For the majority of my twenties, I was an extremely hardcore EverQuest player. I played from around 1998 until finally giving it up somewhere in 2012. EverQuest II released right around the same time as World of Warcraft in 2004, and since I had no ties or allegiance to the Warcraft franchise, I eagerly went into the reimagined world of Norrath. I played for a while, but ultimately found myself uninterested in where the game went and shortly returned full time to the original EverQuest, because the magic simply wasn’t there in the new game.
A whole bunch of years and even more expansions later, I’ve decided to delve back into the forgotten lands of EverQuest II because their newest expansion Reign of Shadows brought back the Vah Shir race - a race of catlike people that were thought to be extinct due to The Shattering (an explosion of Luclin, the moon above Norrath.) Of course, my recent interview with Jenn Chan may have also helped spark my interest a little bit. The Norrathian Stride series will serve as a journal of returning to EverQuest II and the path to catch up to the current live game and Reign of Shadows expansion content.
My old characters have migrated from server to server as the game has lost popularity, so where my original characters were on Najena and Grobb, they migrated across several different servers and all ultimately landed on Halls of Fate. As I wanted to experience the game fresh, I decided that not only would I not play on my newly assigned home server, but I’d check out Kelethin - the Time Locked Progression server, in hopes I’d find more players who were returning. I dabbled around a bit, but Kaladim seemed pretty empty in the starting areas. Deciding that I’d have just as much of a solo experience there, I decided to shelf my Kaladim character and rolled a new character on the Skyfire server. A Vah Shir Illusionist named after one of my favorite mobs from the original EverQuest: Arlyxir, the fiery phoenix from Solusek Ro.
I opted to start my new character in the icy tundras of New Halas. It’s a shame they didn’t bring back Shar Vahl as a starting city, but given the destruction and reformation of the moon, I fully understand why the Vah Shir have been exiled to any other good or neutral city that would have them. You do get a Shar Vahl themed premium house with the expansion, so I guess that’s better than nothing, but I’ve always found the housing structure in games to be more of a chore than actually fun. I used to appreciate EverQuest II’s teleportation items for your house, but now that they’ve added the option to fast travel from the map, the housing thing is even more irrelevant to me. I understand the appeal for some players, but it’s just not my thing. I’m just not a fan of building my own stuff in someone else’s game - but that’s a soapbox for another time.
I did, as one does, started running the newbie quests throughout the Frostfang Sea area, eventually getting up to around level 24. At this point, I started looking around to see if there were any active guilds recruiting because aside from some jovial banter, general chat is mostly filled with people at max level looking for more people for whatever PQ’s are. I turned to the EverQuest II sub-Reddit, which is mostly dead at this point, and was directed to the EverQuest II Discord channel, which is considerably more lively - but still not as active as I would have hoped for. After posting in the Discord and talking to some people, I was invited to join a guild called Fallen Under, because of course I’d be willing to join a guild that could be abbreviated as FU.
After joining their guild and talking with some of their members, they turned me onto a series of scaling dungeons called Agnostic Dungeons. It’s similar in nature to the Deep Dungeons in Final Fantasy XIV, except it’s fundamentally different. Deep Dungeons allowed you to play your class but had independent levels so you’d enter at whatever level range you last cleared at and you’d use weapons attuned for damage in that dungeon based on how many times you’d looted upgrades. Agnostic dungeons in EverQuest II allow you to play as you are, drops gear and spells that are within the 10 level range you are playing at, and are available to players once they hit level 20. These can be continually re-ran until you reach level 95 or so from what I’ve been able to find online, similar to how the Palace of the Dead Deep Dungeon stops around level 60, before you have to move on to Heaven-on-High.
I ran them for a little while and I’m now currently level 36 as of the time this article was written, but I suspect I’m going to wind up bored of them and will likely use them to level up to around 40 or so before I go back to the questing timeline - previously I’d only ever gotten characters up to the 40ish range and was tapped out by the time I reached the end of the Enchanted Lands/Zek lines. Will we make it to level 120 and ultimately get to a point of feeling comfortable at the current end game? Let me know if any of you have also recently returned, or if you think I’m just wasting my time pontificating to a dead game.