I posted last week about making it up to level 125, the new level cap, in the Visions of Vetrovia expansion for EverQuest II.
I did that with Sigwerd, my barbarian berserker, who is generally my main character in EQII, the first one I send into things and the one I do most things with.
A berserker is a plate wearing warrior and, while the class was ostensibly about DPS at one time, the lines between berserkers and guardians are not as firmly drawn as they once were. A berserker can tank, and has some defensive skills, but not as well as a guardian, and a guardian can dish out damage, but not as well as a berserker.
With his plate armor and his mercenary in tow, Sigwerd did not have a much trouble climbing the five levels to the cap.
The mercenary is important. I don’t think I am overstating the facts when I say that having a mercenary is pretty much required to solo the overland expansion content these days. In fact, you need a mercenary, a mount, and a familiar, the latter two having stats that improve your abilities. But we’ll get to that.
Sigwerd’s mercenary is a mystic, whose main role is heals, buffs, wards, and the occasional bit of damage. He can also ress, which can be handy if things go wrong. But things went well for the run to level cap, with Sig out front slaying and his mercenary, Nevis Yewkus, tagging along, keeping Sig healed and happy.
The run was a bit chaotic, as my first run through any EQII content tends to be. I am half relearning how things work and where things are… this was probably the last fantasy MMORPG to launch before WoW set some standards that most titles have chosen to follow since… and trying to remember which combat skills cause the biggest numbers to flash on the screen.
In that run I somehow lost the thread of the adventure signature quest, but got to the level cap all the same.
Sigwerd also managed to get to the tradeskill level cap following the tradeskill signature quest line, though he hit the cap and stopped literally two quests before the end and its final big reward. We’ll get to that later as well.
But, having made it once without running into any insurmountable roadblocks, I decided to send a second character through to the cap.
I chose Nehru, a templar, which is the classic plate wearing clerical healer class in EQII. He is also a copy of my first EQII character, Nomu. I copied him to the Freeport during the EverQuest II Extended era, the test run for free to play, when SOE was allowing you to make such copies for a pretty reasonable price.
He is essentially a branch from Nomu and, while he couldn’t bring all his bank and house contents to the new server (probably a blessing), he still has all the skills and reputation and whatever that I had earned on Nome. When I put in /played I get my original character creation date.
That is proof of the 500 hours played from my post the other day, though some of that was because back at launch, in order to sell from your house, you had to be logged in. So I would log him into the game in the morning then go to work, leaving him to sell all day. That will inflate your play time a bit.
Anyway, he traveled out to the expansion, got him self all the gear out of the chest so that he was set to go, and headed out into the content so recently run by Sigwerd.
But out in the new content Nehru struggled and died a few times right off the bat.
Like Sigwerd, he has a mercenary, but his is a paladin. The pally is supposed to hold aggro, heal itself now and then, throw a few buffs, and do a bit of DPS, but the main goal is to keep mobs off the caster.
Of course, part of that was remembering how to play another class with a different mercenary dynamic than the berserker. I managed to get better with keeping the pally healed. The target forwarding works well for that. I just keep him targeted and he gets any heals I cast, but the DPS is passed along to the mob he has targeted. It can be a bit annoying when he changes targets, but I gather than is to make sure he is holding aggro. Still, I do end up in fights with six mobs and end up burning them all down in parallel rather than one by one.
That worked, though I was still spending a lot of time healing. Fortunately, stat inflation has made mana pretty much inexhaustible at this point in the game’s life, but it still takes time to cast and that is time I’m not burning down mobs.
And then I took a look at my mercenary and was reminded that they have gear sets as well, and he was wearing whatever gear I had put on him back during Blood of Luclin. The same was true for Sigwerd, but since he was geared up and tanking, it wasn’t nearly as noticeable.
Fortunately, I had a solution to hand.
Sigwerd’s tradeskill is armoring, which crafts both player and mercenary armor. And, in a flash of sanity, the EQII team made all mercenaries wear the same type of armor, so it was easy to find which set to craft. At least once I had the recipes. But there is an NPC in town for that. I bought all the basic books for the expansion, which were now unlocked for me, plus some books I had missed previously, padding out my total recipe list. But the mercenary armor was easy to find.
So it was back to the guild hall to craft. As I have said before, having the guild hall is a boon and I open it up every time I play for a stretch. The harvesting NPCs make sure there are enough raw materials, so I was able to bang out a set for Nehru, another for Sigwerd, and then a couple more for other characters that I will likely level up as well.
That made a pretty big difference for Nehru, and he was able to carry on through to the level cap for both adventure and tradeskills. Getting the 20% veteran’s bonus for having a character already at both caps, he was done sooner in the quest chains than Sigwerd was, but I decided to carry on to the end of the tradeskill signature quest line to see what the final reward was.
That was when I found out how short of the end I had stopped, so I ended up going back to finish it up with Sigwerd as well. There is some more crafting and a werewolf that gets shot with a ballista.
And then there is more gathering and a few more things to craft, including a final item that has a special set of six counters, as opposed to the usual three plus three, which boost either speed or durability.
I normally craft with my left hand on the 1, 2, and 3 keys and just use the durability counters, but now I had to respond with six and, as you might suspect, I only have five fingers, so I blew the first attempt trying to figure out how I should respond.
Worse, when you blow it, you can’t just start over. When you try it shows you’re missing all the ingredients you had previously crafted. Fortunately, they are all in a container in your inventory, but I thought I was going to have to start over again.
For the second, and subsequent, attempts, I just used the cursor to click on the appropriate counter icon. If you miss even once you lose half durability, and twice fails, so I wasn’t ready to trust my hand-eye coordination on a new system. Better just to click.
And I succeeded. That sends you back to the start of the expansion to turn in the quest line for the final reward, which includes a new mount.
And here we get into why I’ll be doing this with any alt I level up. Mounts, as I mentioned above, also have stats and the stat comparison between my current mount, from Blood of Luclin, and the new mount, is rather striking.
Some of the stats don’t seem to change much, but things like Ability Mod, which I seem to recall being one of the critical stats de jour, jumps from 586K to 3.1 million whatevers. There is also a pretty substantial boost to the health pool, while resolve, another stat that was important at some point, is almost doubled.
So it was time to swap mounts. The new mounts are, in my opinion, quite ugly, being a pteradon carrying your character in its claws, but the dev team saw fit to provide us with a cosmetic slot for mounts, so I can stick with the look I prefer.
So that is two characters to the level cap and upgraded. Nehru is also an alchemist, which means that he makes skill upgrades for warriors, so I put him to work in the guild hall making journeyman upgrades for Sigwerd as well as my next character into the expansion, Vikund the paladin.
Meanwhile, Sigwerd should probably look into finishing the adventure signature quest line, which might be a bit easier with an updated mercenary, mount, and skills.