The requirement of doing pre-apex prior to the banquet was removed with Patch 92 and now you get put directly into the Banquet / Apex quest line. You can still go through the pre-apex stuff and be introduced to all the solo content but it is no longer required. You now get materials for Exodor Scout Gear along the way. You'll get the scout gear in the first few minutes of the Apex Banquet. Updates to this post are in progress but so far it looks like it's the same progression with different materials for rewards. The other notable change is you need to be 68 before the "[Solo] A New Beginning" quest line unlocks. If you have some progress in the quest line prior to 68, you'll be able to complete that step but the subsequent ones won't open until you are at least level 68.
Jump to the slightly outdated Apex quest line guide here. An article for the updated Apex quest is also progress.
Here's what you should do once you hit level 65 in order to quickly get to the Apex quest line, herein referred to as the "Pre-Apex Quest line." In prior patches, it was up to you to gather materials and enchant your gear to reach item level 439. Once you got 439, the Banquet quest would be activated and you could start working on unlocking Apex for your character.
What is Apex?
As an aside, Apex is a series of active and passive skills that each class can unlock. In general terms, the apex skills will add 20 to 30% more damage potential and usually changes how you play your class, at least in your burn / self-buff mode. Apex was released in two steps, with some classes not having Apex skills for a while and instead they got a flat damage buff, regardless of their item level. Nowadays, Apex is available for all classes and everyone has to complete the quest line in order to get the increased damage potential. "Potential" because it's still up to you to make the most of those added skills.
In simplest terms, follow the purple quest line that you will unlock upon reaching level 65. You'll be requires to go through a series of solo content types in the game to progress through the quest. In the first few steps, you'll get all your starter gear. Check your class guides either here on on your respective class discord server to see how to roll the gear and which set of accessories to pick based on your crit cap. At each step, you'll get a glyph box and some enchanting materials. Use the enchanting materials on your gear to enchant and upgrade it until you reach item level 439.
You can jump ahead if you have materials saved up but the "Banquet" quest for the actual Apex quest line won't activate until you finish the pre-apex quests.
The rest of the article will fill in the specifics for each step of the questline. If you know your class well enough and know what you're doing with the quest line, it should take approximately an hour to complete all the quests and get to 439. At that point you'll have a portion of your skill glyphs unlocked, have Frostmetal +0 gear and daylight (new Tier 2 since prospect got removed) accessories, and should have some enchanting materials left over going into the Apex quest line.
There will be more visuals and reference images and videos added later on. Wanted to get the text published sooner rather than later.
Here's an outline of the steps with the gotcha's called out.
First thing, get to Highwatch. At level 65 you unlock a free teleport to highwatch. It's accessed by using the "Redeem" button in the bottom right corner of the Vanguard Request window (default keybind 'h'). You'll be teleported to Highwatch in front of two NPCs. The right one will be your source of gear and random items like noctenium refiners and Ghilliglade teleports. The left NPC will get you crystals and glyphs. Check your map for the purple asterisk marking the start of the pre-apex quest line.
[Important] Skills and Glyphs
Talk to Marmundam to get your flying mount (you may already have the same mount if you didn't skip it in the 20's after completing the Bastion of Lok quest line), and some glyph items. Remember to activate your new mount and open your glyph boxes. Use the 5x Plunder Glyph boxes first before using your green glyph tokens so you don't buy one you will get during the course of pre-apex. You're going to get more plunder boxes so it might be good to save the green token shop items until you are done with pre-apex. Right click to activate the glyphs. If it's greyed out, check the tool tip. If it says "already acquired" then you can safely discard the glyph item.
[Important] Guardian Gear
It says guardian gear but you get Twistshard stuff. It's a two step quest so you'll get your weapon on the first step and the armor, handwear, and footwear in the second step. You can ditch your old gear after rolling and equipping the new stuff. Remember to pick yellow lines and check your guide to see what the weapon and chest top lines should be (and whether or not you should take 0.3 crit power on the weapon instead of a yellow line). Other than 0.3 crit power, DO NOT PICK NON-YELLOW LINES. I mean, you can if you want to, but it's suboptimal.
Next you'll talk to Redorn. He's walking up and down a path so you may have to walk around to find him. His quest marker should be tracking him on the map. This is also a two step quest but the second step won't activate until you roll and equip the belt you get in the first step. You'll get Bellum accessories (tier 2 in the past but since they are the defaults, they are tier 1/starter level now). You get a set of both carving (crit factor) and pumped (power) ones. You'll have to consult your class guide to see what your crit cap goal is and then adjust how many carving pieces you use in order to get there. Equip the appropriate pieces, swap pumped for carving or vice versa as needed, and toss the leftovers. They are cheap to replace.
Remember, the 2nd step of Accessories and Finishing Touches won't activate until you equip the gear you were given in the first step.
[Important] Finishing Touches
Next, talk to Braga in the Sanctuary of Illumination. You'll get a circlet, which you must equip to unlock the 2nd half of the quest. Then you'll get a power brooch, an innerwear token to trade for starter innies, and a full set of fine niveot crystals appropriate for your class. Equip your new stuff and toss any old stuff. Your brooch will be usable immediately so after you equip it, remember to add it to your hotbar so you can use it in combat. In the past, you started with a lower-tier brooch and it had to be upgrade once before you could use the active skill effect. If you're feeling lazy, you can use your Redeem teleport to get closer to the next step in northern Highwatch.
Now's a great time to get your glyph page as up to date as you can. Remember to poke it periodically as you unlock more glyphs with the Plunder boxes you'll get in the pre-apex quest line.
[Important] A Gift for the Goddess
Talk to Meren to get the next quest step. She'll tell you to go run Echoes by talking to Murakan. Obnoxiously, he doesn't show up as a quest marker. Go back to the Redeem teleport area and turn away from the NPCs. There's a set of five NPCs standing near some steps. Murakan is located second from the left. Talk to him to get into the Echoes of Arcana instance.
Murakan and Echoes of Arcana is not marked on the map with a quest marker. He's a Baraka located next to four other NPCs near some stairs in the courtyard.
The instance itself is pretty straightforard. Follow the path, fight a BAM, choose to go left or right when prompted, then continue following the path until you defeat Anea/Aranea. Interact with the crate at the end and then the Echo Arcana object to progress the purple questline. You'll have wait on the NPCs dialog before you can teleport out. Talk to Gadin to get a few mats. He's marked as a Story quest (red) instead of part of the Pre-Apex quest so it might not matter.
- Go back to talk to Meren to continue progressing. She'll tell you to go talk to Halran in the Erudar Command.
- Halran will give you the Regeneration Stone. Right-click it in in your inventory to use it and restore the Eternal crown a bit. It'll change icons with each stone you apply.
- Talk to Halran again and he'll tell you to go talk to Meren, who moved from northern Highwatch to just outside of Erudar Command. How convenient.
- Talk to Meren to finish this quest step.
You'll get some enchanting materials, a stack of Prime Battle Solutions, and a Plunder Glyph Box. The gold you get will cover the enchanting costs. Use the materials to advance all your gear evenly or just your weapon for now if you are comfortable with your class already.
[Important] The Missing Supplier
The backstory of the pre-apex quest is you're running around chasing down stuff for the Banquet as well as collecting stones for the eternal crown. Talk to Meren back in her normal spot to get a teleport scroll to The Island of Dawn (IoD for short).
- Talk to Tamarang near the Pegasus landing platform.
- Follow the quest marker to Nimotz's Belongings, a pile of stuff next to the Bridge. Interact with the pile then pick up the item that is produced. Read the note to progress.
- Follow the quest marker to Timeless Woods camp and talk to Nimotz. He'll activate the next step.
You have to kill 3 of each of the 3 types of low-tier BAMs near the camp. Basilisks, Ovoliths, and Orisks. They are also associated with three different Vanguard Requets but the requests require 10 of each. If you have a few minutes, it's worth while to complete the vanguard requests in addition to the pre-apex quests to collect the vanguard rewards. There's 8 channels on IoD so if it's crowded on one, swap to another for an easier time. The BAMs should be pretty easy. Pick up the Green motes they drop for a big boost in Crit Factor and Crit Power. It only lasts a minute and stops working if you leave IoD. The green crystal formations also buff you a bit. Interact with them to get the buff. Sometimes, a Caimen thief will spawn from the crystals. Kill him to get the Caimen chest, which your vanguard reward key will open. It's usually a ruby or some metamorphic emblems, but sometimes you get crafting designs and other materials.
- Talk to Nimotz after killing the BAMs to get the Earth stone and a Highwatch teleport scroll. Use the earth stone then head back to Meren.
- Talk to Meren to finish this quest step and get some more enchanting materials, a Plunder Glyph Box, some Bravery Potion, and a crystal binds. Remember to enchant your gear!
[Important] The Celestial Warrior
Celestial Arena is a solo instance where you fight a few waves of mobs or play a mini game in a given wave. It should take about 5 minutes to do a round. The loot table was buffed recenlty (in the last six months) and you can actually farm Stormcry materials from it if you score well enough.
- Talk to Meren to activate the next step.
- Talk to Bethania near the Echoes area. She's marked on the map appropriately.
- Talk to Gaderong to go into the Celestial Arena instance.
- Once in the instance, you'll talk to Bethania again then Gaderong to activate the waves.
You'll go through five waves of some combination of mobs and minigames. Pay attention to the text prompts to see what you're supposed to do. You get points for the number of mobs you kill and how fast you complete the instance. Your points at the end will determine what tier of rewards you get.
- Teleport out after finishing the fifth wave or use "/reset".
- Talk to Bethania back in Highwatch and you'll receive the Celestial stone. Activate it then go talk to Meren.
- Talk to Meren to finish this quest step and get more enchanting materials, Bravery potions, crystal binds, and another Plunger Glyph box. Remember to enchant your gear!
[Important] Olivung's Beginner/Intermediate/Experts Cooking Class
Seriously, if you didn't enchant up to now, you should do so. You'll be fighting Mid-tier IoD BAMs and it'll go smoother if you are geared a little better than base Twistshard.
- Talk to Meren to activate the quest and get a few teleport scrolls for Olivung.
- You'll end up at the Southern Checkpoint camp near the Mid-Tier IoD BAMs. Talk to Olivung to activate the first set of BAM targets.
- Kill 10 Brutal Bloodbound Teraliths
- Talk to Olivung and get some Bloodbound Salad. Use at least one to progress.
- Talk to Olivung and get the Aspiration Stone - First Piece. Use it to progress.
- Talk to Olivung to get some enchanting materials, bravery potions, crystalbinds, and a plunder box. Enchant your gear!
- Talk to Olivung again to activate the next set of BAMs
- Kill 10 Brutal Fimbrilisks
- Talk to Olivung, get some Magma Ice Cream. Use at least one to progress.
- Talk to Olivung and get the Aspiration Stone - Second Piece. Use it to progress.
- Talk to Olivung to get some enchanting materials, bravery potions, crystalbinds, and a plunder box. Enchant your gear!
- Talk to Olivung again to activate the last set of BAMs
- Kill 10 Brutal Searing Fangspawns
- Talk to Olivung, get some Hells Wings. Use at least one to progress.
- Talk to Olivung and get the Aspiration Stone - Third Piece and some Lunchboxes, and a teleport scroll. Use the stone then go back to Highwatch to talk to Meren.
- Meren will give you the enchanting mats and other rewards and close up this quest step.
You have to use at least one of each of the foods Olivung gives you between each set of BAMs to progress the quest.
You'll actually need to kill 10 of each this time instead of just 3. But you also need to talk to Olivung in between each set so don't forget to do that before you go to the next set! Kill the BAMs, talk to Olivung, use the food he gives you, talk to Olivung again to get a stone, then use the stone to activate the next set of BAMs. The buff food you get isn't great so don't feel like you need to save it. Don't be afraid to use the Bravery potions you've been getting to help with killing the BAMs. Also remember you have a couple of Olivung teleport scrolls, so you can save a bit of travel time by using them to get back to him at the end of the 2nd and 3rd set of BAMs.
[Important] The Melancholy of a Designer
This used to be the point where you ran the ACE dungeons but since they redesigned the Barcos and Akasha's to be for FM and SC gear drops, they are no longer at this step. Instead, you
- Talk to Clahk near the Echos / Celestial Arena NPCs
- Go into the training ground instance by talking with Whurloc
- Break both buff crystals at the base of the stairs (on the left and right), then go up the stairs to the crab.
- You should see the quest advance at that point.
- Exit via the teleport or "/reset".
The step says to "Speak to Atpeman" but they must have forgotten to change the triggers or place the NPC. Just walk next to the crab to get it to count.
- Talk to Clahk again to get the Captivity Stone, use it
- Then talk to Meren again.
You'll get more enchant materials and also get some Archdevan Oil that you can use to upgrade your Twistshard gear that is +9 to Frostmetal.
[Important] Need a Rest
You'll get introduced to Guadian missions for this quest.
- Talk to Meren to start the quest and get a teleport scroll for Bleakrock
- Talk to Launa to activate the next step's tracking.
- You need to get 4 Guardian Legion Mission rewards. Go to a guardian mission.
Access them by opening your map (keybound to 'm' by default), clicking on the Blue Shield button in the top left corner, zooming out if needed, and then clicking on one of the Blue Shield icons on the map. You'll be asked if you want to teleport there. Confirm and then follow the instructions at the mission. There's going to be a more detailed article on guardian missions to break down the different choices later on. For now, the basic premise is you do stuff at the mission, either DPS'ing or collecting things or playing Simon Says, and you get points.
You need 100,000 points to get a Guardian Legion reward. The DPS ones are actually a bit annoying while you are undergeared so doing the Flight ones may be easier and faster. The two major DPS ones and the two Flight missions will alternate being active 24 hours a day. The other missions are on weird intervals and you'll have to wait for them to come up. They used to all go back and forth but they cut their rate down supposedly to avoid cheesing them.
The reason the DPS ones will be annoying while undergeared is because the points are scaled relative to your damage and your damage is scaled relative to the total group damage that is present. If someone is Best-in-Slot and going ham on the BAM, you're going to get a lot less points.
- After you get your four rewards, use a bleakrock teleport to get back to Launa.
- Talk to Launa to get the Frost Stone, and then apply it.
- Talk to Launa again and you'll get a Highwatch Teleport scroll. Go back to Highwatch.
- Talk to Meren to complete the quest step and get more enchanting mats.
When you're upgrading your Weapon and Armor, you'll need to remove all crystals first. You have to equip the items to remove crystals.
[Important] The Finest Fireworks
For the last pre-apex step, you'll fun the Lilith's Keep Ace dungeon instance, called Lilith's Trial..
- Talk to Meren to Activate the quest step.
- Talk to Ramull by the Celestial Arena, Echoes, and Training Ground NPCs. He's not marked on the map, just like with the Echo's step.
- Click on "Lilith's Trial" from the Ace Dungeon menu, pick two tasks or click random (doesn't matter too much) and then click on "Enter Dungeon"
If you know LK then this won't be too bad otherwise, it might be kinda painful. The bosses all have reduced health (like 1/5th?) and simplified mechanics. So keep your cool, watch the AoEs, and hopefully you remembered to enchant your stuff. Consider using the Bravery Potion consumables you got as well.
- Defeating Arachandelbra will get you the Platinum
- Defeating Lilith will get you the Passion Stone (but you won't get it until you talk to Meren).
- Exit the instance after collecting the drops.
- Talk to Meren to get the Passion Stone then apply it to the crown.
- Talk to Meren again to finish the quest step. You'll get the last bits of enchanting materials you need. Upgrade your gear to Frostmetal then get ready for the Apex quest line.