Tag Archives: Kunark Ascending

Getting Side Tracked on the way to 110 in Norrath

I carried on for a bit in the Plane of Magic in EverQuest II.  I made it through the faction quest line I was working on and dug into the signature quest line for the zone, making it into the Coliseum of Valor.

Hob nobbing with the deities of Norrath

I managed to make it to level 108 as part of that.

Another level further along

I even managed to collect enough status along the way to boost the guild up a level.

I don’t think we get anything until 50

It has been a few years since that happened.  I think we got to level 40 back in 2010 during my attempt to bring the instance group to the game.

After that it was into the Plane of Innovation where things… really slowed down.  Not the drip of experience, which was already almost non-existent for mobs, but the pace at which I could slay them.  I was able to slay them, despite being level 100 heroic groups.

That guys was worth an achievement

With a mercenary along to keep me healed and my gear level I was in no danger of dying.  But it was taking a long time to kill encounters.  Heroic groups were running past 5 minutes per fight and that Ancient Clockwork Prototype was a 25 minute bout.  That is a long time to be mashing buttons… and in EQII you have a ton of buttons to mash.  I have four hot key bars up in my UI, three to keep essential combat related skills and another for utility items I use often, and I know I am missing a bunch of skill.  I am just glad that when you die the game retains all of the “until cancelled” buffs you cast on yourself.  I’d need another hot bar for that list.

Anyway, with fights starting to run that long I began to think that perhaps my DPS was not up to snuff.  As I said, my defenses seem to be fine, so it was time to look into things to make me hit harder.

First up was skill upgrades.  I think I have mentioned before the complexity of EQII skills.  When you gain a skill, or a skill upgrade, it comes in at apprentice level.  You can upgrade that to journeyman level via trade skills, adept via random skill drops, expert from trade skills using rare components, master from rare chest drops, grandmaster via an every 10 levels, pick one skill, alternate advancement mechanism, and ancient via rare raid drops.  There is a whole thing on the wiki about this.

You can also train them up via a time learning mechanism akin to EVE Online skill training, which at level 100+ takes about 16 to 20 days to go from apprentice to journeyman.  But  if you want to spend money you can buy Station Cash and level those up instantly.

Upgrades, wait or pay

I opted to wait given the current price of Daybreak Cash.

Daybreak Cash Prices

With my subscription discount and buying Daybreak Cash at its cheapest per unit price, that instance upgrade to just journeyman would run about $78.  And, while I would take a journeyman upgrade, I really wanted something a bit better.

That is because, as you might expect, every step up the upgrade ladder makes a skill noticeably better.  You can even get in situations where a level VI version of a skill at grandmaster is much better than the level VII version at apprentice.  The game tries to work around that by doing a compare when you earn a new skill and leaving the old one on your hot bar if it is better.  But if you later upgrade the new one you have to go and audit your hot bar to make sure you have the right one.

And if you have boosted your character up levels… well.  Sigwerd got past level 60 on his own, then boosted to 90 and has gone from there to 108.  Along the way some of the skills in his hot bars have fallen behind.  So I went through and fixed all of that.

Then I started shopping for upgrades on the market.  But the prices for adepts for level 100+ skills are insane.  Sigwerd has about 50K platinum, making him my wealthiest character.  Inflation got him that money through the market.  But inflation means he could piss that all away quickly on the adept upgrades for his skill, which run from 2.5K to 10K platinum each.

Few people seemed to be making journeyman skills, and those that were on the market were even more expensive than adept skills.

The prices of a Frenzy VI upgrade

I went to my alchemist, but he is only level 92 in that trade, so I need to level him up there.  And even then there is the question of getting the recipes which require a signature quest run.

So I did what I could there then started fishing elsewhere.

I went through my alternate advancement trees to see if there was anything I could boost there.

I looked at gear, but my stuff from the Days of Summer quest last year was still better than anything on the market, along with the upgrades to that I had gotten in the Plane of Magic.

At one point I was looking through my claimable items… those have piled up over the last 15 years… and found a mount that had better stats than my own, so swapped to that and started upgrading it.  I also claimed a companion pet I had in there that also gave me a stats boost.  And I bought a familiar… which is also a pet of sorts that also gives you stats, so I am not sure what the difference is, other than that familiars are “collectable” and have seasons and cost Daybreak Cash.  I got a slug.  But it was a slug that gave me a stats boost.

While in the claims window I also ran across some other, older, unclaimed items I found a token worth a five ascension level boost.  Somewhere in the back of my mind I recalled something about ascension levels and it being something of an alternate alternate advancement path.  So I figured I ought to track that down.

Now we get into one of my gripes about EQII.  I am sitting in something close to the current content, running one expansion back in Planes of Prophecy.  But ascension levels came in with Kunark Ascending, the expansion before that.  In order to unlock access to ascension levels, I need to run down a signature quest in that expansion.  But to get that quest I need to go back to the expansion before that, Terrors of Thalumbra, and run through a signature quest there to unlock the trigger to get the quest that will get me into the zone, Obulus Frontier, that has the NPC that will give me the quest that will unlock ascension levels.  That quest chain actually starts on the Isle of Mara, which sends me around a bit to other zones.  Then it is finally off to Thalumbra, which you have to do a quest to access, and where I need to work on my faction with the local in order to get the next quest that will lead to the further quest.

Thalumbra is underground

So I ran through that, getting side tracked along the way to unlock access to trade skill recipes so I could craft beyond level 100, since that was only another six quest chain and I was down there anyway.

Eventually I get into Obulus Frontier, but it is late in the evening so I figure I will pick this up the next day and recall home to sell stuff in my bloated inventory and put stuff up for sale on the market.  In my inventory is a bunch of stuff from the Days of Summer 2019 quest event, which was still running, and which I ran across by accident when I ended up in the Sundered Frontier on one leg of one of the quests to get access to Obulus Frontier, so of course I stopped and ran those.  Now I have a full set of level 110 gear to wear if and when I make it to level 110.  So I had to put that in the bank.

Of course, the next day I had to figure out how to get back.  The wiki says there is a way to get there from Thalumbra, so I go to Greater Faydark, take the gnomish transport device, and fly around to the spot where I can get in.

Me, my companion, and my familiar

However, it won’t let me in.  I have not done the quest that opens up the access from Thalumbra to Obulus Frontier, because of course I haven’t.  So I go to Kunark and find my way through to the portal that will get me to the zone and I go in and I find the mob that will give me the quest that will finally unlock ascension levels… and I get this.

Say what?

As it turns out, I do not speak her language because, as you might be able to guess at this point, I have not done the quest that will teach me the language that lets me speak to her to get the quest that will unlock ascension levels and one voice in the back of my head is shouting, “Are you fucking kidding me?” while another is just sighing and saying, “Or course there is another quest.”

So I ran off to find that quest.  And I know that won’t be the last quest.  I took a moment to fly off to the person who actually ends up training you in your ascension class and they were surrounded by hostile guards, which likely means I will need to do some more quests to raise my faction sufficiently to get through the guards and converse with the trainer.

I am not upset about this trail of events.  That I spent three late evening running through all of this and am still going is an indication that I am invested.  But as a solution to my original problem, that fights were taking a long time, it seems to be something of a bust.  I don’t know if this will actually solve the problem and, more pertinently, if I had just put up with the long fights I would have easily been done and through and on to the next thing and probably level 109 with the same investment of time.

And if I had spent that same amount of time running some of the repeatable, faction earning side quests in the Plane of Magic I would undoubtedly be level 110 by now, my original goal.

Such is life with EverQuest II.  If you haven’t kept up, catching up can be a long process.  And I have had no shame in this using the wiki, pasting in way points, and just taking the direct route to things.  I cannot imagine figuring this out without simply giving up and embracing out of game information.

It has also been something of an interesting dive into an attitude or two that has changed at Daybreak on the Norrath team.  There was a era when they were very big on marking quest locations or areas on the map when you had then up on your tracker.  There were blue dots and shaded blue areas where you could expect to find the relevant NPC or mobs for the quest.  They have apparently given up on this completely with the last expansion or two.  Why spend time on that when there is always the wiki I guess.

The quest for level 110 continues.

Finding My Way in Norrath Again

The change of seasons, the chill in the air, and the release of a new expansion got my thinking of Norrath.

Hey, look, a post about something other than EVE Online!

I’ve also been a bit down on WoW of late.  As I noted previously, I enjoyed the going through the initial four zones in WoW Legion, but wasn’t really into settling down to a daily quest grind.  Add in the lengths one would need to go to get the eventual flying unlock achievement and I set off in other directions.  I was toddling along doing pet battles and crafting and a bit of transmog hunting when the last update broke the PetBattle Teams addon, which I find essential for managing a stable of over 400 battle pets.  And then they broke the ability to mail stuff to my alts and I was done.  It was like they picked two things they knew would drive me away, so I let my account lapse there.

Meanwhile, the usual Norrath nostalgia season was upon us and I was interested in the Kunark Ascending expansion, especially with its level 100 character boost.

Of course, I already had a character boosted up to level 95 from the free boost offer Daybreak had back in September, so I got myself subscribed and logged in and started trying to figure out where to go and what to do.

I have mentioned before that for MMOs that I have played there tends to be a dividing line which my brain flags as old stuff/new stuff.   While it is often a division based on time, it is also generally a division based on my knowledge of the game and what I am familiar with.  In World of Warcraft everything after Wrath of the Lich King is the “new stuff.”  I know Northrend and before very well, while I have never been as well… integrated I guess… with Cataclysm and after.

In EverQuest the line is somewhere between Ruins of Kunark and Planes of Power.  In Rift the new stuff starts with Storm Legion.  And in EverQuest II the new stuff starts with the Kingdom of Sky expansion, which takes the game all the way back to early 2006.  I never really got into that expansion.

That is a big knowledge gap, spanning a decade and all.

Now, the situation isn’t completely black and white.  I came back for Echoes of Faydwer ,have messed around in the Frostfang Sea, and have managed to play at least two characters into the Rise of Kunark expansion.  But that still leaves me in November 2007 as far as EQII expansions go, or about nine and nine years expansion behind the curve.  That leaves a lot of “new stuff.”

So I got my level 95 boosted berserker Sigward out and looked at the current map of Norrath.

Where should I go today

Where should I go today?

For whatever reason, when I took the level boost I went out to Cobalt Scar, so that is where Sigward was when I got back to him.  Then I had to figure out what mobs I could take on.  This is more confusing that it should be at times, and made all the more so since my last round of play in Norrath was on the Stormhold server.  There the idea of my level 25 Shadow Knight taking on a heroic encounter required serious planning, and the encounter had to be lower level than him.

Out in Cobalt Scar the question chain immediately set me up against some high level heroic encounters, so I began to despair.  However, giving it a “what the hell” try, I found I could defeat them easily.  I ran through a bit of that, but got stuck on a quest that seemed bugged.  So I wandered back New Halas where Frostfall, the winter holiday event was starting.  I started the quest for a new holiday tree for my home which sent me off to slay things in the Eidolon Jungle and the Obol Plains, zones that aren’t even on the map.

It turns out you have to go to Feerrott and find a special portal to get into the first, and then another portal from there to get to the second.  There I found my items and fought the usual array of interesting creatures… and actually finished up an old Lore and Legend and an old language quest along the way.

Right in the eye!

Right in the eye!

There I was somewhat emboldened with my ability to slay heroic encounters, stumbling into an instance where I was able to clear a whole range of them, including several named encounters.

Sigwerd versus a named 96 heroic

Sigwerd versus a named 96 heroic

Further on into the Frostfell stuff my assessment of my own abilities were further inflated as I took down some serious mobs as part of the even.

Just a 4 group epic raid mob, no big deal

Just a 4 group epic raid mob, no big deal

I’m pretty sure I had some sort of Frostfell buff on me for that, but it is hard to tell as the buffs and effects window in EQII gets pretty full pretty fast.

After getting some of the festivities under my belt, I was digging through my in-game mail and found the message that came with the level 95 boost which directed me towards yet another zone, the Tranquil Sea.

When I got there I found mobs that were a level or two above me, but not heroic encounters, so I figured they would be no big deal.  And then they totally kicked my ass.  The time to kill went up dramatically compared to the same level heroic encounters in Cobalt Scar and if I got a couple of them on me I was done for.

Well that was a fine move.

And then I remembered mercenaries and that I had a healer I could summon to follow Sigwerd around.  So I summoned him and things went much better.  In fact, things probably got a bit too easy then, as I found I could just pull mobs back onto Ben Nevis (his name) and he would kill them in a couple of blows.  That is a powerful merc.

My problem is probably gear related.  But, having jumped up 20 levels, I have no real feel for whether the gear they gave me with the boost is good or not or what stats are important or what I should look for when replacing them.

Do I swap for that sword or not?

Do I swap for that sword or not?

In the picture above, the quest reward sword has better DPS, but I am not sure how to weigh some of the other stats.  I think I should take it, but I am not sure.  Logic would say that they should be giving me gear good enough to take on the area.  But then, logic would also seem to indicate that they should have given me gear good enough to start the zone, and I was struggling there when I was solo.

But I was at least able to progress further through the zone with the merc in tow.  As a location, it was clearly design for flight.  While I got a flying mount with my level 95 boost, I stuck with my Race to Trakanon mount from the event server.

Flying about, enjoying the view

Flying about, enjoying the view

I will say that I have not quite mastered the controls for flying yet.  Is the flying mount ALWAYS going to go where I am looking rather than where I am trying to point?  I can get around, but I am constantly at war with the thing.  It seems designed to punish people for not using the first person view.

Anyway, this has made me a bit wary of the Kunark Ascending expansion.  That comes with a level 100 boost, but there was a strong thread of opinion in the forums when I last looked that the gear you get with the upgrade is NOT for Kunark Ascending, but rather to allow you to do Terrors of Thalumbra content that will gear you up enough to go do the new content.

That seems like an odd approach to take… here is some gear but it isn’t good enough for the content you just purchased.  Then again, I went where the game told me and found my level 95 gear wasn’t up to snuff… or so it seems.  I could just be bad.  Of clueless.  Even the EQ2 Wire expansion FAQ isn’t dumbed down enough for me to figure things out.

Meanwhile, I have decided to try and loosen up my grip on all that Station Cash… erm, Daybreak Cash… I have been hoarding since back in the day.  I might buy a couple more level 95 boosts if I can figure out which characters I ought to raise up.  I did buy a three pack of Legends of Norrath loot cards, which got me another painting for the wall and a pet that I sold for more cash than I have ever had in Norrath.

Now I am set for plat

Now I am set for plat

Well, post-cataclysm Norrath in any case.  Platinum inflation in EverQuest led to some silly things and I once found I was immobile because I forgot to deposit my cash when I left the Bazaar.

I even opened up the old Qeynos Credence Revival guild hall.  I wanted to get access to the guild gatherer for doing some trade skill stuff.  Back in the day 1.7 plat and 135K status rent a week seemed like a lot.  Now the plat is negligible and I can earn that much status easily enough, though there is more than 2 million status in the guild escrow and another 2 million on Sigwerd alone.

So there I am, back in Norrath again.

Kunark Ascending Goes Live in Norrath

Norrath remains in danger from Lanys T’Vyl and her pursuit of power! It is up to you to keep Lanys T’Vyl from acquiring the third and final Chaos Stone. Return to Kunark to stop Lanys from ushering in a new age of power. Will you stand against the Tenets of Hate? Adventures await you in Kunark Ascending, EverQuest II’s 13th expansion!

-Kunark Ascending promo text

Next on this week’s list of new arrivals (and the second to derive a title from the root word “ascend”) is Kunark Ascending, the 13th expansion for EverQuest II (plus 4 adventure packs along the way as well), which landed yesterday, close to the game’s 12th birthday.

Launched November 15, 2016

Launched November 15, 2016

As the name indicates, the expansion returns to one of the “classic” locations in Norrath, the island of Kunark, which was the setting for the first EverQuest expansion, Ruins of Kunark, more than 16 years ago.

The expansion gets you the following:

  • 1 New Overland Zone
  • 12 New Heroic zones
  • 1 Challenge Heroic Zone
  • 8 New Solo Zones
  • 4 New Advanced Solo Zones
  • 6 New Raid Zones
  • More than 50 New Solo and Heroic Quests
  • More than 65 New Collection Quests
  • 4 New Archetypal Epic 2.0 Quest Lines
  • 4 New Ascension Classes
  • New Wardrobe Function
  • New Mercenary Gear Feature
  • Level 100 Character Boost
  • Access to All Previous Expansions

I borrowed most of that list from the top of the EQ2 Wire Kunark Ascending FAQ which goes into the features of the expansion in great detail. (Feldon also has the expansion deployment patch notes available as well.)  You should at least browse that if the expansion interests you.

I was actually considering purchasing the expansion due to the level 100 character boost and my current disinterest in the WoW Legion expansion.  The character boost would vault me into the current content at least, though there is no doubt some complexity in that.  Plus I would have to figure out which character to boost, since I used the free level 95 character boost they were handing out a while ago on what I would consider my “main” character already.  Would be a bit silly to use the new boost to jump him just five levels.  And then there is the question as to whether my disinterest in WoW at the moment is just WoW or would it apply to any fantasy MMORPG.  Some days you just don’t want to don your tabard and go swing a sword in any fantasy world.

Still, it is there and waiting, level 100 boost included, should I want to join in.  The expansion comes in the usual three levels of excess, with a 10% discount if you are an all access subscriber… and if you’re serious enough about the game to buy the expansion I have to figure you’re down for all access as well.

Premium packages available for premium prices

Premium packages available for premium prices

The standard edition will be enough for me when the time comes.

There is also a launch trailer, if you need that to tempt you.

Meanwhile, a couple of bloggers have already dipped their toes into Kunark Ascending.

Kunark is Coming November 15 and 16

The classic Norrath team and Daybreak seems to be up for the one-two punch.  This week we got announcements about the new expansions for EverQuest and EverQuest II on consecutive days.  More surprising though was the news that the expansions would launch on consecutive days as well.  Usually there is a week between the now traditional November expansion launches for the two titles, no doubt to give the combined classic Norrath team a chance to focus on one thing at a time.

Not this November.

First up, on Tuesday, November 15th, is the launch of the EverQuest II expansion Kunark Ascending.

Back to Kunark

Back to Kunark

The expansion promo reads:

Norrath remains in danger from Lanys T’Vyl and her pursuit of power! It is up to you to keep Lanys T’Vyl from acquiring the third and final Chaos Stone. Return to Kunark to stop Lanys from ushering in a new age of power. Will you stand against the Tenets of Hate? Adventures await you in Kunark Ascending, EverQuest II’s 13th expansion!

Features of the expansion are listed as:

  • All new dungeons for Solo, Heroic, and Raid parties alike.
  • 4 new Ascension classes available to all max level characters!
  • Upgrade your epic weapon with all new Epic 2.0 Quests.
  • Gear Up Your Mercenaries – With the new mercenary equipment feature you can now equip your favorite Mercenaries with gear to increase their power.
  • New Wardrobe Tab – Free up space with the new Wardrobe tab. Any relevant items placed into the Wardrobe will be converted into appearances and won’t take up any inventory slots!

The expansion is now available for pre-order at the usual three price tiers:

Premium packages available for premium prices

Like Daybreak, I was able to re-use last year’s pricing graphic

Purchasing early will get you access to the expansion beta as well as the ability to use the level 100 character boost that comes each package.  And if you are an All Access subscriber… and who buys the expansions but doesn’t subscribe… you get 10% off of your purchase.

Then, planned for the very next day, Wednesday, November 16, 2016, is the EverQuest expansion Empires of Kunark.

Everybody loves Kunark

Everybody loves Kunark

For the EverQuest return to Kunark the copy reads:

After decades if slumber, Imperator Tsaph Katta awakens and vows to reform the Combine Empire – the progenitors of much of the human race – by any means necessary. He will lead them into a renewed age of prosperity. Tsaph Katta focuses on rebuilding the coalition between the races of Norrath in order to cement his place in the annals of history as The Great Unifier. But not all are ready to bend to the will of Katta and his allies, least of all the current inhabitants of Kunark. Will a unified Norrath prevail, or will the Combine’s arrival in Kunark lead to a war of catastrophic proportions. Find out in Empires of Kunark, EverQuest’s 23rd expansion!

Features of the expansion are listed as:

  • 7 Expansion Zones – Explore familiar and unfamiliar areas and learn what has changed since your last adventures in Kunark.
  • Familiar Key Ring – Access to your familiars in one easy location! Store up to 10 familiars per character, with the ability to buy additional slots to handle all of your familiar storage.
  • New Quests, Missions, and 8 Additional Raids
  • New Collections – For those who love to find and seek, there will be 24 new Collections to complete.

As with its EverQuest II cousin, the expansion is available in three tiers, with various extra fluff for additional dollars, and is available for pre-order now:

The Broken Mirror? Try the broken gaming budget!

Trying selling DLC for $140 and see how people react…

Unlike EverQuest II however, there is no beta access listed and the expansion does not come with a character boost.  You do, however, still get a 10% discount as an All Access subscriber and all previous expansions are included in the deal.

So that is Daybreak’s big Kunark plan for the classic Norrath part of the company.

Both titles are running pre-expansion in-game events to help you level up and gear up and otherwise get ready for the new content coming in November.

EverQuest II Returning to Kunark

Some companies announce an expansion a year or more in advance and spend the intervening time rolling out news and tidbits trying to build up fervor for the launch.

Not so Daybreak, nor SOE in its day.

Of course, Daybreak and SOE also crank out an expansion every single year for EverQuest II (and EverQuest as well!) with a couple of major game updates along the way.  And that is down from the two expansions a year plan they started out with.

So maybe they just don’t have the time for all of that.

Anyway, the time has finally come, and the name of the next expansion, expected in November, has been announcedEverQuest II is returning to island of Kunark with the Kunark Ascending expansion.

Kunark and the current zones

Kunark and the current zones

Kunark is, of course, a location of significance in the lore of Norrath, and the sight of the first EverQuest expansion as well as a past EverQuest II expansion.

The only fully good MMO expansion ever

The only fully good MMO expansion ever

So we have been to Kunark before.

One can hardly point an accusing finger at Daybreak for revisiting a previous location in an expansion.  Not only have they have done it before, but the last two World of Warcraft expansions, Warlords of Draenor and Legion, have both essentially been “what if…” scenario revisits to the story of the first expansion, The Burning Crusade.

So Kunark it is!

In what might be something of a reaction to a controversial aspect of the WoW Legion pre-invasion events… were they there to gear people up, level people up, or just pass the time until the expansion launched… Daybreak is offering double experience to all EverQuest II players this weekend, and there is a promise of more to come in October.  From the announcement:

To help you get your characters prepared for our next expansion, we are going to run another weeks-long “Gear Up, Level Up” event this year. There will be bonuses each week in October through to expansion launch, like adventure, AA, tradeskill XP bonuses, status boosts, and more!

So there it is, right out in the open, a chance to level yourself up and get ready for the new content.  Further details about the Kunark Ascending expansion are promised for October.

On the EverQuest side of the house, they are having a similar bonus experience event, though they have not yet announced their expansion plans.

Also, as a final reminder, the free level 95 character boost in EverQuest II expires in a few days.

Offer expires September 6, 2016

Offer expires September 6, 2016

Use it now or lose it forever!  I used mine.