Daily Archives: January 8, 2020

Gearing up for the Moon

In which I run on about gear just for the sheer joy of doing so.

EverQuest II is a bit of an outlier MMORPG.  If nothing else, it was perhaps the last such game to launch into a world where World of Warcraft wasn’t live and taking over the genre.  Both EQII and WoW were children of EverQuest, but even launching in the same month in 2004 they ended up very different beasts indeed.

My working theory is that the WoW team, despite being game devs, took what they loved about playing EverQuest and tried to improve it while the EQII team, with their insider perspective, tried to solve a lot of what they saw as problems with EverQuest, including things people were complaining about on the forums.

So while EQII has been influenced by WoW at times, it has always been grounded in a pre-WoW sensibility that has set it apart for better or worse.  And it has, over time, developed its own set of standard mechanics, like the box of equipment at the start of each expansion.

WoW and EQII are both big on gear, but EQII drove that obsession to 11 from day one, with way more gear slots, way more stats, and almost a phobia about letting people use the same bit of gear for too long.

Currently EQII has 21 gear slots for your character.

Paladin Slot Count

I am not counting the food and drink slots nor the quiver slot for your ranged ammo container. (Food and drink are very different than in WoW too, following the TorilMUD to EverQuest to EQII tradition of you needing to always have some to hand.)

Compare that to WoW… and I’ll do WoW Classic and WoW retail, both with paladins to maintain a paladin specific matrix I guess… and you will see that WoW Classic has 19 gear slots, while somewhere along the old relic slot went away, so retail WoW only has 18 gear slots.

WoW Classic and WoW retail paladins

Furthermore, two of those WoW gear slots, the shirt and the tabard, are purely cosmetic, so I am going to say that they don’t really count.  So we’re really talking 17 and 16 slots.

And in WoW, or at least in WoW Classic, you get introduced to that gear fairly slowly.  My characters, now in the low 30s in old Azeroth, finally all have hats.  One so far has a necklace, and nobody has trinkets yet.

In EQII you can find and equip gear for all those slots from level 1 forward.  The various crafting professions can make anywhere from two to half a dozen choices for each gear slot I would estimate, while the weapon slot has a lot more options.

And don’t even get me started about stats.  That was simple back in the day, but unlike WoW, EQII has never felt the need for a stat squish so the numbers just keep growing while the range of stats expand.  And then there adornments, while are slots in the gear that you can use to upgrade an item.

A modest item, stat-wise, and an orange adornment

And I won’t even bother with reforging, which lets you tinker with the stats on your gear, as I am completely unqualified to even boggle at that.

On top of all of that, in EQII you pretty much have swap out every single piece of equipment you’re wearing every ten levels.  At one point they put in a mechanism that basically made any equipped gear worthless to wear if it was more than ten levels below your current level.  I think that was put in to drive the trade skill market… believe me, there is a whole post coming about trade skills here… and might have been pulled out later on when the company decided they needed to hand out gear.

WoW gates content behind levels and gear as well.  But when you roll into a new WoW expansion you just do a few quests and you get enough gear upgrades to make you viable in the new content and allows you to progress and earn more.

But EQII these days… I’ve never had an MMORPG simply hand me so much gear.

Some of it, like the summer Panda gear, is behind a few simple quests.  But most of it is just on a box on the ground by the first quest giver you run into in an expansion.  And in that box is something for every damn slot.

The box o gear on the Plane of Magic

That isn’t a set of “this is all you’ll ever need gear” either.  You still get a stream of upgrades as you run quests.  I was replacing items within minutes of getting that gear.  Rather it seems to be an admission that gating content gating based on gear hasn’t always worked out for them. I recall Rise of Kunark being a trial because the beta test was mostly raiders in peak gear so all the solo starter content was tuned for them.  So, rather than fret about that they toss a box of gear on the ground behind that first quest giver.  And it has been a thing for a while.  I saw that same box in the Planes of Prophecy and in the Chaos Descending starting areas.

I didn’t need gear from either of those boxes because I had the summer Panda gear, but it was there if I did.  And, as my struggle to get to Luclin… the hard way, as it turned out… indicated, I might have been better off had I run through Chaos Descending for some better gear, though the easier answer was just to do the trade skill signature quest intro, which basically involves running down to the chemist for a pack of smokes, get access to Luclin, take the gear upgrades, then go do the intro quest for the adventure signature quest line.

Of course, once you have done either you not only have access for that character, you have access account-wide.  So now I have two characters at the level 120 cap, my paladin having gone through as well.  He still has some catching up to do on the trade skill front… he’s back in Planes of Prophecy for that… but that won’t take much time.  I’ve done that recently which, again, is another post in the making.

And then there is your mercenary, who also has slots for gear.  Because of course.  The slots get unlocked in a very EVE Online way, over time, like skill training.  Or you can pay for the unlocks with Daybreak cash, though the option is pretty expensive.

Still less time than a titan

To straight up buy the next rank would run me $15, which is a bit steep at this point.  I’ve been content to wait it out.

Mercs wear normal gear, but there is also mercenary specific gear.  In a stroke of good luck my first character to level 120 in both adventure and trade skills was an armorer who, it so happens, can make mercenary gear.  Or, at least gear for mercs who are level 100 and up.

Some merc gear items

I cannot make the accolades though.  Those are the ribbon items that are akin to stat boosters.  I am not sure who makes those yet.  But after Sigwerd made it through to 120, my follow on characters all have pretty well equipped mercenaries.

And then there are mounts, which got stats ages ago, but which got gear with the previous expansion, Chaos Descending.

My mount and its gear

Like mercs, mounts unlock gear slots over time.  I happened to get a few mount related gear drops as part of the dragon event that went on during the 15th anniversary celebration.  I was level 100 at the time and couldn’t use them, but on hitting 110 I had a few options.  Crafting them is apparently part of the Chaos Descending crafting timeline, an expansion I skipped over almost completely as there was no level cap increase… and I was able to gear up from the box on the ground on Luclin once I got there.  But I might have to go back and run through that just to get that as an option.  The good stuff is expensive.  More than I can afford to spend.

All of which is a whole lot to take in.  Believe me, it has been spinning around in my head at various points.  But it has taken 15 years and 16 expansions to pile on all of this, and some complexity isn’t a bad thing.  It is just another case of wondering how much this locks out anybody wandering into the game fresh versus veterans who have figured things out over the years as expansions have layered on change after change.

Otherwise there was no real point to this post other than to bring together a bunch of gear related items that have come to me as I have been back in EQII.