EQ2: 10 handy things to know

(EDIT – we’re talking a baker’s half-score here. Blogging’s not an exact science, you know! Thanks to all who have made suggestions for additions.)

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1. EQ2 has a dizzying number of classes…

but it’s not as confusing as it seems. There are 4 basic class archetypes and three paired subclasses per type. Most pairs are good/evil alignment, but one pair for each archtetype is neutral. Paired classes play sort of like each other, but aren’t just alignment-mirrored versions; there are some substantial differences even though the class basics will remain the same.

Note that the descriptions below are heavily circumscribed by my own lack of experience with several of them — but it should be enough to at least give you an idea of the basic differences.

Every single class in the game has buffs, whether they’re self-buffs or ally buffs or group/raid buffs.

G = Good, E = Evil, N = Neutral

FIGHTER archetype

Guardian (N) / Berzerker (N) — G is slightly more geared to soaking lots of damage, B slightly more to dishing it.

Monk (G) / Bruiser (E) — light-armored tankish types. Bruiser a little more offensive than Monk and a little more multi-target (I think).

Paladin (G) / Shadowknight (E) — heal/harm tank combo. Paladins heal more, SKs have damage soaks and many tasty AOEs.

SCOUT archetype (all types can wear chain)

Troubador (N) / Dirge (N) — happy bard, sad bard. One mostly buffs, one does lots of debuffs. Happy happy high runspeeds.

Ranger (G) / Assassin (E) — Ranger very range biased, Assassin very stealth biased.

Swashbuckler (G) / Bandit (E) — positional classes both. High DPS, some tankability with shield equipped and the right AAs.

PRIEST archetype

Fury (N) / Warden (N) — Druid classes. Fury is more nukey, Warden is more melee(ish). Many HOTs, many buffs. Leather armor.

Templar (G) / Inquisitor (E) — Templars are the plate-wearing, low-damage healing heavy-hitters. I don’t know much about Inquis except that they deal a little more damage.

Mystic (G) / Defiler (E) — Shamans who see dead people and bend them to their will. Or something like that. Damage soak spells, direct healing a little weaker than the other priests. PET class (if desired), though the pet is relatively weak unless AA-boosted.

MAGE archetype

There’s a reason I put these guys last, since I don’t play them much and have never got one past 30. Take these comments with a grain of salt.

Wizard (N) / Warlock (N) — Wiz is more direct damage, root & nuke, Warlock is more encounter-based (linked group of mobs). No idea what buffs they have.

Conjuror (G) / Necromancer (E) — fairly standard pet-wielding mage classes. Forgiving for newbies since the pet can cover a multitude of newbie sins.

Illusionist (G) / Coercer (E) — kinda-sorta pet classes. The illy can create a duplicate of herself, while the coercer can (temporarily) charm enemies. Both classes are said to become extremely powerful when played well, but can be hard to master, especially the coercer.

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2. EQ2 alignments made simple

Here’s the really important part: Alignment DOES NOT affect a character’s ability to group with other people. It does not affect an account’s shared bank slots. It does not affect tells or mails or guild joining options — basically, it’s not the insurmountable dividing wall that Alliance/Horde is in WoW. In practical terms, alignment determines what cities you may become a citizen of without betraying, which determines where you can buy housing. It also determines which guards will try to kill you on sight. Other than that, alignment really only affects roleplaying.

Your choice of class and starting area is what determines your alignment in most cases. Shadowknights can’t be good and Paladins can’t be evil. EQ2 currently has five capital cities, three of which are very strongly aligned with one side or the other (you’ll get killed if you’re the wrong alignment and the guards can see you and aren’t grey to you) — Qeynos (G), Freeport (E) and Neriak (E). The remaining two cities — Kelethin and Gorowyn —  are somewhat good and somewhat evil aligned respectively but are happy to tolerate visitors from both sides provided you don’t stray into certain areas (like the Royal Platform in Kelethin, where the guards are good-aligned).

HOWEVER… You can “betray” your current city and, by gaining faction, eventually move over to the opposite alignment. This isn’t nearly as painful and grindy as it used to be (though it’s still a bit grindy). The important thing to note here is that if you are an aligned class, you will have to swap to your opposing class if your alignment changes. So if a Paladin betrays Qeynos for Freeport (or anywhere else), they will become a Shadowknight. Neutral classes can stay as they are, so a Fury can betray Qeynos for Freeport and still be a Fury at the end of the process.

It’s worth knowing that even neutral classes are presented with the class confirmation event when they betray, so it’s a way to turn a class into its paired class (e.g. Warden <–> Fury) if you discover you’re not entirely happy with the gameplay or want to try something different.

Note that even if you’re playing a “neutral” class, your character still has an alignment. A Fury living in Qeynos WILL get beaten up on by Freeport or Neriak guards.

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3. Bank slots — use them!

Each character has access to 12 personal bank slots that can be filled with bags that can, in turn, hold more stuff. (You can’t nest bags.) Each account has access to 8 shared bank slots that can be seen and used by all characters on that account, regardless of location or alignment. (The only exception to this is that betraying characters who are temporarily “In Exile” cannot access the shared bank.) This personal/shared bank arrangement also includes money — each character has their own savings account, and each account has a joint money area available also.

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4. Chat commands, EQ2 haz dem

Lots of things that can be clicked on can also be done via chat commands, which I much prefer. I don’t click the EQ2 button and then the Camp (or Logout) menu option — I just type /camp. Or /camp Charname, which will log my current char out and log in the one I just specified. Or /camp desktop, which cunningly enough will neatly log my current char out and then exit the client. (I’m not a fan of /exit in any game, because half the time it means any options you set up or UI changes you made don’t get saved. This may not be the case for EQ2, but it always pays to log out properly if you have time to do it.)

In the basic setup, hitting T will start a tell, R will reply, and G will open a group chat line. (Okay, those aren’t technically chat commands, but they’re handy.)

EQ2 also has an auto-complete type feature. If you think there’s a chat command for something, say inspecting another player, but you’re not sure what it is, you can start typing a command — such as /inspe — then hit TAB, and the game will list all possible commands starting with the string you just typed.

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5. Hotbars and bags can be resized

Right out of the default, unmodded UI that is. Right click on a hotbar and pick “Hotbar options” and you can set all manner of fun things. Right click on an open bag (not the bag icon in inventory or the bank, for some reason) and you’ll get an equally useful “Bag options” window. Default bag sizes are ludicrously huge, at least for me; mine are all mushed down to 29 pixels per bag “slot”, which is probably too small for new players unless you’ve got sharp eyes, but 34-ish pixels is more than big enough to see what you’ve got without handing over all your precious screen space.

At my 1920×1200 resolution I can have 12 (personal bank) + 8 (shared bank) + 6 (personal inventory) 36-slot bags all open at once on screen. And neat, too. I may be a messy slob in real life but I’m OCD about game inventories.

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6. Right-clicking is your friend

It’s amazing how many hidden interactions you’ll find when right-clicking on stuff in EQ2. A banker NPC will suddenly reveal their alternate Guild Banker identity (if you’re in a guild). UI elements will suddenly reveal customisation options. Creatures will spontaneously explode. (Okay, I made that one up.) You won’t be constantly right-clicking, at least I don’t, but it’s worth knowing that sometimes that’s what you need to do in order to access the game’s arcane optional underbelly.

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7. EQ2 has more options than you can shake a stick at

Srsly, I think EQ2 has more options than I’ve ever seen in any other game. You can customise the graphics to a pretty large extent (and can do even more if you’re willing to go in and mess with .ini files). You can customise how verbose the combat text is. You can customise whether you see floaty numbers in combat or not, and what colour your various chats are — if you want experience messages to be in red, you can do that. It is absolutely worth hitting ALT-O and poking around in the options; it’ll take a while, but there’s a treasure trove of customisations in there.

One default setting I’ve always hated is the mob-naming. The default setting shows mob level in a pretty circle, along with some pretty curlicues that are supposed to give you an idea how tough the mob is. The alternate setting dispenses with showing the level (though it’ll be visible if you actually target the mob, and names are level-relative colour coded anyway) but also dispenses with the silly curlicues in favour of far more obvious down \/ or up ^ arrows. A triple-down mob, as they’re known in EQ2 parlance, will probably die if you cough on it. A ^^^ (or triple up) mob will probably kill you by coughing on you, especially if it’s also “heroic” (which means tougher than usual).

How to change this: Options –> User Interface –> Name and Chat Bubble –> NPC evaluation. Change that from Simple (frames) to Detailed (arrows). Tada!

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8. Alternate Advancement is your friend too

It’s certainly not as scary as it seems at first glance. For one thing, you don’t even have to think about it till you’re level 10, since you can’t start gaining AA xp till that level. For another, your choices there are not as final as they may appear. Each separate tab in the AA window can be respecced once for free just by clicking a button at the top of the window (which won’t appear till you first spend points in that tab). After that, there are NPCs you can talk to for respecs, though as with other games this process becomes progressively more expensive. You don’t want to be changing your mind every 5 seconds, but neither are you locked into a choice forever.

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9. EQ2 spells/combat arts upgrade automatically as you level

Unlike WoW, you don’t have to visit a trainer every couple of levels to get new versions of your stuff. HOWEVER — characters are only given the basic “potency” of any given spell or combat art, when in fact there are increasing levels of power. So if you get, say, Jalapeno Breath II at level 14, you’ll only get the “Apprentice” version of the spell; you can obtain improved versions from crafters, loot drops, Research Assistants, or specialisations you can select every few levels as you go. Jalapeno Breath II (apprentice) does less damage than Jalapeno Breath II (Journeyman) which does less than Jalapeno Breath II (Grandmaster).

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10. Not all starting areas are created equal

This was suggested by Spinks, though I would add the caveat that starting area quality will to some extent be dependent on player preferences. Fact is, however, that EQ2 has been added to and refined over the years, and some starting areas really are easier, more friendly, and generally more fun and flowy than others.

Playstyle caveats aside, I did find that the Darklight Wood and Timorous Deep starting areas are way more streamlined and organised than older starting areas; sadly, they’re both evil. The Greater Feydark (Kelethin) starting area, in contrast, I found to be really tedious, but I gather lots of people like it. Similarly lots of people hate the “Isle of Refuge” starting area (which is the oldest), but I’m sentimentally partial to it and it too has been somewhat streamlined over the years.

If you just want to get to grips with the game and don’t want to have to worry too much about what and where, I’d say start in Neriak or Gorowyn, where the new player experience isn’t too overloading. You can always start a good character somewhere else once that initial new-game-overload feeling is gone.

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11. Hit J and RTFQ

Most of the time quests are fairly self-explanatory… except when they’re not. Some of the older EQ2 quests, in particular, can be exceptionally opaque and can contain a lot of info that isn’t presented during the dialogue with the NPC. Be sure to check your quest journal (J) when confused. That same quest journal also contains tabs so you can see all the quests you’ve finished, all the collections you’re doing (or have done), and what achievements (not AA) you’ve completed or are working on.

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12. Learn the Way of the Shiney

If it’s on the ground and it’s shiney, whether it’s gold (the most common), purple, red or blue — or even green — pick it up. It’s a collection, and collections are fun. Collections reward xp, AA xp, and often some pretty nifty items too. Just remember, it’s a slippery slope; shineys are EQ2’s version of crack cocaine and they can severely inhibit your ability to get from A to B in reasonable amounts of time.

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13. You don’t have to get mods, but only a dummy doesn’t get EQ2Maps

Seriously, it’s what the EQ2 map should be. It’s got a wealth of information provided by other players and most of it is even accurate. And if you feel overly slapped with information, you can filter what shows — but still have decent maps if you need them. And believe me, you need good maps in Norrath sometimes. Get it right here.

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14. How to disable the welcome scream

Not so much for newbies, unless you’re comfortable editing .ini files. Not that it’s particularly arcane or anything. Here’s how. Open the “eq2.ini” file that lives in the top level of the Everquest 2 directory (notepad is best for this). Add the following line of text, minus the quotes: “cl_show_welcome_screen_on_startup 0″ (that’s a zero at the end there, not a letter). Et voilà.

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Now that this post is done, I can admit that these weren’t the 10 things I wanted to post. Stuff keeps occurring to me, usually when I’m not at the keyboard, and then disoccurring because I have an awful memory and never think to write stuff down.

So we’ll consider this a post in progress. If folks want to suggest things they don’t know but want to know, things they discovered and wish they’d known sooner, and so on, please do so. I’ll amend the post accordingly.

24 thoughts on “EQ2: 10 handy things to know

  1. If I recall correctly, Bart Simpson was a Shadowknight. He killed Marge’s Cleric before he got ganked by the whole server. :)

  2. The classes in EQ2 are definitely a strong point for the game. They are all unique and fun, each with their own twist. A monk isn’t just a bruiser in another guise, for example, but a “good” version of a brawler that focus more on speed and spirtuality. Great stuff from SOE.

  3. That’s a really useful list!

    It might be worth mentioning that all your spells/powers get set back to apprentice level when you betray. Not something you want to find out halfway through!

  4. A few tidbits on classes from my experience:

    – The main difference between Dirges and Troubys is that Dirges buff melee, while Troubys buff magic. Dirges are much easier to solo because their buffs affect their own abilities, and because they have life-draining attacks.

    – For the priests, I find it far more helpful to think of them as Melee (Warden, Mystic, Inquis) versus Caster (Fury, Defiler, Templar).

    – Warlocks are harder to solo than Wizards because they have more of a focus on AOE. When you solo, you want to kill one mob and then the other, because two mobs both at 50% are hitting you for twice as much damage as one mob at 100% with his buddy dead. Worse, some of the Warlock AOE’s are true AOE, and therefore will hit otherwise non-aggressive mobs if you’re standing too close.

    – The Enchanters (Illusionist and Coercer) also specialize in crowd control. If you’re patient, you can CC the foe and nuke it down one spell at a time, immediately recasting the CC to keep it from breaking.

    – The Summoners (Conjuror and Necromaner) have a bad reputation for grouping because part of their damage potential is tied up in pets that may be killed in raids. Likewise, the Brawlers (Bruiser and Monk) have a questionable reputation because groups aren’t fond of a tank that has a 90% chance of taking zero damage and a 10% chance of being killed faster than he can be healed.

    – Finally, if you want to be running at or faster than mounted speed on foot, you want to be playing one of the following: Dirge, Troub, Ranger, Warden, Fury, Mystic

    • Take the Fury out of that list — they only get the base 20% speed buff and can’t modify it with AA points, unlike all the other classes listed. I should know. :(

      • Odd. My fury runs 35% at all times *without* SoW, and could use AA’s to make that a permanent 45% if I wanted.

        Add Pact of the Cheetah to cap out runspeed for the duration. Too bad about that 5 minute cooldown :(

      • I was under the impression that Enhance: Peerless Predator makes that buff into a runspeed buff?

        http://eq2.wikia.com/wiki/Enhance:_Peerless_Predator

        Now that I re-check the Wiki, I do see that even the improved form is slower (35%). My criteria is 50% runspeed, since the most mount I’m willing to buy for an alt is the 40% one from town, which boosts to 50% with the Shadows AA – Furies CAN get there on paper, but you need to waste 16 AA’s in the Druid Wisdom line to do it. That said, Furies are still the fastest casters, and they also get to teleport. :)

        • Aye, though wardens (bastards!) get the teleport AND an evad. Did I say bastards?! I say it because I just don’t like the play of wardens as much as furies.

          Which just goes to show — there’s not an *enormous* difference between that paired class, but it’s big enough to make me love one and find the other much less entertaining.

          It’s very difficult for someone to NOT find a class they like in EQ2, I reckon, unless they come in determined to hate it.

        • IIRC, these all stack on PvE:

          Peerless Predator: 35%

          WIS line AA’s (crappy and not used, I know, but still possible): 10%

          Shadows AA’s: 5%

          Possible Racial Runspeed (do they still exist anymore? I haven’t played in a while): 5%

          So…. possible 55% runspeed without items. I’m not sure if you can add jboots to this or whatever, but… you can still get going at a pretty good clip without even casting SoW. I’m told that on PvP that SoW stacks with all this too making 75% permanent runspeed possible on those servers.

          And of course, Pact of the Cheetah Master adds 64% up to the 100% cap for its duration too.

        • Peerless predator doesn’t give runspeed, so I’m assuming you mean Spirit of the Wolf.

          Oddly enough I’d forgotten all about the peerless predator enhance, probably because I didn’t have enough AA to go down that line without sacrificing other stuff.

          I stand corrected.

  5. Class names:

    Swashbuckler / Brigand (not Bandit)

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    Mob CON —

    ^ mobs are “solo” if unlinked. If linked, they are the same difficulty, but now labeled “heroic” due to the linkage — the *encounter* is “heroic,” not the mob.

    ^^ mobs are always labeled “heroic” whether linked or not.

    ^^^ mobs are also always labeled heroic. They are rarely ever linked together outside of raids.

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    @Green Armadillo — Warlocks solo quite easily. Their AE focus isn’t that big a deal. You don’t use the blue AE’s when soloing and are still perfectly capable of ye olde root/nuke strategy. It’s not as efficient as a wiz due to the possible need to use “AE” spells on single targets, but in general you simply root, debuff, aura, start HO, small nuke, distortion, and the mob’s already dead and you only used single-target spells. Well.. you *might* have to throw a single additional spell, but the mob hp will be so low that the initial tic of a DoT is enough.

  6. Yes, I still believe EQ2 is the best-polished MMO out there. It’s the one I always return to when I’ve tired of Mage of Conan, Bored of the Rings, etc. Furthermore, due to the AA system, the XP Off switches, and the mentoring, it’s the one game where I don’t feel compelled to head for the endgame. For example, my Ranger has been level-locked at 50 for the last three years and I still enjoy playing him immensely.

    Unfortunately, I just really don’t like Norrath. The =game= is great, the =world= is too tongue-in-cheek for my tastes.

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  8. Great post!

    The only thing I have a question about is combat arts and spell progression at level 50. Do you still have to buy CAs from 50 to 60 or did they remove that annoyance from the game?

    I haven’t played through those levels in a long time.

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  10. Is there a good guide how to install eq2maps? It looks interesting but I’m not sure how to install it.

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