Frosty Free Month of Everquest II

June 9th, 2010

I just heard that Fileplanet is offering 30 days of free access to Everquest II to promote the new Halas content that was just released. I've poked around in the new Halas housing (very nice!) but I haven't really taken the time to roll up a new character to do the starting zone. This is a great opportunity for anyone who hasn't played EQ2 to give it a try though, as there's no strings attached to downloading and playing the 30-day trial.

As far as the nitty gritty of the deal, I take it they're essentially giving away a Shadow Odyssey retail pack, which includes EQ2 and all the expansions EXCEPT for the latest one, Sentinel's Fate. This deal works just like a retail box: you just have to pay the subscription fee to keep playing. However, if you really get into the game, you'll want the new expansion, so I guess that's where they expect to make their retail sale. Still, there's a ton to do in EQ2 between level 1 and 80, so by the time you're worrying about that 81-90 grind that I discussed in depth some months ago, actually getting around to buying the game shouldn't be much of a concern!

If you do decide to try out EQ2, make sure to look me up in game: the status bar on the right side of my site has up-to-date info on finding me in the games I play, including my main EQ2 character, Pyria, on the Lucan d'Lere server. Drop by, say hi, and tell me what you think of Halas!

Posted by: Soulrift

Wahoo, I beat EQ2!

April 18th, 2010

Well, I did it! Ding'ed 90 with my Warden in Everquest II! Actually, I had run out of quests to do, so I was doing instance dungeons to get that last bit of XP, and I got stuck at 99%, so I ended up blowing a plat buying collectibles and turning them in for the last bit of XP I needed to level. Felt a bit like cheating but, heck, I'm just thrilled with the result.

One of the neat features they added to EQ2 is that for each level 90 character you have, you get a 10% bonus when leveling up your other characters. This applies separately for adventure and tradeskill XP, so I already had the 10% bonus on tradeskills for a while now with Tailor 90, but this is the first time I've reached 90 on adventure, so I'm looking forward to coasting ever so slightly faster through the game with my alts.

On the topic of alts, I've got three now: a Necromancer that's tagged on my status here on, but also a Ranger and a Berserker. There's four main categories of character classes in EQ2, so I thought I'd flesh out a small stable and include one of each. I'm sort of switching between them as I go, since I don't really have the same desire to reach 90 as I did with my Warden. I guess now I can finally write about the end-game experience in EQ2's Sentinel's Fate expansion!

Posted by: Soulrift

Where Did That Wall Come From?

March 27th, 2010

I think I've run dry on EQ2. The game is "multiplayer", but I can't find any other players to play with. It's especially frustrating because I've run up against the solo/group barrier. All the interesting things to do require a group, but the things aren't interesting for the other people in the group with you. It's a similar problem I've seen in a lot of MMOs that put an emphasis on grouping for content that is only interesting the first time through. FFXI was riddled with quests and missions that you kept having to drag people back through if you actually wanted to complete the game's content.

MMOs need to focus their group-required content on things that remain interesting for the whole group. Raid content, where everyone gets some (or gets a chance at getting) interesting loot is one example. PVP is another example - Planetside stayed fun for ages doing the same sort of things with a very flexible group. Public Quests is another interesting idea but I've yet to see it implimented in a manner that remains interesting and active past the game's launch month. Ultimately the biggest problem with limiting content to group-only is that it forces players to find other players also interested in doing the same content. For whatever reason - the game is getting old, players have moved on to other things - when your calls for a group go unanswered, your interest in the game dries up rather quickly.

Posted by: Soulrift

A Little Redecoration

March 12th, 2010

So, weekly update of sorts. My adventures in the Sundered Frontier have slowed to a mild simmer, interrupted briefly with Brew festivities. I've reached level 82, but so far most of the quests in SF are pretty linear; rather than picking up a dozen quests and blasting through them all at once, you have to do them one at a time, with a lot of travel in between. It's especially irksome when you have to keep returning to the same area and killing different monsters; I'd rather have those "kill 10 rats" quests all at once and get them done and not have to go back there. Especially when it feels like you're "wasting time" killing all those other mobs that aggro you as you look for the one type of quest mob that matters.

Anyhow, the real subject matter for today's post is that I redecorated my house today! It's much nicer now, got some fancy walls and lots of Paineel furniture now that I reached 40k faction. I still need some better lighting though; despite all the paineel lamps the place is really dark. I just discovered how to re-size things though, so I made some small table-top items into huge centrepieces! Very fun. The housing system has always been one of my favorite features in EQ2. I just need to find more furniture to put in it...

Um, not much else to report. I tried using the LFG system today to find a group to do a new SF instance, but it doesn't seem like anyone else is using it, I came out empty-handed :(

Posted by: Soulrift

The Sundered Frontier!

March 6th, 2010

I made it! Level 78, good enough to hop on over to the brand new expansion content and start checking it out!

That said, I want to issue another complaint about stats and itemization in EQ2. Yesterday I had two items to pick from: one with +wis and one with +ability modifier. So I tried to figure out what, exactly, the two did for my variou spells and abilities, by unequipping one item with just +40 wis and one item with just +40 am and comparing stats. What I found really confused me.

I looked at five abilities: Primordial Strike (a quick melee attack), Dawnstrike (a fire-damage melee attack), Dawnstrike (a fire-damage spell nuke), Sylvan Bloom (primary heal), and Photosynthesis (heal over time). +40 Wisdom added a bit to the first three (9-24, 13-15, 10-12) and NOTHING for either of the heals. +40 Ability Mod added 0-33 to priomordial strike, nothing at all to the spell version of Dawnstrike, and 40-40 for the other three. If you can figure out the math, please let me know.

In any event, the take-away was clear: wisdom adds nothing at all to healing, only attacks. That's right, I'm a healer, and no stat in the entire game except for Ability Modifier boosted my heals. If that isn't completely messed up, I don't know what else is. Oh, wait, I do: the new mastercrafted armor introduced in Sentinel's Fate has no +AM on it. If I "upgrade" my armor, I lose nearly +200 AM. That's a huge loss, consider it cuts my primary heal from 1000 down to 800.

Continue reading...

Posted by: Soulrift

Trekin' Through the Jungle

March 2nd, 2010

The journey to Sentinel's Fate is a bit mired at the moment. After coasting merrily from 70 to 75 in the Keylong Plains, the first of four zones introduced in the Rise of Kunark expansion, I've hit a bit of a roadblock in my progress to level 80 and entry to the Sundered Frontier, the first of Sentinel's Fate's areas. Whilst Keylong had plenty of easy quests and a relatively easy environment to navigate, the next few zones haven't been as forgiving. In particular, the Kunzar Jungle, the area I've so far settled into, has a particularly irksome crowd: factions!

Plenty of MMORPGs use "faction standing" in one form or another to determine player access to zones or content and/or determining whether or not certain monsters aggro the player. Usually these involve doing some sort of quests to earn faction to 'open' an area, such as by making monsters there not aggro so you can move through safely. The biggest challenge is not accidentally lowering faction you're working on raising by killing faction mobs. Kunzar Jungle makes this whole process nigh nightmarish because there's 4 or 5 factions you want to improve faction with and they all start out aggro. You can't so much as trip over a tree root without aggroing one or the other, and you can't just fight them off or you ruin your faction efforts.

Ugh. Plenty of tippy-toeing around but I think I managed to de-aggro most of the factions. Just have to keep grinding quests and I'll hit 80... soon?

Posted by: Soulrift

Challenges with EQ2 Itemization

February 26th, 2010

I noticed an odd issue in EQ2 since Sentinel's Fate: gear itemization seems really off sometimes. As I understand it, in a recent expansion (not sure if it's Sentinel's Fate or something that came out earlier) the effects of stats have been completely revamped in order to simplify things. For example, it used to be the case that, for my Warden, Strength boosted melee damage, Wisdom boosted healing effects, and Intelligence boosted spell damage. Now, Wisdom boosts all three and Str and Int do nothing. The problem, of course, is that all the gear is itemized for the old system. "Woven" leather armor has Wis and Int on it, designed to boost both types of spells prior to the change, now the Int is just wasted itemization points.

I guess with the bajillion items in the game, it would have been exceedingly difficult to go back and adjust everything, but the biggest problem is that a lot of gear has a mix of stats intended to keep players balanced across all the stats that used to be important. Maybe SOE should have gone back and assigned every item just one of the four "class" stats (the fifth stat, Stamina, is of use by everyone for more HP). Of course, then they may as well just assign every item directly to a class group while they're at it. The result would be a pretty ugly loot system where every there would be no cross-over between classes using gear. If a necklace has a mix of wis and int, perhaps both a mage or a priest would use it.

Well anyhow, that's just a bit of a ramble while I keep grinding my way up to level 80!

Posted by: Soulrift

First EQ2 event? Status Contest!

February 22nd, 2010

Well to get started on my journey to Sentinel's Fate I loaded up the game, picked up my old Kerra Warden (it's a cat that turns into a dog!) and wondered where to begin my adventure. Thankfully, my guild had a perfect starting point: a contest to generate enough status to level up the guild! 1 point per writ, 10 points per HQ, and 48 hours to rake up as much as possible in the hope of bringing the guild from level 80 (the cap prior to Sentinel's Fate) up to 81.

To put all this into context for new EQ2 players, the game features a point system called "status" that players can earn when they are a part of a guild. There are two main ways of getting status: doing writs (which are simple "kill twelve rats" or "craft six boots" style repeatable quests) which earn you a handful of status, and Heritage Quests, which are large epic adventures that have unique awards, including a big chunk of status. Your guild gains 10% of all the status you get for yourself, so if you earn 1000 status, you generate 100 for your guild. Guild status is like XP for the guild, and with enough status your guild goes up levels, gaining access to a bigger guild hall and lots of other perks!

I was pretty gung-ho about the HQ part of the contest. I had bypassed a number of interesting HQs and this was a great opportunity to go back and complete them. I managed to do 5 in the two days (pretty impressive, eh?) along with 51 writs (mix of adventure and crafting) for 101 points! That put me in second place for the contest, behind a guildmade who blitzed through a whopping 151 writs (to be fair, evil players in that particular level bracket have a lot of overlapping writs, meaning 2 or 3 quests to kill the same type of monster). Still, I had a great time and ended up at level 70 adventure level and 78 crafting level, so Sentinel's Fate and its new content feels closer than ever!

Posted by: Soulrift

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