Getting Side Tracked on the way to 110 in Norrath

I carried on for a bit in the Plane of Magic in EverQuest II.  I made it through the faction quest line I was working on and dug into the signature quest line for the zone, making it into the Coliseum of Valor.

Hob nobbing with the deities of Norrath

I managed to make it to level 108 as part of that.

Another level further along

I even managed to collect enough status along the way to boost the guild up a level.

I don’t think we get anything until 50

It has been a few years since that happened.  I think we got to level 40 back in 2010 during my attempt to bring the instance group to the game.

After that it was into the Plane of Innovation where things… really slowed down.  Not the drip of experience, which was already almost non-existent for mobs, but the pace at which I could slay them.  I was able to slay them, despite being level 100 heroic groups.

That guys was worth an achievement

With a mercenary along to keep me healed and my gear level I was in no danger of dying.  But it was taking a long time to kill encounters.  Heroic groups were running past 5 minutes per fight and that Ancient Clockwork Prototype was a 25 minute bout.  That is a long time to be mashing buttons… and in EQII you have a ton of buttons to mash.  I have four hot key bars up in my UI, three to keep essential combat related skills and another for utility items I use often, and I know I am missing a bunch of skill.  I am just glad that when you die the game retains all of the “until cancelled” buffs you cast on yourself.  I’d need another hot bar for that list.

Anyway, with fights starting to run that long I began to think that perhaps my DPS was not up to snuff.  As I said, my defenses seem to be fine, so it was time to look into things to make me hit harder.

First up was skill upgrades.  I think I have mentioned before the complexity of EQII skills.  When you gain a skill, or a skill upgrade, it comes in at apprentice level.  You can upgrade that to journeyman level via trade skills, adept via random skill drops, expert from trade skills using rare components, master from rare chest drops, grandmaster via an every 10 levels, pick one skill, alternate advancement mechanism, and ancient via rare raid drops.  There is a whole thing on the wiki about this.

You can also train them up via a time learning mechanism akin to EVE Online skill training, which at level 100+ takes about 16 to 20 days to go from apprentice to journeyman.  But  if you want to spend money you can buy Station Cash and level those up instantly.

Upgrades, wait or pay

I opted to wait given the current price of Daybreak Cash.

Daybreak Cash Prices

With my subscription discount and buying Daybreak Cash at its cheapest per unit price, that instance upgrade to just journeyman would run about $78.  And, while I would take a journeyman upgrade, I really wanted something a bit better.

That is because, as you might expect, every step up the upgrade ladder makes a skill noticeably better.  You can even get in situations where a level VI version of a skill at grandmaster is much better than the level VII version at apprentice.  The game tries to work around that by doing a compare when you earn a new skill and leaving the old one on your hot bar if it is better.  But if you later upgrade the new one you have to go and audit your hot bar to make sure you have the right one.

And if you have boosted your character up levels… well.  Sigwerd got past level 60 on his own, then boosted to 90 and has gone from there to 108.  Along the way some of the skills in his hot bars have fallen behind.  So I went through and fixed all of that.

Then I started shopping for upgrades on the market.  But the prices for adepts for level 100+ skills are insane.  Sigwerd has about 50K platinum, making him my wealthiest character.  Inflation got him that money through the market.  But inflation means he could piss that all away quickly on the adept upgrades for his skill, which run from 2.5K to 10K platinum each.

Few people seemed to be making journeyman skills, and those that were on the market were even more expensive than adept skills.

The prices of a Frenzy VI upgrade

I went to my alchemist, but he is only level 92 in that trade, so I need to level him up there.  And even then there is the question of getting the recipes which require a signature quest run.

So I did what I could there then started fishing elsewhere.

I went through my alternate advancement trees to see if there was anything I could boost there.

I looked at gear, but my stuff from the Days of Summer quest last year was still better than anything on the market, along with the upgrades to that I had gotten in the Plane of Magic.

At one point I was looking through my claimable items… those have piled up over the last 15 years… and found a mount that had better stats than my own, so swapped to that and started upgrading it.  I also claimed a companion pet I had in there that also gave me a stats boost.  And I bought a familiar… which is also a pet of sorts that also gives you stats, so I am not sure what the difference is, other than that familiars are “collectable” and have seasons and cost Daybreak Cash.  I got a slug.  But it was a slug that gave me a stats boost.

While in the claims window I also ran across some other, older, unclaimed items I found a token worth a five ascension level boost.  Somewhere in the back of my mind I recalled something about ascension levels and it being something of an alternate alternate advancement path.  So I figured I ought to track that down.

Now we get into one of my gripes about EQII.  I am sitting in something close to the current content, running one expansion back in Planes of Prophecy.  But ascension levels came in with Kunark Ascending, the expansion before that.  In order to unlock access to ascension levels, I need to run down a signature quest in that expansion.  But to get that quest I need to go back to the expansion before that, Terrors of Thalumbra, and run through a signature quest there to unlock the trigger to get the quest that will get me into the zone, Obulus Frontier, that has the NPC that will give me the quest that will unlock ascension levels.  That quest chain actually starts on the Isle of Mara, which sends me around a bit to other zones.  Then it is finally off to Thalumbra, which you have to do a quest to access, and where I need to work on my faction with the local in order to get the next quest that will lead to the further quest.

Thalumbra is underground

So I ran through that, getting side tracked along the way to unlock access to trade skill recipes so I could craft beyond level 100, since that was only another six quest chain and I was down there anyway.

Eventually I get into Obulus Frontier, but it is late in the evening so I figure I will pick this up the next day and recall home to sell stuff in my bloated inventory and put stuff up for sale on the market.  In my inventory is a bunch of stuff from the Days of Summer 2019 quest event, which was still running, and which I ran across by accident when I ended up in the Sundered Frontier on one leg of one of the quests to get access to Obulus Frontier, so of course I stopped and ran those.  Now I have a full set of level 110 gear to wear if and when I make it to level 110.  So I had to put that in the bank.

Of course, the next day I had to figure out how to get back.  The wiki says there is a way to get there from Thalumbra, so I go to Greater Faydark, take the gnomish transport device, and fly around to the spot where I can get in.

Me, my companion, and my familiar

However, it won’t let me in.  I have not done the quest that opens up the access from Thalumbra to Obulus Frontier, because of course I haven’t.  So I go to Kunark and find my way through to the portal that will get me to the zone and I go in and I find the mob that will give me the quest that will finally unlock ascension levels… and I get this.

Say what?

As it turns out, I do not speak her language because, as you might be able to guess at this point, I have not done the quest that will teach me the language that lets me speak to her to get the quest that will unlock ascension levels and one voice in the back of my head is shouting, “Are you fucking kidding me?” while another is just sighing and saying, “Or course there is another quest.”

So I ran off to find that quest.  And I know that won’t be the last quest.  I took a moment to fly off to the person who actually ends up training you in your ascension class and they were surrounded by hostile guards, which likely means I will need to do some more quests to raise my faction sufficiently to get through the guards and converse with the trainer.

I am not upset about this trail of events.  That I spent three late evening running through all of this and am still going is an indication that I am invested.  But as a solution to my original problem, that fights were taking a long time, it seems to be something of a bust.  I don’t know if this will actually solve the problem and, more pertinently, if I had just put up with the long fights I would have easily been done and through and on to the next thing and probably level 109 with the same investment of time.

And if I had spent that same amount of time running some of the repeatable, faction earning side quests in the Plane of Magic I would undoubtedly be level 110 by now, my original goal.

Such is life with EverQuest II.  If you haven’t kept up, catching up can be a long process.  And I have had no shame in this using the wiki, pasting in way points, and just taking the direct route to things.  I cannot imagine figuring this out without simply giving up and embracing out of game information.

It has also been something of an interesting dive into an attitude or two that has changed at Daybreak on the Norrath team.  There was a era when they were very big on marking quest locations or areas on the map when you had then up on your tracker.  There were blue dots and shaded blue areas where you could expect to find the relevant NPC or mobs for the quest.  They have apparently given up on this completely with the last expansion or two.  Why spend time on that when there is always the wiki I guess.

The quest for level 110 continues.

5 thoughts on “Getting Side Tracked on the way to 110 in Norrath

  1. bhagpuss

    They didn’t so much give up on the quest markers as make an active choice to stop using them. It was a minor version of Blizzard’s decision to take flying away in new zones. The stated reason was that they wanted people to go out and explore the new expansion zones, not just run blindly to a colored spot on the map. They do still put the markers on for some of the new holiday events when they add them, so I think the given reason was probably true, although I’m sure having one less thing to do during expansion crunch didn’t hurt.

    On buying your way out of trouble, which used to be a very valid option, EQII has been suffering from rampant inflation for years. Unfortunately the current Dragon event has made it a hundred times worse… something you can turn to your advantage. If you can get a Mythical mount item with Doublestrike or Potency on it you can sell it for hundreds of thousands – or even millions – right now. I got 300k for one the other night, on the same day I posted it. I could probably have got half a million. Also adepts and Masters are dropping in that event and some of those are still pretty valuable.

    As for the slow kill times and the apparent ramping up of difficulty, I’ve had this conversation with several people over the past couple of years, on my blog and other peoples’. Plane of Innovation is a particular point where people seem to notice the slowdown – I certainly did on my first run through. Gear certainly does have a great deal to do with it. The problem is that gearing up in EQII these days is ferociously complicated – really insanely so. I have spent many, many hours reading up on details that I would never have noticed in-game, which turn out to be crucial. I couldn’t even begin to summarize it – it’s a solid evening’s research just to get the basics down.

    There are still great sections of whole systems I’m fuzzy on, Ascension being one of them. The Ascension abilities are very powerful but there are an overwhelming number of them. Once you get to the 110-level Panda giveaways you can take tomes that level two Ascension classes to 15, one to 11 and one to 5. That’s a heck of a lot of new spells to learn. Also, although Ascension abilities are extremely powerful, they have slow casts and long cooldowns. They’re great in boss fights but they aren’t going to help a lot on wading through slow trash.

    It’s a bit late to mention this now but I don’t think you needed to do any of the pre-reqs for Ascension. You definitely don’t have to talk to four separate NPCs to start each of the classes. There’s a single NPC in Coliseum of Valor who handles them all. And once you do get your Ascension classes, be very wary of online sources about how they work – the (ludicrously overcomplicated) system was radically revised for the last expansion. All you have to do now is regular content that gives xp and your selected Ascension class will level in the same way as your adventure class. (Although I notice the current Dragon event doesn’t give Ascension xp even though it does give regular and AA – but maybe that’s only for characters under 100…)

    Honestly, the whole thing is so ferociously complex now they could realy do with wiping the slate clean and starting over. I play pretty regularly and I do plenty of research but I’m all too aware there’s still a ton of stuff I don’t understand. I’d go into the bits I do know but it would run to thousands of words of explanation. In the end, though, apart from a few sluggish spots, of which PoI is definitely one, I found that just doing the solo content in front of me was fine for leveling. It was mostly when I hit the cap that I started reading stuff up, which was when I found out I was operating at about 80-90% below the benchmark!

    Blood of Luclin will be a gear reset, of course. We could probably do with one.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. everwake

    I actually just wrote a short blog post in part about how overwhelming EQ2 is to come back to. I opened up the eq2 wiki and I literally don’t even know where to begin.

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  3. Dorath

    Not too long ago, having become irritated with EVE, I decided to take a bit of a break, drop a subscription, and take a look at EQ2 and Guild Wars 2. Both games I’ve enjoyed previously.

    Looking into the gear situation for EQ2 was like trying to see through a brick wall. I don’t know anyone from the olden days who’s still playing, so without anyone to ask I just couldn’t see myself figuring it out in an enjoyable timeframe. I’ve really enjoyed the EQ-verse lore in the past, but I had no idea where to start looking for the next bit of story/expansion quests to tackle. I’d like to get back into EQ2 for a bit, but it really seems like they’re doing their damnedest to outdo EVE in the that old learning curve graph where bulldozers are pushing the bodies of EVE players off a cliff.

    GW2 looked like it has gotten a bit more complicated but it also seemed to be manageable. They also had a very clear story progression, and it was easy to find. So GW2 got my money and I’ve really been enjoying it. The kids have been enjoying it too, they’ve got characters leveled up to eight without really fighting, just walking around exploring.

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  4. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Dorath – For whatever reason GW2 has never worked for me. I don’t know why. I’ve take a couple runs at it, but I always lose interest pretty quickly. There is just something missing there to hook me. With EQ2 at least I have some past investment in, and for all my grousing, and I am far from done with that, it does send me on missions that fulfill something a desire to accomplish things within me.

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  5. Dorath

    @Wilhelm – I totally get where you’re coming from. While I can’t remember exactly when I stopped playing previously, I do recall that I simply ran out of interesting things to do. It was some time before the first expansion. Since the time I stopped playing they’ve added quite a bit of stuff I’m interested in. More story mainly, which is a nice goal for me. They’ve also expanded classes sideways in a way that doesn’t seem too overwhelming, and advancing down one of those paths is another nice goal for me to pursue.

    EQ2 though, I’ve got a couple 90s and an 85. The siren song is real. There was a lot of raiding back in the day and I’ve got a lot of good memories. The kids are obsessed with finding “houses” in GW2; anything with cover that looks cool to them can be their house. When I mention this to the wife (who also played EQ2) we always chat briefly about EQ2 housing and how amazing it is/was.

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