Is leveling too fast in EQII, or is it convenient to be able to level an alt up fast? We learn how to hit the level cap in 7 hours.
I'm of the opinion that the game levels too darn fast.
I recently rolled a new toon and hit 20 before I ever even got to Frontier Farm in Antonica, causing me to choose between level-locking to experience the rest of the zone or moving on to Thundering Steppes. I understand that after five years the developers want to provide the means for people to rapidly catch up to their friends and the current end game, but if you don't level-lock you're missing a metric ton of content. I feel it kills some of the new player experience by rushing them through the game, and sets them up for grind and disappointment when the XP slows down at later levels.
Just how fast can you level a new character? A little while ago, in a discussion on the official forums, I threw out a tongue-in-cheek challange: can you level a character to 80 in one day? Much to my suprise a player named Zimm took me up on it, hitting the level cap in an incredible 7 hours of playtime.
Naturally I wanted details.
The average player who just started playing EverQuest II probably won't have the resources to pull off this mad dash to level 80. It really has to be done deliberately and with forethought. But for those who would like to grind a new character to max rapidly, Zimm has graciously given us (almost) all his strategies.
You're going to need a Recruit-a-Friend friend (where you've invited them), friends to mentor you and a few experience potions. Zimm used one Traveller's Potion (4 hours, 10% bonus XP) and three One-Year Reward potions (55% bonus XP). You will also need a (very) little cash. A guild that provides rapid transportation is really handy but probably not crucial. Zimm also had two level 80 characters on this account for more bonus XP.
Zimm is a multi-boxer, but you could do this with a bunch of friends. "I was actually boxing many characters with the levelee," he said. "Gotta have the buffage! Berserker, Templar, Coercer, Dirge, Troubador and the Inquisitor (New One) " The advantage to this is the mentoring bonuses stack. "5 people mentoring [is] 5%, 4%, 3%, 2%, 1% each person from the first. So 15% total from all five."
Zimm's total XP bonuses were: 200% RAF, 15% from five Mentors, 20% for two max level characters, 10% mentor bonus (from the RAF bonus horse), plus the potions mentioned above. He never had any vitality as he was going for speed, but if you waited a week for it to build up you'd start with another 100%.
To level this particular character Zimm did the following:
Skip the whole newb experience; instead, take that little bit of cash and buy some collections. Remember that collection XP is capped, so you don't have to shell out for high-level stuff. Zimm bought four collections, hit level 6, and set out across Antonica killing trash mobs all the way to Blackburrow. He cleared Blackburrow once and dinged 18.
Leaving Blackburrow he killed trash on the way to Stormhold and then proceeded to clear the zone until he hit level 26. Then he moved to Thundering Steppes. He again cleared everything in his path until he got to The Ruins of Varsoon, where he cleared the zone until he hit level 30-something.
He called to his guild hall and caught a lift to Enchanted Lands. There he (you guessed it) killed trash mobs as he headed to Runnyeye, then proceeded to harass goblins there until he was 40-something.
Back he went to the guild hall for a hop to the Feerrott, where he (can you guess?) killed mobs on the way to Cazic Thule and cleared the zone until he dinged 48. Then he moved to Sanctum of Fear and committed mass mayhem until level 58. Back to the guild hall!
He took his group to Sanctum of the Scaleborn and cleared the entire zone multiple times until level 66, took a nap, and went back at it until level 68.
At level 68 you can group with a full group of level 80's. Zimm wants to keep his favorite zone for this stage to himself, but there are lots of group zones at that level to grind through. "As long as its a constant flow of mobs to kill it doesn't matter," he told me.
Ding! Level 80 in less playtime than an old school EverQuest raid, easily doable on your day off. Here's the screenshot of his playtime (click for a bigger image).
What does it all mean? A veteran with the right tools can certainly get a new toon leveled up to join his or her friends and guildmates with a quickness. Even if you only had an hour a night you could do with with a little help from your friends. But with all that help does the new player experience really need to be so fast? While I wouldn't call for XP retuning at this point, if it happens I'd advocate slowing down the level 1-20 experience just a tad to encourage a more leisurely progression instead of driving the new player relentlessly toward the cap.