In this week's Tattered Notebook, we'll look at a few of the highlights from EverQuest II's latest update.
There's no crying in baseball... or in gear upgrades!
I'll confess, this expansion has had me frustrated, and in large part due to the changes to gear. Initially, all the nice procs and resist stats were stripped off, and players were responsible for loading up on those through separate adornments and resist jewelery. Crit chance was uncapped, which was really unfortunate since for the past year we had been turning down gear because it put us over the cap and was basically worthless at the time. Critical mitigation, which had taken a bit of a back seat in Sentinel's Fate, was once again at the forefront and is even more of a factor with this latest update. We had just gotten used to the primary stat changes of Sentinel's Fate, and then everything seemed to be once again turned on its head with Velious. Gear stats have changed so much that I felt a lot like Marla Hooch in A League of Their Own, confusedly stepping in and out of the batter's box, trying to interpret the mixed signals given to her by Tom Hanks and Geena Davis.
I'm slowly coming around to accepting the changes, though, and hopefully the short-term adjustments will mean more long-term consistency down the road. In the meantime, I'm getting back into raiding and having a lot of fun. Our guild has been doing the Tower of Frozen Shadow X2 and a little bit of Kraytoc's Fortress of Rime. Once I can load up on more crit mit, I'm looking forward to seeing the newly released raid zones with this game update.
The Frozen Tundra
I ran the new battleground scenario a few times to see what it was like. And running is a good word to describe how I PvP. I was definitely feeling my lack of battleground gear, but I did enjoy the new scenario. The map is actually smaller than what I expected, and action is pretty fast-paced as a result. There are several objectives, and unlike previous Battlegrounds, this one includes NPC Giants and Dwarves, who participate in the battle. Each side has a keep, and inside is a relic of power. If your team can break through your opponents' gate and destroy their keep, you'll instantly win. But that's easier said than done because along the way you'll have to destroy towers that spawn NPCs that attack your party. And of course, you have to fend off the three groups of players on the other side.
There are many different ways to approach this scenario, but in the PUGs I've been in so far, it's basically been a footrace to the gates. That makes for a very quick battleground, and ironically, it can mean very little PvPing at all. One battleground run I did was over in just a couple of minutes, and I didn't even see any members of the other team in our rush to the gate. Hopefully, PUG raids will get used to the scenario and take a more tactical approach, just as they have with public quests.
Another little change to battlegrounds is the new lobby, which is where players now end up after they finish an instance. It does seem to speed up the zoning time between battlegrounds, and it's nice to finally be able to fix hotkeys after updates without having to scramble on the fly as you zone in to a battleground instance. In addition, you can also chat with your guild while in the lobby, and your location is listed on the roster. No more spam from members zoning in and out to battlegrounds; no more hurried typing as you try to send them a message between queues.
I'd be remiss in not welcoming the new residents of Qeynos -- the Ratonga. In honor of the change, I scooped up my free Ratonga illusion and my pet "seeker of cheese," which actually looks a lot more like a Guinea Pig than a rat. With this update, the Ratonga have now become a neutral race, but the real question is, in which racial hamlet will they reside? The Kerran are eager to have them move to Nettleville, but if I were a Ratonga, I'd be wary. Personally, I'd suggest that they move to the Baubleshire to live with the Gnomes. It seems like a natural fit!
Overall, this update brought a welcome addition of new content for higher-level players, and it's continued the storyline and progression path of Velious. One common complaint during the Sentinel's Fate era was that there were a lot of content changes and improvements at the lower levels but that not enough new content was added for high-level players. With Velious, there's still some tweaking and revamping at the lower levels, but high-level content is definitely getting a lot more attention, to the delight of veteran EQII fans.
From the snow-capped mountains of New Halas to the mysterious waters of the Vasty Deep, Karen Bryan explores the lands of Norrath to share her tales of adventure. Armed with just a scimitar, a quill, and a dented iron stein, she reports on all the latest news from EverQuest II in her weekly column, The Tattered Notebook. You can send feedback or elven spirits to firstname.lastname@example.org.