Tag Archives: EverQuest II 15th Anniversary

Level 105 Fever in the Plane of Magic

I re-subbed to the Daybreak All Access pass for the EverQuest II 15th anniversary events, as I did back in March for the EverQuest 20th anniversary.  This started off with chasing some dragons, as I mentioned last week.

Dragon in the Loping Plains

There are four dragons and they are not hard to find.  They spawn in a rotation by the travel spires in four zones.  You can follow them through their cycle going from Thundering Steppes to Everfrost to Nektulos Forest to Loping Plains.  I think that is the order.  I just go where the crowd goes.  There are some interesting drops and an achievement and special mount form if you slay all four dragons.

Spires Defended

Achievement reward

I did that with the character I consider my main, Sigwerd, a level 100 berserker on the Skyfire server.  Then I got out my level 100 paladin on the same server and did it again.

Dragon in Nektulos Forest

And then I did it yet again with a level 100 berserker, Reynaldo on the Hands of Fate server, who is still knocking around in the Revelry & Honor guild.  It was a bit tougher with him as I have never bothered to get him a mercenary, and not having your own pet healer means taking care.  Still, I managed it with him.

I have another level 100 character sitting around, a Shadowknight who was one of my level 100 boosted characters… Sigward is the only one who leveled up to 100, and I seem to recall boosting him to 85 back in the day… but I wasn’t sure how much commitment I really had to him.

And I was wondering how to use some of the nice drops I got from the dragon event.  Bhagpuss has a post that shows the dragon form mount.  They were all flagged for level 110 players and my highest group there is all level 100.  I wanted to get somebody to level 110.

The easiest way to do that would be another boost.  And since you get a level 110 boost with the base Blood of Luclin expansion pre-order at basically the same price as a boost out of the cash shop, I figured I might as well grab the expansion.

So there was now a level 110 boost in my /claim items.  However, in buying the expansion I also unlocked all of the previous expansions.  I do not remember the last time I bought an expansion, but now I had everything live on the server.  So I decided to see if I could just level up to 110 via content rather than using the boost right away.

Of course, as I always say when I come back to EverQuest II, the game is pretty bad at telling you where to go or what to do in order to get started at whatever level you left off at.  I had been doing something in the Vesspyr Isles previously with Sigwerd, but I recalled it being very slow.  He was barely 5% into level 100 and I knew he had done a series of quests there already.  I was not keen to go back, so I looked around at what else was available.

There was Myrist, The Great Library on my map, but that said it was for level 110 players.  Next to it, however, was the Plane of Magic.  That said level 100, which seemed good enough for me, so I gave that a shot.  I took the spires there and was in.

When you wander into the Plane of Magic you have to pick a faction to work with.  Each espouses a specific philosophy, but I chose House Vahla pretty much at random.  They had a nice gold trimmed platform.

Turning in a quest on their platform

The first couple of quests boosted me up to level 101 pretty quickly.  It was one of those deals where you have to earn enough status with the faction in order to unlock further quests, so I repeated the first two a few times.  Soon I was level 102.  Clearly these were decent quests.  I had read somewhere that Daybreak chose to emphasize questing for leveling up.  While I had the membership boost, the vitality boost (blue bar in EQII land), and a pre-expansion experience boost going, slaying mobs didn’t move the experience bar at all, no matter how hard I hit things.

Hitting things repeatedly

The damage I do seems to throw out crazy random numbers.  And EQII does not suffer from a lack of combat skills, so I just mash a bunch of buttons and things die.

Getting around wasn’t too bad either.  EQII has embraced flying and my berserker had a mount from a special event from way back, so I just glided over the terrain, dropping on my targets when I needed to.

Swooping by a waterfall

But it is the quests that boosted me along.  It wasn’t a long time before I had made it to level 105.

Half way to 110

After that the quest experience started to slow down some.  But I am going to try and carry on a bit and see if I cannot get to 110 on my own before the Blood of Luclin expansion hits.  It might be something to actually be lined up at the right level for an expansion when it drops.  Of course, we’ll see if I can actually figure out where to go when it does drop.  Daybreak still isn’t very good at that.

Addendum:  I carried on after I wrote this and made it to level 107.  I had to use the Orb of Concentrated Memories, an item usable once every seven days that restores you exp vitality.

The guild log shows me leveling up

Now I’ll have to see if I can make those last three levels before the bonus exp runs out.

EverQuest II at Fifteen and the Memories of What Could Have Been

I am sure I’ve told this tale before… probably several times… but playing EverQuest II back at launch was really a last minute decision for me.  Meclin… or Gaff… or Rarik…  or whatever I call him these days… Tim I guess… with whom I had played Sojourn/TorilMUD on and off for the previous decade, was suddenly taken with the idea of playing EverQuest II.

An ad for EQII from the August 2004 issue of Computer Gaming World

I hadn’t really been paying attention.  I’d stopped playing EverQuest for a variety of reasons, gave my account to a friend who still played and was doing some multi-boxing (they never changed the password, so I checked back on that account and found all my chars deleted), and basically played single player games or online match-based games like Delta Force and Battlefield 1942.  I knew some people who played EQ or DAoC, but I wasn’t interested.  I had neither the time nor the inclination.

TorilMUD revived itself, after having gone missing for a stretch, in early 2003 which got some of the people I knew back together.  I dove back into that and for one last stretch it became my main game.  But after getting to level cap and getting into a guild and doing zones regularly, word started to get around about EverQuest II.

There was a strong tie between TorilMUD and EQ, with TorilMUD having been the home of a number of EQ devs, including Brad McQuaid, and having served as the basic template for EQ.  A lot of early EQ, from classes to the death mechanics, were rooted in TorilMUD.

So with an new EverQuest coming, it was natural for people to be looking into it.  Not me however, I wasn’t feeling any sort of itch.  Tim though, he was listening to the reports on the new game.  He even passed me a write up somebody had done in beta.  He wanted to get in on the new game, and all the more so since he missed out on early EverQuest.  So a bunch of people from our guild… him and Chandigar and Pril and Oteb and a few others… got on board with playing EverQuest II at launch.

Or almost at launch.

We didn’t get there for the first round of servers.  But the team at SOE had a plan for launch that included bringing new servers online as the current ones filled up.  So we joined in with the launch of the Crushbone server on November 13, 2004, fifteen years ago today.

My earliest screen shot of EQ2 – Nov. 14, 2004

We got in, got through the Isle of Refuge, made it to town, and eventually formed a guild the next day.

Our guild on Crushbone

The guild was a mix of TorilMUD players and some EverQuest players that included a friend of Tim’s.  We all joined together and became the Knights of the Cataclysm.

The EverQuest II lore is based on a cataclysm, the breaking of the moon that rained down debris on Norrath, sundered the lands, broke up continents, reworked the landscape, and basically provided a way to start from scratch to a certain extent.

The game, heir to EverQuest, the reigning champion of the fantasy MMORPG genre with more than 550K subscribers, was expected to carry on the tradition of the original.  The headline of the review by Jeff Green in CGW was The Once and Future King!

Unfortunately, cataclysm proved to be something of an apt metaphor for the game.  There was a lot wrong with it at launch.  For openers, the systems requirements were way too high, something that prevented much of the EQ base from even considering migrating to the new game.  And that migration was clearly central to the plan at SOE.

There were also a myriad of bad assumptions, bad features, and last minute changes… the game was already a year or so “late” so the need to launch seemed to be driving much of the process at that point… that hamstrung the game.

Some of it was self-inflicted.  There has long been the tale about how the EQII team felt they had to steer away from the original game and create their own lore.  Crafting, which had been its own class during the beta, because a sub-class for players, though retained the same advancement structure.  What it also retained was an overburden of complexity and interdependence between the professions.

Adventuring classes had the odd archetype system, where you chose fighter, rogue, cleric, or mage up front, then specialized at level 10, then again at level 20, at which point you were finally at your final class.  But there were really too many classes and too many races and not enough character slots (just 4).

Grouping was pretty much required if you wanted any sort of smooth ride while leveling.  Some zones were locked behind group quests, though only if you wanted to go there before a given level.  Afterwards you could just walk in.  And somebody at SOE had given too much ear to people complaining about twinking in the forums, so a lot of spells could only be cast on groups members, others had pitifully short duration, and some spells combined both.  Gone were the days of casting Spirit of the Wolf on grateful lowbies.

And then there were the core issues, like zones.  The market was moving towards the seamless world idea, but EQII still had you zoning.  And there wasn’t even the illusion of a single world as with EQ.  The place was chopped up into disconnected areas that you visited via a portal or a bell.  I am sure that some problems were solved with this approach, but it left the game feeling less like a world.

Add in the graphics, which were not bad if you had a rig that could display them, though the color scheme tended towards muddy, but when you did crank them up went a little too far into the uncanny valley when it came to characters, and the seeds of discontent had been sown.

Meanwhile the gaming market itself had changed.  When EverQuest launched in March of 1999 there were other MMORPGs, but they were pretty different.  Ultima Online had its isometric 3rd person perspective.  Meridian 59 was all about PvP.  When Asheron’s Call showed up it had a different advancement philosophy.  These were all distinctively different titles.

By late 2004 more games had appeared in the genre.  Dark Age of Camelot talked about being like EverQuest with PVP but without the “suck.”  There was already news coverage for other competing titles.  Guild Wars was in the offing.  Brad McQuaid had already left SOE with some of the original EverQuest crew and Vanguard: Saga of Heroes was vying for the successor to Norrath title.  And, of course, there was that title from Blizzard that was getting lots of coverage.

And so the cataclysm metaphor seemed apt.

Not that it was all bad.  The game’s housing system, and how well integrated it was to the game, including a trade profession dedicated to building furniture, still stands apart from any other MMORPG I have played.  Its free form decorating and the ability to hang trophies from your adventures on your wall, as well as being your in-game store front, worked very well.

As a group, as a guild, we stayed mostly pretty dedicated to the game for almost a year.  But we were something of the exception rather than the rule.  People who did not feel at home in the new world often went back to EverQuest.

But in a couple of weeks after we first logged in World of Warcraft launched, and a lot of people who didn’t go back to EverQuest moved on to WoW instead.

SOE knew they were in trouble pretty quickly after WoW launched, and the game started changing to adapt.  We got little quills and books over quest givers, the EQII version of the big yellow exclamation mark and question mark in Azeroth.  Trade skills got revamped.  We got offline selling.  The emphasis on grouping being a requirement after level 20 or so was relaxed somewhat.  A lot of those group encounters in the Thundering Steppes were made solo encounters.  Buffs got saner timers.  Travel was tinkered with.

Meanwhile, the SOE mania with more content lest we all leave… EQ was well into its “two expansions a year” era… meant that an expansion popped up before some of us were at level cap.

Within a few months people started to fade away.  On guild coms people were pining for Vanguard, which they were now sure would be the real EQ successor.  I went off and tried WoW. came back for a while, then a large portion of the TorilMUD faction in our guild went to WoW together, settling on the Eldre’Thalas server where I still play some of the characters I rolled up back then.

And now here we are, fifteen years down the road, and the game is still there.

As their splash screen proudly declares… though that is the original EverQuest box art

It has been updated, changed, and re-arranged over the years often, but not always, improving the game.  It still gets a new expansion every year, which is a lot more than many games in the genre get.  People still pine for an alternate universe where WoW never launched, but I don’t think that would have made the game any more popular.  It was a mess at launch, but has matured over time, so that the game today plays differently than it did way back when… though there are too many damn skills still.

Oddly, I think the fact that the game has changed so much, mostly for the better, is one of the reasons that the whole progression server idea isn’t nearly as popular for EQII as it is for EQ.

In EQ the old locations mostly look about the same.  Okay, they updated Freeport, but Qeynos and Faydwer still look as crappy as they did back in 1999.  Even if the progression server isn’t a pure 1999 experience, you can squint your eyes and pretend and mostly feel the nostalgia burn.

But EQII?  How the hell does Daybreak even begin to simulate the chaos and dysfunction that was early EQII?  So much has changed that there is no going back to 2004.  There simply aren’t enough free resources at Daybreak to re-create the original game.

Dragon Found in the Thundering Steppes

As I mentioned yesterday, as part of the EverQuest II 15th anniversary there is a dragon event going on.  Daybreak isn’t always good about indicating where events are taking place or how to join in, but this time the description seemed simple enough; dragons are attacking the spires in four zones.  I just had to go to one of four locations and I should be good.

Still, it took me a bit.  As I cycled through the locations I mostly found an absence of people.  Once I found a dead dragon, but everybody had left.  Finally I returned to the Thundering Steppes spires and saw that there were two instances of the zone up.  Of course, I picked the wrong one first.  But after I swapped to the right version of the zone I saw a huge lineup of people waiting.  This must be the place.

They have to be here for something

And sure enough not too long later a dragon appeared.

A dragon arises

I even managed to survive the encounter, which was not assured given that my guy is ten levels under the level cap.

lots of debuffs on that dragon

I had to back off a few times to let my mercenary heal me up.  But I put in enough effort to get the reward.

Goodies

The rewards are mostly for level 110 players as well.  But I will stow them away, as I have done with so much other stuff in EQII over the years.  Maybe some day.

Fifteen Years of EverQuest II

Fifteen years ago EverQuest II went live.  I think the official date was some time yesterday, but like many things about the early history of the game, there are conflicting views.  Wikipedia puts the date as today. Holly too.  But others say yesterday. Either way, it was fifteen years old by the time this post went live.

As their splash screen proudly declares

My own fifteen year anniversary with the game doesn’t hit until Tuesday, at which point there will be a post about my experiences with the events of the time.  I came in with the second wave of servers, starting on the long since merged into memory Crushbone server.  SOE had a plan back then.  They were not going to have the same problems then did with the EverQuest launch five years before.

And they were correct on that point.  This game’s problems would be different.

There are celebrations, with a Dragon Attack event that runs until December 5th and the Heroes Festival, which goes until the 19th.  There is a news post about those with details.

There is also a 15th anniversary celebration bundle for sale.  When you’re free to play you always have to keep selling things.  It includes a number of goodies, including a birthday cake cutting picture you can hang in your house.

Celebrating 15 years

I haven’t decided if I am going to join in.  While I still have some enthusiasm for the game somewhere inside of me, it isn’t quite the same as EverQuest hitting 20 earlier this year.

Plus, if I am honest, I am still invested in WoW Classic at the moment, and WoW has its own 15 year anniversary coming up soon.

Still, I cannot let the date pass without notice.

Happy 15th Anniversary EverQuest II!

Daybreak Ready to Launch Special Servers for EverQuest II Anniversary

We are into November and it is time for EverQuest II to start kicking off its 15th anniversary.  First up on the list are new special rules servers!

As their anniversary splash screen proudly declares

On the EverQuest II side of the house, the Rivervale server, set to launch today.  Rivervale was the home town of the halflings back in the original EverQuest and a strange sub-zone in the Enchanted Lands in EverQuest II.  It still houses halflings, and the old Fool’s Gold, but it is also home to a lot of demons as well as hosting the bee and bixie dungeon, the Tower of Drafling.  I remember spending a lot of time in a group with Rarik in that zone.

The Fool’s Gold still stands… somebody scrubbed off the sign I guess

The new Rivervale server will be a “Live Heroic Server,” which is an all new name, so I’ll just quote Daybreak from the FAQ as to what that means:

Any new character on a heroic server is granted a level boost bauble that will enable them to jump directly into some of the more recent content, boosting to level 95 with a gear set that will set you on your path in the Phantom Seas (released in 2014’s Altar of Malice expansion).

So it sounds like if you join in you’ll be able to jump straight into the content that went live around the game’s 10th anniversary.  I wonder if that was planned?

Otherwise content on the server will be the same as on a live server, which means if you own the latest expansion, last year’s Chaos Descending expansion, you will be able to play right through into that.

As with other such special servers, you will not be able to transfer on or off of the server and, of course, you will need to have a Daybreak All Access subscription in order to play on it.

Also, as a bit of a late update yesterday, it was announced that the Rivervale server would be a “free trade” server.  The FAQ was poor about indicating what that actually means, but fortunately they did a such a server previously.  The Isle of Refuge server, launched back in 2016, was also a free trade server.  You can read what I wrote about it back then, but the upshot is in this quote:

Isle of Refuge is what we call a “Free Trade Server.” This means that almost all items can be traded freely between players. There are a few exceptions – Heirloom items purchased via a merchant or in the marketplace, granted from repeatable quests, or received via /claims will remain Heirloom.

So that will be it.  Most everything that you might think of as “bind on pick up” on this server will be “bind on equip” and tradeable, to sully this conversation by using WoW terminology.

Meanwhile, older sibling EverQuest, which turned 20 back in March, is also opening up a special server today to help celebrate the EverQuest II anniversary.

The Miragul server, named for the lich of Everfrost, is billed as a “Heroic Progression Server.”

According to the FAQ that means that new characters will start at level 85 with gear, spells, and AA points.  Content will be unlocked up through the 2010 House of Thule expansion, after which later expansions will be unlocked based on whether or not they include an increase in the level cap.  Expansions that do will be held for three months, while those without an increase will be active for two months.

It is also a “true box” server, which means that the client will try to keep you from multi-boxing your way through things.  And, as always, a Daybreak All Access subscription is required to roll up a character on the server and you cannot transfer characters from other servers to this server.

And so the anniversary celebration begins.

Both servers are slated to go live at noon Pacific Time today, but we know how that goes.  Still, they will probably be up and running before you’re done with dinner this evening.

Addendum:

Daybreak Sketches Out some EverQuest II Anniversary Celebration Plans and Other Items

Destined to remain ever in the shadow of World of Warcraft, EverQuest II has its fifteenth anniversary coming up in November, just a few weeks before WoW celebrates the same milestone.

Oddly monochromatic logo, but sure

Daybreak published a Producer’s letter for both EverQuest titles yesterday which give some details, and more hints, at what to expect from the coming anniversary.

The EverQuest update says that the senior title, which turned 20 earlier this year, will celebrate the EQII milestone with the launch of a new progression server.  Go figure.

This will be a new style of server, with players starting as level 85 heroic characters… nice to use a mechanic that is already in place… and content through the House of Thule expansion unlocked, with further expansions unlocking every 2-3 months.  The details are not set yet, so there will be further updates as the plans mature.

The EverQuest II update offers both more and less when it comes to anniversary celebration details.

A progression server for EQII is also planned, also featuring players starting off with level 85 heroic characters, with content unlocked through the Chaos Descending expansion.

There are also mentions of completely new server-wide event on live servers, including a dragon themed event that will reward players with something never before seen in the game.  As before, more details will be made available as the events draw closer.

The Producer’s letters for both games also reference the coming expansions for each game.  While no names or themes were mentioned, both will see a increase in level cap, boosting the top level in EverQuest to 115 and in EverQuest II to 120.  As is customary, the current expansions for both games are now available for a discounted price.

There was also a mention of in-game bonuses for the coming US Labor Day holiday, and a reminder that the next update for EverQuest II, which includes the annual summer panda event, will land on August 27th.

August 27th is also the official opening date for WoW Classic, so in a way history continues to repeat itself.

Finally, there is also a poll linked in both producer’s letter related to a possible EverQuest oriented player event, possibly for next year.

Addendum: The latest episode of The EverQuest Show has some extra screen shots from the next EverQuest expansion which they have posted to their site if you want to examine them for clues as to what to expect.

Also on this topic, Inventory Full has a post up about both producer’s letters.

And Massively OP has their own update on the letters.