For something like 2 years my highest level character in EverQuest II has been Friyja, my Berserker. I’ve played a fair amount of EQ2 since reaching that point, but almost entirely on other characters, or on the EQ2X service when that was something running in parallel to the rest of the game. Last summer I played quite a bit but most of my play was done with my Warlock and Brigand, or was Tradeskilling work. So that level 50, though a level cap increase and a lot of changes to the game and to progression, remained my personal milestone in EQ2.
Over the weekend Iskaaron hit level 51 in Everfrost, finally besting that personal high. One significant factor has been the presence of the AA slider. When I first leveled to 50 it was in the days before the slider, when your option for maximizing AAs was to lock and unlock your adventuring level as you played, something I didn’t really have the patience for at the time. With the slider it’s much easier to manage, but you still have to find the sweet spot for the slider to be, something that’s dependent on both personal preference and personal playstyle. The default setting of 50/50 that free and Silver players are stuck with is not terribly suboptimal, but in a way it’s kind of the worst of all possible worlds for a certain kind of player. You’ll do fine with it as far as AAs go, but you’ll also find that enough of your XP is being diverted into AAs that you won’t level all the way through the “Golden Path” zones before completing the content there. There is more than enough other content, mind, but you’ll find that the questing in, say, Nektulos Forest is very different from the more direct way that it’s constructed in Butcherblock, for example. I personally rather like the variety and the less linear questing in the older zones, and with a Merc in tow there is very little that you can’t complete even solo.
The stock answer as to where you should set the AA slider is that if you’re going to be doing lots of quests (the completion of which gives you lots of AA XP,) you should set it at 33%, whereas if you’re going to be doing lots of grinding you should set it at 66%. This is a very decent rule of thumb, but even so you’ll want to tweak those numbers a bit based on your own preference and playstyle — and you may find that you want to vary it character by character. For Iskaaron, walking the Golden Path but also doing the other zones in those level ranges, I am finding that the 75% AA setting that I’d mentioned I was trying out before is pretty close to optimal. Leveling is slow but not too slow, and AA gain is fairly rapid, with about 2-3 AAs coming per level.
Here’s the big reason this is important, though: the current level cap is 92. The current AA cap is, I think, 320. But you need to have at least 280 AAs in order to advance past level 90, and in any event you don’t want to be stuck at 90 with 75 AAs or something like that. Assuming my current rate holds up, I should hit 90 with around 210 AA, which isn’t bad at all. And I might kick the AA slider up to 80% at some point after hitting 60.