Who doesn’t like free? Because I certainly do! And today is all about getting stuff for free in EverQuest II. Sadly, I don’t mean from the cash shop (although that would be cool). I am talking about skill upgrades and recipes that you don’t have to loot, barter for, or buy. No in-game coin or real life cash is involved in acquiring these.
Did you know you could upgrade skills for free? Not everyone does. I even have friends who didn’t know this feature existed for the longest time. And it doesn’t matter that I have played EQII for over decade — this tidbit continues to slip my mind as well! How do you get these skill upgrades? By researching them. Don’t worry, it’s actually the easiest thing ever: no actual study is involved. All you need is time, be it online or off, and a couple mouse clicks and you have stronger, better skills. Well, you need the memory to actually do it, of course.
When hunting about Norrath, the strength of your combat spells and abilities makes a difference. Sometimes the difference is between victory or defeat, life or death. It’s been forever now that skills are auto-granted upon leveling up, but to get more advanced versions of the skills, with all their added oomph, players still need to acquire and learn them. This means either looting or purchasing adept or master books, or crafting or purchasing journeyman or expert scrolls. But there is one other way, and it is free.
Once you reach level 20, a new research tab labeled “upgrade” becomes accessible in your knowledge book. Open the book by pressing K, move to this end tab, and you will see a list of all your skills. From here, you can select one spell or combat ability at a time to upgrade one tier. That means if your ability is apprentice (beginner) level, you can upgrade it to journeyman. A journeyman skill can be upgraded to an adept, adept to expert, and expert to master. Paid all-access members who can use grandmaster-level abilities can also upgrade from master to grandmaster.
Folks unfamiliar with EQII may wonder why this feature doesn’t kick in until level 20. Truthfully, it would be a waste to start any sooner, as those early levels go by so quickly. You’d have already moved on to a higher-level version of a skill before you finish researching the upgrade!
The waiting game
Sounds pretty dang easy, right? It is. Like I said, it’s just a couple clicks and you’re done. The hard part is waiting for the research to complete so you can claim and use it. The lower-tier skills at the lower levels don’t take hardly any time at all. However, as both tiers and skill levels increase, so too does the time it will take to finish. For example, a level 10 journeyman skill takes 3 hours and 36 minutes, while a level 88 journeyman takes 14 days and 15 hours. Now compare that journeyman to a level 89 grandmaster that needs a whopping 39 days and 8 hours!
The time to get a level 90 skill from apprentice level to master in this manner is approximately 75 days. If you don’t want to wait, there is little cheat button that appears when you highlight a skill. Clicking this gives you the option of spending Daybreak coin to forgo the time and insta-level that skill. You can also speed up the process by looting or purchasing from the broker the skill scrolls or books in game for various tiers. I personally have never had to level a skill this way completely thanks to loot drops of adept books and the occasional master books; my jump usually starts at adept or higher. Honestly, with the time involved I pretty much try to limit myself to the grandmaster tier.
So what happens if you are in the middle of a mega-long research period, and you happen to come across the master book? You can actually stop researching that skill and change to a different one, and all the time you’ve already accumulated will be applied to the new skill. If you do that, be sure to pick one of comparable level or higher so you don’t waste weeks worth of research!
It is totally worth popping into game even if you are on hiatus in order to take advantage of this. Your skills research in real time, not play time, so you can be getting stronger even when you can’t devote time to really delve into Norrath. I just wish I would remember this feature better! I can’t tell you the number of grandmaster skills I don’t have simply because I forget about it. Heck, even when I am playing regularly I forget; after a week of checking it slips my mind and I either have a skill completed and ready to claim for months on end or I never get one started.
To be fair, the game tries to remind you: When a skill is finished researching the upgrade tab flashes. But if you didn’t regularly open your knowledge book, you wouldn’t ever see it. I don’t even want to know how long that last skill was sitting there completed before I finally claimed it. And by then it was practically on accident as I just randomly opened the book. Luckily, there is now another flashing icon in the upper left when research is done, so maybe I won’t miss the next one.
Although crafting research does not upgrade skills, it can still be a worthwhile endeavor. Instead of skills, players will receive crafting recipes. The recipes on the standard researchers, called Tradeskill Apprentices, are all craftable by artisans, so it doesn’t matter your actual crafting class is. My carpenter alt has access to armor pieces, jewelry, and food. There are even grandmaster recipe books for each archetype, meaning your one high-level crafter can learn and craft the skills for all your alts.
Just like the combat skills, crafting research takes time. And the higher the level the recipe, the longer it will take. A level 10 recipe takes 2 days and 9 hours to complete, whereas a level 95 takes 15 days. If you target the researcher and click “coach,” it will decrease your research time by four hours. You can do this once every 18 hours. It is important to note that you cannot speed up the research time of the two special Tradeskill Apprentices that are acquired in Skyshrine, Elder Yelnar and Overlord Deshniak.
The caveat here is that unlike researching skills which is available to everyone, you have to own the feature that allows you to use research assistants. Once a part of the Age of Discovery expansion, this feature can be purchased separately in features section of the Marketplace for 1,000 Daybreak cash. One you have this, you then head to Qeynos or Freeport and select which race appearance you want in your home (the regular apprentices are identical in recipes).
Many folks might argue that the research assistants aren’t really too relevant anymore, but there are still some benefits. There’s a daily quest that rewards you with time off of research as well as a bag of raw materials and some tradeskill XP. And if nothing else, you get a Coldain, Othmir, or Human NPC to decorate your home with that will also dance with you on command!