Monday, 3 July 2017

Getting My Wings : EQ2

Yesterday, in a move that would have had my grandmother wondering "if Johnny jumped in a lake, would you jump in too?", I made a character on the new EQ2 progression server, Fallen Gate.

I had said I wouldn't, and even when Wilhelm flagged up the launch I shrugged it off . Stargrace's brief exposure to what can, these days, be the somewhat toxic atmosphere of the EQ2 vet pack in full cry did little to make me change my mind.

But then I read Atheren and Telwyn talking about it in warmer tones and it was Sunday and the sun was shining and I didn't have much in mind for a blog post that day...

As with the Secret Worlds Legend revamp, the whole (arguably the only) point of the exercise is to keep the money coming in. Therefore, you need a subscription to play on Fallen Gate, even though, "subscription" still being a dirty word at Daybreak Games even with Smed long out the door, the scheme must be referred to at all times as "All Access", as though it was some kind of exclusive backstage pass.

I notice, however, that someone, possibly someone from Legal, possibly some off-message long-timer in a windowless cubicle somewhere at the back of Marketing, has seen fit to add an asterisked line in very small print to the All Access page, clarifying that, yes, $9.99 a month really is a "12 month subscription". So, you need a sub.

Don't you hate getting your wings wet? Oh, and Spoilers! Sorry!

I have a sub. I have two, actually. Mine and Mrs Bhagpuss's, which I pay for and which she hasn't used since the day GW2 launched and will, most likely never use again. Still, the proprieties must be observed.

It's been more than a month since I logged into EQ2. I may even have missed one of my monthly stipends of 500 Daybreak Cash, something I am assiduous in making sure I never do, even though I rarely spend any of it. Even before Columbus Nova took over the reins, old SOE changed the rules so you have to log in and claim that imaginary money, rather than have it stuffed into the sock under your ratonga's bed automagically, as happened in the good old days.

That was another good reason to jump in, make a character, wreck around for half an hour, log out and write it up for laughs. Only, in order to make a character you not only have to have a sub - you also have to have a free character slot. I didn't.

I think you get eight slots as an All Access member. I have nine on that account. All full.

They also serve, who only stand and bank.

I absolutely detest deleting characters. To me, they are all people. Deleting them is murder. Still, I did look, just to see if anyone might be expendable. Nope. All of them are freighted with history of one kind or another, even the Level 17 channeler I'll probably never play because I really don't understand how the class is supposed to work.

The only possible candidate for oblivion was the Level 3 wizard. Never played, never going to be played. A female human I don't even much like. But...she is one of the founders of our guild.

Indeed, the account she's on was started specifically to bump up the numbers when the first of SOE's F2P servers, Freeport, began. You needed six separate accounts to make a guild and we didn't have enough, so, since it was free, I made another and the Wizard was the character I pushed through, taking all the default options at character creation so as to get into game as soon as possible.

That's why I'll never play her and never delete her. So, what to do?

Hardly made a dent.

Well, remember all that DBC I mentioned, stacking up, month after month, with nothing to spend it on? Turns out I was hoarding more than 16,000DBC on that account. Extra character slots come at 1000DBC each.

Next question: what class? I thought about that for a good while. I looked at all the options. Scouts I just cannot get along with in EQ2. Never could. I've tried Swashbucklers and Dirges and Rangers with not much pleasure and no success at all. The only "Scout" class I've ever enjoyed and leveled to the (then) cap is the Beastlord, which to my mind is no kind of "scout". Should always have been a Fighter, like it is in EQ.

Beastlord is a lot of work, though. Scouts out, I looked at Priests and Fighters. Plenty of excellent options there but that's the problem: I already have all the ones I like, multiple times. I don't want another Berserker or Inquisitor or Shadowknight or Bruiser. Playing one of those will just remind me of all the other, more established versions I should be leveling.

I feel pretty, oh so pretty...
To cut what was a twenty minute internal debate short, I went with Conjuror. I only have one of those and although he's in the 90s I never really gelled with him. I named him after an author I liked and later found out I'd misremembered the author's name, so that always niggles. Plus he has a mustache. What was I thinking?

After class comes race. First choice is always ratonga. If it's not a ratonga it's going to be a gnome. Not much else even gets a look-in. Kerra, maybe, or Dwarf, but I have never really liked the models for either.

Then, for some inexplicable reason, I looked at the Fae. I have tried to play a fairy before but it's never taken off, so to speak. Those wings, though, they're really pretty...

I played with the sliders and the drop-downs for a while and got a character I rather liked. It's not like I'm going to be playing on Fallen Gate for years, anyway. Why not?

Off with the Old Old, on with the New Old.

And so my new Fae Conjuror was born. Having, if not broken, then at least slightly cracked the mold, I determined to carry on in the same vein. I took the option to skip the ride on The Far Journey and when I arrived at The Queen's Colony, instead of leveling all the way to seven or eight as I usually would I went to speak to Captain Varlos when I was still only Level 2.

As befits a Fae I continued to flit around. I tried The Peat Bog, Forest Ruins, The Caves and Oakmyst Forest, searching for somewhere I could kill something. Anything I could kill had no quest attached and gave little xp. Anything that a quest required I couldn't kill, either because it was Level 6 and I was Level 2 and almost naked or because a dozen other newbies were queuing up to kill it too.

Experience gain and leveling speed on Fallen Gate have supposedly been pegged back to resemble (vaguely) what people remember (inaccurately) from launch. It was, let me tell you, much slower than this back then. Much, much, much slower.

My time spent exploring the options available turned out to be far from wasted.The xp you get from discovering a new area doesn't seem to have been adjusted at all. I was getting half a level just from poking my nose into a new zone. Well, maybe not half but as much as dozens of mob kills would have given me and in a tiny fraction of the time for no effort whatsoever.

Screw authenticity. Where's the loot?
What I wasn't getting was any gear. Embarrassing myself as I remembered the pompous and passive-aggressive comment I'd left on Telwyn's blog, where I claimed "I don’t have a lot of time for any of the four recommended starter areas, regardless of the fact that they drop much better gear and have much better quest rewards", I took the Mariner Bell to Frostfang Sea so I could do the starter quests and get better gear and drops.

As a Fae, where I wanted to go was Greater Feydark and its city, Kelethin, built by elves but now the Official Home of The Fae, but it wasn't on the bell. I'd forgotten; it wasn't rediscovered until the Echoes of Faydwer expansion. That was EQ2's seventh. At the set unlock date of once every three months we should see Kelethin sometime in early 2019.

So, Frostfang Sea it was, except that the Bell drops you next to Halas at the Level 19 end of the map. I did almost a level in discovery xp just getting back to the starting area. Once there I bedded down and did some quests, got some gear, killed a named rolling rock (twice) and generally had a good time.

I'm sorry, could you say that again, only slower? I'm trying to take notes...

For a quarter of an hour or so I planted myself in the path of an endless stream of orcs emerging from the sea and slaughtered them all. It was like a conveyor belt to an orc chipper with me doing the chipping. I got a ton of drops, learned to speak Orc and completed Orc Mastery.

Not sure any of that was remotely in keeping with a return to the spirit of the original game. Try that back in 2004 and you'd have had xp debt up the wazoo and enough soul shards to start your own graveyard, which is where you'd be waking up after each wave of orcs was finished with you.

No, playing on Fallen Gate is nothing like the game at launch, praise be to all that's holy and Scott Hartsman. It's fun for a start. So much fun that the half hour I meant to spend there turned into an hour, then two, then three.

I was hoping to get to Level 10 so I could take a picture of the execrable mount you get then. Despite not being launch-era slow, however, xp on Fallen Gate is slowish. I stopped at Level 6 with my crafting at Level 7.

I wish I could say this is what I made for myself but actually this is Legacy gear I bought from my trainer, displaying from the Appearance slots, something else we didn't have Back In The Day.

Speaking of crafting, there was some talk about it being similar to how it was at launch. Indeed, the official FAQ claims "Tradeskilling should look similar to the original EverQuest II launch." This caused a lot of excitement in certain secure facilities where the walls are soft and the inmates write in crayon but as far as I can tell crafting on FG is identical to crafting on Live at the same level.

Because I'm not a masochist I wasn't hoping for the return  of WORTS and class interdependency but I did feel a tremble of excitement at the though that we might once again be able to level up on tradeskill discovery xp. Nope.

Anyway, I made myself a full set of crafted armor and jewellery. All I have to do is make all my spell upgrades and I will be as ready for action as it gets.

Bring it on, Level 10!

7 comments:

  1. Although I haven't been through Norrath all the way even once, I love the idea of these legacy servers and wish other games, particularly Wow, would offer them too.
    Starting a fresh new character can give you such a different perspective on a game. You know so many things on the replay you had no clue about originally that can enhance the game for you. You know what's up ahead, but you've forgotten how much fun you had getting there.
    I used to be reluctant to kill off characters too, but it is getting easier as I get to start fresh with a character I'll actually play and enjoy, it is hoped.
    I have six slots in EQ2 thanks to buying silver membership at some point. I filled my last with a Froglok Bruiser since you recommended the class. She's a beautiful sea green color, and the combat animation makes her look like a boxer!
    This is a game I've "tried" several times, but this go around is the most fun I've had, and I'm anxious to get back into the world.
    Brrr, for Frostfang.

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    1. I really can't recall how I ended up with nine slots (now ten) on that account. It was Silver for a long time so that would be six. It's been ALl Access for a year but i don't think they give you extra slots for that - or maybe they do. That would still only be eight, though, I think. Maybe I bought one before or maybe I got one with some expansion or other. Whatever, can never have too many character slots!

      I really used to love playing a Bruiser. It was my fun character for five years when I played on Test (my serious character was a Necro). I have one on Live but I rarely play him. I should start!

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  2. Back when you couldn't go back to Isle of Refuge I used to hang there to the bitter end... or at least until I got both of the collection quests completed. I seem to recall that it wouldn't let you level past a certain point but that you could build up some XP that would activate once you left.

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    1. I did indeed have it in mind when I left that I could come back. I'm not sure I'd have been so eager to get to Qeynos if it'd been a one-way trip.

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  3. I find the storytelling to be more coherent in the newer zones, it reminds of me DDO's original starter zone, which had very little story too it. I also couldn't fathom why I couldn't get started with crafting on the Isle (no quest nor a vendor selling recipes), despite there being a cellar full of crafting stations...

    It's sad to hear crafting isn't any different, that's something I would have liked to try an earlier version of. I was planning on swapping to crafting after hitting level 10 as defiler but I'll probably just abandon the server again when I do that now.

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    1. There used to be a whole quest line that involved crafting stations in the basement in the tower on the Isle of Refuge. That seems to have been something that Daybreak left out when the brought back the isle. Not sure why. In the Frostfang Sea quest line you craft something almost immediately if you scoop up all the quests.

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    2. I think we discussed a lot of this last time, when IoR magically re-appeared. There were, from memory, three major revamps to IoR before it was taken out of the game, plus there were different quest lines depending on whether you went to the "Good" or the "Evil" version. Then when DBG decided to bring it back they partly had to use the bits of it they could still find, which were mostly not form the very earliest version and they also revamped some of it yet again.

      Consequently it is more of a pastiche of the original than a recreation.

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