automatically make the whole thing a bust as it would in EQ.

And I made a few characters on the server back when it went live.  They are all past the Isle of Refuge, the initial nostalgia point for the server.

Nostalgia on Wayne!

Nostalgia on Wayne!

Past that and into the game though… well… with an eye to trying something different AND experiencing nostalgia, I decided to roll on the Freeport side of Norrath, and I am not sure how well that is working out, and whether or not that speaks to nostalgia or just the way the server was configured on that first pass.

The thing is that the quest path after the Isle of Refuge, through the Freeport sub-zones, into The Commonlands, and so forth feels a bit rough.  The pacing of quest chains often seems to assume you have gained a level with each quest turn-in, and unlikely scenario with the reduced experience gain on the nostalgia server.  And then I have the occasional quest giver suddenly present you with a quest five levels or so above the last one they gave you.  Meanwhile, the quests lines themselves also are not very good at sending you on to the next quest or the next zone or whatever.  This is not helped by the fact that my knowledge of Freeport was largely formed by a single character I rolled there about eight years back.

Of course, I am sure that the old quest chains on the Qeynos side of things feel equally awkward at this late date.  However, on that side of the world you still have the ability to opt into New Halas and vicinity, which is a very good and well structured solo-to-20 experience, form which you can pick up and head to Nek Forest or the Thundering Steppes.  Not authentic nostalgia, but then what is?

On the Freeport side your alternate option is Darklight Woods and the starter quest chain there which, upon trying it, sent me scurrying back to Freeport and The Commonlands.  I can deal with the patently ludicrous “we’re the evil faction so we have to be total butts to everybody, even those on our own team” that pervades Neriak, the rightly named “City of Hate.”  Horrible role playing, but whatever.  However, the layout of Neriak seems more likely to make it “the City You Hate.”  I have complained in the past about finding Freeport overly complicated in layout, but it is the model of sanity compared to Neriak.

So I spent a good chunk of my weekend in The Commonlands, chasing down cooking ingredients for Mooshga just outside the Freeport gates and picking up what quests I managed to find along the way while trying to gauge just how “heroic” heroic encounters really are.  I’ve forgotten how to read the finery around a mob’s name plate that indicates just how tough of a fight they are… beyond “more and thicker and having an actual probably makes them a tougher fight.”  My Shadow Knight managed a few levels during that time, and sits at 17.  Not quite enough to head into Nektulos Forest yet, which is where Mooshga has me going next, so I need to find some more quests before I decide to leave The Commonlands behind.

5 thoughts on “Looking for Nostalgia in The Commonlands

  1. bhagpuss

    I don’t partcularly like either Frostfang Sea or Darklight Woods. I played through both of them when they were first added to the game and a good few times since and they each have their moments but on balance I would far rather just do the first six or seven levels in the instances off Qeynos or Freeport and then take random quests in either Antonica or The Commonlands. Of course, now the Isle of Refuge is back, you can skip the small instances altogether and just go straight to Ant or CL.

    I find both The Commonlands and Antonica almost infinitely re-playable. Of the two I prefer CL but they are both excellent. It’s after that I briefly come unstuck. Thundering Steppes is basically the same now as it was a decade ago. Nektulos Forest is much better, having had several good revamps, and it has some really good, lengthy quest lines, but it is a total pain to navigate and very depressing to look at.

    Hmm. Now I’m feeling the itch.

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  2. jtnix (@jtnix)

    The EQ1 Neriak zones pissed me off well enough as a newb, but I actually enjoyed EQ II’s variation when I finally deigned to the EQ successor in late 2005 (had to let it get out of ‘beta’!) I think I died at least 3 times falling in to the pit around the upper-crust residencies in that inner zone. It’s not like I died anywhere else routinely, the game was way too slick. Dying stupidly in your own hometown – priceless!

    My own Nostalgia: in the earliest years of EQ1, every Dark Elf character choice during creation was considered ‘Hard’. If they had ever detailed why per class, no one would have ever picked the race! It was possible (did it more than once) to create a class-deity combo that would get you KOS in the wrong spots of your own home town. Was that possible in any other EQ1 city other than Freeport in the early years? Cabilis? Ak’Anon? I have wondered if they recreated the same experience in the recent prog servers but something tells me no one really cares.

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  3. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @jtnix – I am not sure those are experiences people are clamoring for. Daybreak can spend development time on better things than recreating those bits in my opinion.

    Also, I don’t think Neriak showed up in EQ2 until some point in 2007, when they introduced the goth fae… erm… the Arasai.

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  4. jtnix (@jtnix)

    Ain’t it the truth?
    And yes, you are certainly right. I first tried EQ2 in 2005, for a few months mostly in the Commonlands, then returned in 2011 after it went F2P, so that makes sense. Sorry for blurring the lines!

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