|Power to add, they call it...|
Before launch I was probably most excited by the prospect of having a place to throw all the hats, cloaks and fancy robes that had piled up in my bank vaults over the last decade or so. The Wardrobe feature, sad to say, turned out to be more awkward and limited than I'd imagined.
There's nothing intrinsically wrong with it. It works. It's an improvement. From my perspective, though, the problems are threefold: it isn't infinite, it isn't free and each item added is destroyed.
You get a reasonably generous allotment of slots, half a dozen for the basic package, rising to a dozen for the Collector's and eighteen for the Premium edition. These can be expanded by way of the cash shop up to an as-yet unknown amount that's not less than sixty. Nevertheless anything short of everything means making choices and making choices was exactly what I was avoiding by dumping all the armor in the bank in the first place.
So, apart from a couple of hats, I haven't really added anything much to my wardrobe as yet. It means going through literally hundreds of items and making a decision on every one and I keep putting it off for another day - a day that will probably never come.
|Missing some Accolades, aren't we?|
Blightstaff, the Orc Inquisitor from last year's Zek revamp. He's a powerful and popular choice. I see copies of him running after people all over the place.
The mercenary gear system is on the simple and straightforward side as EQ2 systems go. Quick, too. There are five ranks, each of which allows your Merc to wear additional gear with stats that make him or her more powerful. The gear comes from quests, drops in PQs and instances and can be crafted.
Like most of EQ2's background upgrading processes, and there are many, it's a mixture of Fire and Forget and hands-on micro-management. You have to remember to activate each stage and you don't get any reminders but once you've opened the window and clicked the button you can leave your Merc to get on with it until next time.
Zhugrus finished his training some time ago but of course he's not my only Mercenary. My Berserker keeps four of them on standby and every other character I play has at least one more. I'm currently training up Rafik the pirate rat simply because I really like him and I'm also trying to remember (but mostly forgetting) to train the Mercs most used by my Warlock, Inquisitor and Necromancer.
It's a lot to keep track of although not as much as when I was leveling up three of the Tradeskill Apprentices that were added in Game Update 63 almost exactly five years ago. I'm still training up at least one even now!
|Three bags full Lady Najena.|
That leaves the Ascended Classes. I almost forgot about those. When I finished the expansion's signature questline it was several weeks before I got around to choosing which of the four to begin. Even after reading up on how it all worked I was still somewhat at sea. In the end I picked one pretty much at random and got going.
Weeks later my Berserker is still only about two-thirds of the way to Level 3. The recent Double Ascension Scrolls week struck me as deeply ironic, personally, although I know it was welcomed by people who play more than an hour or two a day.
What the scrolls effectively do is reset some of your limited capacity to acquire Ascended XP, rather like refreshing vitality or Rested XP. Since I generally run with near-full capacity anyway that makes them about as much use to me as a theremin to a badger. Or possibly less. I don't even bother to visit Najena to pick up my regular ones any more.
All the same, I am working on it. Like AAs in EverQuest or Masteries in GW2, Ascended Classes are an excellent way for characters that have capped out to carry on earning xp. I vastly prefer to see my xp going to something even if it's not anything I'm ever going to use. Much better than to see it simply dissipate.
|Don't talk to me about dwarves.The rest of the crew I found face-down on the floor but come dawn next day this rat was still propping up the bar. Ratonga power!|
It's just as well, really, because EQ2 is all about the bars. I'm not talking about Brewday, either, which is back right now, bringing with it a fine new quest that I knocked off in half an hour before I began this post.
I've pointed this out before but every returning Holiday hammers it home - the EQ2 dev team is exemplary when it comes to making the most out of not very much at all. We get a new quest for every holiday, every year. They may be simple but they are always fun and often funny, too. If DBG can do it with a handful of people, why GW2 can't manage it with hundreds...well, there really is no excuse, is there?
|Don't look left. That's not for you.|
There are consumable Miracles, similar to the old system (which, I think, is also still in-game) if you want them, but the real attraction here is a permanent boost to your choice of three key stats, Potency, Stamina and Crit Bonus. Everyone, without exception, can always use more of all three so this is another simple, accessible, desirable path to upgrading your character.
|That's more stats on one item than some MMOs |
give you on a whole character!
By the time he finished the main KA questline he felt very powerful in all appropriate content but since then he's been able to swap out several items for superior PQ drops. He's also used the Infusion system, lottery though it is, to enhance some even further and he finally got around to crafting Adornments for every available slot.
As it stands he's able to solo much of the Heroic content from 2014's Altar of Malice expansion. I even felt confident enough of his survivablilty to accept a group invite in an AoM contested dungeon the other night, something I haven't done for a long time.
Overall, my strongly positive impression of Kunark Ascending continues to strengthen even further. It's fun, there's a ton of stuff to do and it feels very accessible for a casual player. My server, Skyfire, is still bustling with activity nearly four months after the expansion dropped. PQs are very well attended, there are multiple instances of the new zones and most importantly the tone and tenor of general chat is more cheerful and upbeat than I've heard it for years.
No word yet about either the next expansion or another major interim Game Update. On the evidence before me, though, I expect good things.
There! If that doesn't jinx it I don't know what will!