Ardwulf Plays: EverQuest II

My current front-burner project (in my copious free time ha ha) is a Let’s Play run at EverQuest II. I’d been waiting for ages for character slots to go on sale, and they finally did (all September.) So I bought several and finally got to start a new character.

The new character is a Wood Elf Fury, starting in the Greater Faydark zone. The plan is to get that zone finished and then move on to the next zone, but with a different character. I have the first two episodes up, embedded below. After various rendering and uploading difficulties. Enjoy!

UPDATE: Fixed the embed on the second vid. Byproduct of a failed upload.

Capping Guild Wars 2

300px-Normal_gw2logoI’m a great tryer of MMORPGs. I tend to move between games frequently, often sticking around only for a week or two, only to come back in three months of two years or whatever. It’s easy to do especially in these days when freee to play ios the rule rather than the exception, and I can play for even just a day or two before moving on or becoming tied up with real-life things.

On top of that, I tend to play with alts a lot, usually quickly filling all of the available character slots, and sometimes more if you can buy them separately. In EQ2, for example, I have crafting alts in every tradeskill, plus a couple of extra characters in classes that I just wanted to play. For the last three years or so, EQ2 has been my primary game during summer and winter breaks, and I’ve been making a conscious effort to level my main there.

Even in EQ2, though — a game I have put hundreds of hours into — I don’t have a character at the level cap in either adventuring or crafting. The only game to date that I’ve capped a character is WoW, in which I managed a sustained run of about 8 months in the WotLK era. Even there, I only capped my main, although I came close with a couple of other characters before the cap shifted further out of reach.

Yesterday I hit the level cap in Guild Wars 2, which took (as a guess) maybe 110 hours. There’s still a lot left undone there, of course — offhand, my gear is shit and I still have about 45% of the world left to explore, to say nothing of the running series of events that GW2 has been rolling out pretty regularly since its launch. I have also done little — very little — PvP despite this being one of the game’s strong points. I may have another try at that in the limited time I have left (just one week) before school starts again.

Over on the forums, the running narrative among the nitwit set seems to be that GW2 is a big faceplant. Personally, I don’t see how that’s the case unless the metric of success is causing the downfall of World of Warcraft — which frankly no game except World of Warcraft is going to do (although it is managing it.) Sales were strong (over 3 million copies sold as of this past January,) and there’s still plenty of people in game; every North American server is at at least High population even at obscene hours.

Granted, it’s not a flawless game and we know sales have started to flatten, but at this point it’s fair to say that it’s aging fairly gracefully. Its trinity-less combat model hasn’t turned out as well as we all hoped; I think it works fine for play in the open world but in dungeons and against bosses it’s both screwy and dull. Too, the “living” world works well enough for the most part, but it’s not as organic as it sounded before launch, and frankly after 80 levels of it everything seems pretty stagy. Although I have been nominally leveling by exploring, and GW2’s open objectives are indeed a novel alternative to strictly linear quests, I haven’t felt like I was really discovering anything new for at least 40 levels.

It is also in some respects a frustrating game… although not nearly as frustrating as its predecessor, in which I tried (I really did) to finish all three campaigns, multiple times, only to eventually get stuck. It’s odd how similar the two games are, and yet how different, with GW being a true departure from the MMORPGs of its day and GW2 bringing the series much closer to the mainstream, but both sharing similar support models and art direction.

GW2 is getting good support but I wonder how wise ArenaNet was in opting for the current scheme of live support and regular updates instead of a dedicated (and marketable) expansion. I can see playing quite a bit more of it myself, but I’ll get shunted away into schoolwork in a matter of days… and I think we can already see some dwindling of interest that would be rekindled by an expansion.

Ireland Unified

Yesterday I “completed” another game of Crusader Kings II, this time playing as the Count of Dublin. By “completed” I mean that I made my in-game goal, the unification of Ireland. I still need considerable practice at realm management, however, as Ireland promptly fell apart upon my death. Next time I may play a nation like France and work on that.

Then again, there is so much to Crusader Kings 2 that I could play forever and basically never be done exploring all it has to offer, even without the new expansion The Old Gods (which I will grab when it goes on sale, likely this summer) or the next two years of additional DLC that have recently been announced.

Back From Break While I’m On Break

Over the last several weeks the stress has been grinding on me to the point where I’ve been incredibly on edge and have not held it together 100% of the time. There are about a dozen sources of this stress that I won’t go into, but one of the big ones — the mounting pressure as finals loom — is now over with, and I have a couple of weeks of only full time plus work in which to unwind. It’ll feel like a vacation in Hawaii.

That’s more or less the reason there’s been so little in this space for the last two months; I have gotten a little writing done but almost no gaming, and thus just haven’t had much to talk about on what is still predominantly a blog about MMOs.

Traditionally my main game during any extended break has been EverQuest II. This time around I’ve been fooling with Guild Wars 2 and Vanguard, plus I may hit the Age of Wushu Beta that opens up to basically everybody on the 20th. And more Planetside 2 is always a possibility.

I was tempted by the shocking news that Turbine has resurrected Asheron’s Call 2 on a single server, but trying that would be subbing to AC1, and watching a couple of videos of the revived game cured me of the impulse. It’s an interesting artifact and I wish it well (and wonder about Turbine’s motives) but I can do without it.

So yeah, I’m back for the time being.

Well, That Only Took Like Five Years

So it appears, with some encouragement from the massive Triple Station Cash sale from a couple of weekends ago and the fact that I am in fact still subscribed, I’ve been spending my limited free time in EverQuest II, working my way up in the levels, finally getting my glider mount (which takes some getting used to, lemme tell you,) and settling into new digs in Freeport. I have not felt terribly motivated to blog about any of this stuff, partly because it’s all old hat, but also because of the limited time available.

While I’m at it, though, I may as well pimp the latest Ardwulf Presents, which has been up for a couple of days now. I do have some plans for more videos and over the holiday break may actually get time to make them. Enjoy!

Goals At All Times

So after five years in EVE Online — off and on, of course — I find myself with just north of 9 million skill points and 8 million ISK. Which is not bad as a starting point, as we may as well regard this. I do have a decent established infrastructure, with about ten ships mostly kitted out to work with including a couple of cruisers, an Industrial, a BC and some frigates, a station hold full of stuff including ammo and modules and a few blueprints and such should I elect to pursue that line of work.

No corp, and that’s a big minus that I will attempt to remedy at some point; previous attempts at landing somewhere active and helpful yet tolerant of my disappointing habit of disappearing for a year at a time have not worked out, so it’s something to look for. As far as goal setting, it’s on the list. Speaking of Lists:

Short Term Goals (Days Away)

  • Run missions (primarily L2s) to build up enough ISK to be able to fly, outfit and — most importantly — replace my baddest ship, the Hurricane.
  • On the way, it would be nice to build up enough standings with corps other than the Brutor Tribe to run Level 3s.
  • Meanwhile, keep skilling up in various areas but centered on cruiser/battlecruiser fighting. My skills in such areas as Industry, Social and that kind of stuff are adequate for the moment; I don’t intend to do any non-mission mining right now.
  • Get EVE Fitting Tool and EVEMon up and running again, assuming those are still the go-to tools.

Mid-Term Goals (Weeks Away)

  • The short-term goals are moving in the direction of being able to run Level 3 missions effectively. L3s are where they money starts to get better, and level 4s are where you can start to make so serious cash.
  • Start fishing for a decent corp. I’m not sure where I would like to go with that right now; nullsec or wormhole corps are things I’m considering. My volume of playtime is a factor against that kind of thing, but even then there are options. If I want to stay in Empire the options are slightly wider.
  • Continue to build up my repertoire of ships without buying anything terribly expensive, so likely some of the Tech 2 frigates are options for this.

Long-Term Goals (Months Away)

  • Be able to afford an effectively-fitted battleship (I have my eye on the Maelstrom) and fly it decently well. This might fit into the medium term goals, but I’m not in a tremendous hurry on that; I would rather wait and do it well. I do have the skills to fly Battleships now but only at the most rudimentary level, like take it out of stations and shoot the guns, as long as they aren’t good guns. Lots of skills need work in this department.
  • Level 4 missions. PLEX and such. To make paying for your sub with PLEX a viable option, you need to make about 400 million ISK above whatever you need to pay for whatever else it is you want to do. So such a thing is a ways off and not worth getting hung up on at this point.
  • Get back into mining, eventually. Hulk mining, most probably, and I’m a decent distance from that, although I could fly a Mining Barge fairly shortly if I wanted to.
  • Get out to nullsec. Depending on how the effort of finding a corp goes, this could potentially happen a lot sooner, but we’ll see.

Leveling the Slightly Slower Way (But Still Kind of Fast)

Since the last play report I have been playing EverQuest II pretty steadily. I have done housekeeping on a bunch of characters, mostly to soak up excess collectables and ability tomes, and put five new levels on my Carpenter, leveling him to 35. Fairly soon we’ll be hitting that point where I’ll want to push all my primary tradeskillers out of Tier 3 and into Tier 4: that’s the aforementioned Carpenter, a Provisioner, Tailor, Weaponcrafter and Armorer. A fair amount of work, but it really shouldn’t soak up that much time; advancing through Tier 2 via tradeskilling writs is pretty fast and doesn’t consume a ridiculous amount of materials.

Most of my time, though, has gone into Iskaaron, with the broad goal of getting him to level 60 in some reasonable amount of time. I am now taking a different strategy, since I seemed to be outleveling zones pretty quickly with the AA slider set to 55%. So right around level 45, after finishing the first few rounds of quests in Lavastorm, I set the AA slider to 75% and went back to a couple of zones I’d finished up with, including Zek, the Enchanted Lands and Rivervale, and finally back to the Feerott. Employing a mercenary lets you readily solo any non-dungeon quests in these zones, and a leaper mount lets you get around them with negligible hassle, so I managed to wipe out just about every available quest.

I’m up to 80 AA now and am at level 48, and still working the Feerott, with no real end in sight. Instead of working a ton of quests in parallel at this point I’m working my way down a few notable chains. There’s a chance I’ll hit 49 by the time I’m finished, at which point it will be time to stray from the Golden Path yet again, this time to Everfrost — although I believe that got revamped a while back, so I’m not sure it’ll be level-suitable anymore. But it doesn’t really matter — even at 75% AA there’s more than I can do before I outlevel areas, even ignoring dunegons.