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That old EQ2 vibe: Pumpkin King & 20th Antonica, Vermin's Snye

Most of Saturday was spent listlessly browsing boards between equally listless bouts of Neon Wars. Starting at Blue Rank, I can get up to about 800k-900k before my hand-eye coordination is proven utterly lacking. It's a fun game, so I'm glad that I found the right settings to make my computer stable enough to play it.

Sunday, however, I was ready for something a bit more substantial than Neon War's old school cool: I spent most of the day in EverQuest 2. It begun with my character indecision was in full swing, but after much staring at the login screen I eventually decided to play Kand, my Monk in the low 20s. I think I had rationalized that all characters are equally powerful in terms of what they can do, so I might as well play something near and dear to my heart rather than something I thought would be effectively. Besides, Monks like Kand are part of the holy duo of EverQuest 2: The Fighter that is kept alive by the other half of the Duo, a Priest. The Scouts and Mages just bolster damage and, in some cases, mitigate the number of active foes in the fight. No wonder my Illusionist and Swashbuckler never get any invites.

Finding Kand in Antonica, I started on my way back to Qeynos and was sidetracked with that all-important Monk activity: raising my safe fall. Repeatedly jumping off of high things that are not quite high enough to kill me is a kind of training that can save me a trip back from a respawn point. (Of course, if I were a Fae I'd automatically be able to survive any fall... but the developers have promised to review the other race advantages.)

Apparently whatever drives of mine were involved in performing monotonous activities were in full swing, so I should have known then and there that this would be a long day of EverQuest 2. However, what really got me excited was I actually received a spontaneous invite to join a group in Stormhold! I almost never get spontaneous invites in this game, and at times it seems the only way I can join a group at all is to form my own... but that would take effort!

The Stormhold group went relatively well. The original leader got pissed off at the newbie nature of the rest of the members and left, and I ended up leading a 4 member group composed of a Monk (me), Mystic, Swashbuckler, and Illusionist. That was okay by me, as my gripe with leading is the invitation process, not the actual leading. We completed a two or three easy Stormhold quests and then went our separate ways.

Upon leaving stormhold, I noticed that someone was looking for more to take down the Pumpkin King. It's a a "27x2 Epic" raid, which I suppose means it's a level 27ish raid made for two groups. Knowing that my 29th level Illusionist, Egarim, was on the last leg of that very quest, I decided to log him in and join the proceedings.

The Pumpkin King put up a good fight. My frame rate dropped pretty heavily during the proceedings, and I decided to throttle down the detail settings a bit afterwards. In the end, the Pumpkin King was no match for our 10 player raid and fell before us. I received the full brunt of the reward: a ring that (among other things) granted +10 int, a unique furniture piece, and a unique mostly costume-utility mask.

Yet, not even the fruits of an epic raid were enough for me to stick with Egarim. After puttering around with him a little, gaining a level or two in sage and barely completing a pirate caravan guarding quest, I decided I just wasn't enjoying things as much as I was with Kand.

Logging in Kand for the second time resulted in over four hours of soloing mostly green quests. I had sworn off doing green quests awhile back, as trying to complete everything in the quest book is an exercise in futility, but I was having fun enough that I didn't particularly care what level they were. I started in Antonica where I completed perhaps a dozen quests, then was lured into the Vermin's Snye by an Elder Grove quest giver.

I thought I wouldn't spend much time in Vermin's Syne, but I ended up performing about 6-9 quests there. The foes in the Syne were nearly ten levels below me, it was rare that I was given any experience for defeating them. I had decided that, of all the green quests I was going to waste my time doing, I should probably make the book quests (the ones purchased off the library at the mage's guild) my top priority. A couple hours later, I had completed "A Collection of Epitaphs", "Archetexture of the Vermin's Snye", and "The Rat Queen of Vermin Snye." I didn't mind that I didn't gain experience points for the majority of the foes I fought in the Vermin's Syne... in fact, I think I preferred it. I actually ended up making a level regardless - not to mention finding a goodly amount of loot. I had hunted so long in there that I had recovered 14 pieces of prestige loot (the kind one sells to the guilds to earn 100 prestige).

While I'm not the kind of masochist who enjoys a protracted grind, the interesting thing about EverQuest 2 is that they've far too much content to cover the levels you're likely to play. As a result, I end up missing about 75% of the content! I was actually alone in Vermin's Syne for the most part, because most of the players had moved on to the Faydwer content at this level, and the ones that were left were out in Antonica. The trouble with grinds is that they outlast the content, but EverQuest 2 has the opposite problem.

While I enjoyed my time in Vermin's Syne, I had a couple quests worth complaining about. The first, being the repairing of Deadeye, required defeating a lot of foes (at least 60 vermin, 20 burrowers, and 50 Bloodsabres). Each foe was about level 15, and yet the quest yielded a level 9 bow named "Deadeye" that had stats that were about the quality of something I'd expect from a random drop at that level. The second involved defeating a named Bloodsabre but, in the 4+ hours I spent in Vermin's Syne, defeating scores of Bloodsabres in the room where this guy is supposed to spawn, he never appeared. I am a bit surprised that I managed to complete "The Vermin's Plague" as I had been down there earlier and never found infected burrowers or infected vermin. If I had not been slaughtering everything I could get my pristine imbued ash batons on, I'd likely have had to have gone empty handed here as well.

The quests I had problems with were "old" quests, and I know that I had /bug reported that there was a problem with the spawning of certain monsters down there long ago and it still wasn't fixed. I'm not going to go so far as to say that this is proof what Gallenite was telling me before was hot air. Instead, I'm going to say that the EQ2 developers have their priorities set in such a way that I'm better off moving to new content than expecting the old content to be fixed. I'd probably do the same thing in their shoes, as the majority of players are going to be hanging around the new content, not the old.

Tomorrow, I plan to take Kand out to collect adequate materials to get his Alchemy up to 30 while pounding Thundering Steppes quests, then head off to make Faydwer his main adventuring grounds. That way, I only have to deal with the new philosophy of the current developers rather than deal with issues like I encounter in the sewers and catacombs beneath Qeynos.
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