EQ2: Scars of the Awakened, Part 3

Taking on an Otyugh
Taking on an Otyugh

Over on Neverwinter, they’re spotlighting the various D&D critters who have made their way into that D&D-based game. But, EverQuest 2 is no slouch in the classic monster imagining, either — rust monsters and displacer beasts just two examples, and then there’s this Otyugh as one of the minions of Kira the Beastmaster in the Tavalan Abyss. It was awesome to finally see this beast in the flesh, and then to kill it.

I hadn’t realized that Cobalt Scar is a “phased” zone until I was wandering along the Combine camp, checking out the ballistas, and heard sounds of pitched battle from nearby, fighting mobs I had seen nowhere in the zone. Everything LOOKED calm and peaceful, so where was this fighting coming from?

It was coming from a phase I could not see. I thought I was done with the zone except for a “heal the poisoned otters” quest, but clearly there was more to see. Probably the tradeskill quests that arm the camp against an imminent attack would have made more sense if I’d had the correct adventure quests done so that the camp would be actually about to be attacked.

Healing those Othmir was not easy; some would arrive on the mats nearly dead while I was trying to keep another alive, but after a few tries, I managed to let only three die. This opened up a new series of quests which lead back through the Othmir camps in the Great Divide and the Eastern Wastes, and then to the undead Othmir camp in Cobalt Scar. While exploring the zone, I’d come across the camp and had done the tradeskill quests available there, apparently out of order, as now I had the dove-tailed adventuring quests open. There was a nice trip into the past to see the downfall of the original Othmir, then back to the present to undo the fell enchantments.

This opened up the Kelethin Outrider camp, which, until now, had been an area of abandoned tents and such. Aha — I’m into the next phase.

The quest gear appears to be slowly giving me armor like the Combine soldiers in the main camp, as well as some white seashell armor from the Othmir. I didn’t realize this at first, and transmuted some of it. I really prefer the DCUO method, where once you get some gear with an appearance, you can use that appearance forever after, even if you get rid of the gear.

With the Obols from the Siren’s Grotto instances, I was able to purchase my first piece of CoE group gear, the chestplate. They also take Greater Spirits, of which I had only one. These drop from group instances, and groups really have no place for a crap-geared berserker, so probably out of luck getting more of those.

Now it’s time to save these Kelethin outriders and head up to finally, maybe, see drakes attack the main camp!

EQ2: Scars of the Awakened, Part 2

Siren's Grotto: Tavalan Abyss
Siren’s Grotto: Tavalan Abyss

Oh, so those mindflayer guys were Tavalan! Gotcha. They were called something different in EverQuest. But every single player knows that those are mind flayers. EverQuest and EverQuest 2 make some really amazing versions of standard D&D monsters, every ability implemented exactly, the art totally spot-on, but then tacks on some random name.

Last night’s adventures really showed EQ2’s monsters at their finest. I swear I battled an Otyugh at one point.

Last time in EQ2, I was about to build a Force Projector that would invisibly protect the Combine main camp in Cobalt Scar from drake attack. This was soon accomplished, once I found out that the mystery components for the final few combines could be had from random boxes in the camp. I’m ashamed to say I did have to turn to the Internet for help with that one. That done, all made, hailed as the hero of the camp, I delivered the force projector, got my mysterious blue coins as reward and — and that was it. No drakes came attacking (no drakes had actually ever been seen in the skies), no unique end reward. I’ve done both the Othmir and Combine tradeskill arcs, now. The Othmir one ends in a huge battle with undead Othmir within the remains of a powerful dragon. The Combine ends with pretending the camp was ever in any danger.

I’d already collected the quests for the daily Siren’s Grotto runs. I started off, again, with Alluring Embrace because I’d done that one already and wanted to see how fast I could do it, now that I knew what to do. I want to make another video, but only if it’s under ten minutes. Who’d watch something longer than that?

First boss, the bouncy boss: Won’t let you just stand under the waterfall to be permanently free from madness. She teleports you away. I did find, after the fight, some entranced Combine soldiers to free for the quest, allaying my fears that I was killing the ones I was supposed to save.

Second boss, the sirens and the elemental. I didn’t bother killing the sirens once I’d broken their concentration, but just dragged them to the next one until they were all aggro and the elemental was dismissed. Turns out they bolster each other when close to each other, so this was a strat SOE expected. Still, faster and easier than being beat upon by the elemental all that time.

The sisters and the frog boss were no different — except I occasionally earned an Obol from bosses instead of coin after I completed the daily quest concerning them. For the Queen, I destroyed the coral barrier as soon as she raised it, making the fight fairly short. Searching the instance for all the Combine warriors that needed saving took up more than ten minutes, but I don’t think I’d have come anywhere near that even if I just stuck to the killing.

Exited the instance, turned around and entered Tavalan Abyss. I didn’t find this one nearly as easy as Alluring Embrace.

First boss was a mindflayer that summoned floating heads. Being near them too long apparently insta-kills, so I tried staying in motion once those were up and killing them on the run, and that seemed to help. I think this was the one where the boss was going to focus attention on me, and I knew I needed to get going. Took a couple tries.

Second boss encounter were four mindflayers fighting together. One of them — the one whose name starts with ‘F’ — is a healer who heals and rezzes his friends. Once I saw his healing messages in the chat window and knew to kill him first, it was fairly straightforward. I was trying all sorts of things — trying to kill them all evenly and such — but it was knowing who the healer was that was key.

Third was a beastmaster, who summoned adds during the fight, including the Otyugh and some other critter; I’ll have to remember to take screen shots next time. There was an additional critter that didn’t take part in the fight that is doubtless there for the group versions of the instance. Simple fight with no strat needed, aside from killing the adds first.

Fourth was another Queen siren. Aside from clicking on clam shells to stop Epicx4 monsters from entering the room to kill you (you don’t have long to do so, so fight near them), nothing really memorable about this fight. There’s some harvestable trees in the back that you can get some CoE-ish charms from for quick buffs during the fight.

Fifth was the boss who lives in the trippy room from the top screenie. His trick was summoning a clone who would heal the boss if they were close together. This just required pulling the clone away and killing it separately, since the boss doesn’t move when the clone is out. Simple once I figured it out (the game does explain the healing bit).

Loot were a couple 160-ish stat gear, one of which was an upgrade for my Inquisitor. Along with some mysterious blue coins, and an Obol for killing the boss (required by a daily quest).

Obol drop, rarely, from CoE trash mobs, but I haven’t gotten even one from all the solo instances I’ve run, and so don’t have even one piece of CoE Obol gear. Siren’s Grotto’s legacy might be earning me enough Obol to buy good enough gear so I can stop playing a crap-gear berserker and have the gear good enough to tank for a group. I really want to start grouping, but the tank requires an order of magnitude more skill and gear than any other group member. Skill and gear I just don’t have.

EQ2: Scars of the Awakened: Day 1

Frog Wars
Frog Wars

It’s an issue whenever the EQ2 team brings back one of EverQuest’s classic zones: how close have they come to the original experience? And, secondly, does it mesh well with the “shattered lands” lore that backs EverQuest II?

Game Update 66, AKA “Scars of the Awakened”, bring back Cobalt Scar and Siren’s Grotto. The original Cobalt Scar was the final outpost on the discovery tour all characters had to make through Velious before they earned full use of the druid rings. It opened up the Claws of Veeshan-faction areas, the third faction of Velious’ three-way war between the giants, dwarves and dragons. The completion of the gnomish expedition plotline — the gnomes who rediscovered Velious the FIRST time — awaited the crossing of the deadly open dungeon of Siren’s Grotto.

In Scars of the Awakened, the returned vestiges of the Combine Empire and the exiled tribe of the otter-like Othmir that we met in EQ2’s Great Divide and Withered (nee Wakening) Lands have broken through the rocky barriers that hid Cobalt Scar. They’ve found themselves at the wrong end of a battle between the remnants of the native Othmir and the walrus-like Ulthorks, armies of undead, necromantic dragons, hungry giant drakes, and beguiling sirens.

They are completely overwhelmed. And only you can save them. Seriously. YOU are the “Mortal Champion” and without your help, they are doomed. It’s lucky you’re a hyper-competent bad-ass, setting the supply camp in shape before going on to save the Othmir and prepare the Combine main camp to withstand attack from the ever-circling drakes.

A high-level tradeskill has never been more important, as crafting various items drives several plot lines. In my first night, I focused largely on the tradeskill quests, so I’m not any sort of expert on how the adventuring lines play out. There’s some poisoned Othmir I have to save yet.

But, as for the tradeskill quests — track harvestables, summon crafting stations, these are your friends. Bring lots of effulgent fuels as well, and harvest all the nodes you see. Most quests reward you with Mysterious Blue Tokens, with which you can buy Scars of the Awakened-specific crafting recipes.

I took a break from questing to seek out Siren’s Grotto, which in this incarnation is a portal to Advanced Solo, Heroic and Raid versions of two separate dungeons. I dove in (literally) to the first, Siren’s Grotto: Alluring Embrace.

Don’t. Kill. The Frogs. You get a stacking curse each time you do. Don’t even get near them.

First boss had a bunch of beguilded combine soldiers surrounding her, worshiping her. When she saw me, she gathered all of them close and surrounded herself with a glowing shield. The game helpfully prompted me to deal with the shield by disabling the power sources along the ceiling. Anti-gravity pads allowed access to those. I shut them off, fought her a bit, fought some of her unwilling slaves a bit, then she drove me mad. Game helpfully suggested standing beneath a waterfall, which fixed that. Killed her and got a small chest with some gold in it. I’m concerned that the combine soldiers I killed were the ones I was supposed to free to complete a Combine quest. But, I hadn’t gotten that quest yet.

Second boss was a huge summoned elemental of some sort. When I aggroed him and fought him a little bit, noting he wasn’t losing health, the game suggested breaking the concentration of the circle of summoning siren’s spread out around the room. I dragged the elemental to each one and let the siren get caught in attacks meant for me, which broke her concentration. I killed her, and repeated for each one. After the last, the elemental simply disappeared, and I got another small chest of gold for my trouble.

Third bosses were a pair of sisters who liked playing with their food. After killing all the trash in the room, I took them on. They implied that one would be tanking me while the other healed, and the game informed me that I should fight them off their platforms. I believe the game wanted me to fight them together, healer and then tank, but I pulled the tank away and mostly killed her before she teleported herself and me back to her sister. I pulled them back to the floor and continued with the killing. Pretty easy. Another chest of gold.

Back to the previous room to take on the giant frog from the first picture. I knew from reading the GU66 previews that he would summon waves of smaller frogs, but waves of weak creatures are what crap-geared berserkers love best, and I had no trouble taking them down. More gold.

The frog’s death opened the way to the final room, where the Queen awaited. The game was silent on the strat for this boss. I pulled her, did some damage, then she summoned a coral barrier to protect her, and some water elementals to knock me away. From then it was wave after wave of siren adds. I killed them for quite awhile, slowly using up my power (and I think she may have been draining it some) until it occurred to me to attack the barrier itself. Yup, that was it. A couple more waves of adds — mind flayers! — and she fled, leaving behind some loot comparable to the solo loot available in Chains of Eternity solo instances. She also dropped more mysterious blue coins, and an Obol, the CoE currency used to purchase CoE gear and adornments.

Though you can get to Cobalt Scar without having leveled through Chains of Eternity, the mobs in the new game update are generally higher level than the ones in CoE, getting as high as level 102 for some of the larger drakes. Even the tradeskill quests require a certain amount of killing, particularly the end of the Othmir tradeskill line, which has the crafter head to the bottom of a deep tunnel filled with undead Othmir, to face a boss at the bottom (and use the most unique crafting machine EVER — the bones of a dragon’s skull. Bring fuel and resources).

The quest gear is comparable to CoE quest gear, but no better — this is a continuation of the Velious plotline, not an expansion of the game. I haven’t yet seen the group loot, but I imagine it will be comparable to CoE group loot.

The new Cobalt Scar’s geography is roughly similar to EQ1’s version, except no Skyshrine, and sirens can’t charm you and drown you as you try to get to Siren’s Grotto (EQ2 is consistently less hostile to the casual adventurer than EQ1 permits). Instead of low level drakes guarding the cliffs just as you enter, you have high level drakes on the far side of the zone, where you have to go looking for them. Siren’s Grotto was an open dungeon in EQ1, with a couple tricky boss fights. While the new SG looks nothing like the old, the variety of boss fights is fun, albeit highly scripted. But you expect that, these days.

By far, the stand-out feature of GU66, for me and just so far, are the tradeskill quests. You save Othmir, show the Combine Empire how to do their jobs, and are a boundless fount of knowledge about things you probably didn’t even think you knew, like, how to build protective force fields. Turns out you’re an expert. Take a bow.

It’s fun, but in the end, I’m not sure it’s compelling enough to level 95 adventurers to keep them from the lucrative CoE instances. Adventurers who want to continue on in Velious after Withering Lands and Skyshrine, though, might find a lot to love about Cobalt Scar before they head into the Ethernere to save the land of the dead from itself.

EQ2: Double XP Weekend Recap

Passive Aggression in action
Passive Aggression in action

Sure, EQ2 has its holidays and celebrations. But the events that REALLY bring Norrathians together are the Double XP Weekends. 72 hours (or so) of people finishing up old chores, dusting off alts, exploring dungeons off the beaten path… Anything can happen in a double xp weekend.

What’d I do on mine?

Tipa's Epic
Tipa’s Epic

When I last posted about EQ2, I’d started a halfling swashbuckler to fill the empty space in my heart where a scout should be. I had Tipa, of course, but I really wanted someone more DPS-oriented than a troubadour. Of course, I could just betray to a dirge….

Which is what I did. I betrayed to a dirge. All her troubadour master-crafted spells and abilities went poof, so I took Scatterfall out to Kylong Plains and Stonebrunt Highlands to get enough rares to craft her expert abilities — just one tier below master. I had my jeweler, Ardiana, craft those up. Then I sent Tipa out into Kunark to do the dirge epic quest. If I’d done the Epic Repercussions quest on Tipa, I could have just *bought* the Dirge epic, but I hadn’t. At level 80, she was just too low.

Finished the fabled version of the epic, and started on Epic Repercussions, which separates the weapon’s epic effects from the weapon and grants you the mythical version of those effects even if you’ve never done the mythical quest. I’d gotten a promise from a berserker friend on G+ to team up for the dungeon portions of the quest, but I’d have to hit level 85 ASAP.

But, double XP weekend. Several runs through Chelsith later, Tipa was at level 87 and had gained about 40 AA to boot. My friend and I and our two mercenary healers dominated the dungeons we needed to run — until Vestigial Cella. That was just a little much for us. I logged in Scatterfall, my own famously crap-geared berserker, and tanked the rest of it. The next morning, I got help from a guildie in completing that instance for Tipa.

Tipa’s report card for double xp weekend: eight levels, forty-something AA, and her enervated epic.

Scatterfall's Epic
Scatterfall’s Epic

Being left with a cleared Vestigial Cella as a result of helping out with my friend’s enervated epic was the inspiration I needed to get Scatter’s done. She has the mythical version of her epic, but hasn’t used it in ages as upgrades came and went. Getting those epic effects with her current weapon choices would be a good thing. Being a crap-geared berserker is no problem when running the older dungeons, especially since, typically, I only needed to kill the first boss or two in the ones before the Cella. And, my friend had shown me how to get through the Erudin Research Halls without dying so much. Dunno why I had so much trouble when I did these quests on Dera….

Scatterfall’s report card: Enervated epic done, plus FOUR Sundered Frontier collection quests completed while harvesting Ulteran Diamonds for Tipa’s expert abilities.

Teofila vamps it up
Teofila vamps it up

A long time ago, I noticed that I’d gotten the Freeblood vampire race unlocked for free as some veteran reward or for being a legendary subscriber or something. And vampires eventually would get the ability to transform into a cloud of bats and fly around, which is utterly awesome. So I had to make one — a fury. My idea was, I would do NO quests on this character except the ones that were absolutely necessary. I would level entirely by going to dungeons and grinding mobs. In one weekend, long ago, I leveled up through the Freeport newbie zones, explored the depths of Wailing Caves, and started in on Fallen Gate. Got the achievement for hitting 20 in less than two weeks, and then put the character away.

When a guildie was offering a spot in a powerleveling group to anyone in the 20s, I offered up Teofila. We blazed through Varsoon’s, Nektropos Castle and Runnyeye in about an hour. Teofila’s report card: an astonishing 23 levels. And now her gear and spells are soooo out of date that it will take a fair amount of work to make her viable again, especially since I deleted my sage (who would craft her spells) a long time ago to make room for new characters.

Kinda pointless, but I was getting bored running Tipa through Chelsith again and again and this was a chance to have some fun with some guildies. I camped the dirge out right there in the middle of Chelsith and went all fang and talon-y through the low level dungeons of Norrath with the vamp.

I did manage to play a little Neverwinter somewhere during the weekend — and to go on a really good hike along the Metacomet Ridge here in Connecticut (so yes, I did get outside!). Today, though, Cobalt Scar and Siren’s Grotto drop in the last game update, so…. it’s going to be EverQuest II for a little longer.

Neverwinter will wait.