The change of seasons, the chill in the air, and the release of a new expansion got my thinking of Norrath.
Hey, look, a post about something other than EVE Online!
I’ve also been a bit down on WoW of late. As I noted previously, I enjoyed the going through the initial four zones in WoW Legion, but wasn’t really into settling down to a daily quest grind. Add in the lengths one would need to go to get the eventual flying unlock achievement and I set off in other directions. I was toddling along doing pet battles and crafting and a bit of transmog hunting when the last update broke the PetBattle Teams addon, which I find essential for managing a stable of over 400 battle pets. And then they broke the ability to mail stuff to my alts and I was done. It was like they picked two things they knew would drive me away, so I let my account lapse there.
Meanwhile, the usual Norrath nostalgia season was upon us and I was interested in the Kunark Ascending expansion, especially with its level 100 character boost.
Of course, I already had a character boosted up to level 95 from the free boost offer Daybreak had back in September, so I got myself subscribed and logged in and started trying to figure out where to go and what to do.
I have mentioned before that for MMOs that I have played there tends to be a dividing line which my brain flags as old stuff/new stuff. While it is often a division based on time, it is also generally a division based on my knowledge of the game and what I am familiar with. In World of Warcraft everything after Wrath of the Lich King is the “new stuff.” I know Northrend and before very well, while I have never been as well… integrated I guess… with Cataclysm and after.
In EverQuest the line is somewhere between Ruins of Kunark and Planes of Power. In Rift the new stuff starts with Storm Legion. And in EverQuest II the new stuff starts with the Kingdom of Sky expansion, which takes the game all the way back to early 2006. I never really got into that expansion.
That is a big knowledge gap, spanning a decade and all.
Now, the situation isn’t completely black and white. I came back for Echoes of Faydwer ,have messed around in the Frostfang Sea, and have managed to play at least two characters into the Rise of Kunark expansion. But that still leaves me in November 2007 as far as EQII expansions go, or about nine and nine years expansion behind the curve. That leaves a lot of “new stuff.”
So I got my level 95 boosted berserker Sigward out and looked at the current map of Norrath.
For whatever reason, when I took the level boost I went out to Cobalt Scar, so that is where Sigward was when I got back to him. Then I had to figure out what mobs I could take on. This is more confusing that it should be at times, and made all the more so since my last round of play in Norrath was on the Stormhold server. There the idea of my level 25 Shadow Knight taking on a heroic encounter required serious planning, and the encounter had to be lower level than him.
Out in Cobalt Scar the question chain immediately set me up against some high level heroic encounters, so I began to despair. However, giving it a “what the hell” try, I found I could defeat them easily. I ran through a bit of that, but got stuck on a quest that seemed bugged. So I wandered back New Halas where Frostfall, the winter holiday event was starting. I started the quest for a new holiday tree for my home which sent me off to slay things in the Eidolon Jungle and the Obol Plains, zones that aren’t even on the map.
It turns out you have to go to Feerrott and find a special portal to get into the first, and then another portal from there to get to the second. There I found my items and fought the usual array of interesting creatures… and actually finished up an old Lore and Legend and an old language quest along the way.
There I was somewhat emboldened with my ability to slay heroic encounters, stumbling into an instance where I was able to clear a whole range of them, including several named encounters.
Further on into the Frostfell stuff my assessment of my own abilities were further inflated as I took down some serious mobs as part of the even.
I’m pretty sure I had some sort of Frostfell buff on me for that, but it is hard to tell as the buffs and effects window in EQII gets pretty full pretty fast.
After getting some of the festivities under my belt, I was digging through my in-game mail and found the message that came with the level 95 boost which directed me towards yet another zone, the Tranquil Sea.
When I got there I found mobs that were a level or two above me, but not heroic encounters, so I figured they would be no big deal. And then they totally kicked my ass. The time to kill went up dramatically compared to the same level heroic encounters in Cobalt Scar and if I got a couple of them on me I was done for.
Well that was a fine move.
And then I remembered mercenaries and that I had a healer I could summon to follow Sigwerd around. So I summoned him and things went much better. In fact, things probably got a bit too easy then, as I found I could just pull mobs back onto Ben Nevis (his name) and he would kill them in a couple of blows. That is a powerful merc.
My problem is probably gear related. But, having jumped up 20 levels, I have no real feel for whether the gear they gave me with the boost is good or not or what stats are important or what I should look for when replacing them.
In the picture above, the quest reward sword has better DPS, but I am not sure how to weigh some of the other stats. I think I should take it, but I am not sure. Logic would say that they should be giving me gear good enough to take on the area. But then, logic would also seem to indicate that they should have given me gear good enough to start the zone, and I was struggling there when I was solo.
But I was at least able to progress further through the zone with the merc in tow. As a location, it was clearly design for flight. While I got a flying mount with my level 95 boost, I stuck with my Race to Trakanon mount from the event server.
I will say that I have not quite mastered the controls for flying yet. Is the flying mount ALWAYS going to go where I am looking rather than where I am trying to point? I can get around, but I am constantly at war with the thing. It seems designed to punish people for not using the first person view.
Anyway, this has made me a bit wary of the Kunark Ascending expansion. That comes with a level 100 boost, but there was a strong thread of opinion in the forums when I last looked that the gear you get with the upgrade is NOT for Kunark Ascending, but rather to allow you to do Terrors of Thalumbra content that will gear you up enough to go do the new content.
That seems like an odd approach to take… here is some gear but it isn’t good enough for the content you just purchased. Then again, I went where the game told me and found my level 95 gear wasn’t up to snuff… or so it seems. I could just be bad. Of clueless. Even the EQ2 Wire expansion FAQ isn’t dumbed down enough for me to figure things out.
Meanwhile, I have decided to try and loosen up my grip on all that Station Cash… erm, Daybreak Cash… I have been hoarding since back in the day. I might buy a couple more level 95 boosts if I can figure out which characters I ought to raise up. I did buy a three pack of Legends of Norrath loot cards, which got me another painting for the wall and a pet that I sold for more cash than I have ever had in Norrath.
Well, post-cataclysm Norrath in any case. Platinum inflation in EverQuest led to some silly things and I once found I was immobile because I forgot to deposit my cash when I left the Bazaar.
I even opened up the old Qeynos Credence Revival guild hall. I wanted to get access to the guild gatherer for doing some trade skill stuff. Back in the day 1.7 plat and 135K status rent a week seemed like a lot. Now the plat is negligible and I can earn that much status easily enough, though there is more than 2 million status in the guild escrow and another 2 million on Sigwerd alone.
So there I am, back in Norrath again.