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I'm currently (re?)playing EQ1 on the Fippy Darkpaw progression server, which is reminding me of how things in the "current" era were back on live EQ. Fippy is at the point I like to call "The Era of Marginal Upgrades". This was a point, back in oh 2005-2008 where EQ1 regained a lot of its former subs and even gained some new ones, so what precisely is it that EQ DID in this era?
There were 3 expansions in a row with no level cap raise. Everyone was 70 for these expansions. The four expansions prior to it were both level 65. It should be noted that alternate advancements(which are most akin to planar attunment in RIFT these days) WERE added with most, but not all, of these expansions, and so were new spells for every class. So in order these expansions were:
Lost Dungeons of Norrath (LdoN) - 65 - No real end raid, just several, this was the introduction of instancing to EQ1.
Planes of Power (PoP) - 65 - End Raid: PoTime (Time)
(Note) Legacy of Ykesha (LoY) was released somewhere in here, I think after PoP and also was level cap 65, however it wasn't much in the way of a raid or group expansion, more of a storyline release allowing a new player race and adding in some low level armor quests for new players.
Gates of Discord (GoD) - 65 - End Raid: Tacvi
Omens of War (OoW) - 70 - End Raid: Citidal of Anguish (CoA)
Depths of Darkhollow (DoDH) - 70 - End Raid: Demiplane of Blood (DP)
Prophecy of Ro (PoR) - 70 - End Raid: Deathknell (DK)
So during this period Group gear lagged slightly behind raid gear, a good group geared player could enter into raids and function as a valuable member of the raid. A player in Time gear could tank/dps/heal Tacvi, a player in Tacvi gear could tank/dps/heal CoA, etc. Progressional raid content, such as the MPG Trials required to access CoA, had gear equivalent to the last expansion's end raid. So MPG trials dropped Tacvi level loot. Blood raids, required for demiplane access, dropped CoA level loot.
Not only that but instanced group gear was equivalent to raid gear from 2 expansions before, giving casual players a solid upgrade path in order to prepare for raids. DoDH group gear from hard missions, for example, rewarded Tacvi level loot(or close to Tacvi level)
There wasn't a huge power gap between these expansions! Tacvi loot was 275 health/mana/endurance with secondary stats and mods like attack and accuracy. CoA loot had upgraded secondary stats and mod2s and 300 h/m/e. DP loot was 330 h/m/e with upgraded secondary stats and mods.
One of the biggest gripes that WoW players have had over the years is that the second a new expansion launches their raid gear is crap, replacing end-game raid gear with quested greens from the first zone of a new expansion is demoralizing, and creates a massive power gap that turns returning players away. On the other hand, the minor power gap between expansions during this era in EQ1 made it one of the most popular raiding eras and encouraged old players to return and new players to join in. Just how popular can be seen by the fact that Fippy Darkpaw is the highest population EQ1 server, and has been reported to have a higher population than any EQ2 server.