Monday, March 28, 2011

Out with the old..

This weekend saw little play online. What I did do though was pretty productive. I managed to get my chest piece from Velious public quests and am now pretty much setup so I can start to run instances in the new expansion. When I can gather the motivation that is. At the moment I am pretty apathetic about it. I completed the final ‘portal to the past’ on Voltaan as the fabled waist item that drops is awesome. The fighter one dropped but Sjlverwolf won it this time. No worries there, nice to see guildies getting kitted and I’m sure it will drop again for me at some point. One thing though, I’m not sure how long these events will go on for, so I may be running out of time to get the item. Guess we’ll just have to see.

With the Everquest franchise being 12 years old now and with some stimulation to reminisce from my Brother who posted a great run down of his fave 12 memories from EQ, I have decided to resurrect the old/new comparison posts I used to run about EQ/EQ2 zones. I’m going to start off with a post I made originally for my old blog for a couple of reasons. One, because it sets the mood all nice so you folks know what to expect when I do a post like these and because I’m lazy and it’s lunch hour at work so time is of the essence.

Feerrott (Originally posted here, on my old blog - Nov 8th 2007

Feerrott - Old and New
The Feerrott. Even the name creates an aura of dark mystery. Without even visiting the place you have an image of a stinky jungle/swamp. Not surprising really when most of us read the title as Fear- Rott.

It’s time for the zone review again. Over at SoE they have invited the community to once again give their guides and comments on the selected area. As usual, I am going to travel back in time (you told me you had lost that ability! – Ed) and give my impressions, memories of the old EQ original zone and compare it to the new.

The Feerrott was one of those zones that I rarely visited simply for its own content. It was a corridor to get to Cazic Thule and Rathe…a place to dodge bouncers. I guess I did spend a bit of time there hitting the temples (huts) around the Cazic entrance trying to get the Ravenscale Armour that used to drop of the mobs there as a rare. Lizardscale was the common drop. That was probably the most time spent in the zone to be honest, and that was to help a friend out. So what do I remember about the zone?

After being spoilt with nice open zones like the Commons, the Deserts, Mountains etc etc…I must say I was pretty scared every time I was required to run across The Feerrott, because of the enclosed dark and dingy feel. I really did feel (originally) that I was running round a jungle and yes until I hit the river I was usually hopelessly lost. I would even go as far as to say before I got my navigation down, I felt pretty claustrophobic in this zone as a noob. Kinda the same feeling I got when negotiating Kithicor. That was one reason why I felt a little apprehensive whilst running around The Feerrott but mainly it was because of the Bouncers. Until I had met them, I don’t think I had met a meaner, faster, tougher mob and the worst of them all was indeed Bouncer Hurd (as suggested in EQAtlas). I have to say it really was a pleasure to give him a right bashing in EQ2’s Feerrott whilst doing the Stein of Moggok HQ. Revenge did indeed taste sweet.

So yet again another zone that really was pretty much a by word for ‘I’m omw’. Another zone I spent most time in when I was travelling to somewhere else. That has happened a fair bit now, with the zones SoE want reviewed. When I think back at the ‘old’ zone, it didn’t really mean that much to me. Maybe soon they will ask for a zone that correlates to an old EQ zone that I have plenty of play-time in.

What does strike me looking at the maps and comparing them, is again how small the old zone is compared to the new, and the HUGE amount of extra content the new zone holds. Not only that they have turned it in to a much more demanding, visceral, sensual, mob / quest full zone, but they have made it a place to visit in itself. I hunted in the new Feerrott before I went to Cazic Thule . I actually used the zone for some HQ’s and quests. The first time I entered The ‘old’ Feerrott was to travel through to get to Rathe (can’t for the life of me recall why!! I was way too low). It seems the new one may as well be a completely new zone and kin to its older brother in name only. Nowadays I hardly ever visit The Feerrott, more due to being too high level than anything else.

I can tell you one thing though..even though the new zone is far and away superior…I still hate them both. Too cramped you see…I hate being enclosed. Gimme an open plain or a desert any day!

Be well.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Back to the Future...

It’s been a few days since I had logged in to EQ2 or even kept up to date with the current news and forums that I usually troll. As such last night I had a nice little shock. I logged in to the game and there was an unusually long download, so of course I recognised there had probably been an update or some event had started since I had last logged in. I paid it little heed as I was cooking my dinner at the time so left it to download whilst I chopped and sizzled. When I came back to my PC it had finished and I logged in, immediately heading to the Ring War public quest for some fun and a stab at getting my Chestpiece of Woe. As it turns out it again was not my lucky night.

I decided that I had had enough of Velious for one night and gated back to the guild hall. Now for some reason I still find our guild hall quite laggy at times so when I do I tend to just zone out on to the docks in Antonica and sit there whilst I am chatting to guildies. Anyhow, I was sitting there reading the chat channels and noticed a few folks asking about where some ‘portals were. I thought this was a bit strange as travel through Norrath was easier than ever and use of the old wizard ports was not as common or even really required nowadays, unless you wish to travel to the Kingdom of Sky. It was about then I noticed a load of folks hanging around at the lighthouse right next to the docks in Antonica, so I went up to have a look. There was a weird purple lightning ridden portal there and three chronomancers, one of which was selling goods. They reckoned that strange portals to an ancient time were popping up all over Norrath! I waddled over to the portal by the lighthouse and sure enough, when I ran my cursor over it I saw the text pop up ‘to an ancient time’. Of course I clicked it.

I was told via a screen message that I had automatically been mentored down to level 20 and I found myself in an instanced version of the Firemyst Gully zone, but this time with lots of yellow ^^^ Gnolls wandering around. It didn’t take Voltaan long to discipline a few puppies and soon he was converging on the ugly skull hut in the middle of the zone, outside of which was an advisor. The advisor said something but before I had a chance to read it he was attacking me and Voltaan had one more puppies nose to smack. It was then I noticed two more doggy paws right at the back of the skull hut. Voltaan is so tall he had to bend down to look inside and lo’ and behold, there’s ole Fippy Darkpaw! (I once named had a Rabbit we called Fippy in his honour). So that was what the ‘portal to an ancient time’ thing was all about. I’d totally forgotten Everquests twelve year anniversary was upon us and it looks like as a nice little tribute EQ2 has portals all over the place where old EQ players can go to get their nostalgia on and bash some old nameds.

Next stop was the Enchanted Lands where I found the portal (with some direction from Sjlverwolf, thanks mate) between the Wizard portal and the Druid Ring. This portal mentored me down to level thirty and sent me to that small valley instance that is usually off Antonica (I don’t recall the name!). The scene was supposed to be the ‘Old plains of Karana’ and I wandered around killing some lions and centaurs. Once these had been dispatched a Gnoll Shaman dude ran to the centre of the Druid Ring did a bit of chanting and Voltaan very considerately pulped his nose for him and gave him a good spanking. For a few moments I looked around and nothing else seemed to be happening and I was all like ‘oh, so that’s it?’. It was at that point I noticed a Ranger right by the entrance tunnel that I couldn’t quite believe I had missed earlier, so I ran over for a chat. He told me about Quillmane!

As soon as he did and I recalled Quillmane was the Pegasus who used to drop the Pegasus Feather Cloak of Levitation in EQ1. So I looked up and there he was, flying around in ever decreasing circles until he hovered in the middle of the Druid ring. A couple of things hit me then. One, the graphics for the Pegasus are fantastic and in this age of EQ2 flying mounts, I want one. I have no idea if Sony have any plans to put the model as available to players at a later stage for a flyable mount, but I damn sure hope they do. Quillmane looked awesome. For a short amount of time. After Volt had finished with him, he looked like a sheesh kebab. It was so cool. He dropped the Pegasus Feather Cloak too! The second thing that hit me was that the instance had been successful. Not in that Volt ‘won’ so to speak, but it was successful in stirring up all the memories I had of camping that damn Pegasus in South Karana just so I could hover everywhere with his cloak on. My EQ1 Druid, Kildurin never got past level 46, and when I quit playing he was still wearing that cloak. Great memories.

Quillmane [courtesy of EQ2]
I’ll be doing more of these portals back to an ancient time tonight I think. Lavastorm is next and I have no idea what nostalgia that is going to dig up, but I’m looking forward to it. Bravo SoE. A nice (slightly) redeeming feature after such a poor showing of an expansion. Restored my faith. Just a little.

Be well.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Velious: Unexpected fun

I’ve had a bit of a surprise the last few days.  Just to kill a bit of time of an evening I have been logging in to EQ2 to chat to friends, clear some bags, go through my banks slots. A strange thing happened. My guild leader Sjlverwolf and a few others were indulging in some Public Quests and I didn’t even get asked just got thrown an invite to attend. As I was there to spend time with my friends, this was all fine. We were at what is called The Ring War PQ and I hadn’tbeen involved with them before so had no idea what to expect. It was crazy! So so busy. I was part of a full raid, but there must have been almost another full raid there too and the waves of mobs keep a comin’ until the big bad at the end.  It was quite simple and straightforward but was actually quite good fun with so many folks involved in the battle. When the event is over you get a reward given to you by the forces you helped and they are a choice between about 4 or 5 items.  If you are lucky you may get your class specific fabled weapon (yellow slot only). One of the rewards is an armour crate. There are various different versions of these but the easy way to tell how successful/lucky you have been is by adornment slot. The good stuff has a yellow and white adorn slot, the average stuff has a white only slot.

Although I have a feeling I will get bored of these very quickly, at the moment I am a bit surprised to find out there is something I enjoy (for the moment) about Velious. Anyhow, after a couple of hours of doing the public quests, I now have Volts Fabled weapon, four armour slots and a couple of adornments.  It was a real mental challenge to unequip my tier 2 red slot items for this stuff as I worked hard to get that gear and for it just to be useless and replaced by mainly legendary kinda sticks in my craw. But I guess it’s unavoidable and I already have had my fair share of moaning on that subject. Even though it’s a shame to see all that hard work go to waste, the new kit even though legendary is quite a bit better. It doesn’t necessarily look so on paper, but because of the combat & stats changes they have made, it just seems to work. My dps for the heroic training dummy (solo’d) went from around 13-14k to over 24k just with the few legendary  pieces I have and my new weapon. The mind boggles at what the raid stuff will be like, but I guess that’s a non issue for me nowadays. I still have it in my mind to quit the game at some point soon and most definitely won't be playing seriously anymore, just helpin' me Bro and messin about doing the occasional public quest.

On to bike news, the first race of the MotoGP season has been and gone and it was a great season starter. Of course my boy Vale didn't do as well as he would have liked with a seventh position, but then again he is still badly affected by injury and the bike is nowhere near ready for him yet. Another rider plagued by injury and perhaps more disappointing for him as he wasn't expecting the old injury to flair up was Dani Pedrosa who battled with Casey Stoner and Jorge Lorenzo for the first two thirds of the race then dropped dramatically back when the old injury in his left arm flared up rendering his arm pretty much useless. Congratulations go to Casey Stoner for an almost perfect race, but particularly Jorge Lorenzo who after seeing his Yamaha be dominated by the Hondas throughout winter testing and for each of the practice sessions and also qualifying, managed to battle off the rest of the Hondas to get second place on the podium. An awe inspiring ride.

Jorge Lorenzo. Qatar MotoGP 2011
 Be well.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

This is the end..beautiful friend..

A long weekend has just passed and I must have logged in to EQ2 about two or three times. Each of those was pretty much just for 30 minutes to say ‘Hi’ and chat to friends. I think it’s safe to say that my predictions were correct; Velious has killed the game for me. I was worried this would happen. I quit EQ1 on the same expansion and although I didn’t let myself be influenced by that as EQ2 is a very different kettle of fish, but it’s weird how it’s happened again. This time round though, I doubt I will be quitting altogether. It is just Velious that I am struggling to get my head round, so I expect I’ll still be hanging out with my Bro in tier 7 and up (more about that in a bit) and helping / grouping with guildies. Having said that I’m not so sure how many of them will need any help as it won’t be too long before all of them have way out geared Volt by doing their public quests and grabbing that armour. Not that this bothers me, I won’t be around so much and my equipment etc only bothered me when I needed it to clear content. Now I have made the decision to not get so involved in Velious and its raid side of things, I’m not really that bothered about getting myself kitted up.

That brings me on to my main gripe with the new expansion and I have mentioned this before. I cannot for the life of me understand why anyone but the most experienced raider with the toughest of raid groups cannot do the Velious content with their Tier2/3 raid gear from the Sentinels Fate expansion. Why let your players gear themselves up to the third best set of armour in game and way better than many of the player base has then not let it be good enough to start with the most basic of raids in the next expansion. That just seems crazy to me. ‘To me’ is the important part there and it’s what has made me realise that I am no longer a hardcore EQ2 player. It used to be that even with my limited play time, if I spent that time correctly and wisely I could quite easily still operate at the level of semi-hardcore raider. But now just to get started raiding I will have to spend a long time doing PQS, instances Just to get gear good enough to start trying to raid effectively. Not a bad thing really I guess as the best stuff is usually a good reward for the hardest obtained content, but the point is, it doesn’t suit me and the time I have available. I simply do not have time to do all that to get myself ready to raid. So, it’s time to hang up my bashin’ boots and move back in to the category of ‘casual player’ and maybe even in to ‘extremely casual player’. It’s sad, but EQ2 is very much a social network for me now, and very little else.

So, how have I been spending my time? Well, like I said I have had a few sessions in EQ2 (none in Velious) and I have spent the ones where I actually got in to something constructive, with my Bro. We had a riot the other day starting the cloud questline series in Tenebrous Tangle and then on in to The Barren Sky. I haven’t ever done this questline on any of my toons previously, so really enjoyed helping out the critters in TT. We managed to get all the part of the quest done in Sanctum of Scaleborn along with some other quest completions there, then headed off to The Barren Sky in ‘cloud session’ number 2. Oh, whilst I remember, flying my mount through Barren Sky and TT was pretty damn cool. After doing the first few quests in BS, we both called it a night. I’m looking forward to continuing this. Much much better fun than that Velious tripe.

Other than that it has been family time. The weather mostly over the long weekend was rubbish, but we got a few rays of sunshine on Sunday and made the most of the time by heading out for a walk and some lunch. Saturday morning was a particularly pleasant morning for me. Normally my little one ensures that I’m awake by about 0700hrs, if I am lucky, 0800hrs, but that particular morning when she woke very cutely shouting for attention, I looked at the clock and it was 1015hrs. I was overjoyed at my lazy lie-in and virtually skipped out of bed refreshed and happy. I walked out of my bedroom and all that changed when the smell hit me. Yup, my late wakeup call had forced poor old pooch to crap all over my hallway. Couldn’t help but feel sorry for him though, he looked all sad as I was cleaning up. Breakfast was pleasant. In other news, I’m going to be self flagellating later. Sounds weird? Well I deserve it. What did I do? Not spend any time on my novel this week. Gutting. I reckon I’ll be heading over to my writing pad more and more though now that EQ2 is enjoying its swansong for me.

Before I go, much sympathy and heartfelt wishes to those who need it in Japan and beyond. I am truly truly shocked at the devastation and incomprehensible suffering our fellow humans are having to go through over there. I wish you all luck in finding all your loved ones well and for those who don’t I wish you all the support and enough strength to get through day to day.

Whilst all this is going on, spare a thought for the Haitians. Over a year on and being a third world country they have seen no improvement in their lot. At all. The government continues to be corrupt, recent elections last year were twisted beyond belief and the local communities in the camps still are having to physically fight so they can get their water supplies for their family. Yup they get about half a bucket of water a week. If they are lucky. On top of that the lack of water means they are drinking waste water and with that comes Cholera which is hugely infectious. With already around 4000 dead from the epidemic, the estimates are that this will rise about 100,000 before it fizzles out. Bringing the total dead from the earthquake disaster and the aftermath to around 400,000. Apparently over half of which were below the age of 16.

The simple and undeniable fact is that Haiti offers nothing to the international community other than a bit of tourism and the smallest smallest amount of natural reserves which mainly go to its own economy anyhow, and as such the country is largely being ignored. If Haiti found massive oil reserves tomorrow, you can bet your bottom dollar things would be different. The billions that were pledged in relief have not arrived because those pledging the money are only doing so for clearance contracts and construction/infrastructure contracts from the Government, who you can bet will bleed those deals dry and the populace will suffer a thousand fold while the corrupt Government decide who can make the most money from who. It is the poorest country in the western hemisphere with half the country’s wealth belonging to the top 1% of citizens. Ask yourself what their chances are of a decent life in the next 20 years.

Be well.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Raid weekend

Last night was my first raid in to Velious content as the Fraternity hit ‘Kraytoks Fortress of Rime’ in the Great Divide. It really was only a fact finding mission and we had just under three groups of folks attending. It was interesting to see the new strats and nameds. Wow, they hit hard, and a lot. I really was surprised about the difference. Stone skin was absorbing 50k hits and we went down regularly. It was still fun and after a bit of hashing the first nameds actually died to things falling from the ceiling and not us, so we moved to the second named and played with that for a while. In the end no nameds were killed but we gathered some good hints and tips for our next visit. Part of the problem was the new kit required. I have seen some tanks walking around with about 50k health because they are wearing the new Ork faction gear from Eastern Wastes. I guess we need to get our own hit points up to that kind of level before we can take the new expansions raiding seriously. The devs did mention somewhere that unless you have wing 3 of Underfoot Caverns on farm status it is unlikely you will succeed at the raids at first. We didn’t have that on farm.

I’m starting to think about knocking top tier raiding on the head. Now that Ema has moved on it’s still fun but there seems to be something missing and add to this the fact that for us to succeed in the new raid zones there will have to be some pretty crazy faction grinding and some intensive instance running for shards, I’m really not sure I have the time or the enthusiasm to chase those goals. I’m yet to decide, but I think I may just stick to normal adventuring and raiding previous tiers soon.

Saturday night saw the Acolytes of Valor head out to The Pillars of Flame and in to The Court of Al’Afaz. The turn out wasn’t too bad really for an event only posted on the in game calendar. Yeah, we only had 9 attendees for a x4 raid, but the fact that a few were mentored down from 90 more than made up for the shortfall. As ever it was a typical AoV raid, plenty of fun and giggles and me getting folks all confused as I tried to read loads of tells and navigate round the zone. Subsequently I ended up leading everyone in circles as I decided which tower we would hit next. All good fun. One funny part for me was the last fight against The Black Queen. I warned everyone that she teleports random members of the group round the zone and my Bro asked me “what happens if you get teleported as main tank?” My answer was that you would have to try and manage as best you could but it isn’t likely to happen. Guess who was ported first? Yup. It’s a real pain when you are ported in that fight as you have to wait for the lifts to get back up the tower. They take a long time to cycle as it is, but when you are trying to get to your raid force after being ported, they seem to take forever. Anyhow, by the time I had got back up there, the mob was on like 2% health, so no worries. A fun night in all.

Ema has been making herself busy since she has quit EQ2. Not spending so much time on the computer or indeed RIFT (she says it’s too laggy), she has been catching up on watching her soaps and in addition, creating wondrous dishes in the kitchen. I think the latest series of Masterchef has something to do with that. Not that I am complaining, although my waistline has ballooned a little in the last week. Time to hit the beach with the Nikes methinks.

Be well.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

It leaves a nasty taste..

I feel violated. Last night wifey and I sat down to watch a movie, ‘The Human Centipede’. I knew it was going to be a shocker movie, something along the lines of ‘Hostel’, but it was worse. I guess there were some artistic aspects and a pompous critic may say it’s ‘a journey through the doors of consciousness, exploring the depths of Human depravity’, but quite honestly that’s poppycock. It’s pretty damn sick and actually made me feel a little ill at times. It’s very weird indeed. I have seen in real life much more gross and gory things in law enforcement, but watching it on the screen for fun, well, it’s just not my cup of tea thanks. Sick film and I suggest you stay away. For what it’s worth, the wifey loved it and even says it’s in her top ten now. This worries me! I wonder if I should take note that her top ten also includes ‘House of a Thousand Corpses’ and ‘The Devils Rejects’. Disturbing.
Mental note: Sleep now requires one eye open.

Speaking of wifey, it looks like she has now quit EQ2 permanently and has followed her friends to RIFT, downloading the game last night. I knew this was a perma thing when I logged in to having all her coin in my inbox. I’m now a lot of plat richer. Not that there is anything to buy nowadays. I’m still feeling my way round the new expansion but I’m finding I don’t have a lust to head to the new zones every day. Yesterday for example, I didn’t visit Velious at all when I logged in and instead headed over to Pillars of Flame to hang out with my Bro for a bit. Even though I was a bit of a spare part as wifey downloading RIFT made my lag range anywhere from 2 to 10 seconds behind, I still had fun just hanging. We headed in to The Clefts of Rujark too just to make sure Merecraft got all the AA and big quests done in there. We still have to head back to do ‘Scornfeather Roost’ instance but aside from that there isn’t too much left to do in there. I’m looking forward to when he heads to Tenebrous Tangle as I haven’t done the Cloud Mount questline on Volt yet. I love that zone also, great fun. Basket quests and freeing frogs from Scaleborn tower captivity remains my lasting memory. Although I have already done the Claymore questline on Volt, I’d be more than willing to accompany my Bro through it. It’s incredibly long and arduous, but leads you nicely through TT and The Barren Sky and the instances in both. Good storyline too.

This coming Saturday, the guild are heading to The Court of Al Afaz raid zone for some fun. I’m looking forward to that. I’m trying to provide some earlier raid content as those are the levels folks struggle to get groups/raids at and are the best levels for them to start learning raid strats. Yeah, I know the historic mobs are pretty much tank n spank but it’s good to start indoctrination in to the basics at an early stage. That way you know that if you can master things like ‘stay behind the tank at all times’. You know, the real simple stuff that gets everyone killed if not abided by in later tiers. Aside from all that it’s always fun to simply hang with my guildies. I kind of plan on doing progression raiding for a while until Velious raiding becomes a bit more run of the mill. Taking the guild to SF raid zones will achieve little at the moment. The loot dropped from the mobs that we could tackle as a guild has already been superceded by the Velious quest legendary gear. So, we’ll be doing some tier 7 then 8 raids after Court of Al Afaz. It’s always fun re-visiting the old raid zones.

Right, that’s it for today, work beckons! I’ll be online tonight no doubt with wifey trying out RIFT. I certainly won’t be watching any movies with her anyhow. My choice next time. I think it’s going to have to be Toy Story 3.

Be well.