With the end of summer, the Everquest progression guild I’m a member of has revved back up and we’re currently beating our heads against the brick wall that is the “Underfoot” expansion, originally released back in December of 2009 and somewhat notorious for being a monstrous guild-killer of an expansion.
We’re not doing too badly, but it’s definitely a step up from anything we’ve done before.
Underfoot, however, isn’t where I’m spending most of my time. Level-locked progression raids represent three evenings a week, leaving plenty of time to run around Norrath at level 100, and I have been dividing my time before I inevitably burn out again between stomping old content and exploring the very latest stuff, with an eye towards actually seeing most of it BEFORE the next expansion comes out, which will be something of a first.
One particular bit of this had me up until 2 AM (on a work night, no less), which is not normally the sort of thing you want to be doing after you leave your 20s, much less your 30s, but which was so thoroughly satisfying that I feel very little guilt about the whole thing.
This most recent expansion has revolved around the Everquest and Everquest 2 universes, which exist generally as parallel universes, merging due to some sort of giant cosmic rift thing, with the role of the players being to collect four artifacts necessary to close the rift. Naturally, the current owners of these artifacts generally don’t want to relinquish their toys, so a certain amount of hitting them over the head is required.
This leads to Lord Kyle Bayle, a chap with one of these four artifacts, and who REALLY doesn’t want to give it up. It’s a long and seriously unforgiving fight, and I’ve been beating my head against it – along with five other complete strangers, of course – for a good three days now.
To give a short description of the event: You fight four bosses, each of which has some pretty nasty abilities. During these fights, they summon minions both as they lose health AND at predetermined time intervals – so, if you burn them down fast you get overwhelmed by the health-based adds, while taking too long to kill them results in getting stomped by the time-based adds piling up.
Even this wouldn’t be too bad, except for one particular boss who summons adds of two different types, with one type having the ability to stun up to four random characters for a solid 18 seconds, taking a six-person EQ group down to two people.
This is rough, but survivable. It means that anyone who is NOT stunned suddenly needs to learn how to use all of those abilities that you get but don’t need to worry about because, honestly, how often is a DPS class going to really NEED to keep a tank alive using your pathetic heals, or tank themselves?
Even this is big fun and really rewards knowing the ins-and-outs of your character class.
What gets a little trickier is when you get a health-based add AND a time-based add at the same time, both of which have this ability, and suddenly most of the group is unable to move, heal, fight, defend themselves, and so on and so forth. NPCs won’t attack a PC in this state, which isn’t much comfort because anyone who managed not to get stunned is suddenly the sole focus of the boss AND both adds and, well, things go poorly all around.
Most of the first several times we tried this fight, this is as far as we got.
The first time we got past it, we weren’t ready for the NEXT boss and he ripped us apart while we were still in a state of shock from having actually gotten past the nasty bit.
The next couple of times, we got past the nasty bit and just kept getting further and further before something went just a little bit wrong with predictable results.
The next-to-last time, and this was the attempt that STARTED after I should have been in bed for a half hour, resulted in us getting so close to the end as to be able to taste victory.
And then we died.
And nobody wanted to give up.
So we tried again, and absolutely stomped it, without a single player death.
And THEN I crashed, and still somehow managed to get up at six in the morning to get ready for work, and I really should be ashamed of myself, as a grown man, letting myself get this sucked into a videogame…
…and I probably will be, once I’ve had some time to properly put it in perspective.
But, today at least, I feel awfully good about myself.