Lyriana made it almost through her 73rd level before finally joining a group in EQ2. The current state of Norrath is such that groups don't really seek you out at low levels, and that suited me well enough since I came to see the solo PVE. After my guild formed up a group to seek the Headless Horseman, not knowing that he was actually a contested epic encounter that we would not be able to attempt, we pondered whether there was something else we could do instead.
It turns out that, if you'd like to "Interact with the Flame of Love" in EQ2, you need five companions, so off we went to the Shard of Love.
Adapting to new roles
Above is a shot of Lyriana's hotbars. Without going into too many details, suffice it to say that there are a few buttons there. With a real tank, I don't need to worry about getting the enemy to turn away from me so I can use my flanking attacks, and I have more time to work on things like debuffs. (I also nominally have a health transfer skill, but it was very ineffective, perhaps that was in part because I've got something horrible like 9/350 healing skill, since I can't use that skill on myself.)
It isn't really a problem that my solo experience has done very little to prepare me for a group game that I'm not really pursuing in the first place, but I will concede that there is a bigger issue here for players who are actually hoping to make the jump to group content.
An Instance Full of Story and Furniture
The Shard of Love is a very story-heavy instance, which seeks to explain why the Goddess of Love has not returned to Norrath with the rest of the game's pantheon. The instance was actually added to the game in the most recent content patch, mid-way through the expansion cycle. SOE decided to completely sidestep the gear inflation issue that WoW's new content introduces by not dropping ANY stat-bearing gear anywhere in the instance.
Basically, your drops in the Shard are house furniture (including benches, braziers, and critters) and cosmetic outfit pieces. It's unclear how this decision is affecting the zone's longevity, but perhaps it's not a bad thing to have content in the game that most people will only do a few times.
Mentoring down to the land of Lizards
I also had the time to join the guildies on a visit to the Temple of Cazic-Thule over the weekend. The temple is a non-instanced zone full of group content for characters in their late 40's. Thanks to the game's mentoring system, we were all able to set our level down to an appropriate level to run through the zone with one of the lower level players in the guild.
Because I'd never been there before, I was actually able to rack up a significant amount of experience and AAxp from completing the local quests and killing the local named mobs. Unfortunately, this is one of the game's older quest areas, so there were a number of quests that took a really long time and a lot of killing to complete, even for a full, well-balanced group (including some mentored characters, who are generally more powerful than legitimate players of that level, simply because things don't scale down perfectly).
I don't know that this would be enough to get large numbers of players into the zone on a regular basis - the loot was pretty worthless, even for the level - but it's certainly enough to lure some more experienced players into the area from time to time to help their guildies out.
On the downside, there was a pesky dragon, Venekor, sitting smack in the middle of the courtyard inside aggro range of several quest targets. Apparently this guy, a level 55 x4 epic mob, would have been a pretty major problem at launch (when level 50 was the cap for players). Fortunately, he's not that big of a deal when you've got some level 80 characters in your party who can click "unmentor" and beat the dragon down.
We were a bit disappointed that he only dropped a bit of silver (some raid mobs will still drop their trophies if you outlevel them when you kill them), but at least there wasn't a dragon underfoot anymore. If nothing else, Lyriana can now say that she has taken part in killing a dragon in Everquest II. I'm glad I got to give it a shot the once, even if it isn't something I'll be doing on any regular basis.