Sunday, November 6, 2016

Feast and Famine : EQ2, GW2

I'd been hoping, expecting even, that Tuesday's bi-weekly update to GW2 would include a new Current Event. Last time we got one the storyline, if that's what you call it, was teetering on the brink of becoming interesting.

We didn't get anything like that this time. Instead we got a bizarre Schrodinger's Cat option for previewing the contents of unopened boxes, along with an unheralded extension of the Halloween event for a further week, a decision that struck me as offering altogether more than we needed of a thing that wasn't all that good in the first place.

This longueur coincided with a particularly lackluster period in WvW. Neither players nor developers seem to know what they want or how to achieve it if they find out. Meanwhile, over in EQ2, preparations for the expansion move on apace, with bonus xp, bonus loot and two more events on  the ever-busy calendar.

Hey, I did another two levels of Inquisitor and thirty of Carpenter but no-one cares about that, right? No, it's all about the rats. Always it's all about the rats.

Consequently this last week must be the first time in a year or so that I've spent more time in Norrath than Tyria. As well as the regular late evening post-GW2 sessions, I've been working on all kinds of things at every opportunity I can find. Right now I have more aspirations and goals in EQ2 than I can comfortably manage, whereas in GW2 I struggle to think of anything to do after my dailies are out of the way. The most satisfying thing I did in GW2 all last week was a major clear-out of my bank vaults.

By contrast, there's so much going on in EQ2 right now I hardly know where to start. It seems busier than I've seen it for while, too. Heroes Festival has loads of people out and about, running the repeatable quests and beating on the patchwork pinatas. The rewards are very good - especially so for anyone conditioned to austerity by four years of GW2 - and it's one of the most relaxed, easy-going of all Norrath's many holidays. It's also short so there's no time to hang about, especially if you want a lot of the goodies on offer.

All levels welcome. These bosses don't hit back.

Norrathian Hop doesn't have the same ring to it.
This year the Festival is also live on the Time Limited server Stormhold. I wasn't planning to go there but then there was 12th anniversary mount that flies at Level 35. On Stormhold it only leaps but even so... My SK ended up doing some crafting as well and next thing you know he'd added five levels of Alchemist and two of Shadowknight to his resumé. I foresee more TLE fun in his future.

Stormhold was strikingly busy with players everwhere I went  but even on Skyfire, my regular server, things are bustling. It's very evident that plenty of people are working through the same check-list of pre-expansion requirements as I am. Criss-crossing Kunark at the behest of Cazic-Thule I repeatedly ran into others doing the same.

I hope it all made more sense for them than it did for me. The lore, or perhaps I should say the logic, behind this Heritage Quest is baffling. Why would a ratongan citizen of Freeport, who worships Rallos Zek, spend hours of his time helping an Iksar rebel rally resistance to Venril Sathir with the intention of re-instating Cazic Thule's primacy and kickstarting another wave of Iksar expansionism?

Is this the part where I wake up?

That would be, shall we say, shortsighted but when the conclusion of the questline turns out to be facilitating a full-scale Iksar naval attack on East Freeport, any sense of who my character might be goes right out the window. This is one of the rare situations when I really would have liked some dialog options that actually branched, rather than the hand-wringing "Lucan's really not going to like this" dithering that was the only response on offer. In the end, of course, I did as I was told, but unless I missed some crucial plot point along the way my Berserker is now simultaneously one of Lucan's most trusted, loyal citizens and an openly declared rebel and traitor.

It would bother me more but I do have a get-out. The whole farrago began when my Berserker touched an idol of Cazic Thule and came over all peculiar. From then on, as far as I'm concerned, Cazic was driving the car. Anything I did was his fault and if Lucan doesn't like it he can take it up with The God of Fear. I wouldn't put it past him at that.

The gnomes seem to have gussied these things up a little since last time I flew the course.

With Greenmist completed I've done all the necessary adventuring tasks ahead of Kunark Rising other than, y'know, actually having an Epic or Mythical weapon. I was never planning on going that far - I just didn't want to be locked out of the Signature questline.

When it comes to crafting, which has it's own Signature, then I'm more interested in going all the way, even if I'm somewhat less prepared. But only somewhat. As I mentioned in my reply to Topauz in the comments after the last post, it turns out I have done almost all of the very lengthy pre-reqs for the upcoming expansion's Crafting content after all. What's more I did them on the character I'll be playing. Great news for me if somewhat worrying for the state of my memory.

I wonder if they have Patchwork Trakanon on the Race To Trakanon server? I guess that wouldn't be much of a race...

I just need to find someone to make all the items for the final step, which shouldn't be all that hard. I can make two of them myself and I am fairly sure Mrs Bhagpuss can make the rest. The hard part might be persuading her to log in and do it since she hasn't played EQ2 since we moved to Tyria four years ago.

At the moment I have to say I'm enjoying EQ2 a lot more than GW2. Much more seems to happen in Norrath, or happen faster. In GW2 we're glad for any crumbs of content whereas in EQ2 there's feast after feast.

This view is alive with sparkling motes and shimmering mist. Not that you can tell from this postcard.

Also - and this is surprising, even confounding - EQ2 often looks better these days. I have no idea why this is and frustratingly it can't be borne out by screenshots, which reliably fail to look much like the vibrant, deep-focus in-game views they purport to represent.

For whatever reason, possibly my more powerful PC and GPU, which by now approximate a decent gaming rig from two or three years ago, even older zones look fresh and remarkable, while newer ones are positively eye-popping. Tyria, on the other hand, suffers from over-familiarity, its astonishing watercolor vistas dulled from too many commutes.

In Norrath we really know how to hold a feast. And get down off the table!
With almost every other major MMO dropping or threatening to drop some form of Expansion or Expansion-like update before the end of the year, you'd think the endless, informationless drift towards the unnamed XPack #2 that we're told lies somewhere beyond GW2's event horizon would hurt the game's attendance and retention figures, but it seems not. Everything just trundles on much the same as always. I can't say the servers seem any less busy now than a year or two ago. Apparently cash shop sales are holding up nicely.

With Wintersday due in just a few weeks I'm not holding my breath for any substantive new content like, say, the next chapter of Living Story 3, this side of 2017. Fortunately I have other eggs and other baskets.

Back to Norrath it is.

1 comment:

  1. I'm not all that surprised. There really is a lot to do lately. Welcome back.

    -- 7rlsy
    AB & Stormhold


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