One of the weak points of a primarily quest driven MMORPG is pacing. If you are going to make quests the focus of you game, then they really ought to be tuned so that a player doesn’t out level them or find the quests growing in difficulty faster than they grow in power.
The former is the usual problem. As a development team adds more expansions and more levels they often want to help players “catch up” so that they can play in the new content. This is most easily done by simply reducing the amount of experience required to level up.
And so it is that in aging quest driven MMORPGs like World of Warcraft, Lord of the Rings Online, and EverQuest II, you can easily find yourself out leveling the quest lines… and whole zones if you’re not careful… as you try to follow the prescribed path through the game.
A couple summers back when I was shooting for the Loremaster achievement in WoW… an achievement as yet unachieved by me… part of my plan was to finish out the zones with a character of the appropriate level. This required me to run with three different characters due to the leveling too fast issue.
Once in a while though you run into the opposite problem. Such is the case on the Fallen Gate nostalgia server in EverQuest II. In order to give the server an old school feel the rate of leveling has been throttled back.
That isn’t necessarily a bad thing. As noted, EQII is an aging MMORPG where out-leveling the early content is comically easy on the live servers. Some throttling was required. But EQII isn’t EverQuest, where you can unmindfully move the experience gain slider and not change how people play the game.
In EQ you’re going to go grind mobs with a group at a spawn most likely. Quests, such as they are in the early EQ content, were all side quests and mostly deliver gear of some sort rather than experience.
In EverQuest II the way forward is via the ubiquitous quest hub.
Technically, EQII wasn’t always as quest oriented. Back at launch quests were more common than in its predecessor, but were still a bit hidden. There were no little quest feathers on your mini-map because the quest available markers floating over the heads of NPCs didn’t appear until after WoW launch with its now almost universally recognized exclamation point/question mark quest markers… and because EQII didn’t have a mini-map back then.
So for a few months in the early days you went out in a group to grind heroic mobs because the quest chains would only carry you so far.
That changed in 2005 as the team at SOE added more and more quests to the game to flesh out the zone experiences and accommodate those who expected to level up solo by doing quests. And then they reduced the experience table and we ended up with the situation on the live servers of having many more quests than you can possibly run at level.
This was somewhat addressed back in 2010 with New Halas and the Frostfang Sea zone with a series of interlocking quest chains that would bring a new player from character creation to level 20 in one smooth progression… a smooth progression only marred by its unfriendliness to groups and the occasional recurring reduction in the experience requirements.
Basically, designed to be smooth in 2010, still relatively smooth in 2017 on a live server.
On the Fallen Gate server however Daybreak has rolled the experience table back to what seems to be a pre-2010 level. It isn’t comically out of whack, but having skipped most of the Isle of Refuge (where the problem is apparent as well) the quest levels creeping further and further away from my level did start to become a burden, even with my completing the collection quests along the way.
Fortunately, if there is one thing that EQII does not lack for, it is low level content. As quests started to get three and four levels ahead of me… rewarding gear I couldn’t use yet due to level restrictions, gear that I really needed in order to handle quests that far ahead of me… I decided to take a detour to Qeynos and Antonica where one can unironically kill ten rats for a quest.
I didn’t head for Antonica first, as I was only level seven and that zone was really for level ten to twenty, but the mini zones that are part of Qeynos proper. Or I hit those once I could find them. Back in the day they used to be connected to the various racial ghettos of Qeynos. I spent a lot of time in Graystone Yard because that was the home of Dwarves and Barbarians, a zone that also held the entrance to Oakmyst Forest.
But they closed off all of those ghettos and so I was running around for a bit trying to recall how to get into those zones. If Quasimodo had been about, he would have reminded me about the key to getting around Qeynos; The bells!
So I pottered about those zones, which was a bit of an “Oh yeah, I remember this…” time, perfectly fit for nostalgia, before venturing out to the plains of Antonica to slay some of the wildlife out there.
Some time there put me back on track for the Frostfang Sea, so I returned there to pick up where I left off. The gear that you get as quest rewards is good both in stats and from a cosmetic angle, so I was keen to carry on there… as were many others it seems.
There it was all about thwarting orcs, because orcs are orcs and fill the generic bad guy role so often. I think there might be room in Norrath to make orcs a third faction playable race given how ubiquitous they are. You could start on the Zek with Emperor Fyst as your mentor rather than the Isle of Refuge. But for now, killing orcs is still the thing.
I came back to the Frostfang Sea well into level nine, so it wasn’t too long before I hit level ten.
But this is a special server with its own special achievements, so level ten is a two-fer.
A special achievement for a special server, and indicative of the reward you get for reaching the exalted level of ten; possibly the most heinous mount ever conceived by Daybreak,
And I might well have eschewed this mount, as I do any of the gnomish contraptions, except that in a world where you are running around on foot any speed boost is a good speed boost. And, being a “leaper” mount, you also get some jumping/soft landing benefits from it. That does something to mitigate its look.
Also, it doesn’t stand out too much on my back.
The quest line through the Frostfang Sea ends with the player getting a nice mount… a horse. I hope I can then use the horse as the cosmetic “look” while retaining the benefits of the boot. Either way, having it will make getting around quicker and at least one heritage quest will be pretty easy with the speed boost.
Otherwise I am continuing on with the Frostfang Sea. When I get through that it will be about time to start looking for a guild.