I finally got around to trying the new zone in LoTRO (Enedwaith) last weekend, and intend to head back there this weekend. It’s a surprisingly pretty zone with some neat areas to explore. I really didn’t get that impression from screenshots I’ve seen. It’s also fairly challenging, aimed squarely at level 65 solo players or parties of players in their low 60s. It’s a lot tougher than Mirkwood, and I doubt it would be a viable alternate solo path from 60 to 65 for most characters.
I’m also still having a lot of fun in EQ2x. My main is up to the ripe old age of 28, which is further than I’ve made it in the past. I believe my old record in EQ II Live is around 24, maybe higher as a crafter. Likely due to that fact that my AA slider is locked at 50% (i.e., only half the XP I bring in goes towards leveling, the rest go into a system that unlocks specialization points) I’ve found that there is a bit of a gap in the solo quests of Butcherblock Mountains. The only quests I have left involve mobs of around level 32, and in most cases I would need to be able to take them down in groups of three at a time to make any progress. To plug the gap I have headed to Nektulos Forest and starting doing quests there. How someone completely new to EQ II would know that this is even an option I can’t say. I can’t help but wonder how many Bronze and Silver players have hit the same wall I have and simply left.
The thing that I’m really digging about EQIIX is the depth of it. I’m a lot further down my AA trees than I ever have been before (the upside of not being able to move my AA slider). Now that I’m seeing the system in full I’d say that the character customization system in EQ II offers a very nice blend of flexibility and user friendliness. It’s a bit more flexible than WoW or LoTRO, while much harder to screw up than something like DDO. And if you do screw up, it’s extremely inexpensive to respecialize at first. As little as 4 silver the first time (which is practically nothing) for a full respec.
The crafting system also has very nice depth. Common recipes can be bought from vendors and come in books of many recipes rather than as individual recipes like most MMOs. There are also rare recipes that let you make superior items from rare materials, much like shard items in LoTRO. Every time you go up a level as a crafter, a new set of books (one common, one rare) opens up, which means that you might be learning as many as a few dozen recipes every time you advance as crafter. It really makes a crafting “ding” much more exciting than most MMOs. Books with rare recipes drop off monsters, can be bought on the AH, or obtained through a series of crafting quests. The discovery of the latter method of obtaining recipes is what has really made the game pop for me I think. It’s nice to take a break from adventuring to do quests that focus on crafting items and gathering resources for an evening or two.