The Tattered Notebook  What to do with your new level 85 in EverQuest II
It occurred to me as I was crafting up an EverQuest II leveling guide that a score of folks would be popping into the game on newly minted level 85s as soon as Heroic Characters go live next week. You might even be one of those who are taking advantage of this opportunity to see all of the upper content echelons. If so, let's be honest: You aren't necessarily going to care where the best place to go at level 38 is. You need to know what's happening in those later levels.

So I switched gears; today I am offering a guide for life in the 80s and beyond instead. Whether you have played EQII before in the lower levels and are bumping up your first character or you are diving in for the first time and finally giving the game a go, here's what you need to know to acclimate to life in the upper tiers of Norrath.

Stonebrunt Highlands in EverQuest II
Sanctioned power-leveling

Now before we get started, I'll lead off with the admission that I am not a proponent of power-leveling. I have said as much before right here in The Tattered Notebook. I think that cheating the system with exploits has some obvious pitfalls, not to mention that it makes you miss out on a huge chunk of the game. But let's face it, this isn't cheating the system, it's sanctioned by the system! In fact, there are some solid reasons behind creating this system. In her latest producer's letter, Holly Longdale talked about former players not wanting to spend forever playing catch-up (much like I did a couple years back!), players wanting to play their way by getting straight to raids and end-game, and players not wanting to go back to the beginning each time a new friend joins the game.

I get it. I can understand those reasons, and I can't really disagree with them. But those pitfalls for jumping into the game at a high level are still there. As such, we need a method to help folks to avoid those pitfalls as much as possible. Hence this guide. Even if you are not new to the level 85 though 95 level range this guide still applies to you. Remember, no matter how many classes you have played to 95, each one is different and takes a bit of getting used to, so the tips and tricks here can help you as well.

ChronomentoringLook Ma, no tutorial!

Unless SOE has something up its sleeve that I don't really know about (like a level 85 newbie tutorial), players are going to be heading into the world with a sizable chunk of power but no knowledge on how to wield it. Devs actually did anticipate this and planned for it; the new 85s will receive a reprieve from the chaos that is eight hotbars and a bazillion skills. To help folks adjust, players will have access to one hotbar worth of core combat arts and/or spells, with new hotbars opening up one at a time. Players can choose to skip this mode and get them all at once, but I wouldn't recommend it for anyone who is 85 for the first time.

Once you step into game with your single hotbar, what do you do? My advice is just explore the area a little bit. Do all the newbie things like seeing what key does what (and then changing it to what you prefer!) and experimenting with all the emotes. You also get a flying mount, so take advantage of it -- soar across the skies and see your new world. As for getting used to your skills, you can hang around the area you are at and plink off the local wildlife to gather up some XP and cash for a while. After that, I would suggest something a little different for some real practice with all the skills.

To get the hang of all your skills and find the most convenient way to place them on your hotbars, I suggest mentoring down for a spell and hitting up one of the lower-level zones. Use the world bell and travel to either Freeport (if your race is evil-aligned) or Qeynos (if good) where you will find a Timeless Chronomage. To find the exact location, type /waypoint -272, 0, 85 in Freeport and /waypoint 892, -25, 16 in Qeynos. This NPC can set your level anywhere between five and 80 for the cost of five gold and 100 status points. Go ahead and take your many hotbars, chronomentor down to level 30 and travel to the Thundering Steps. Alternatively, mentor down to 40 and head to Feerrott. This will give you a chance to fight a multitude of mobs and plan out your favorite combat combinations while giving you a power and gear advantage that will allow for a larger margin of error. When you are done, just type in /unmentor to return to level 85.

Eastern Wastes in EverQuest II
Movin' on up

Once you've got the hang of your skills, dive into the world at ground level and see what it is you've been missing! Forgetting about chronomentoring now, you still have a selection of places to explore and adventure in. And don't forget, you get XP and daily quest credit for discovering new places!

The plan is that Heroic Characters start in Velious (which includes Iceclad, Great Divide, Eastern Wastes, Withered Lands, and Cobalt Scar), but nothing says you have to stay there. Moors of Ykesha is filled with quests and mobs between levels 75 and 80, Sundered Frontier supports levels 80 through 90, and Stonebrunt Highlands is good for levels 85 to 90. To enter those final two zones, you must travel via Druid Portals or Wizard Spires, the easiest of which to access is located to the right of the docks in the Enchanted Lands.

If you do stay in Velious, I recommend visiting Withered Lands and starting the epic story line that began in Scars of the Awakened and played through Darkness Dawns. This quest line is something you can achieve basically solo while earning plenty of rewards.

A dungeon in EverQuest IIThe not-so-lone Ranger (or Fury or Monk or...)

Chances are you are jumping into EverQuest II to experience more than just the solo content. After all, you can do that on your own at the lower levels. Maybe you just like to socialize, or maybe you are looking forward to dungeons. Either way, you will want to start grouping up. My suggestion here is to be willing to join groups and mentor down (you can mentor a player for no cost) and help out folks who are lower in level in order to familiarize yourself with your skills in relation to group dynamics. There are tons of dungeons spread all throughout Norrath in every level range. If you want, you can even group up with a whole gaggle of new level 85s and chronomentor down to hit some random dungeons.

If you'd like to hit up a level appropriate dungeon with your comrades instead, you can do that as well. Just remember, knowing how to play your character gets pretty crucial in groups, so be sure you take the time to know all your skills before jumping in.

There are certainly plenty of dungeons to choose from. The one shared dungeon in the appropriate range is The Hole, scaled for levels 80-90. Players can also go into Sebilis even though the mobs range from level 76 to 84. For instances, players can select from 12 that will scale to level:
  • The Anathema
  • Cavern of the Afflicted
  • The Crucible
  • The Deep Forge
  • Evernight Abby
  • Halls of the Forsaken
  • Mystmore Mansion
  • Najena's Hollow Tower
  • Necrotic Asylum
  • Ravenscale Repository
  • Scion of Ice
  • Shard of Love: A Moment of Valor
Shard of Love instance in EverQuest II
Had enough? No? Well if those don't quite fill you up, there are another 19 that range between level 80 and 90:
  • Anchor of Bazzul
  • Chelsith
  • Court of Korucust
  • Demitrik's Bastion
  • Emperor's Athenaeum
  • The Fabled City of Kor-sha
  • Halls of the Fallen
  • Kurn's Tower: Breaching the Void
  • Library of Erudin
  • The Lower Corridors
  • Maiden's Chamber
  • Nu'roga
  • Obelisk of Ahkzul
  • The Palace of Ferzhul
  • Runnyeye: The Gathering
  • Vasty Deep: The Conservatory
  • Veksar: The Invasion
  • Veksar: The Sunken Theater
  • Ykesha's Outer Stronghold
If you're up to it, set a goal to run every single dungeon in this level range! When you do, please let me know how long it took you -- I haven't even hit everything on here and I have max-level toons!

Flying high in EverQuest II
85 and beyond

As you can see, there is no shortage of things to do with a level 85 character. And while the number seems high, you are by no means on easy street when starting here. Even though it is only 10 levels away from the maximum, Heroic Characters aren't pay-to-win for end game. As someone who has climbed those 10 levels a number of times, I can assure you that there is plenty of work still ahead, and plenty of gear and skills to acquire. And with item unlocks being a thing of the past now, you've really got your gearing up work cut out for you.

In all, these Heroic Characters will give more people the chance to play with their friends (and of course, join us for our weekly EverQuest Two-sday livestream adventures on Massively TV!) as well as a chance to really experience the game where the majority of the population is. Hopefully it will draw people into the game we love and then they'll make new alts and go through the content they missed. A more robust population is definitely not a bad thing for anyone!

EverQuest II is so big that it sometimes MJ Guthrie gets lost in it all! Join her as she explores Norrathian nooks and crannies from the Overrealm to Timorous Deep. Running every Saturday, The Tattered Notebook is your resource for all things EQII and EQNext -- and catch her every 'EverQuest Two-sday' on Massively TV!

This article was originally published on Massively.