Tag Archives: Heroic Character

Level 100 Heroic Upgrades are Coming to EverQuest, but Level 85 Upgrades will Remain

Another item from the roadmap posted back in January, EverQuest is getting level 100 heroic character upgrades in the cash shop next Wednesday.  At last!

Something to evoke heroism I think

If you’ve been around here for a while reading my commentary about EverQuest, you may have noticed my impatience at times with the state of heroic characters up until now.

Introduced back in 2014 as part of the game’s 15th anniversary celebration, it was of immediate interest to me because “insta-levels” as I called them were starting to become a thing.  At about the same time Blizzard was giving us details about the level 90 character boost that was going to come with the then upcoming Warlords of Draenor expansion, so it was kind of a topic of the time.

Anyway, at the time I was a little bemused about level 85 being the target.  The booster came out during the reign of the Call of the Forsaken expansion (#20), and the level cap at the time was 100.  85 hadn’t been the level cap since the Seeds of Destruction expansion (#15) and seemed a more appropriate level boost for something during the House of Thule expansion (#17) when the level cap was raised to 90.

But, whatever.  What was fifteen levels?  I couldn’t even find my way to the recommended zone after boosting with one of the free heroic upgrades they were handing out.

However, unlike other titles in the genre, including its sibling EverQuest II, the heroic character boost stayed at level 85 even as the level cap rose to the level 120 mark where it stands today.

Fifteen levels, maybe, but 35 in a game where the level cap rises by 5 every other expansion or so?  I suppose it depends on what the goal of the booster is, but that goal can’t be “get me up to the current expansion.”

And that question doesn’t get much better with the level 100 heroic character boost.  I mean, you do get some nice things for you 4,000 Daybreak Cash ($40 real world value):

  • 25,000 Platinum
  • Selyrah Mount
  • One Extra Mercenary Slot
  • Two 40-Slot Bags
  • Spells
  • Thousands of Auto-Granted Alternative Advancement Abilities (AA’s)
  • Full Set of Equipment, including weapons, armor, Power Source and Charm
  • Food, Drink, and Ammo
  • 200 Bayle Marks

But you’re still level 100, which as I pointed out, gets you to the level cap of the 20th expansion, but the 28th expansion is the current content, and the 29th expansion will be coming out by the end of the year.  That doesn’t leave you as far back as the first level boost attempt by Lord of the Rings Online, that stopped at level 50 when the level cap was 95, but it isn’t exactly putting you in the thick of things either.

And LOTRO at least fixed that later.  EverQuest is putting you behind the curve for $40 again.

And then there is the really odd part, which is that the level 85 heroic boost won’t be going away.  You will still be able to buy that for 3,500 ($35 real world value) and receive:

  • 15,000 Platinum
  • Jungle Raptor Mount
  • Two 24-Slot Bags
  • Spells
  • Thousands of Auto-Granted Alternative Advancement Abilities (AA’s)
  • Full Set of Equipment, including weapons, armor, Power Source and Charm
  • Food, Drink, and Ammo
  • 100 Bayle Marks

I don’t get who this is really for, but there it is.

I guess I shouldn’t worry about it.  I have always been a bit dubious of character boosts, which tend to plop you down in high level content with little or no clue how to play your class.  And that is especially true of EverQuest, where a caster can have hundreds of spells that the game is bad at telling you about and which you must pick through the awkward spell interface.

Seriously, I played a cleric up to level 50 for the 20th anniversary of the game, then got a free level 85 heroic boost and applied it to him, and pretty much made the character unplayable.

So I shouldn’t care about the boost only going to 85 or 100.  Even if it went straight to the level cap I’d be lost all the same.  But I am sure it will be of some benefit to somebody out there.  I wish them well and hope it works out for the game.

Using My EverQuest Heroic Upgrade

With the 21st anniversary event offer of a free heroic character upgrade available for a limited time, I decided I should take advantage of the offer while it was around.  I might scoff a bit at the boost only being to level 85, but it is better than no boost at all I suppose.  And you need to be that level to use the Overseer feature.

And I wanted to use the Overseer with a character I had some connection to, which at this late date in the history of the game, is a very rare situation.  I have a couple dozen characters floating around over a range of servers, but I am hard pressed to name them or when I created them.

But there was one I recalled.  Dolenz, my cleric, who I rolled up last year in anticipation of the 20th anniversary.  I started him fresh, went through the tutorial, and got him all the way to level 50.

Dolenz at 50 about one year ago

It wasn’t like I got him to level 50 back at launch.  The xp curve is much lighter and there was bonus xp for much of the anniversary event.  But I still played him through those levels, light though they might have been, and explored a range of Norrath both familiar and not.

So I pressed the button on at the character select screen and applied the upgrade to him.

Dolenz at 85 this week

The good from the upgrade is that the game does hand you a lot of stuff.  You get a set of gear… in green, so it matches the cosmetic hat I got last year, as you can see above… and a couple of 24 slot bags, which are always handy, as well as some cash, a pile of AA points, and all the spell upgrades for the intervening levels you have skipped.

The downside is… well… dealing with all of that largess is, as always, a bit cumbersome in the EverQuest UI.  You have to find all the gear in your bags… you have to find those new bags in your bags, assuming you had space for all of that… and dole it out to the right spots.  You get a series of packages assigned to you through the rewards interface, which always looks like you only get one of the items, since you can only highlight one, even though it says you get them all.  And you do get them all.  It is just awkwardly presented.

Worst of all though are the spells.  The EverQuest team has always been big on handing out new and improved spells with every expansion, no matter how many levels the cap was raised, so there are a lot of choices.  And this isn’t WoW, where the spells have the same name and you just get a new rank level of it.  So when you are sitting there trying to figure out which spells to assign to your nine spell slots… again, the word “awkward” springs to mind.

The heals available

Those are just the heals which, as a cleric, make for the longest list.  And they are all at least flagged by level.  And you can at least see a pattern, with “light,” “renewal,” and “word” heals being the three main flavors.  But I don’t know what the difference is off hand today.  And those are just the main heals, not the delayed, duration, or quick heals, much less the cures.  Then there are the buffs and the damage and the utility spells.

According to my spell book, which is pretty much useless under the weight of that many spells, the total at my disposal is 393.  I guess it could be worse. There are a lot of spells.  Maybe that is why they only boost to level 85, they are afraid that the rain of new spells is already overwhelming enough.  Who knows.

Getting mired in that for a while pretty much put the kibosh on any plans I had to actually go out in the field to fight monsters and run quests.  So he’ll likely become another permanent resident of the Plane of Knowledge.

But I mostly wanted to use him for the Overseer feature.  And he’ll serve for that.  Though in boosting him up I did also discover that your characters, at least on the same server, share the same Overseer setup.  I had a quest going with the pally I boosted years back and after I boosted Dolenz and brought the Overseer up, I found that quest in progress in the UI.

That makes sense.  They have to limit it somehow.  There is already talk of the whole thing being too generous, with changes coming in to keep things under control, even after the very conservative intent the team started with.

But I’ll keep poking at it for a bit.  What happens there will likely be an indicator as to what will happen with the EverQuest II version of the feature, which remains a very poor cousin at the moment.

Heroic in Norrath – Straight to Level 85

I took a little time away from fretting over the logistics of getting myself and some ships down to Curse to look at SOE’s new idea for EverQuest II.

The SOE plan is to sell level 85 “heroic” characters for the low, low price of 3,500 Station Cash. (~$35 at the normal cost of SC, but as little as ~$12 if you wait for one of those Triple SC sales.)  They are selling them right now.  And, for the moment, they are also giving away free samples.  Between now and at least October 15th you can test drive a heroic character for free.

EverQuest II Heroic Offer

In some ways this is both a dream come true for some players and an out for SOE who has a game where the current cap is level 95.  If you want to join your hard core EverQuest II pals, you no longer have to grind through a lot of lonely levels to see the newest (and presumably the best) content and play with your friends.

According to the SOE Heroic Character FAQ:

In response to both former and current player feedback, we wanted to provide an opportunity for players to return to EQII without worrying about an overwhelming level gap.  We’ve also been asked by all kinds of players for a way to try out high-level classes before committing valuable time to leveling one.

Being an old and extremely lapsed EQII player… I have a few characters in the 50s and one up in the 60s… I had to try this out.

The first question was how to take SOE up on the offer.  You can either try this as a fresh character, or you can apply the jump to level 85 option on one of your current characters.

Being a long time SOE customer, I was pretty sure that if I applied this to any current character that the whole thing would be irreversible or that it would forever taint that character.  And while I am not overly enamored of my characters… nor am I likely to ever really play them again except to show up in the game once in a while to remind myself again why I stopped playing…  I figured the safest option was just to get a fresh heroic character.

(I do find it amusing that, according to the FAQ, if you upgrade a character, you get a potion renaming.  Presumably this is to hide the shame of having created a store bought character or some similar perceived stigma.)

I hit the button and created a freshly minted heroic dwarven berserker.  And he was indeed in possession of heroic stats and equipment, certainly relative to any other character I have.

Fresh Heroic Dwarf

Fresh Heroic Dwarf

He got the full set of supplies as outlined in the FAQ, which include.

  • A set of Level 85 weapons
  • Level 85 jewelry
  • Level 85 armor
  • 20 Food and Drink
  • Ammunition for Fighter and Scount Ranged Weapons
  • 6 24-slot bags
  • Variety of Potions
  • A Pegasus Mount

I do not think any of my EQII character ever, at any level, have been so lavishly equipped.  You also get 280 AA points, pre-populated for your convenience.  (If you want to set them yourself, you have to pay the 3,500 SC.)

I was particularly happy with the abundant bag space.  And there was a flying mount, which was a nice touch.

Flying about

Flying about

Of course the flying mount also represents the same mixed blessing that it does in every game.  It is super nifty cool to be able to fly around and explore, but it completely takes the wind out of any concept of space or travel in the open world.  And SOE’s latest stay mounted compromise, where your mount disappears as you enter combat and shows up as soon as it is over is… odd.  I am sure I would get used to it in time, but I feel strange having the frilly Pegasus mount show up under me just after I finish my latest murders.

Ah well.

And I certainly was not alone aboard a frilly Pegasus mount.  Once I rolled up my character I was dropped into the Great Divide zone (third instance) with a dozen or so similarly mounted characters around me.  Heroic characters were quite the thing according to reports.

Now, of course, the question is how much of this is novelty, with people like me showing up to kick the metaphorical tires, and how much of this represents people eager to return to playing (and paying) in Norrath?

So there I was in a zone… a snow zone, which meant it looked like pretty much every other snow zone in the game… seriously, I though I was outside of New Halas at first… and wondering what to do next.

There is something of a tutorial going on as you wander around, but it seems aimed at people who are either new to the game (but not MMOs) or who have forgotten a lot more about the game than I have at this point.  So I started ignoring those and went off to grab a quest to see how heroic this new guy really was.

And the answer was, “Pretty darn heroic indeed.”  Look at this shot of him absolutely destroying a level 89 mob with one of his attacks.

Die gnoll, die!

Die gnoll, die!

Clearly, basic survival in the field was not going to be an issue.  I actually had to walk up to a mob to get that picture, as I was one-shotting everything with my bow if I tried to pull mobs at range.  And, if I this whole heroic character thing became suddenly super engaging to me, I had the post from Karen Bryan, perhaps the most serious correspondent Massively has, about what to do with your new heroic character bookmarked.

How to do it though… that was the key.  What I most feared came to pass.

One of my complaints about EverQuest II is that SOE apparently cribbed their underlying philosophy from my mother-in-law, going with the idea that “Too much is never enough” or “Nothing exceeds like excess!”

So you have, in my opinion, too many races, too many classes, too many cities, too many crafting recipes, too many crafting ingredients, too many chat channels, too many AA trees, and, far and away worst of all, too many damn player skills.

And the skill thing has actually gotten better over time.  There was a point when not only were there too many skills, but they had too many different names as upgrades to skills were called something completely different and even, at times, had different icons which was often shared by another unrelated skill.

But there are still way too many skills.  And this is the reason I went with the berserker class.  I have four other berserkers in the game, so it was my hope that some mild familiarity with the class would help.  I also, hoping against hope, thought that maybe SOE would have a plan to deal with this.

And SOE does have a plan.  It just isn’t a very good one.

When you start off you have only one hot bar exposed with some of your combat skills on it.  Given how quickly I was killing stuff, I probably could have made due with one hot key.  All of your other skills are on additional, but still hidden, hot bars, which get mentioned as you progress.  Your skills are pre-populated in… an order of some sort.  Not the one I would have chosen, but I think in this I was handicapped by having played the game, but not recently.

So I ended up exposing a pile of hot bars to figure out my skills and ended up being annoyed when I couldn’t find certain things either in the hot bars or in the skill book.  For example, what happened to that skill that starts the heroic opportunity cycle?  I could not find it.  Did they kill that feature?

Anyway, it was the morass of skills that took the wind out of my sails.  There is a reason that, every time I come back to EverQuest II, I create a new character.  It is simply easier to get back into the game that way, picking up skills in a somewhat organic fashion rather than trying to decipher the huge set of skills you left off with last time and which have been changed since.

Well, that and the fact that my UI seemed to be having issues.  I had to kill off the old EQ Maps addon because it was using an incompatible version of the map xml.  And then my experience bar seemed to have expanded itself off the right side of the screen, pushing some of the controls off the edge with it.  I don’t think this was related to EQ Maps, as it was fine last week when I patched up and got into game in anticipation of this update.

So, all in all, I wasn’t sold on the idea.  I was certainly done with it in about an hour.

But I am, by my own admission, hardly the ideal target audience.

Borrowing a term from EVE Online, if there is a “bitter vet” class of SOE customers, I am pretty sure I fall into it.  I started playing EverQuest on day one and EverQuest II on day four if I recall right. (November 13, 2004)  I have many fond memories and consider myself a fan of both games, and yet I have trouble finding any joy in playing either game at this point.  When overcome by nostalgia, I can get a quick fix by starting a fresh character and running through some older zones.  But by level 20 or so the novelty wears off and the weight of the years and all the changes and updates and compromises begins to take its toll.  And somewhere after level 40 I feel lost in the world and tired of the game, which starts to become an alien place to me.

In EverQuest II, the game starts to fall off for me at Desert of Flames, so punting me up another 30 levels and dropping me into the very generic looking Great Divide was never going to be a winning proposition to start with.  All of the rest was just icing on this cake of woe.  Even the changes to equipment unlocks haven’t helped all that much.

But for people without such a history with the game, this might be an opportunity.  If they have some friends playing and can sink their teeth into the path to level cap and spend the time deciphering the myriad skills that come with the level, this could be a winner.

I am watching how other people respond to this new-ish initiative.  (*cough* Death Knights *cough*)

So far I have seen:

Have you given this a try?  What did you think?