Archive for the “EverQuest 2” Category

EverQuest II – the sequel to the original EverQuest, sharing many of the settings but otherwise fairly different.

Walking with Undead Dragons

Walking with Undead Dragons

I’m just still not convinced that naming EverQuest 2’s latest expansion after what must be an incredibly painful condition was the best strategy. If YOUR tears were indestructible stones that amplified all magic to dangerously explosive levels — if you were ALSO a creature of magic like the dragon goddess Veeshan — you can see how avoiding crying situations might be to your advantage.

Kerafrym, the prismatic dragon, is the big bad of this expansion, imprisoned for eternity as the sleeper in Sleeper’s Tomb. His parents were an ice dragon and a fire dragon, believed to be EverQuest 1 legends Lady Vox and Lord Nagafen, a mating that was forbidden by the Ring of Scale. Loot-hungry players wake him up and send him rampaging through Nagafen’s Lair, Permafrost (home to Lady Vox), Dragon Necropolis and the Temple of Veeshan.

Dera and other members of Lost Sock Patrol

Dera and other members of Lost Sock Patrol

Picture of my cleric, Dera, about to wake the Sleeper with my guild Lost Sock Patrol of Stromm. We were about to make a lot of scepter of destruction farmers really, really mad. These farmers were making huge piles of real cash by selling SoDs and other droppable mega-loots to associates in the Stormhammer server, who could freely swap servers, with rich players on servers where the Sleeper had been woken. My server, Stromm, was supplying all of EQ with illegal weapons. But we were also going to be the last guild that would ever wake the Sleeper in the original EverQuest. Plus, we weren’t getting any of that SoD cash, now, were we?

Anyway, fast forward, we wake the Sleeper, he goes on a rampage, eventually destroys the moon Luclin, sends his armies against Skyshrine, gets the Tear of Veeshan we found in Siren’s Grotto, becomes more powerful than we can possibly imagine, kills Lord Yelinak (whom we ALSO killed in EverQuest 1, a lot), and forms the basis for the Tears of Veeshan expansion.

I’m thinking SOE owes us something for all this work we did for them. If not for us, the Sleeper would still be peacefully slumbering away on Stromm, Luclin would be whole, and the latest expansion would be “EverQuest II: Smiles of Fluffy Bunnies”.

See how well THAT plays in ad copy.

Nexus Core Advanced Solo Dungeon

Nexus Core Advanced Solo Dungeon

The expansion takes place largely in the Ethernere, the place where the souls of the dead rest before moving into their permanent afterlife. In the previous expansion, Chains of Eternity, the place was constipated with the souls of the dead, after the death spirits of the gods Rallos Zek and Cazic Thule stopped up the place and drove its guardian, Drinal, mad. THAT’S all cleared up now. Which is good, as the Tear-empowered Kerafrym is about to send the souls of every living creature there pretty soon. Unless we players can stop it.

We, though, have no clue. Our only Tear was stolen by Kerafrym. Lord Yelinak might know of another, but he was eaten by Kerafrym because of some really bone-headed moves by the leaders of Norrath, who decided to stupidly use the Tear they had to force a super-powerful dragon, Lendinaria the Keeper, out of hiding to help. If Kerafrym ever found her, all existence would be toast. We summon her with the tear, and guess what, Kerafrym shows up, and Yelinak has to sacrifice himself while we rapidly undo the summoning, leaving us with no Tear, no Lendinaria, no Yelinak, no nothing.

The Duality, the two-bodied wizard who has been the avatar of the good guys since the Sundered Frontier expansion, has the idea that we could follow Yelinak into the dragon part of the Ethernere and get his advice before he passes on to (after) life with Mom Veeshan.

And that brings us to the expansion.

New Pack Pony!

New Pack Pony!

The Tears of Veeshan expansion are set in the Vespyyr Islands, the realm of dead dragons, a medium-sized overland zone consisting of several floating rocks. There is also, somewhere, Highhold Keep, or the Ethernere copy of same. I haven’t been there yet. The main focus of the content is in its ten new dungeons, which, as in CoE, come in solo, heroic, challenge heroic and raid versions. Again, as in CoE, a solo signature quest leads you through the expansion, upgrading your gear to tier 2 group zone levels before sending you on your way.

The solo dungeons require a base critical chance of 465, well beyond that provided by vanilla CoE gear. I tried a couple of the dungeons anyway (my CC being 405) and didn’t get all that far in them. However, the new mechanics are pretty nice — for example, the first Nexus Core boss sends out swarms of short range missiles you have to outrun or dodge.

ToV also brings a new, improved dungeon finder. Haven’t tried that, since the grand ToV gear re-tuning dropped my hate gain from 95% to 45%, and I can barely keep mobs off my healer mercenary. I’ll have to spend some time with the reforger figuring stuff out before I can tank again. There’s a whole new AA tree, the Dragon tree, and 20 more AAs to earn to spend on it, and I’m hoping that will help rebalance things once more.

The expansion has a lot of love for crafters. There’s a new, short, Gathering Obsession quest that unites you again with annoying monk child Qho Augren, who this time has run off into the Ethernere in search of rare things for you to ultimately harvest for him. The reward is an upgraded pack pony that can harvest rares and holiday items for you. Additionally, daily crafting quests in Caldin Ward reward recipes and experience.

Rat Channeler

Rat Channeler

ToV adds a new class, the Channeler. It’s a pet class, of a sort, that uses magic arrows to heal and damage. I say “of a sort” as the pet, called a construct, isn’t able to be commanded. It’s an unkillable damage sponge that can take a certain amount of damage before it just stops taking damage for you. You can customize its look to a certain extent by finding new pieces in the wild, similar to… Vanguard? Didn’t it have constructable necromancer pets?

I leveled a channeler up to level 5 last night. Probably not high enough level to really get a feel for the class. Several max level channelers were chatting up how amazing they were for being powerleveled so quickly last night. I’m not certain anyone in the live game actually knows how the class works yet, least of all the max level channelers. Oh yeah, if you can powerlevel, leveling up baby channelers is where it’s at right now. Cash opportunity.

I haven’t spent much time in the expansion as of yet; I have to finish the signature quest, see where my armor is at that point, and make adjustments before I can group and see the actual content of the expansion, its dungeons. I’m hoping that the revamped dungeon finder does its job.

First impressions? Well, I didn’t like the stat readjustment much. It took a lot of time and plat to get my stats where I wanted them to be. But, things change, I’ll adjust.

Will this expansion have ‘legs’ to keep my interest, long term? That depends entirely on how the dungeons go once I get to them. I have four max level characters but could only stomach taking two of them through CoE before I got sick and tired of doing the quests again and subsequently just leveled up characters in Skyshrine, like everyone else. As things stand now, I think I’ll really enjoy taking one character — my main, Scatterfall — through ToV, and then probably won’t bother with the rest.

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Ethra and Lord Valkiss take on Captain Goldjaw

Ethra and Lord Valkiss take on Captain Goldjaw

It’s an exposé! It’s the kind of information SOE doesn’t want you to know! It’s probably been banned by the government! It’s Merc Science!

In the calm before Tuesday’s Tears of Veeshan release, we folks in Lunar Wolves have just been exploring, clearing things up. A mad romp through Kael, all its instances and the contested bit? Yeah, we did that. Griffin rides through the Forgotten Pools? Done and done again. A mad romp through Harrow’s End? We laughed at Drinal, and she laughed barked back.

But through most of the weekend, I had a second, more serious purpose than just plain “fun”. I was going to set merc against merc in a head to head brawl from which there could be only one victor.

I called this —– Merc Science. Guildies would ask what I what I was up to? SCIENCE!

Scatter and Kilphin scout the lay of the ship

Scatter and Kilphin scout the lay of the ship

The new 10 year EQ2 veteran reward are two mercenaries, Lady Liae Croae, a paladin of Qeynos, and Lord Valkiss Ssi’sh, a shadow knight of Freeport. How did they compare, as tanks, to the paladin from the Chains of Eternity collector’s edition rewards? Or to the ever popular Neriak shadowknight often urged upon new characters?

Finding the answers to these important questions was my goal. I have four characters at max level who have access to the easiest advanced solo zone in Chains of Eternity, the pirate ship Dreadcutter (DC). It’s four bosses, all are tank-and-spank, very small zone, it’s possible to finish the entire thing in less than five minutes.

On call was my main, the Fae berzerker Scatterfall, who would be testing out DPS classes. She has no need of another tank or a healer in DC, but in places like Siren’s Grotto, it would be nice to have more damage. Unfortunately, the DoTs cast by many of the mobs in the Siren’s Grotto instances mean a dead merc unless they can heal themselves; mercenaries don’t have player resists or health and can’t shrug them off like player characters can. But with enough DPS, all things become possible.

On Scatter’s last trip through the Tavalan Abyss, she brought along the Kerran monk from the Lion’s Mane Inn. The monk died so often that she was forced to do most of the instance without any help at all. Finding a reliable DPS merc was a priority.

Tipa and Lady Liae head in

Tipa and Lady Liae head in

Joining Scatter in the Merc Science Labs was my previous main, Tipa the Dirge. She needs a tank that will let her get in position for her devastating dagger deliveries, dolorous dirges and debilitating debuffs. Some healing wouldn’t go amiss, either.

Third in line was traditional alt Arda the Inquisitor. As a healer who can take a hit, she could partner with a tank and squeeze mobs between a hard place and another hard place, or team up with some DPS and see who kills fastest.

Lastly is Ethra the Defiler, my newest max level (no, she was not boosted up by the instant 85 service. She got there legit. In Skyshrine.) As more of a pure healer than Arda, just needs the most tank she can get for her two platinum pieces. She has the healing — and the pet to help out with both damage and healing.

Ethra and Lord Vilkiss relax after the battle

Ethra and Lord Vilkiss relax after the battle

The Lab

Merc Science would be performed on the good ship Dreadcutter. There are four bosses. Mugulg, the Quartermaster is a healer who can be a lengthy fight if not interrupted. She also is positioned near a lot of potential adds if not cleared first. Nonetheless, she will have adds, some of which will be the fun power-draining kind.

The second, Chef Blarghrot, will come with at least two adds. He frequently casts an area-of-effect stun which can be blocked and should be. The trick here is to leave yourself in a good enough position that being out of action for five-ten seconds won’t be fatal.

Captain Goldjaw has a one-shot-kill effect that he casts on a random member of the party in heroic mode, but in advanced solo mode, it seems to have no effect. He is a straightforward kill, unless AEs bring in adds from downstairs.

The final boss is the Tempest of Zek, an elemental summoned by the “deaths” of the bosses on the ship. “Death” in quotes, as in the Ethernere, all the NPCs are dead already, and “killing” them just reforms them elsewhere.

Scatterfall

Merc’s bring more to a group than just damage, tanking and healing. They bring their own buffs and debuffs that can provide benefits well beyond the numbers they parse. For Scatter, I tried to focus on mercs that would be able to make Scatter more awesome than she already was. I did not test that monk for Merc Science. That cat is dead to me.

Scatter, being an AE-focused class, typically drags all the mobs with her from boss to boss and kills them all simultaneously. Her DPS goes up with the number of mobs she is killing. In a control run without any merc, Scatter averaged 228K dps, with spikes above 1.5 million damage per second. In order to try and keep mercs on-task, with mercs, she did a little more clearing. Scatter really doesn’t need a merc for DC, but — SCIENCE!

First up to bat was Kilphin, a lizard assassin from the Temple of the Fearless. I’d tried him before but didn’t think much of him. He did fairly well in his run, for a merc, averaging 20K dps. Scatter’s DPS suffered by bad positioning with Mugulg, forcing me to fight her with few adds.

Next was Bildi, halfling troubadour. She averaged only 2K dps — a hundredth of Scatter’s — but her songs made up the difference by boosting Scatter’s dps even more. Nonetheless, the difficulties of keeping a merc out of harm’s way had its drawbacks.

Firus, the wizard, turned in a 10k parse, but had no help for Scatter, who again had to struggle to keep Firus out of AEs and aggro.

Lastly, we tested her partnered with Krivok, the templar from the CoE collector’s edition, who, at 32K, parsed the best of all the “dps” mercs. However, the run as a whole was disappointing, with Scatter’s damage down substantially. Not sure why. Likely because I killed stuff as we reached it and didn’t have crowds of adds with the bosses.

Test #1 results: the general feeling that Krivok Honorclaw, the templar, is the best DPS of all the healer mercs, seems to be born out thus far. Tests will continue on more of the “normal” mercs. Krivok, like all mercs, has no sense of self preservation and will NOT work very hard to keep himself alive and cured, leading to many senseless deaths he could have prevented if he’d just cared for himself as well as he cares for his master. Aggravating.

Arda

As an inquisitor, Arda works best with a tank who is as tough as she is. Though she has some AEs, her most powerful debuffs are tied to her encounter powers. Dreadcutter has no multi-mob group encounters, cutting out a significant amount of her damage and debuffs. Nonetheless, she is battle cleric-specced, and brings significant melee with a healing component to the table, as well as the powerful direct and reactive heals common to all clerics. Though she can take a hit, without any better taunts than her heals, she is unable to effectively keep mobs from turning and killing whatever DPS she brings with her, leading to a losing game where she tries desperately to heal mercs who were never meant to tank, or having to call them off and lose their dps. Hence her preference for plate tanks.

First up was the new ten year SK merc, Lord Valkiss. At Arda’s average 56K dps to average Valkiss’ 72K dps, it’s clear that the single-target focused of both combatants has very much hurt their average. However, Valkiss needed very little healing and his aggro was solid, such that Arda never had to worry about unleashing too much boom.

A sneaky trip into Arda’s former hometown of Qeynos got Lord Valkiss’ partner, Lady Liae. A cleric partnering with another healer, albeit a paladin, would seem insane, but the damage was nearly the same as for Lord Valkiss.

When Arda paired up with Krivix, the CoE paladin, the numbers dropped substantially. Arda’s 50K parse easily dominated Krivix’s 48K, leading to a disappointing total. If a fighter class can’t do better damage than a priest, that fighter needs a new career. And it won’t be with Arda.

Test #2 results: Both the new ten year tanks did their jobs well. Lord Valkiss’ more damage-focused build has the advantage over Lady Liae’s protection-focus when partnered with a priest class.

Ethra

Ethra, the defiler, is based on preventing damage. Many of her healing and damage abilities are strengthened by her pet, which gives her double the actions in the battle — and double the potential aggro. In the DC fights, Ethra was forced to spend time keeping her fragile pet alive instead of refreshing her debuffs and keeping on top of the class-defining Ritual of Alacrity and the extremely deadly AE Defile cloud of filth. While Arda could largely get by with innate heals triggered by her melee attacks, Ethra had to leave DPSing at times to cast regular heals.

With Ethra’s debuffs meshing well with Lord Valkiss’ disease-based attacks, this duo’s parse hit 69K, a decent result. Ethra had lesser results with the two paladins, with Lady Liae coming well ahead of Krivix Honorclaw. For fun, and I use the word loosely, I paired her with the newbie fave merc, the SK Vittia Direshadow from Neriak. At 24K DPS to Vittia’s 15K dps, Ethra utterly dominated the SK in the slowest DC run of the day. Vittia Direshadow has no place whatsoever in a max level character’s employ.

Test #3 results: When a new player asks for merc advice, many people suggest Vittia Direshadow. Guildies say she’s useful up to about level 40, but you’ll want better before then. If you don’t have access to the CoE mercs or the ten year mercs, then I don’t have, at this time, a good recommendation. But it’s not going to be Vittia. Lord Valkiss continues to shine as DPS and tank for a priest partner.

Tipa

As a troubadour, Tipa’s job was once to make other people shine. Since she became a dirge, her focus is shining her own personal star. Tipa wants someone who can keep themselves alive while she brings the hurt. As such, her usual partner is one of the Honorclaws — the paladin if she thinks she won’t need much healing, the templar when she wants to definitely stay alive, and can transfer or evade off her aggro.

I only did two tests with Tipa. I wasn’t interested in whether or not the ten year mercs were better than the CoE mercs; I knew the answer to that. I wanted to know which one would be able to be a good partner to a bard.

Hoping for the occasional heal, Tipa went through DC first with Lady Liae. At 87K to 66K, Tipa was able to get some good hits on the bosses while the paladin easily kept aggro. Heals were never an issue.

But with Lord Valkiss — it seems the ten year SK has some healing ability as well, as Tipa’s wounds were quickly closed. At 91K to 67K, Tipa’s DPS shone and the run seemed very quick.

Test #4 results: I wouldn’t want to take Tipa through Siren’s Grotto without a healer — those DoTs really need curing and Tipa doesn’t have Scatter’s stats to be able to just ignore them. But in a damage fest like DC, Lord Valkiss is the winner.

Conclusion

For a given class, the ten year mercs are better than the CoE CE mercs, who are better than the normal mercs. The one special merc I have, Kilphin the Assassin, did his job acceptably but was still outmatched by the CoE CE templar — who also brings buffs and heals to the party. In some instance groups last night with the elite merc Perrin Wanderhoof (someone else’s merc), he averaged about a tenth of my DPS, which isn’t bad for a merc, about comparable to Kilphin. Plus, he contributed some healing.

Normal mercs will help when just starting out, but when you’re max level, it’s best to get some of the quest mercs — like the ones in Skyshrine — or the dropped mercs from the CoE heroic instances, if you can’t get the ten year or special edition mercs.

Dreadcutter is a very particular instance, full of weak, ungrouped mobs. A merc who thrives in that sort of setting will shine, but may not do as well in a more traditional instance.

Scatterfall’s gear is approximately between CoE tier 1 and tier 2. I could upgrade it more, but with the expansion coming so soon, I’ve been holding off. However, CoE tier 1+ gear is easily enough to dominate any of the solo zones, even without a merc. The zones were tuned for people in CoE quest gear (because… that’s what they’re for.) Putting Scatter through the DC Lab skews the results. When I first took her through, she was there with the templar merc every time, farming better gear. Her first time through without a merc was … tense. But now, the mobs simply cannot harm her.

I do love my little ‘zerker.

Link to the full results? Right here!

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Trapped in a world without color

Trapped in a world without color

I don’t actually talk, or type, like that texty speak. I don’t know what came over me.

Well, I kinda know. There was a bunch of bloggish commentary a few months back on the kind of random ranting bloggers do. You know, bloggers don’t have any deeper insight than anyone else on anything, by and large, but we do have our blogs. It makes us feel more important, gives us a louder voice. But everyone shouts on the internet. It gets tiring. I realized that I really don’t have anything to say about the current state of MMOs. I’ve stopped trying to follow the crowd to every new game; Sim City 5 cured me of that. Wow, way to buy into the hype, right?

I’m trying not to be caught up in the EverQuest Next hype. It’s such a blank slate at this point that people feel free to read anything into the various teases. People in the public chat channels in EverQuest 2 speak with absolute certainty about things that contradict what some other certain person believes. As far me, I haven’t seen any evidence of any gameplay, some thread through the game that keeps people logging in. I fear it’s just going to take the usual sandbox route of being PvP focused — “the players are the content!”. In which case, they fail, because almost nobody plays the various EverQuests because they are astoundingly awesome PvP platforms. SOE may feel that PlanetSide 2’s success has given them a good feel on how to make a successful PvP MMO, but — EverQuest is not PlanetSide 2.

See, ranting again. It’s an easy trap.

I still game, every night. My favorite nights, though, are when I game with friends. With Team Spode on Sundays, and with Kasul in Neverwinter on Mondays. I hope against hope for a regular group in EverQuest 2, but I don’t think that’s going to happen. The guild was going really well, lots of people were logging in and leveling and ready to go, but some key people left for a raid guild and that had a devastating effect. Maybe it’s partly because of summer. But irregardless, I’ve been looking for a new obsession for awhile.

Not Candy Crush Saga. What is it about Match 3 games, anyway? I haven’t found even one that I can play more than once. There’s this huge, endless genre of games where you win by letting your mind wander as your fingers do some kind of complicated meditation that sends ever more flashing lights and loud sounds straight through your optic and auditory nerves into your brain. The resulting trance-like state must bring people close to some sort of nirvana.

Wikipedia says of nirvana (the religious concept, not the band):

The word literally means “blown out” (as in a candle) and refers, in the Buddhist context, to the imperturbable stillness of mind after the fires of desire, aversion, and delusion have been finally extinguished.

That… is what I assume playing Candy Crush Saga is like, for adherents. A stillness of mind without the cares of the physical realm. The MMOs I play are a step removed from the pure stuff. I have never understood how calling a game “addicting” would be a positive selling point. Maybe CCS is the pathway to enlightenment. A prayer wheel for the 21st century. Children, trained on CCS, will be able to fall into a trance state instantly, shuffling colors around in their mind, every match sending jolts of endorphins deep into their cortex.

Indie developer Dave Toulouse challenged people on Google+ to try his Match 3 game, Bret Airborne, which (he thought) would appeal even to people who insisted they hated Match 3 games. Steampunk! Airships! Mad science! I bought it, played it as long as I could, haven’t touched it since. The developer wanted feedback, but I was so depressed by my failure that I just stayed mum and moved on.

I just can’t enjoy life.

Raiding in DCUO

Raiding in DCUO

I mentioned awhile back that we were going to give raiding a shot in DC Universe Online — strictly random raid stuff. We — meaning only me, at this point, I guess. I need so many Marks of Triumph for gear (several thousand per piece, about a hundred per Tier 3 group mission at a time) that it will take me months and months to get even one piece at our current rate. Everyone else has managed to earn enough marks and farm enough exobits that they are playing at a much higher level. Me, those solo missions take me hours to do with lots of dying and aren’t any sort of fun at all. So I stopped doing them. I have this idea that I would stop playing a game where I wasn’t having a good time.

I also have this weird hangup about joining random groups. I’m paranoid that people will call me out for being a crappy player. This is because people regularly call me out for being a crappy player. We were working through a raid a couple weeks back and someone said they should start a vote to boot the crappy controller. Me, being the only controller in the raid, agreed, and said we should boot her right away. Nervous laughter — wondering, maybe, if I understood they were talking about me. The vote was taken, I was kicked. I spent the rest of the night flying around cities alone, listening for the hum of exobits and wondering why I just didn’t log off and delete the game. The other guys successfully completed the raid.

Last Sunday, we raided again. I chose the “damage” role that every class can choose so that I wouldn’t be tapped to be a controller. Though I intended to play that role anyway. Entering as “damage” would just ensure there being a real controller along as well. Instead of trying to use crowd control powers, though, I just fed mana continuously the entire raid. Nobody tried to kick me, and we eventually succeeded. 200 Marks. Only about three thousand more to go for my first piece of Tier 3 gear.

Neverwinter Gateway

Neverwinter Gateway

I really enjoy my Neverwinter nights. Kasul and I alternate between doing Foundries one week and blasting through all the quests in a zone the next. Monday we explored The Chasm, a deep canyon full og toxic spell energy that warps the people and creatures within with the Spellplague. The zone’s story ties neatly in to one of the first quest arcs you encounter in the game, a knight’s desperate love for his spellplagued wife. There are twists and turns, and their story ends here.

Outside of game nights, we try not to gain too much experience (though the pig herding minigame in the Midsummer Festival zone is now my new addiction. I can’t enjoy Match 3 games, but pig herding…. SOOOOO-WEEEEE.) Kasul and I are both inveterate _crafters_, though. Cryptic offers their entire crafting and auction house interfaces via their Neverwinter Gateway. So crafting can continue outside the game; it’s always as close as my phone. As of the most recent update, the one that brought Weaponsmithing into the game, I’ve been making our weapons, while Kasul handles the armor for both our characters.

Naturally, with Neverwinter being a free-to-play game, the best results come only as a result of spending a significant amount of in-game currency in order to buy the exponentially expensive tools to get even a chance at a good result.I’ve spent all my in-game cash and a significant amount of real world money to get part of the way; Kasul has worked harder and gotten even better tools, some of which he’s lent me as I try to make the weapons that will bring us to max level.

Not sure what happens at max level. The looking for group channel only seems to want people with astounding gear who can demonstrate a deep knowledge of every end game zone. This is almost always my cue to find another game. We’re in a dead guild and won’t be able to meet the requirements for groups or for experience with zones we’ve never seen.

We’re talking about restarting, but I was hoping for some new classes to make the trip up more interesting. Neverwinter is all about ratcheting up the grind (literally) exponentially. Every step up is four times the difficulty of the one before, or requires four times as many resources. It takes sixteen tier 1 crafter hirelings to make one tier 3 crafter hireling, at a minimum time of (16 + 4 + 1) x 18 hours. 376 hours total? Minimum? You can speed this up with cash, of course. It takes 4 to the 7th power tier 1 enchantments to make even one of the tier 8 enchantments required in each piece of gear at end game. And here, Cryptic has given the “fuse” ability that takes four enchantments of one tier and produces one enchantment of the next tier, a chance of failure that increases to near certain failure as you move further up. Unless you spend cash.

I fear we’re nearing the F2P cliff with Neverwinter. People are always saying that for MMOs, the game really begins at max level. But that just means it isn’t the game that kept us logging in for all the levels before max level.

Cryptic’s thought — the thought of all F2P game companies — is to hook them, then make them pay to continue. I get that, these games need to make money in order to stay running. I’ve spent quite a lot of real money in Neverwinter. They’ve gotten paid. But this exponential grind thing — that’s just paying for punishment. If I had a living guild or some more friends who wanted to group and play — but that’s not a thing that will happen. The GOGOGO mentality is alive and well in Neverwinter, and there’s the gear checks and the aversion to new people and everything that drove me away from WoW.

So whenever I hit one of these F2P pitfalls in Neverwinter or some other game, I wonder how SOE is planning to punish me with EverQuest Next. They’re going to start setting the hook with EverQuest Next Landmarks this winter, where players can create content for SOE to put into the main EQ Next. It sounds like we’ll be charged to use this player-created content in the live game.

Just kinda worries me when I start hearing details about the monetization when I’ve heard nothing about how this game plans on being a game.

Plus, they seem to be setting the game in an alternate past, giving them no connection to the lore or locations from the current games, stomping on the number one request from current EverQuest and EverQuest 2 players. Bring back the world of EverQuest that we love, but with the latest technology.

Not gonna happen.

All they have to do, the only thing left for them to do, is announce a PvP focus for the game, to completely separate themselves from anything EQ players wanted from the game… er, sandbox.

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Weapons of Powah

Weapons of Powah

My defiler, Etha, got her epic weapon over the weekend. It’s a deadly spear with a disreputable history, an appropriate weapon for a defiler. (Etha is, of course, named after my original EverQuest character, about whom I’ve been sharing early, early EQ screen shots on Google+).

Etha’s epic is the fourth for my characters, after Tipa’s dirge epic (having previously done the troubadour epic), Scatter’s berserker epic, and Dera’s inquisitor epic. A good night in Skyshrine will get Etha the rest of her levels and AA, and then it’ll just be grinding the Chains of Eternity and Siren’s Grotto solo dungeons for gear for her.

EQ2 has, for me, become a little boring. For awhile, our guild was grouping and doing dungeons and I was having a lot of fun. A few important people left the guild, a few others stopped logging in, and now random grouping is the only option. I dislike random grouping. I’ve done it a bit, but it’s always stressful. Today’s real life surveillance society has nothing on EQ2; if you aren’t measuring up, you’ll hear about it — or more likely wipe the group.

I’ve even found myself looking up players on EQ2U to check out their gear before grouping with them. Which means MY gear has to measure up, because people will be doing the same to me. Which means — hours and hours grinding gear in the solo dungeons.

Kerafrym sizes up a snack

Kerafrym sizes up a snack

The solo questlines are pretty fun, but short. The latest content dump, Darkness Dawns, brought a quest for an awesome cloak that ended with a challenging group fight (who tanked it twice for a random group? Me! Yay!) It also (we know now) set up the game’s next expansion, Tears of Veeshan, by showcasing the game’s Big Bad, the prismatic dragon Kerafrym, as you, the player, hand him the keys to the world’s destruction. He was able to destroy the moon Luclin BEFORE you powered him up with one of those rare artifacts, the magic amplifying Tear of Veeshan. Now… all reality is on the chopping block.

Sure, we know that doughty raiders will stop Kerafrym on the brink in the expansion. But what will there be for non-raiders to do? SOE has said they will make the random dungeon finder useful. Previously, it loved serving up impossible groups that would just lead to death (like, a group of three, no healer, for a dungeon with mobs five levels above that of anyone in the party). Will this new one make balanced groups consisting of people with appropriate gear for the challenge? I dunno. WoW and Neverwinter manage it.

I get really stressed in random groups. As a tank, if anyone but me has aggro, I lose. It’s my one job in a group — keep the aggro, and have sufficient gear and appropriate abilities such that I don’t overtax the healer. I’m fine with the latter, but get some wizards and assassins in the group blasting away and I sit there whapping ineffectually at a mob, using all the taunts I have available only to see it hit me once and then turn back to the wizard and all I can think is what a failure I am. The wizard or rogue could back off, sure, but it is their job to do astonishing damage — they get graded, too, and if they’re not doing THEIR best, THEY’VE failed.

Stress all around. I guess that’s why I solo so much, even though I like grouping the best. And when I solo, I start leveling alts. So now I’ve got four.

Next up: the necro.

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