When New Halas hit the EQ2 servers I rolled a new character just to check out the starter area. I chose a Fury because I’ve never really played a healer in all my years of MMOing (or if I have, I’ve forgotten about it). He quickly sped to level 20 and finished the New Halas zone (Frostfang Sea) and moved to Butcherblock and kept going.
Somewhere around level 30 I realized this was no longer a throw-away character and he was here to stay. I decided he would be my Transmuter (a skill that turns magic items into raw materials to be used in Adornments) but in order to get his skill up I needed a lot of low-level magic items to practice on. Also I’d more or less ignored his harvesting skills since I’d been playing him like a disposable character.
Enter EQ2’s ChronoMagic. I set his level back to 5 and ran him through the Timorous Deep newbie zone, working on his harvesting and transmuting all his quest rewards. About halfway through I went to level 15 with him and eventually the Sarnacs also sent him on to Butcherblock. Most of my quests there I’d already done, of course, but there were a few faction-specific ones waiting.
So that’s where things stood Saturday night. I had some new level 22 quests I want to knock out but I’m level 35. Back to the Chronomage to be set back to level 25. But one of the quests is a harvesting quest and my lumberjacking skills weren’t quite up to snuff. I headed to the area of Greater Faydark near Crushbone to increase those skills, but soon wandered into Crushbone itself. The orcs there were easy prey for me and killing the odd orc broke up the constant hunt for harvesting nodes.
Then I saw an Orc with a quest feather. Turns out he had a job that needed to be done inside Crushbone Keep, a place I’ve never been. I went in there, found an elf who needed help too. The orcs near the entrance weren’t too bad but I knew this was a group zone and I’d need more firepower eventually.
So here I am, artificially level 25 and needing help. Chronomagic to the rescue again. Angela had a level 35 Berserker. She Chronomaged down to level 25 and we set out to conquer the Keep. As we delved deeper and deeper into the Keep it was clear we were getting in over hour heads. So we both canceled our chronomagic, leaving us at 35 & 38. 38 was high enough that our quests were gray, but then I mentored back down to 35; now we had a duo that was high enough to finish the Keep, but low enough that the quests didn’t go gray. And finish it we did.
But early on in the conquest of Crushbone I saw the flaw in my play style. I was gaining levels while doing lower-level content, which was going to leave my “unaltered” level quests going gray on me, which in turn would force me to chronomage back down again, setting up a viscous cycle. Then Angela let me on to a tip… you can choose to divert your combat experience to AA points rather than leveling.
So that’s what I did and instead of gaining levels I was earning AA points that let’s me tweak my character class to be something ‘just right’ for me. Sweet!
By this time it was late afternoon Sunday and we’d been playing all day, so we quit, but honestly I was left wanting more. I love all the options available in EQ2 between the parallel quest lines, using chronomagic and mentoring, and now my new favorite toy, deciding where you want to put your experience points to work. I loved that I’d logged in to do a level 22 harvesting quest and wound up going through a lowbie dungeon that I’d never seen before. That’s the kind of unexpected adventure that brings me back to a game time after time. I loved that we could tweak the difficulty to suit us doing it as a duo rather than having to wait for a guild member of appropriate level to log in, or turning our group into a PUG.
I’m definitely a game grazer and rotate through MMOs on a pretty constant basis, but everytime I re-visit EQ2 I find something new and fun to do. I never stay around very long, but I’m not sure that’s the game’s fault. It’s the one MMO I play where I’m in an active guild and I can only sustain that social aspect of my game playing for so long before I drift off to another MMO where I’ll solo for a while.
I’m not sure if EQ2 Extended is a good idea, but I hope it at least gets more people to try the game out. 5 years of additions and expansions and system tweaks has left a rather massive, wonderful game that’s overlooked by most MMO players.