I mentioned previously that, on something of a whim, I bought the latest EverQuest II expansion, Visions of Vetrovia. That was probably because there was a boost in the level cap, from 120 to 125, and I enjoy the level progress game at times.
I opted for the cheapest version of the expansion as I don’t really need any of the extras. I have a couple of level 120 character boosts just sitting in my /claim queue, so there wasn’t much I wanted besides access to the content.
Anyway, I bought it, jumped in on the first day, which wasn’t difficult. Despite the run up event with its ship and crew hanging about around Mara, getting to the expansion was just a matter of using one of the travel points. It is just there on the map for everyone. You don’t even have to use the special subscriber-only travel map.
Opening night it was a popular place, spawning five versions of the starting zone.
That is a decent amount, though given the rather insular nature of the remaining EQII fan base, that was also probably most every active account on the server piling into the new content… though I will say, even this past weekend in prime time the Skyfire server still had two versions of the first zone running.
I spent my first bit of time getting outfitted from the chest that is on the ground at the start of every EQII expansion these days.
I needed the gear because the last expansion I played into was Blood of Luclin, skipping the Reign of Shadows follow on, so my stuff was out of date. I find it to be a somewhat finicky process, claiming all the gear I need from a chest with the vendor UI. I try to sort it out in my bag as I go, then when I have it all, I go through and swap with the items I am wearing, until I think I have it all… and then I check and find I have missed some slot or another. It takes more time than it probably should, but EQII characters have a lot of gear slots.
Then, I must admit, I did not do much. December saw me busy with other titles, as my month in review post shows. EverQuest II was fifth on the list, so did not get much attention.
However, as we rolled into January and I played out enough Forza Horizon and Stellaris and EVE Online, I ended up looking for something to get into, so it was time to go back to the expansion.
It was probably a good thing too. Waiting allowed for some updates and fixes and for the bulk of players to work their way deeper into the expansion. So last week, over the course of a few nights, I toddled along the main adventure quest line and the crafting signature quest line in a somewhat parallel fashion… and hit the new level cap in fairly short order. The adventure level cap landed first.
I managed to get there in the second zone of the expansion, the Karuupa Jungle.
There are only four zones in the expansion, which are:
- Svarni Expanse
- Karuupa Jungle
- Mahngavi Wastes
- Forlorn Gist
But if you’re going to hit the level cap mid-way into the second zone, then you probably don’t need a half a dozen zones.
The signature quest for tradeskills took me into the Mahngavi Wastes… on the back of a raptor of sorts.
And it was there that I hit the crafting level cap.
That happened with an NPC that was right on the doorstep of the fourth zone, the Forlorn Gist, so I have at least been into all four zones of the expansion.
So how was it?
I am once again a bit bemused by the meta in EverQuest II, mostly because I come from a much older generation of players in the game. Quests are now the only way you can advance your levels, either for adventuring or crafting. I know, it has been this way for a while and I have mentioned it before, but I think it bears some repeating, if only as a reminder as to where the game stands.
Basically, you can grind mobs or craft items all day and maybe, if you worked really hard, get a single percentage of progress. The exp given is so tiny relative to the amount required to level… and the amount quests hand out for completion… that killing mobs is really something to be avoided if you can.
Seriously, they barely drop anything ever out in the world, they don’t give you any viable amount of exp, and there aren’t even any more lore & legend quests to make them worthwhile. This is multiplied by the fact that all mob groups are level 125 or up, so they are annoyingly difficult even when you hit the level cap, so your desire to avoid them is going to be strong.
Mobs in the game are either quest objectives or barriers to make you work to get to a quest objective. Once you unlock flying in a zone… and it unlocks per zone based on being sent to the next zone for one of the signature quests so far as I can tell… you will bypass all mobs that you can.
Also, because they are level 125 and up from the start, your early encounters will flirt with the risk of death if you don’t pay attention or draw some adds. I did not have too much trouble with my berserker, but I suspect my squishier classes might not be so handy.
Also, the damage numbers remain insane.
I realize that a numbers squish is a luxury that games like World of Warcraft can afford, but I do wonder if, as a rando in handout gear in an overland zone, I will be hitting into the billions by the next expansion. (I expect raiders already are.)
The quest chains were decent, though not so memorable that I could tell you the story after having played through once. I spent some time making stuff for a little girl and her dad on the crafting quest line. My paying attention to the story is hamstrung a bit by my 34″ monitor, as all the text on screen is so tiny that I am more likely than ever to just skip past it.
The crafting quest chain did require a fair bit of harvesting, and you have to cough up a few rares in order to complete it. I managed to harvest everything save for some pteradon meat, which I ended up buying off of the market… though the price was quite shocking.
But, again, I come from an era where getting your first platinum coin was a big freaking deal. Now prices are… much higher.
Also, as a complete aside, I received what might be the first useful thing from the Overseer quests ever. I don’t know if this came in with the expansion or was always there, but I finally got it.
Of course, if you have already leveled up all your mounts, this probably doesn’t matter. But I needed it.
Then there are the zones, which vary quite a bit.
The opening zones, the Svarni Expanse, is a coastal savanna which feels like a number of other zones in the game. The look, the mobs, the quests, the resources to harvest, all feel like I’ve seen them before. That isn’t necessarily bad, but it isn’t a standout either.
The second zone, the Karuupa Jungle, is easily the best looking in the expansion. The splash screen for the expansion, which I have at the top of the post, is from there, a lush green jungle with dinosaurs roaming about.
That is kind of an open area, but the colors and the shading and the beasts all stand out as top notch for the game.
You do, in fact, get to ride a dinosaur, even if you don’t track down the mount unlock somewhere in the end game.
Not quite as cool as a raptor, but still kind of cool.
I did not spend very much time in the final two zones.
The Mahngavi Wastes is purple and brown and foggy. That raptor ride further up the post gives you a sense of the color scheme.
And then there is the Forlorn Gist, which is a zone, but not a very big one. It is a haunted town of some sort… I spent very little time there, just taking the ride from one end to the other on the ghost mount travel network.
I expect that this zone is the focus of the end game content, though there is instanced dungeon content in all of the zones so far as I could tell.
So the question sort of becomes “What do I do now?”
EverQuest II expansions are a bit of a double edged sword for me. I jump in and buy one to play now and then largely because I know there will be that chest at the start of the zone that will gear me up so I can play. But, that knowledge also means that I am not exactly motivated to grind for better gear because come the next expansion there will be that chest again.
I am also not much of a chaser of achievements in EQII. For whatever reason the achievement system in the game doesn’t spark anything in me.
But I do like leveling up alts. That is probably my next move, to run through the content again with a couple more characters that are already at 120. And, of course, with each one that gets to the new cap, the path gets a little easier.
We’ll see how many quests I need to look up a few characters in. Maybe I will know the story by heart then.