The Tattered Notebook: Week one in Velious

It's been a very busy week since EverQuest II's Destiny of Velious launched! Despite a few server issues, the launch seemed to go smoothly, and there were plenty of players running around in otter illusion form by the end of the first day.

I happily welcomed the return of the Kael Giants, the Coldain Dwarves, and even the Tizmak! After battling the void for so long, I found them to be a refreshing change. In this first week, I set out to raise and train my flying griffon mount and began to tackle the new content. Read on for highlights of my past week, including public quests, my stubborn baby griffon, and a mysterious guide quest involving Kael Drakkel.

The challenge is there

I was afraid that this expansion would be all about otters and flying, but that worry faded right after I got into the content. For veteran EQII players, the challenge is definitely there. I felt pretty meek out there in Velious, and not just because my hard-earned raid gear suddenly seemed a little thin. Fights seem to go beyond simple tank and spanks or DPS checks, and Tunare help you if you pull more than one giant in Kael Drakkel without some sort of crowd control. And speaking of Kael...

Kaaell is awesome

Yes, I know that's spelled wrong, but I'm referring to the NPC, not the zone. One of the great things that sometimes gets overlooked in EverQuest II is the multitude of Guide events. Guk is particularly lucky to have Dentmenn, who regularly pops on to offer quests and who is usually greeted by players as if he were the MMO equivalent of Norm from Cheers. Over the weekend, I was lucky enough to catch a Guide quest involving Velious. My guildmate and I were knee-deep in giants at the Coldain Ring War when we saw a message from "Kaaell" offering up a challenge for only the bravest heroes who were at their highest level. We hustled over to the gates of Kael Drakkel and were given a quest to explore the zone and find various locations, such as the Arena, the soldiers' quarters, and so on. Since it was just my guildmate Vadel and I grouped together, we didn't make much progress in the zone, although we did manage to revive near the Arena, and Vadel managed to get stuck on the steps a few times because he's so small. We're planning to rally the guild together and head back in, so hopefully by next week I'll be able to report back on what the mysterious reward is!

Public quests rock...

One of my favorite things so far in Velious has been participating in public quests. Currently there are two -- the Battle of Storm Gorge and the Coldain Ring War. Like public quests in other games, these are open-ended events that give out rewards based on individual participation. In beta, I was usually with small groups of players, so the events would scale down in difficulty and we usually just ended up with some coin and a choice of either transmute fodder, something to sacrifice to our altars, or a little AA experience. But in the first week of launch, I've had a chance to participate in several public quests with larger raids and was pleasantly surprised to see that there are some nice armor drops from these events. I've gotten some nice gloves and boots so far, and I've even seen some fabled armor pieces linked up in guild, pieces earned through completing the event on high difficulty.

Of the two events, my favorite is The Battle of Storm Gorge, in which players team up with the Coldain to hold off wave after wave of invading Rime forces. More often than not, the pickup raids that I've been with have failed the hardest setting, but I think that's mainly because everyone's focused on going all out DPS and not paying enough attention to protecting the coldain. With a little better organization (and perhaps a little more use of the trinkets that the Gnomish Supply Runner hands out), even a PUG could complete the most difficult setting.

... But my baby griffon does not

One of the first things I did in Velious was get working on my flying mount quest. I visited the Goahmari camp, earned the right to enter their secret cave, and hatched my own little baby griffon. He's too small right now to fly, so I have to feed him, teach him tricks, play with him, and perform other various tasks that give me Neopet flashbacks. One of the first things I did was teach him how to listen to my commands. Twenty minutes later, after a flurry of /emote command spam, I think was beginning to get it. The next day, I decided to play fetch. I tossed out a bone; he went out to retrieve it and promptly disappeared. Our little game had now turned into a nightmarish version of "Hide and Go Seek," and instead of looking under tables and behind curtains, I was searching Orc camps and Rime forts. After a while, I actually gave up and camped, hoping that maybe the little runt would come back to me while I was offline eating dinner, but he was either too stubborn or too slow to find his way back. I finally found him the next day, but I'm beginning to wonder whether I should try to trade him in for another egg back at the Goahmari camp.

A little bit of home

Overall, I'm enjoying this expansion, although I can see already that it's going to be a lot of work for a more casual player like yours truly to get properly prepped for the raid content. I was hoping that I'd be able to get right into the X4 raid content as quickly as I did with Sentinel's Fate, but it seems as though Tier 1 and Tier 2 gear isn't going to be enough. In any case, I'm enjoying the challenge, and I'm also enjoying the little bits of nostalgia that pop up here and there in Velious. I was happy to see the Thurgadin waterfall return, and I also got a kick out of the fact that Shardtooth's cave on the other end of the river has now become open, leaving him free to wander around chasing down players. I'm looking forward to exploring Velious more, and hopefully if my griffon grows up soon, I might even be able to do it by air. With my baby griffon, though, that's a big "if."

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