Through the Withered Lands

The trick with returning to EverQuest II is generally finding some task or zone I can get into, something that will keep me going for a bit.  It doesn’t have to be the latest content… as noted, I am not sure I could even find that… but something at about the right level.

As I said in last week’s post, I went with Bhagpuss’ suggestion and started out on the Days of Summer quest.  That gave me a couple days of wandering Norrath and, as it turned out, having to find and roam through some of the later expansions as part of the 2017 series of quests also brought me to some content that looked about right.

Somewhere pretty… not sure which expansion

The goal was to get my level 96 berserker into something and get him closer to level 100.  And as I went through various zones I spotted one that looked about right as a starter.  I jotted down the name as I flew through it to get the update for the summer quest.  It was The Withered Lands.

Getting the last bit for the Days of Summer quest

However, when I had finished up the Days of Summer quests and decided to go find it again with Sigwerd, my berserker, that left me wondering where it was.  I had the name, but in the whirlwind tour of Norrath I had misplaced the where.  It doesn’t appear on the big travel map.

Oh the places you’ll go in Norrath

As it turns out it is a zone from the Destiny of Velious expansion, which is from 2011, so I am still seven years behind on expansions.  You have to first travel to The Great Divide and, from the bell there hop over to the New Combine flight point.  However, there is another flight point in between you and that, so I ended up trying to wrong flight point a couple of times before I got that settled.

From the correct flight point it is a quick flight/zone transition to the zone.

The zone itself it is very linear, consisting of a long, bending canyon.

Welcome to the Withered Lands

There are two flight points in the zone, but both are only to move to other locations.  My little red arrow is where you land while the second flight point… the little set of angel wings… is the far end of the zone and the quest chains that guide you through it.

In between are a some quest hubs, done in the classical fashion where you go grab half a dozen or so quests and run out to slay or explore until you’re all done, then you run back for the big set of turn ins.

There is fast travel… or at least hands free travel, it isn’t all that fast… between the quest hubs.  Each of them has a stable stop so you can take a horse between them.

The stable stops along the way

If you have a flying mount you can move about the zone over most of the mobs.  However, there is an unassailable mob flying around the zone that will knock you out of the sky as it passes by.  When that happens you’re down in the mud and cutting your way through the locals.  So sometimes it is better to just take the horse and let the locals look on as you pass.

Can touch me on this mount!

The quests are fairly standard.  EQII does a reasonable job marking where you need to go on the mini-map, though I sometimes feel that has released the quest writers from ever feeling the need to give you a hint as to where you might need to go.  There were a few quests that involved scouting a location that was deep in a cave complex, but the only hint you got was a blue mark on the map.

And, of course, there are the usual comical oddities that come with quests and interacting with the locals.

So there are two of you now?

The zone started out a little bit below me in level.  But that was fine as it let me get back into the swing of things without having to worry too much about fighting and correct use of my combat skills.  I wasn’t one-shotting things with auto-attack, but mobs went down pretty quickly.  As I went further though, the mobs started to catch up a bit in level.  But I leveled up as well, so the experience wasn’t too bad.

As I got to the last quest hub, Alivan, I got the achievement for exploring the zone.

Been there achievement

I don’t know what it is about achievements in EQII, but they don’t motivate me the way they do in WoW, or even Rift.  I don’t know why that is.  Maybe it is because they showed up so late in the life of the game that I don’t think about them.  I am always happy when I get an achievement in WoW, even the dumb ones, but in EQII my response is always a bit of a blank look.

Of course, in WoW achievements lead to things like unlocking flying, so maybe that helps.  I am not sure.

At Alivan the quest chain ends and you are essentially done with the zone.  You get a thank you from a big dragon and you’re set.

A job done, if not well done or done well

There is, however, that flight point Aliva.  It only has one stop, and that is Skyshrine: City of Dracur.

Having no other plans, I headed off for there.  Arriving, I found it to be one of those confusing mixes when it comes to difficulty that seems to be a specialty of EQII.

The main area itself is a hub in the midst of three city segments, each populated by heroic encounters.  Those, according to the help, are supposed to be set for groups of three players.  And, sure enough, after picking up some quests and wandering out into the city, I found those encounters to be difficult enough that if I got adds I was pretty much dead.

However, EQII has a solution when you need a small group, which is good because I saw nobody else in the zone the whole time I was there. (Probably not surprising for a zone from 2011.)  The solution are mercenaries.  I had forgotten about those until I died a couple of times and was pondering what to do.  I had a mystic for a mercenary who happily buffs and heals me when he is called up, not to mention kicking the crap out of any mob that looks at me sideways.

Me and my merc

But I didn’t always need him for heroic encounters.  There is a whole series of time travel quests, which I quite enjoyed, that send you off to various instanced bits of content, which is full of heroic encounters that I could easily handle solo.  So I dismissed my mercenary, if only to give the mobs half a chance and save the 20g every 30 minutes price.

There is an overly complex method of determining the difficulty of a mob that has to do with its level, whether or not it is flagged heroic, and the decorations around its name where the thickness of the frame, the barbs, and the up arrows all indicate… something.  More is more difficult, and the mob having a name is am additive as well.

Given all that, the level 100 heroic dragon mob in the screen shot above, which is named, has three up arrows, and a barbed frame thick enough to use as a sewer pipe, ought to be pretty tough.  Certainly tougher than the one in the screen shot below.

Looking on at Ovalis… also, the Halloween event turned my weapon into a shovel, of which I approve

Ovalis there is only level 98 after all, which made him my level at the time.  He looks more on par to this other named dragon, which I did solo without a blink. (Though, admittedly, he only has two up arrows, so he is easy according to the guide.)

Another named dragon… so many

However, the first dragon, which was early in the quest chain, went down so fast I barely had time to get that screen shot, while Ovalis was a different story altogether.

Ovalis is at the end of the quest chain and might be, for all I know, the last mob before you’re done.  I don’t know because I couldn’t finish him.  He was in an instance of heroic encounters that I was able to mow down solo.  But when I got to him he didn’t have much problem taking me out.  So I got out my mercenary and took another run at him, but he took the two of us out about as easily as he did just me.

It turns out that Ovalis is actually a boss fight, unlike all of the other named heroic, graphically festooned mobs I had run across up until then.  There is a run down of his fight on the wiki, but I wasn’t able to get through it on a few tries, so I started looking around at how to up my game.

I figured out that mercenaries can now be leveled up, which opens up equipment slots on them.  So I blew about two thirds of my hoarded Station Cash… Daybreak is probably tickled pink that I finally spent some of it after all these years… and boosted my merc up to level 10.

I then went off and crafted a full set of level appropriate armor for him.  Sigwerd is an armor smith, and I had be harvesting along the way, so that was easy enough.  I also managed to get his armor smithing skill to level 100 while I did that.

There were some other open slots for my mercenary, but those seemed to be for level 100 items, so were out of reach for me.   But otherwise as well equipped as I could make him, I headed back out to the Withered Lands and Skyshrine: City of Dracur, taking the various flight points and horse runs, to get back to Ovalis in order to challenge him once again.

And after all of that I was defeat yet again, just as easily as before.

So I am just shy of finishing the Withered Lands.  There isn’t much else to do in the zone, so I am off to find the next zone to try.  There is currently a boost to experience on the server, so I would like to get Sigwerd to level 100.

But overall the Withered Lands gave me a good solid chunk of content, which is all I am asking for really.

3 thoughts on “Through the Withered Lands

  1. bhagpuss

    Withered Lands is a solid zone for questing and story. It was also the point at which SOE decided to start dividing levels up into 20% segments so that we went from a Level Cap of 90 in the previous expansion to a cap of 92 and yet those two levels still took as long to do as ten. They kept that up for a while, with the next cap going to 95 and the one after that (if I’m remembering correctly) to 100. I don’t think they did a step at 98 but I might be wrong…

    After that they stopped at 100 for a bit and then went back to the traditional 10 level jump for the 2017 expansion. I’m assuming we’ll stay there for this year’s too.

    I was surprised at first that you were having even the slightest difficulty with anythng in Withered Lands or Skyshrine because the Yun Zi gear you got would make you godlike there. Then I realized you are still in the 90s! So you can’t have equipped anything you got from Yun Zi’s little pal. When you do hit 100, if you go back and “buy” (for zero copper) all the gear you earned on the nostalgia trip you’re going to see a jump in power of orders of magnitude.

    Until then, though, you are definitely in the right place. You are also hitting the point where SOE began to take soloing very seriously. It’s not as consistent back in 2011 content as it is now but there is an increasing trend to make multiple versions of content specifically for solo, duo and full groups. Skyshrine itself is what they used to call a “contested” dungeon, aka what we used to call “a dungeon”, where you are, in theory, competing with other groups for the spawns.

    As you saw, though, that would very much be “in theory” these days in content that old. The mobs will be designed for full groups at the then-max level, which was 92, so they might be fairly tough in parts. There are three duo instances in Skyfire and you and a merc count as a duo. Those are fun and you can get a Tradeskill apprentice in one of them, which might come in handy since you are crafting.

    Without looking it up I can’t recall exactly what followed Withered Lands but it might have been Cobalt Scar, which is an excellent zone both visually and for story. I think that one was designed for Level 95 solo, with plenty of heroic nameds in the mix here and there too. All of those zones are part of the lengthy Velious period, after which I think we went to The Ethernere, where everything is an older zone with a color wash (looks beautiful). There’s a heck of a lot of solo storyline and questing to go. I backtracked on a lot of it, having not bought the expansions as they were released due to being mostly invested in GW2 for a few years, and thoroughly enjoyed most of it. I did spread it out over a couple of years though…

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  2. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Bhagpuss – Sigwerd is 99 now and I am hoping to get him to 100 this week, then he can go get that summer gear.

    I did like the one time travel missions that sent you back to the Ocean of Tears to group up with what was obviously a nod to an EverQuest XP group.

    I started poking into Cobalt Scar, then realized that I had done some of it already. Need to figure out where I left off.

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  3. Telwyn

    An interesting point about achievements in EQ2, I equally haven’t felt them to be that impactful – I don’t go chasing them in this game. In part the basic nature of the UI doesn’t help – that could really do with some modernising (make it easy to get to the achievement you’ve earned recently and to actually open the details of it, also a search would be useful!)…

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