Hello again friends, and welcome back to another issue of the Norrathian Stride. Last time, I had finished leveling my adventure level to 120 and had been dabbling in gathering and crafting. I started working on the crafting lines leading up to EverQuest II’s Blood of Luclin expansion, and I wound up hitting level 120 in my Sagecrafting somewhere near the end of the Planes of Prophecy expansion timeline.
By far, just like normal adventurer leveling, the worst part of the grind is going from level 95 to level 105. Once you hit level 105, you gain the other 15 levels rather quickly with minimal effort simply by progressing through the PoP timelines. This left me feeling sort of clueless as to what to do next, so naturally I set my sights back on progressing in my adventuring path.
Unfortunately for me, I found myself unable to really handle more than a few small challenges before hitting a progression wall that kept me from being able to solo my way into the Reign of Shadows timeline, and I ultimately had to keep asking guild mates to come help clear a path for me just to try and move forward on my own. I found myself feeling more and more like a burden, so I abandoned my adventuring and went back to crafting and gathering. After finishing up all of the gathering quests that ultimately culminate with getting the pack pony that passively gathers for you, I went and finished up the Earring of the Solstice quest because of the buff, as well as having a thing for doing “epic” quests.
At this point, I had spent a solid week and a half just crafting, gathering, and running Overseer missions every time the agents weren’t on cooldown. The more time I spent in-game, the less I felt like I was actually accomplishing. You see, I’ve now spent about 300 hours in EverQuest II since I returned back in January, and so much of it has simply been playing catch up, that I feel overwhelmingly burnt out and I’m not anywhere near being able to join my guild in raids. On top of that, I’ve spent so much time soloing/moloing, that I don’t feel confident in my abilities enough to actively try finding groups for heroic runs - and public quests are an absolute mind numbing bore - that most days I log in, stare at my clone, and then log out.
Today, I logged in and realized that my three month subscription has expired, and I’m not really sure that I have the desire or the interest to keep coming back. A non-stop slog of revisiting old content is fine if you’re playing with other players the way this content was originally meant to be experienced, but as the content ages, the bloat becomes increasingly more overwhelming to trudge through. Yes, I probably could have taken my guild up on their powerleveling offers and jumped straight to max level within the first two days of returning and perhaps I’d feel less burnt-out with 100 or so less hours played; but what good would that have actually accomplished? At the end of the day, the thing I find the most disappointing about returning to the MMORPG sphere is finding out just how outdated these old games really are at their core.
10 years ago, I would have jumped in EverQuest II with a few friends, had a great time, and would probably still be chomping at the bit to keep playing - that’s similar to how I was in 2019 when I played Final Fantasy XIV, but when the few people I knew who were playing stopped logging in, I found myself feeling empty, alone, and ultimately bored continually going through the motions. As a games writer, I have a backlog of other video games that would probably take me somewhere about 35 years to complete them all, and while it’s fun to take a break and then return to an MMORPG - in fact, I took about two weeks off from EverQuest II to platinum the Demon’s Souls remaster - but, the longer I’m away, the less I feel compelled to return once I log back in. Logging in every single day dwindles to once a week, once a month, and before you know it, it’s been five or more years since the last time you checked in.
How do you guys deal with feeling burnt out? What gives you the inspiration to keep going and renew your interest in a game that’s just as much about the social experience as the actual game itself?