While my beta experience wasn't favorable, I was still hopeful some modifications might have been made after I left. So I set out to experience all aspects of the most recent expansion, except for raiding.
Moors of Ykesha - This is considered to be the outdoor solo zone. It's separated into three main areas. Normally, EQ2 travel involves zoning, but the Moors is one mega zone with no zoning involved. And this approach has been causing some problems. For many, this area is unplayable due to lag and delays. Fights are taking forever as you stand there not moving unable to do anything for seconds at a time.
The quests do have you running long distances back and forth but many have been fun to complete. Several involve using illusions to gather information from the hostiles. There are three factions you are working for. I have not seen any armor or weapon rewards, but have received some upgraded charm slot items. I'm assuming the intention is you work through the dungeons if you want armor. Also, the only purpose I've seen so far to gain faction is to purchase furniture recipe books.
While it is considered a solo zone, I've been hearing a lot of grumblings in guild from people attempting to do so and several have given up already. Many areas are jam packed with mobs making it more difficult to solo. And they dot you to death. I have never seen mobs constantly stacking up the dots like these. They root you, stun you, and put all sorts of nonsense on you. And if you cure it, it's immediately put back on. This part is a bit annoying. My husband and I have been duoing, so it's not been so bad for us. But I have seen very few soloers running around. Most have been guild groups. Overall, we're having a decent time doing the quests. With the new achievement points they've introduced, it's the most efficient way for our level 80's to gain more points.
The Dungeons - There are 20 new dungeons and they had been rated by difficulty from easy, moderate or hard and some in between. This is assuming you are raid geared. For casual players the rating is extremely hard or forget about it. We ventured with a full group into one of the "easy" dungeons. We picked up a mission to acquire four items. While there were some neat DDO type aspects like traps and solving puzzles, the mobs themselves were just too much to handle. Three hours and multiple deaths later, we had only one of the four items. Folks started saying they either had to go or needed to repair so we split up and left to lick our wounds. I logged back in a few hours later and one guild member asked if we wanted to try again. Everyone responded "no" and discussion followed about how the casual players got the shaft here. We all felt so inadequate. Our guild's intention was to run dungeon instances one week night and every weekend. But we're done. These dungeons clearly weren't intended for us.
Some people have been working around this by having a second account with a lower level. Everyone mentors the lower level and then unmentors once in the dungeon so the mobs are grey. They don't get experience but they get their shard for completing the mission. We shouldn't have to work around the system this way. Some had returned to EQ2 recently thinking we'd be getting an LDoN type experience. What a huge disappointment.
Crafting Missions - Ok on to something more positive. There is a new faction and they are stationed on the Isle of Mara. You can do a solo mission for them once a week and a group mission once a day. You receive a token and save them up to buy mounts, recipes, or crafting armor. The intent was that crafters would get together to work on these, but I have yet to see anyone asking for groups or looking for more in the crafting channel. I did my first crafting mission with some guild mates. We were stocking up some troops to beef them up for this battle that was taking place as we crafted. Upon completion, a big fight took place and a chest dropped with crafting related goodies. True to my usual luck in MMO's, I walked away with none of it. The next day I enlisted hubby to do one with me and will likely just go that route so I can at least get something from it. My guess is others are soloing them to be sure they get something. It does take longer to solo, about three hours I hear, but it can be done. Would be nice if other aspects of the game worked this way.
For crafters, this is the best expansion to date. For the well-equipped more hardcore, they are likely having fun in the dungeons. Since they are already geared up, not sure what they will spend those shards on though. For the casual soloer, you might be able to solo in the Moors depending on class. For the casual grouper, nothing to see here; move along.