The world of Norrath saw a change late last year with the addition of The Shadow Odyssey expansion, which not only added a new overland zone but through a series of instances provided gear progression. Throwing back to the Lost Dungeons of Norrath expansion of EverQuest Live, players would complete missions for shards which could be exchanged for gear. It sounds simple but if you aren't familiar with the expansion or have been out of the game for awhile, it can be a little confusing. We've summarized all the basics into ten ideas which will build the foundation of the EverQuest II endgame.
Armor is pivotal to raiding
It Costs Shards - The bulk of exciting rewards will be armor, although there is a variety of jewelry and low grade weaponry available for purchase as well. The armor set forms a bonus which you see standard in most AAA fantasy MMO games on the market. So how do you get the shards required to purchase this awesome loot? There are a series of instanced dungeons with The Shadow Odyssey expansion which can be found in Commonlands, Everfrost, Lavastorm, Kylong Plains, and the Moors of Ykesha. Attached to each of these dungeons is a mission which upon completion rewards you with experience and a shard. Sounds simple but there is more. A chest in most of the dungeons, which is unlocked from key creatures, grants a second shard and a daily mission provides the reward of two shards. This means an instance run could theoretically garner you four shards.
Shards Can be Earned Early Just because you arent at the level 80 end game doesnt mean you cant start saving up earlier on. As early as level 75, you can enter mentored instances and earn your keep completing missions. The gear you are after is level 79 (why not 80?) meaning you have 4 levels to earn and these are also a great source of AA experience and can be mentored as early as 55 without shards. The Commonlands, Everfrost, and Lavastorm dungeons are all available to lower levels so if you can find friends willing to go, everybody wins. The only difference theyll find is a lack of collection items and the loot drops will be scaled down to the appropriate tier.
It's Only Bought in One Place Ok now that you are earning shards and ready to purchase your first piece, where do you go to buy it? Although a notable exception is listed below, there is only one place to buy everything from at the moment, but hopefully guilds will get a merchant they can place in their halls. In the Moors of Ykesha on the airship platform you'll find a group of NPC's in purple robes standing around in a circle. There is a merchant for the first tier, the second tier, jewelry, and miscellaneous charms and weapons conveniently located here. The first tier merchant is listed as the Lesser Shard and is where youll want to start shopping.
Armorsmiths Can Make It Its probably a little shocking, but yes the Armorsmith tradeskill has once again become useful to the general public. These folks are now able to train up and craft your gear but why in the world would you go to them instead of the handy merchant? For the economic reason they require one less shard to make the armor. This might not sound like a big deal but if you save one shard per armor piece, that just bought you a piece of tier 1 jewelry.
It's Progressive Looking at armor sets can be a little intimidating at first, so it's important to understand there are actually two tiers. The first tier is obviously cheaper and doesn't provide the more exciting bonuses its upgraded counterpart does. A key ingredient in the higher tier is the addition of a critical mitigation stat, which is pivotal to your equipment lineup if you intend to do any raiding in the expansion zones. It's also important to note you must own the first tier piece in order to purchase the second.
Critical Mitigation is Necessary Another of the unusual changes made with the expansion was how critical damage is mitigated in raids. The Critical Mitigation stat on the second tier pieces of armor are not only beneficial in reducing the overall damage received, but content is being designed around its use. This appears to be the new standard for entry level raiding so if you are still wearing Rise of Kunrak expansion armor, you'll be retiring it very soon. Will it affect non-raid gameplay? Technically no, but you'll find a lot more people take you seriously in second tier gear.
There are Different Armor Sets Selecting which set you want is an important choice and its expensive to change your mind. Youll see at least 2 or 3 ambiguously named choices available when you go to the merchant. Some of these are made to fit multiple classes, so look carefully first at the primary stats of the pieces. If you are a Brigand and see high Intelligence instead of Strength or Agility, odds are you might be looking at a piece better fit for a Dirge or Troubador. You may however find the numbers quite comparable so next look at the set bonus provided and reflect on what fits your personal playstyle. Do you want a group heal set off every few seconds or an overall increase in Combat Art damage? Purchases are non-refundable so choose wisely.
This is your destiny
This Isnt Solo Work Weve seen so many MMO games finally relent to solo play by adjusting quest series and monsters to make content more palatable. Unfortunately for those who lean towards this play style, this is not an example. There is no option to complete solo instances or quests to earn shards so its time to make friends. While we wont lie and say its easy to find a group, especially under level 80, there are plenty of groups running the Mission of the Day. There is plenty to do in the Moors of Ykesha and some extremely nice quest rewards but they pale in comparison, so it may be painful, but a pick up group might be in your future.
Shards are Tradeable A recent addition made an interesting change to shards which were no trade and bound to your character. Perhaps your group needs a tank but you want shards for your Wizard gear. Traditionally this usually put your Wizard completely out of luck and your Beserker had some unneeded shards. They can now be passed via your bank to other characters allowing some much needed flexibility in the process.
Its the End Game We mentioned it briefly above, but it bears repeating and a little extra detail. Currently the shard gear is the non-raiding end game for EverQuest II, period. At minimum you will need Tier 2 armor if you are serious about raiding in the Shadow Odyssey, and unless you are a really cute female, most guilds arent going to bring you in without it. Even if you are happy doing last expansions raids, this gear is only slightly worse and will cost you less DKP.
We hope this has cleared up anything you didnt understand or explained where the end of the EverQuest II experience is. The system has proven extremely popular in the community and will continue to provide content until the next expansion. There is plenty more to learn but these are the basics, so check out EverQuest II to learn more.
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