EverQuesting: EverQuest II’s Blood of Luclin offers an aggravating lesson on gated MMO content

But the lunar landscape is lovely

    
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EverQuesting: EverQuest II’s Blood of Luclin offers an aggravating lesson on gated MMO content

To the moon, Alice! Well, I may not be Alice, but I did go straight to the moon. EverQuest II’s Blood of Luclin expansion launched last December, allowing Norrathians to travel to that blasted heavenly body that players have seen strewn across the sky for almost 16 years. I’ve long been interested in exploring there, and proposed Luclin as an expansion idea back at Terrors of Thelumbra. I mean, after we’d dug down deep under the world, the final place left to go was above the world, right?

Yet as much as I have wanted to see the moon, I didn’t jump into the expansion right away. I was still hoping to work my way completely through all the story in order, finishing the expansions I hadn’t completed yet. I finally tossed that plan out the window when the Showdown at Diaku Corral came out — I did not want to wait longer to check that out! Thanks to the expansion’s level boost bauble, my little Ratonga Inquisitor from the first progression server was now level 110 and ready to go to!

Accessing… please hold

One of the first things I wonder about a new expansion is whether I will be allowed to freely poke in and get a peek when it launches or will be locked out by an unfulfilled level prerequisite. I personally am not fond of making barriers to visiting any new expansion lands, especially if it is level-based. I do not mind an access quest too much, as long as any level can complete it. If a level 20 wants to go take in the beauty of a new place and risk life and limb, then let ’em go for it! I’ve done it plenty of times and never once thought, Oh, I wish they had level-locked this to keep me safe.

So I was saddened to learn that Blood of Luclin did restrict the content with with a level locked access quest, meaning my 101 Fury was out of luck. Despite my reluctance to ever do so, I went ahead and leveled up artificially just so I could start. Then I was reminded very quickly exactly why I do not do that sort of thing: One of the main steps is completing a high-level dungeon! Trying to use all those new, unfamiliar skills on a new class with only a merc companion did not go so well. Entertaining maybe, but not well. Even with all the free gear I was failing fast.

Thankfully, for my next try a friend joined me, and we made it through so we could finally be granted access to Luclin.

Behold the beauty of the moon

Of course once I arrived on Luclin, I wanted to explore, to go high and low and see all the things. If I didn’t, would I even be me? Sadly that was easier said than done. Apparently you are not able to use flying mounts until you are “accustomed to the change in gravity” (meaning you finish the signature quest), a very pointless and annoying restriction. A less than ideal on-the-rails situation for an explorer-at-heart, to be sure, but I didn’t let that deter me and just added advancing along the quest line to my exploring. (Also helpful in exploring is the box of free gear when you arrive; if you didn’t level up artificially and get that free gear, there is a box when you arrive filled with appropriate gear for your class that you will need as the gear creep is real.)

I will say this: Luclin is lovely. I didn’t have many preconceived ideas about the landscape, being that it’s an exploded moon and all, but the view that met me felt very fitting. Sandy ground with barren rock jutting out of it, scant vegetation, and a beautiful view of Norrath in the sky. An added surprising treat was the massive iridescent crystal formations creating the skyline. As for fauna, the rockhoppers are adorable, the sandgrabbers look like what would happen if Thing got a beer belly, and I enjoy the rugged insectoid Shik’Nar transit drones.

Once I started advancing far enough in the quests to use the Shik’Nar to fly to the next spot, I got to wander around and find a beautiful city and a lush wooded area with log homes. I also discovered that the map was larger than I thought, having a full other zone with the Wracklands (you land in The Blinding). Here is grey desolation that evolves into golden desolation, both with multiple toppled ruins from the cataclysm. The Wracklands are where I first found the feel of the Shissar, who fled to Luclin before being eradicated on Norrath. The land is filled with broken statues, temples, and skeletal as well as live Shissar. In the golden zone is the Diaku (orc creatures), and the fierce zelniaks, the cutest little puppy things to try and chew your face off! (This is also where the famed new Showdown at the Diaku Corral is found.)

Level a little much?

For all the blockades the expansion has set, leveling was not one of them. Granted there was a bonus going on during the time, but the signature quest line shoveled so much XP on us that we hit max level before even leaving the first zones. It was crazy! I still have a long way to go to finish the main quest line, and I already am done with levels. It was very imbalanced feeling. Call me crazy, but I do like the leveling experience to feel a bit more real and meaningful than getting to max in just a couple hours.

A big casualty to this is the fact I no longer felt any need to do the side quests. And I am very much enjoying the story of Luclin, so I don’t want to skip out on the bits of lore. But I have no need for the gear rewards, and right now the side quests all divert me from my ability to do stuff.  You’d think that at least by being max level I can access more things, right?

Yeah, no.

Accessing… please hold again

I was already annoyed that the moon was level-locked, then I found out that flying itself was quest-locked. OK, so maybe you need a couple days to get used to the buoyancy of Luclin, but the whole questline? That is ridiculous. While I can appreciate that devs want folks to experience the area instead of flying by it all, what’s wrong with letting folks fly early on? It didn’t enhance the experience, it just aggravated me more.

But that wasn’t even the end of the lockouts. Nope. Even after reaching 120 I still could not access the Showdown at Diaku Corral content. I couldn’t get in until I had — take a wild guess — completed the signature questline. Is there any reason that the newest extra content had to be gated behind finishing the expansion? No. I don’t see why. Why couldn’t it be accessible for anyone who had access to the area?

Still worth it

You might be wondering, hearing my complaints, whether getting Blood of Luclin is worth it. That depends. If you are level 110, then you are definitely ready to jump into this content. The story is neat, and the zones are pleasing to wander in. And this is where new content is being slotted right now, so if you want new, this is it. However, if you are low-level, it will be quite a while before you will be accessing this content (unless you level boost, that is). If you want to level organically through the world, you won’t need to worry about getting this expansion any time soon. Just enjoy your game time.

If you are close to needing the last two expansions, then grabbing it is a good deal because you get both. Or if you want to play the new content regardless of where you are level-wise, go ahead and get it and use a level bauble. You can always work backward to see the older stuff, or make a new toon. Or, do as I did: level up a new toon to experience Luclin and leave your main character be.

I do hope this isn’t the last of Luclin. I quite like hanging out on the moon. And I have always found the Shissar pretty interesting.

The EverQuest franchise is a vast realm, and sometimes MJ Guthrie gets lost in it all! Join her as she explores all the nooks and crannies from Antonica to Zek. Running biweekly on Thursdays, EverQuesting is your resource for all things EverQuest, EverQuest II, and Daybreak. And keep an eye out for MJ’s OPTV adventures!

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johnd212

Great article MJ. I think we all agree with your frustrations.

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Kvarin Sunermidst

Ugh. Nothing frustrated me more about the golden age of MMOs than level locked expansion content. It never made any sense, like didn’t they want to sell it to as many players as possible? But of only the highest level players could actually make use of said content, what incentive would other players have to purchase it?

Robert S.
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Robert S.

Very underwhelming expansion. I’ve been playing EQ2 on and off since release, and it will always hold a special place in my heart. But the expansions keep getting thinner and thinner.

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Greaterdivinity

Is there any reason that the newest extra content had to be gated behind finishing the expansion?

Gating desirable content behind known grinds to keep players engaged for longer. Same reason time-gating has always been used heavily in MMO’s, especially when they were sub-only.

I keep wanting to come back to the EQ franchise…I’m just hoping for something fresh, because EQ1 was never my bag and my relationship with EQ2 over the years has been…tumultuous, and not in a good way.

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Ironwu

At the EQ2 Luclin expansion design meeting . . .

“You know, in WoW BfA, everyone just LOVES the way zones, flying, races and stuff are gated behind achievements and grinding. Let’s do THAT and everyone will LOVE our expansion too!”

“You know, what a great idea!”

“Yes!”
“Yes!”
“Yes!”

“Daybreak makes such great games! Everyone LOVES them for great ideas like this!”

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Greaterdivinity

Considering how much else they’ve ripped from WoW and tried to brute-force into EQ2 (still looking at you, automated dungeon finder that would queue you into A FREAKIN LOW LEVEL RAID in a party, or would never send you back to where you queued from so you might leave the instance on the other side of the continent with no clue how to get back to where you were), this is a depressingly believable scenario as a generality : /

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Castagere Shaikura

MJ I watched your streams and felt your frustrations. This was a huge mistake in getting content. And when they were out there selling it they never mentioned anything about needing the latest expansion to play it. This made a real bad taste for me about the game.

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Kheldar

I remember back in the old EQ1 days, when Luclin came out… All new zones, a new race, a new class, and a decent progression path from level 1 on up; all on the moon. They put time, thought, and effort in to that expansion, and it worked well. BoL from my perspective is just a crap slap in the face, with no time, no thought, no effort, no testing, and just a continuation of the current EQ2 Team Trend of “Add Required Stats!”, “Multiply Everything by 13,298,389!”, “ADD TO THE CASH SHOP!”.
Total failure.