Sunday, November 9, 2014

Puppet Patrol: EQ2

"The Play's The Thing", the new EQ2 10th Anniversary world event currently running in several zones of widely differing levels, marks something of a departure for SOE. It appears to be trying to set a new high-water mark for inclusivity.

There are no level requirements other than the de facto "must be this high" bar of being able to travel to the zones in question alive and do at least a few points of damage to the target when you get there. Even then, with the exception of Baelon, who appears deep in the level 92+ zone of Eidolon Jungle, all the fights take place within a few yards of a public transport facility (Bell, Spire, Druid ring, Sokokar post, Dock - EQ2 has a lot of transportation options). Neither do you need to be in a group or a raid to get credit. You don't even have to mentor down for the little ones: grey cons count just fine.

That's not the full extent of the designers' generosity though. Not even half. These "EpicX4" mobs aren't real raid bosses. They're not even mobs at all. They don't fight back. They aren't meant to.

In a delightfully conceived conceit they turn out to be nothing more dangerous than life-size patchwork puppets, constructed and operated by the clever technicians and performers of Roslyn Mischeva's travelling troupe, the Mischeva Play-actors. Convincingly realistic from a distance, up close you can see the weave of the hessian and the folds and bulges of the stuffing.

The "raids" are street theater performances designed with audience participation in mind and like any good actors the Mischeva crew know how to pull their punches. "Trakanon", "Roehn Theer" and the rest take a good beating but they're nothing but big sacks of straw. One of the cast even worries to himself over whether the very convincing mace he's made for Baelon might hurt someone by accident.

It may be the furthest distance I've ever seen between Risk and Reward for an event of this stripe. Not only because the risk, at least from the event itself, is entirely non-existent, but because the rewards are substantial. The special currency, useable at the Heroes' Festival merchants in Freeport and Qeynos, gets you a number of useful and attractive items.

There's a full set of armor and a choice of one- and two-handed weapons for each of the five level ranges covered by the events as well as plushies of three of the puppets. Just completing the five events once each gave my berserker enough tokens for a full set of armor that was slightly better than the Frostfell set he was wearing plus a weapon that was a major upgrade to the level 93 claymore he'd quested in Cobalt Scar.

There were a few teething problems with the event according to EQ2Wire but last night when my Beastlord did Darathor and Trak things seemed to be working as intended and this afternoon my zerker knocked off all five in an hour or two. From what people were saying the actors need a prompt from a GM now and then but the performances I took part in went off flawlessly.

The event is scheduled to run until the official release of the upcoming expansion, Altar of Malice, on November 17th, which should give everyone ample chance to enjoy the fun and get geared up. Of course the first set of quest rewards from AoM will probably make anything I got today obsolete but at least the new gear should help getting to those quest rewards more enjoyable.

I thoroughly approve of these kind of bun-fights. What this one most reminded me of was the open raid style holiday events in The Secret World, where, by and large, just turning up will give you plenty of the kind of currency that makes a genuine difference to how you can gear your character. Holiday events in MMOs should be open, inclusive and err on the side of generosity.

Especially when there's a new expansion with a level cap increase right around the corner.

1 comment:

  1. I wish SOE had a do-over with EQ2. The art style for monsters has gotten so much better over time. I wish the character models and animations were equally inspired.


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