It seems strangely appropriate this weekend, when Steam has a special deal on the game, to start chronicling the adventures I’ve been having with Arbitrary in EQ2.
We’ve only just kicked this project off and the plan is to play one night a week. Neither of us have played it before, although I did try the demo about a year ago and it didn’t grab me (more on this later). We were advised that we could get some in game bonuses if we used their refer-a-friend (RAF) scheme, so the first challenge was to figure out the RAF and to .. err.. locate friends with EQ2 subs. Ysharros came to the rescue (thanks! you have unleashed a monster) with the latter.
RAF is designed to be asymmetrical. It’s assumed that you have one experienced player and one newbie – so the rewards are designed for that. When you have two newbies it’s going to get a bit odd. It basically works out that Arb gets an extra month free when I sub, but she can mentor me so that I get 10% increased xp. We won’t be using that because we don’t want one person to level up 10% faster, that would … kind of totally not be the point. She also gets a free mount when I sub.
However, if I read the blurb correctly, we do both get increased adventuring xp when we are together in a group, which actually IS what we wanted. Plus cloaks that give faster run speed.
First stop: picking races and classes
I still think that EQ2 has fairly ugly character models, you can decide for yourself whether you agree. Having looked at them, I suggested Sarnak on the grounds of being cool looking. Plus you can’t go wrong with dragon ladies. You can’t see it in the screenie but she (of course it’s a she, don’t pretend you can’t tell!!) has a long spiky tail. We also liked that SOE realise that reptilians are not mammals and hence don’t have boobs. They even went as far as making the females larger than the male models.
Our main goal was to pick a fairly easy mode duo that could both start in the same starting zone. After all, we don’t know the game, so we want to hedge our bets against finding in 20 levels time that we can’t do stuff that we want to do.
So the standard optimal duo setup in just about any MMO is a dps-oriented tank and a dps-oriented healer. We went with Fury and Shadow Knight. And just for a change, I’m the healer this time around. The Fury is – oh who am I kidding, it sounds like a WoW resto druid. DoTs, HoTs, roots, and apparently some shapeshifts later on.
Note: we really did have to chat in instant messenger before logging on to make sure that we coordinated our race/ class/ starting areas.
We both liked the dragon ladies a lot, they do look good in game. And the game itself is much prettier than you’d think from looking at the character models.
We also thought their starting area was good fun. There was a good variety of things to do, we got to explore a bit together, kill stuff, work out how to use dangerous plants to kill stuff for us, climb ladders, ride griffons (I’m sure a griffon is a type of dog though), kill pirates, acquire combat pets, and tame our own pokemons. I was commenting that if it only had dragons it would be perfect, and Arb pointed out, “We’re the dragons!” which is true.
We also loved the collections which will be familiar to anyone from Free Realms. Yes, EQ2 had them first but I played FR first. You see shiny glows, you can pick them up, you get stuff to add to your collection tabs. I actually have no idea if there’s a point or not.
I particularly like that your character turns to look at an NPC or other character when you’re talking to them. It’s just a nice touch.
What they decide to tell you in the starting area is a bit random. You will eventually get to an area with lots of trainers who can tell you about different parts of the game, but hopefully you’ll have figured out how to access your inventory and use your shiny quest rewards before then.
We also liked that when a mob dropped a chest (ie. extra special bonus item), the stuff inside was tailored to our little group. All the things we found, one of us could use. OK, it was mostly Shadow Knight gear but since she’s taking the beatings I can’t really complain.
You get a lot of abilities in this game. It isn’t helped by the fact that every time an old ability gets updated, they leave the old one on your hotbar and add a new icon for the new one. We had to start using second hotbars by about level 10 (which you get to very very very fast if you just do the quests). Also, we seemed to both have lots of buffs. Maybe we just both picked buffing classes but I sense that the EQ2 devs read somewhere that players love buffs and really went to town on them.
Spells get resisted a lot. Well, maybe not a lot but every time it would really be useful. Crowd control in particular is super unreliable. It doesn’t really matter to us but it reminds me why I didn’t like the trial last time – I picked a crowd control class. It sucked.
Next time, we’re planning to take a look at our Sarnak city. We’re pretty much done with the starting zone now. I also need to figure out how to actually take screenshots. I thought I had done it properly but as you can see above I just got a picture of the paper doll model.
Note to SOE
Oh, SoE, you jokers. Don’t make it difficult for people to give you their money. The main issue I had with sorting out the RAF is that when someone refers you, you get an email with a link to the trial. You have to use that link to get the bonuses.
However, because I had played the trial about a year ago and decided not to sub, SOE didn’t want to let me play the trial again. Even though it was a different trial and I now had someone to play with.
Fortunately this is the internet, we all have multiple email addresses, so setting up a new account was only a minor roadblock. But seriously, what are they afraid of? That people would just play their trial over and over again and deprive them of useful income?
“You see shiny glows, you can pick them up, you get stuff to add to your collection tabs. I actually have no idea if there’s a point or not.”
Once you complete the collection you can hand it in to a collector NPC for a reward. I think I managed one of the level 10 ones in my recent ramblings in the game.
“Spells get resisted a lot. Well, maybe not a lot but every time it would really be useful.”
This is the thing that’s putting me off at the moment. I have a Ratonga Warden, and it’s a string of miss, resist, parry, block, miss, parry, resist, etc. I guess this sort of thing is less of a problem in a group, and more pronounced when solo. I’ll be interested to hear how the pair of you get on with it though. Having just looked back in to LotRO to compare, the characters there hit a lot more consistently, at least in the early levels.
Good luck with EQ2! It’s cool that you’re trying it. It’s actually a very, very good game and the devs have worked hard to pull it back from the edge of failure (it was just awful and buggy as hell when it came out and got smashed by WoW).
I used to adore the graphics and character models but I don’t think they have aged well. 5 years ago they looked hot but now they just look a bit meh.
The Sarnak starting area is probably the best so you’ve picked a good race. You can level up to 20 before you have to leave and it’s a fun experience. After that I’d recommend checking out some of the open dungeons like Fallen Gate and Stormhold, they are great fun.
Resists and hit/misses are very very dependent on your skill levels, as I discovered. In that sense, the recruit-a-friend xp bonus (which is 100%), especially on top of rest xp (another 100%) can be a bad thing, because it doesn’t take long to outlevel your skills. So your subjugation skill, for instance — the one that controls how often your root is resisted — will be X out of a possible Y, and so you’ll be resisted far more often than you’d like.
On the bright side, that will fix itself in time. Mort and I have RAF duos and by the time they were in their 20s/30s, skills were pretty much up to the levels they should be. Logically, combat art/spell effectiveness is optimal when maxed for your level. With the warden, I just spammed a root every single fight we had, and eventually the subjugation skill started going up. Same with all the other ones. Note that fighting stuff at or above your level seems to give far more skillups (also fairly logical).
All the same, for classes who rely on NOT being resisted (and it’s much worse for casty classes than fighty ones), those lower levels can be a real pain in the arse until you start levelling a little more slowly and your skills have a chance to catch up.
My biggest problem was with weapon skills, which were woefully behind since in the duo the warden mostly CCd and healed and Mort’s ranger did the vast majority of the damage. Then I discovered the training dummies in the guild hall, and a few sessions whapping that around let me catch those up too.
When you get your run-speed buff, you may be glad to know it stacks with the J-cloaks. 😉
Oh, and as for mentoring, you’ll use it eventually if one of you gets higher level than the other (it happens). XP is split in a weird way when group members aren’t all the same level, and back in 2006 it seemed like whoever was higher would get far more xp than whoever was lower (which always seemed pretty weird to me since it only widens the gap). Mentoring allows the higher char to “brake” somewhat while letting the lower char get a bit more xp and thus catch up. Mort and I now routinely mentor if one of us levels before the other – it also helps to keep us close in terms of xp.
I’ve added you to friends and will keep an eye out for ya. Or you can just mail me when you work out what night you’re playing. 😀
Be warned that smart loot is only universal through level 20. After that, you start getting a greatly decreased proportion of stuff you can use. The good news is that you can sell the Adept I scrolls for other classes for decent coin on the broker.
Also, I don’t think I ever actually did the mentoring thing, but I’m pretty sure that both group-ees get the same bonus.
As to crowd control, check your character sheet to see how your casting skills are. Debuffs are off of Ordination skill, while CC is based on Subjugation skill. You don’t even GET any spells that use Subjugation until you’re somewhere around level 6-8, at which point your skill is starting at 5/30 or worses. You really need to spam your non-damage spells in situations where they aren’t needed in order to keep them up to par. I think this is an idiotic aspect of the game, and is a big reason why I prefer the Warden, the Fury’s more melee oriented counterpart.
All that aside, welcome to EQ2! Are you two playing on LDL, or did you stick with an EU server?
We’re on LDL, so we need to say hi to everyone there. I’ll do a post about it all soon, but Spinks has summed it up really well. We especially liked having pets very early on and I LOVE collections so far. But I’m finding it weird to be a tank 🙂
“But I’m finding it weird to be a tank :-)”
Hey, there’s this really good WordPress blog I know with all these tanking tips and guides. The name escapes me at the moment, something like ‘spanksvole’, but I’ll let you know if I remember it.
You just wanted to type “spanksvole” — admit it.
Welcome to EQ2! I love this game so much. I have a level 80 sarnak shadowknight so I’ll be sure to watch for any SK-related questions that pop up.
One thing I wanted to clarify about mentoring: the high-level character (the one doing the mentoring) gets 50% less XP, while the lower-level character (the mentored) gets 10% bonus XP.
So if your partner decides she hates the SK and rerolls, you won’t have to. Just mentor her until she’s your level.
Collections are outstanding for several reasons. First, they can give you some great items, both gear and house items. Second, turning them in gives excellent XP and AA. And finally, the rare shinies can sell for a lot of gold–even plat.
Again, welcome to EQ2 and I hope you stick with it. You can find me via Unrest.Grabthar. 🙂
I think you two will thoroughly enjoy yourselves. I really enjoyed my Fury when I played.
I recommend Provisioner to one of you – it’s great to have unlimited high quality food and it’s the resources that no one else wants but has to pick to force rocks to appear.
The only drawback is the one I found when I played Vanguard recently. The social stuff is mainly at top level and it’s a very long way to get there. Hopefully you can find or even start a guild for lower level players. If not, at least there are two of you.
Try the alternate models in the game. They were originally made for the Asian localized version of the game and they look a bit nicer, I think. Except for the ogre models; the original ones are much more scary looking and appropriate, I think.
I really enjoyed EQ2. I played it with my friends after we got sick of WoW. I enjoyed the more complex gameplay and the character customization. More than a few times my Kerra Necromancer was able to save the party by using my life transferal skills. I wasn’t a main healer, but I worked in a pinch when the healer went OOM after a bad pull. 🙂
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Thanks everyone! I think we’re both really looking forwards to seeing more of the game. In some ways, feeling really confused about stuff is quite fun.
We’re both also very tempted by ratgirl alts, ratongas were a huge hit here.
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Do avoid Antonica/The Thundering Steppes/The Commonlands as much as possible. Those are some of the original zones and have more or less been left unaltered, and they’re horribly ‘old school’ in wasting your time.
Y’know the sort of thing… run across the zone to kill something, run back to the quest giver who sends you running back to where you just were to pick up the old shoe the something you killed has dropped.
And vile, vile spawn times on some named mobs. Last night we waited an hour (literally, I timed it) to kill a particular open-field mob. (Bloodtalon, for those who read this who might play.)
Also remember when you get a skill, you get it at Apprentice I. The levels go something like Apprentice I, Apprentice IV, Adept I, Adept III, Master 1, Master 2.
(Someone will correct me if I have that wrong, but numbers are definitely skipped)
Upgrades to Apprentice IV are player crafted and cheap on the Broker (send an in-game mail to Riowa if you want Shadowknight upgrades; I can do those for you — I’m sure we have someone that can do Fury spells, too!) and you’ll want to do them asap.
That’s why new versions of skills don’t replace old versions when you get them. If you have 2 skills in the same line, Hit & Pound, and you get Hit at level 8 and Pound at level 12, and you’ve upgraded Hit to Master level, then it might be that Pound at Apprentice I will actually be *weaker* than the earlier, heavily upgraded, skill.
That said, I agree it’s a pain to have so many skills so early. You’ll have 6 toolbars before long.
To clarify the spell upgrade system (as it stands now — it should be changing tomorrow with GU52):
– Apprentice I: earned each level
– Apprentice II: purchased from trainers in cities
– Apprentice III: no longer exists! (used to be non-pristine player-crafted)
– Apprentice IV: player-crafted from common harvests
– – – (Sages for priest & mage upgrades, Jewelers for scouts, and Alchemists for fighters)
– Adept I: chest drops from mobs (any but grey)
– Adept II: never existed!
– Adept III: player-crafted from rare harvests
– Master I: chest drops from mobs (any but grey)
– – – Named mobs are more likely to drop them, but you do occasionally get them off non-nameds
– Master II: earned every so many levels
– – – Chosen on your Skills (L) > Character Progression tab
The new and improved tiers:
– Apprentice (was Apprentice I-III)
– Journeyman (was Apprentice IV)
– Adept (was Adept I)
– Expert (was Adept III)
– Master (was Master I)
– Grandmaster (was Master II)
I think the new naming scheme will be a lot less confusing, especially for newer players.
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