Final Notes as I Move on from EverQuest II Yet Again

As has become obvious to any regular reader, my time with EverQuest II has fallen by the wayside with the coming of the LOTRO Legendary server.

It isn’t quite correct to say that the latter drove out the former.  Instead, the story is pretty much as it always tends to be with EQII, where I find a path, play it through, and then am left wandering about, looking for a new path, which the game tries to hide from me.

In this case, I hit level 100, finished out the zone I had been running, and was offered several paths forward by the game.  I wrote a post musing about why Battle for Azeroth has levels, and I think EQII made a case for every expansion having a boost to the level cap.

Gating content is reason enough, even if the levels are not that much of a hurdle.  Since EQII hasn’t raised the cap much of late, my hitting level 100 yielded three in-game mail messages inviting me to come experience some content.

One proposed to send me to an alternate version of Zek, though the transportation method wasn’t all that encouraging.

Is there room for my horse in there?

There I encountered a rogue orc priest and then the Zek triplets, Rallos, Tallon, and Vallon, who discussed the nature of things over my dying body.

Les Triplettes de Zek

I ran that alternate version of Zek for a bit before getting hung up on a quest with prerequisites that needed me to go elsewhere.

I spent some time chasing down the Words of Pure Magic quest in order to learn the Druzaic language, which I needed for some reason I cannot recall.  Along the way doing that I managed to pick up the Hierophant’s Crook, one of the early heritage quests.

I am not a crook

I also ran into Firiona Vie.  Despite not being a staple of the cover art for EverQuest II expansions, she is apparently in the timeline.  I probably knew that already, but I have forgotten so much over the years.

Posing with Firiona

And then she died, which was awkward for all concerned.

Look, I was just following orders…

I understand that she is better now, but it was a moment.

And then at some point I ended up in the Vespyr Isles and started doing some quests there and simply ran out of steam.

I thought that perhaps I should change things up and decided to roll a new character.  I was surprised that I even had any character slots left.  The idea behind the new character was to explore some of the old zones from the early game and maybe write up something about them, the way I did with Thundering Steppes way back in the day.  Was that really eleven years ago?

Of course, nothing evokes nostalgia like a completely out of date welcome to the game.

Welcome to EverQuest II

The funny thing is that the graphic there makes me think this was updated around the Echoes of Faydwer time frame.  Even then, three years into the game, it would have been tough to call the experience entirely new.  And fourteen years into the journey?  Forget about it.

I did, however, try to run through a new character, doing the Isle of Refuge and then launching into Qeynos.

Arriving in Qeynos Harbor

But it wasn’t sticking with me.  I found it a bit difficult to get around Qeynos, in part because of the semi-regular bell reorganization plan.

What do you mean the bell “moved?”

And in part because I was used to going through some of the sub-divisions, the racial ghettos like Greystone Yard, to get to some of the early zones.  This was not helped by some of the quests still referencing a layout of Qeynos that is only one of memory.

The destination map

Eventually I figured it out and visited a few key points.

Somebody will get this reference

But I wasn’t feeling it and let it slip.  I got myself wrapped up in writing two more TorilMUD posts, one of which will go live this week, and then came LOTRO Legendary to fill the void left by my tiring of Norrath once again.

So another autumnal venture into EverQuest II draws to a close.  My interest has slackened and awaits once again the siren’s song of nostalgia.

That is not how this works

Maybe next time around I’ll get a bit further past level 100.

5 thoughts on “Final Notes as I Move on from EverQuest II Yet Again

  1. bhagpuss

    You lasted longer than I thought you would! It’s kind of a shame because the content from the last five years or so is in many ways hugely superior to the first decade, not only visulally, where it might as well be a different game entirely, but also in terms of coherence and direction. While there’s the same pleasure as there ever was in just wandering around and taking on whatever challenges happen to fall in your path, if you want a much more directed and story-led experience you can’t really do better than open the wiki and follow the very detailed, linear walkthroughs found under the Timeline sections.

    The game itself makes little concession these days to anyone looking to play purely on the basis of information found inside it. You generally get a letter or two at the start of each expansion and then you’re on your own. There was also a trend from around the time SOE sold out to DBG to the Kunark Rising expansion when they seemed to be trying to persuade people to re-visit a lot of older content, like the Words of Pure Magic quest, the Proof of the Pudding crafting epic and any number of obscure languages and factions. That was popualr with some but annoyed many more and the trend now seems to be heading firmly in the opposite direction. The current expansion must have the least pre-requisites and the smoothest introduction of any DBG have done and quite possibly of any EQ2 expansion ever.

    As I sort of suggested in my own post today, I do wonder whether there might not be a better path ahead for EQ2 if this really is the last expansion. If you look at how FFXI has progressed since it went into maintenance mode you can see a hint of the possibilities for an older game. If there was no more upward climbing perhaps such limited resources as remained could be directed towards tidying up and streamlining what we already have – which is, after all, at least the equivalent of ten full-priced video games-worth of content.

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  2. bhagpuss

    @Chris DuMelle – It is interesting how WoW has managed to update graphically as it goes along, though. In 2004, providing you had a machine that could do it justice, EQ2 was hugely superior to WoW and was marketed on its graphics as much as anything. Unfortunately, the lower-level zones in EQ2 haven’t changed at all since then and that’s a problem.

    The higher level zones look completely different. EQ2 underwent a visual step-change about five years ago and all the zones made since then look very good indeed. They don’t match games using much more modern engines but they look a LOT better than the screenshots above. Unfortunately, there’s a decade’s worth of zones that still look very out-of-date and there’s never been any kind of attempt to revamp them graphically (except for Freeport, which was changed a long time back) and probably never will be. Those are the zones you’ll see if you start from Level 1 and play your character up, which you’ll be doing if you play as a F2P player, which is probably another reason DBG would really like everyone to start in the current expansion or the one before it.

    That said, the old zones have a lot more to offer visually than comes out in screenshots. The dungeons and underground areas like the Freeport sewers and Qeynos catacombs, which were in the game at launch, still drip with atmosphere. The original open world zones, though, tend towards the bland, visually, particularly in the very flat textures and the overuse of dull colors and way too much fog.

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  3. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Chris DuMelle – The quality of screen shots out of EQII can be poor, and especially since I am working with a recent install and haven’t gone back in through the myriad options to change the quality settings which default to very high compression. So the shots where I was trying to grab a small part of the screen, like Firiona Vie, look particularly bad.

    But, as Bhagpuss noted, the old zones are also pretty muddy and bland when it comes to the landscape. I don’t think you get to an interesting looking zone until Zek or Feerrott. Nek Forest has a very oppressive, claustrophobic atmosphere. But like a lot of the zones, it is made up of from the same mud and gray palette.

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