Level 100 in Norrath

It is always a bit of a problem for me in EverQuest II.  I find a zone that is about the right level that I can work though to the end… and then I am at the end and have to go someplace else.

The last time I checked in from Norrath I was wrapping up the Withered Lands.  I had finished the overland zone and had gone off to the instanced area, Skyshrine: City of Dracur.  There I had fell short of finishing up everything when faced with an ornery boss dragon, Ovilas.

Looking on at Ovalis

I couldn’t best him either solo or with a merc healing me, so it looked like I ought to find a new path in order to get to level 100.

I wasn’t badly equipped.  Sigwerd had made it up to level 70 when I took one of the occasional free boosts that Daybreak hands out and jumped him to level 95.  That boost came with a set of gear that was better than any drop I received over the length of the Withered Land and, aside from Ovilas there, I was able to face most foes solo.  Those that I could not solo were generally doable with a merc, though I did have to be careful not to pull half the zone.  I could still be swamped if I wasn’t at least a bit self-aware.

And so the search began.

This ought to be an easy thing.  You can Google the zones by level for EverQuest II and find a nice chart at one of the wikis.

But what is the right level and what you can handle and how you actually get there are always complications.  This is made more difficult by the fact that there is quite a bit of overlap when it comes to zones in a given level range.  95-100 covers several expansions worth of content, often gated by various quest lines and by levels of difficulty that can vary greatly.

For all the problems WoW has, knowing where to go generally isn’t one of them.  And, I suppose, this is another answer to the question about why their expansions have levels.  It doesn’t just gate, but also segregates content.

Anyway, in looking at that list on the Wiki I decided to hit the Tranquil Sea, only to find out when I got there that I had done a lot of the lead-in quests for the first part of the zone about two years back, when I had boosted Sigwerd to level 95.  He’d even made level 96 there.  But as to where to pick up after two years away, I was at a loss.

Feeling a bit optimistic, I then tried Zek: The Scourge Wastes, a re-use of the old Zek zone, one of my favorites back in the day.  It was listed as level 100 and it was on the list of locations available from the spires.  I was level 98, close enough right?  However, selecting that as a destination only informed me that I did not meet the requirements to enter the zone.  There is a quest to get there, and you can only get the quest after you hit 100.

Then there was another zone on the list… the name of which has already escape my brain… that seemed about right but you needed to learn the language of dragons which was a quest from the old days which involved a dungeon in Lavastorm and a quest chain that I looked into and then gave up on pretty quickly.

And then there was Cobalt Scar, where I started early on, gave up on, then returned to after the other paths did not seem so fruitful.  I think the problem was that I took the spires to the zone, and that drops you in one end of the zone, but not the end where any quests lines start.

Cobalt Scar on the map

This was not helped by the fact that apparently at some point I visited and started up one of the quest chains, so the camp part way into the zone that seemed like an obvious place to start… was not at all a place where I could start.  Eventually I got that sorted out as I found where I had left off, which was with the otter-like Othmir down on the beach.

Osh and Nika of the Othmir

The Othmir quest line carries on down the shore, dealing with the usual collections quests and a hostile walrus-like people encroaching on their turf, but then takes a dark turn as you are sent on down the beach into what becomes the Othmir version of The Walking Dead.

Zombie otter people attacking the otter people

There is a fairly sizeable set of quests where you help the surviving and besieged Othmir fortify their outpost them investigate what is going on, which involves travel through both time and space.  At one point I was sent off to another zone and somehow totally lost the thread of the story and ended up in the Tower of Frozen Shadow, which is in the Great Divide zone, which happens to be, for the most part, much lower level than what I was looking for.

Tower of Frozen Shadow

Game for anything that would get me along to level 100, I went into the tower, grabbed the inevitable quest, and became a bit lost.  I went to look up information about the zone and ended up with the walk-through for the original EverQuest version of the tower, which told me to go kill the big undead gnoll.  This actually turned out to be correct for the EverQuest II version of the tower as there was indeed a gnoll guarding the mirror that serves as a gateway into the rest of the tower.  The problem was that the gnoll was epic.  No, really.  All the mobs in the zone are.

Not the gnoll, but the same warning

Again I have run into the problem of being able to tell what I ought to be able to kill and what I should avoid.  Ovalis, up at the top, slaughtered my merc and I, so I was a bit concerned that this guy might wipe the floor with us, named Epic 2 full group raid mob that he was.

But it was no problem.  My merc and I killed him handily, no problem at all, barely an inconvenience.  So I carried on with the quest… until it required me to take on a whole room of such mobs.  That was a bit too much even for the merc and I, even when the merc was able to ress me mid-fight for a second run.

This is too epic

Thus thwarted, I turned back from the tower and began to look in earnest for the Othmir undead story thread I had lost.  Eventually I found it, got back to Cobalt Scar, from whence I was sent off to the Eastern Wastes, another zone in the Destiny of Velious expansion, to run down some quests at the Othmir camp on the beach.  There I met the leader of the Othmir.

King of the cute

They live alongside, and are constantly battling with, a race called the Yha-lei, which I can only describe as what murloc would look like if they lived in Norrath.

You know what you are

I did the Lore and Legend quest for them, the trophy for which is a trident described as “Glubble Bluggle Blurggle Bluggle Glubble.”  If that isn’t a straight knock-off of murlocs then I don’t know what is.  Unless they were in the EverQuest Scars of Velious expansion, we know where these came ceom.

Again, after being side-tracked for a bit with that I got back on the story thread, ended up back in Cobalt Scar, and seemed to wrap up the whole zombie Othmir quest chain… though the zombies seemed to still be swarming.  I guess that is how it always ends up.  But there was a quest chain out of there which sent me to a remote camp which, in turn, eventually sent me off to the New Combine fort where the spires dropped me when I entered the zone and into a series of quests that were almost at level for me.  At last!

Following those along for a stretch got me through level 99 and to the magic number.

Level 100 at last

At that point I finished up the quests I had opened and headed off to Yun Zi and his vendor assistant to pick up the level 100 equipment set that was available for characters level 100 and above who had completed the 2017 Days of Summer quest line.

While, as I said, the level 95 gear I got with the boost two years back was pretty good, this new set was a serious boost in stats.  I took before/after screen shots just to see how much of a boost it was.

Upper stats old vs. new

lower stats old vs. new

Aside from my shield block percentage, everything went up by a huge amount.

So, of course I made my way back to the Withered Lands to test all this gear on Ovalis, who had so soundly defeated me before.  Things went a bit differently this time.

Calling all crazy damage numbers!  Boom! Headshot!

He was no problem now.

Of course, I had just rushed into the instance to slay him, forgetting to pick up the mid-point quests so I could complete the zone.  But at least I had made it to level 100.

Which naturally left me once again looking for my next path forward in Norrath.

8 thoughts on “Level 100 in Norrath

  1. Mailvaltar

    I don’t know about Everquest, but in EQII Yha-lei were a thing since Rise of Kunark back in 2007 or whatever it was.
    Which is not to say that they aren’t a murloc knock-off, they probably are.

    That power creep though. ^^
    My Warlock is at level 91 right now, and I’m facing a bit of a problem with content scaled to level, for example those Halloween haunted houses. Most of his gear he got during the high eighties, but when a character is level 90+ the game seems to assume he should be much better equipped by now. I really had a hard time doing the haunted houses and Hedge Hollow with him.
    My level 73 Bruiser on the other hand one-shots everything with his auto-attack there.

    I do love that EQII is a bit sandbox-like and there never is a definite answer to a question like ‘where should I go at level x’, but these huge bumps in power at a specific level are fairly detrimental to that.

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  2. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Mailvaltar – Well, I always think that Blizz took the whole EverQuest idea for WoW, so SOE has a free pass on a bit of steal. Still, of all the things to steal, I am not sure murlocs would top the list.

    There is probably a whole blog post lurking out there in how using multiple methods to gate content… we see levels, gear, and owning the expansion here, and I haven’t even done ascension yet… can lead to unintended consequences.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Shintar

    That was a very entertaining tale of adventure and confusion. Though if I read this as an EQ2 dev, I think I would want to cry a little at just how confusing the game apparently is to a returning player even when he’s really trying, consulting wikis etc.

    Also, what does it even mean to have 800% crit chance? Do all your attacks auto-crit eight times in a row?

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  4. SynCaine

    Those stats are so dumb, both from a starting perspective and the fact that the new set made you 10x or whatever stronger. If someone made a parody of MMO scaling and used that as the numbers, people would say they pushed the joke too far and its not remotely realistic.

    The post is also a good reflection of how dumb such a huge power swing is on game balance. The same general level mob is either a one-shot or impossible, just depending on when it was added to the game. Long-term, it creates the disaster that you wrote about, where the player really has no clue how strong anything is, and whether they will be challenged doing ‘at level’ content or not. Total mess.

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  5. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    I do love that screen shot where I slay Ovalis with one shot, boosted by multi-attack and flurry or whatever, so I am laying down something like 90 million damage on him. That is comedy after not being able to take him on previously.

    @Shintar – I think at some point a while back Daybreak decided it could only afford to cater to its own installed base and seems to have no real plan or path to bring anybody new into the game. I don’t know what you would think as a new player or how you would figure some of this out without friends to point out the way. Even blogging about it my best source, Bhagpuss, is at a loss at times to explain some of the new things like ascension in the game.

    @SynCaine – Stats got way out of hand pretty early in the life of the game. There is a silly chart that gives you the base attributes of each race in the game, but gear piles on so many increases that deciding on a race that starts with a strength of 12 or 22 doesn’t really matter. All strengths and weaknesses are ironed out by gear, so races are just skins really.

    I think by the third expansion, Kingdom of Sky, base stats and attributes had lost all meaning independent of gear. There used to be the concept of weight in the game. One of the things it did was keep you from using storage boxes, which were meant to be used in your bank slots, as bags in you inventory. To even move a few boxes from the broker to the bank or your house meant walking in slow motion. People would see you and know the story. And then, a few expansions in, stats exploded so much that if you geared up you could use boxes as bags and not be hindered at all, your strength having grown from 18 to a few thousand. So they got rid of weight because it was literally just punishing new players.

    And there is never going to be a stat squish. Daybreak doesn’t have the bandwidth for that sort of housekeeping. They already push out a lot more content with a small team than Blizzard manages with 5-8 times the staff. (WoW has 250+ working on it full time, so I hope that the combined Norrath team at least has 50 shared across EQ and EQII.) So when Daybreak makes a mistake or takes a chance there isn’t a lot of time for them to go back and fix things. The next expansion has to pretty much just boost everything and carry on, gating the content some way, no matter what came before.

    Which isn’t to say there aren’t a lot of good things about the game. Back and playing for over a month regularly while still poking at WoW means I have a post brewing (again) about what the game does well and what it does poorly.

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  6. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    Oh, and I was reading about the Planes of Prophecy expansion, last year’s release which I picked up during the half-price sale last month. It says I need a potency stat of 32,000% in order to be viable in the expansion. All this wunder gear only got me to 10,000%, though I see that there is some item from the Days of Summer that will help with that. I just hadn’t purchased it because I didn’t understand what it did and the description wasn’t very helpful. So put that on the list.

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  7. Mailvaltar

    @ Shintar: at over 100% crit chance you always do normal crits and get an ever increasing chance for “legendary crits”, “fabled crits” and “mythical crits”, which do even more damage.
    It’s bonkers, yes. :-)

    Liked by 1 person

  8. bhagpuss

    Just back from vacation and reading through several hundred blog posts/news items so slightly late on reply…

    EQ2 power creep is beyond insane. SynCaine has a point about the absurdity but everything you say about it is true – they haven’t got the resouces to address it even if they wanted to – but they don’t want to anyway, because – again as you say – they are only interested in keeping their installed playerbase and fairly recent returnees happy and those people *love* big numbers.

    If you end up playing on for a while you’ll end up having to do some proper research into both what stats you need to do what content and into how the many nested newer stat/power systems interlock. I winged it for ages and it was fine so long as I stuck to the solo Signature questlines in expansions that I was playing through in the oreder they were released (or played a lot of alts). Once I eventually caught up with current content and started on the traditional MMORPG gameplay of doing content to progress my main character in terms of powerfulness, however, I had to stop and do a lot of reading. Then a lot of staring at gear and augments and infusions and deity options and who knows what…

    http://eq2library.com/ is the place to go if you get to that stage but there’s still a lot of trial and error and thinking it out even from there. I quite enjoy it – it’s the diametric opposite of GW2 where nothing ever really changes and you can pretty much muddle along with whatever random gear you happen to find in a dumpster.

    At 110 I think, from memory, my Berserker now has around 16-18m HPs and about 2000% crit chance. I forget his potency but it’s a lot more than 32k. It took a bit of work before the latest round of Yun Zi stuff but that made a big difference. There’s no level rise in Chaos Descending so I’m not sure what’s going to happen to stats there but it’s a sure bet the numbers will go up again…

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