Random numeric fact aside, I'm a bit disappointed to find that EQ2's latest expansion suffers from the same flaw as the game's new starting area. Much as it shocks me to type this, EQ2's solo quests need more grind.
Mapping out a quest
On this map is one chunk of the Sundered Frontier zone. In the bottom left, an arrow (Lyriana's current position) shows where the questgivers are located. On the top right, the X indicates the cave that the monsters have decided to camp around (but not, for some reason, inside).
You can't tell the scale from the map, but it takes Lyriana (who hovers around at +100% runspeed at all times due to her class buffs) about a minute to cover the distance, ignoring all the mobs because she can simply outrun them. I don't think that anyone makes it to level 80 without some means of moving faster than base speed unless they've done so deliberately. However, if you were unable to escape the mobs, you'd be in for relatively short fights - these enemies are rated weaker than normal, to ensure that future undergeared characters don't struggle to start the new expansion (as happened to solo players attempting to enter the Rise of Kunark expansion content).
Now that you have the context, allow me to summarize the questline (wiki link here):
- Run to cave, loot one object without fighting, run back to questgiver.
- Use the looted object right next to the questgiver, obtain another quest complete 10 second later for no good reason.
- Run to cave, kill six intentionally weak mobs, run back to questgiver.
- Run back to cave again, climb a ladder, kill one mob (of actual normal difficulty), run back
- Run back to cave, use item, run away and return to questgiver.
Alternately, stand still as about eight of the intentionally weak mobs descend on your position and attack, just because you're bored enough to see if you'll live if you fight them all at once. For bonus points, take AFK time partway through combat, while the surviving mobs are still attacking you, to click on an item for a different quest that needs to be restarted every 7 kills.
In a bit of variety, upon returning to the questgiver after this quest, he will instead send you back to the city (2 minutes AFK-flight away) to talk to his boss for the quest complete.
- The boss wants to investigate in person, and gives you a quest complete for traveling back to the quest hub and speaking to him there.
- Travel back to the cave, loot five objects (no mobs to fight), run to the the boss' office in the city (about 2 minutes from the cave for Lyriana, running directly towards the city and jumping off the cliff because she can glide safely down into the city on her wings) to talk to his flunkie, then fly the AFK flight back to the quest hub.
- Back to the cave again, click on the pool of water that you've waded through half a dozen times already to loot a sample, back to the questgiver. I wish I was kidding.
- Run back to cave, climb up the ladder from step 4, loot some items (still no mobs here), return to questgiver.
If I believed that this garbage was the best that the current EQ2 team can produce - which I might if not for the fact that recent efforts like the Lavastorm revamp from last year have been massively better - I would be joining Ferrel on the "EQ2 solo quests are boring, trivial chores" lecture circuit.
The sad reality is that this is not the quest team's fault. No one decides that there should be a "quest" in which the player takes 10 seconds to walk across the room and click on an item. This debacle is just a more extreme case of what happened in New Halas. The developers ran out of tasks to assign the player before they had awarded a sufficient amount of exp to allow the player to leave the zone, so they had to create an entire series of increasingly trivial followups to justify awarding more and more quest bonus exp without requiring the creation of any more content.
In a game that actually had enough landmass to go around, this entire nine-part ordeal would have been a single "kill 10 rat-equivalents" and maybe a followup to kill the boss. There's a reason why the cliche is to kill ten rats - assuming appropriate difficulty (adjust number of required kills up or down as appropriate), that's a number that justifies the travel time without feeling overly grindy. How did a game called Everquest of all things wind up with too little grind?
The answer is in the relative weight of mob kills versus quest exp. Quest turn-ins are worth drastically more experience than mob kills. I'm guessing that they may be trying to avoid the situation that exists in WoW, where mob kills are worth more than quest bonuses to begin with, group dungeon mobs are worth more experience yet, and suddenly you're raking in 1% of a level PER KILL in 5-man dungeons with the appropriate exp bonuses. Unfortunately, this means that you cannot compensate for removing half a dozen frivolous quest completion bonuses by simply doubling or even tripling the mob kill count.
Even so, something needs to be done about the state of these questlines. Though each minor step does allow the writers to present players with another paragraph of quest text, that small amount of added story does not make up for the sheer pointlessness of the way quest series like this one play out.