EQII Monk, Levelling and Gear

My monk, Shau, is now level 22. He has an appearance tab (which holds something very like the initial monk outfit, because I think it's great), a surname ('Ironflank', having decided not to use 'Lin' on grounds that someone would kill me for the pun), and his Tier 3 rares, for which I thank Ysharros. And that has provoked me to think about the levelling curve in EQII, thus far, and the difficulty of combat for the Monk class, and some other stuff.

First and foremost, levelling Shau, even though I've been through some of the same content as on Arlynx, has not been a chore. There are enough quests through Oakmyst Forest, The Caves and Antonica that you can pick and mix a bit, not getting the same run through. That's without making any particular effort to do so, either.

I was a little bit puzzled coming up through about level 18 to 21 at the difficulty I was having with some mobs. I could take on a blue mob with no down arrows (the difficulty of mobs in EQII is very detailed), and defeat it, as long as none of my attacks failed, I got off my one long-cooldown heal, and no other mobs joined in. Up-arrow blues were touch and go, two-arrow blues not really possible, and three-arrow blues kicked my ass in seconds. I did a bit of poking at the combat arts, made sure I had them lined up in a reasonable order, and shrugged, assuming the Monk's hybrid dps/tank status was making it harder work. And then I got the Tier 3 gear.

In the Tier 3 rare armour, with his rare fistwraps on, Shau can take down not one, not two, but three even blue mobs in one fight without needing to heal. This is awesome and amazing. But I was a little bit miffed, because it seems to give characters who have access to the rares such a massive advantage over others. And then I went swanning in to try to take on a three-up-arrow blue - and got my ass kicked in seconds. The power levels are so well-calculated that even the rare gear, while it makes combat much faster for mobs of appropriate power-levels, doesn't make you able to take on stuff over your expected level.

I'm finding details like this throughout EQII; the classes seem to be very finely tuned, very precisely built. Maybe it's just the ones I'm playing, but it seems odd that EQII can balance 22 classes so very well, when WoW has issues over and over again on the balance on some classes. And then again, maybe it's because WoW is so over-analysed that once some small advantage is found, it's rapidly exploited and built-upon, so that small chinks in the balance armour expose the whole system.

I've decided, shockingly, not to pick up a tradeskill on Shau. He's going to be an adventuring and gathering character, and can therefore contribute to the guild's crafting depot without taking away from it - because the other characters are likely to do a lot of taking away from it, and this will help keep me even.

As a final note, I really like the whole look of the Monk class. The kicking, punching, martial-action-pose buffs, and everything appeal to me in a way that no melee class ever has before.

Posted by Drew Shiel at August 31, 2009 12:40 PM

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