Monday, February 26, 2018

Familiarity Breeds Content : EQ2

As I may have mentioned once or twice, there's nothing I like better than a free lockbox. Whenever I see one I grab it gleefully, chortling as I rip the lid off. EQ2 has just added some real corkers with a new quest that strikes me as immensely - possibly insanely - generous. And if that's not enough it's also really good fun!

When Update 105 arrived a week or so ago I was so focused on the belated appearance of the new Planes of Prophecy Signature tradeskill questline that I barely registered another feature, Season 3 Familiars. Well, why would I? It was just some cash shop  fluff, wasn't it?

Familiars were added to the game in May 2017, since when they have bedded down nicely. They seem to be a fun addition, designed to appeal to Gotta Catch 'Em All collectors at one end of a peculiar spectrum that abuts the Min Max Bleeding Edge Elite at the other.

'Scuse me mister. Got any familiars you want findin'?
For everyone else Familiars are yet another of EQ2's vast range of optional extras. If they were easier to come by I might have paid them more attention but when they first appeared I observed that although the cages they come in were available as drops, quest rewards and cash shop purchases, the only way it looked like I was going to get one was to buy it. Which, out of curiosity, I did. 

In the months since then I've picked up a couple through gameplay but I haven't bought any more,
nor felt the need or desire to do so. Neither have I paid much attention to the system or how it might be developing, although I vaguely registered that new ones had started to hit the cash shop every so often in something called "Seasons".

For a few months things carried on like that; DBG turning coin off the usual suspects while the rest of the population got on with their own business. Then, along with the third batch of Familiars that landed in the cash shop this month, came a new development.

There's a very well established practice in many games whereby items can be upgraded by "feeding" them to each other. I think I first encountered it in City of Steam and I remember it being a big part of Blade and Soul when I was playing. Mrrx at To Game For Life is currently exploring such a system in great depth with his series of posts about Summoner's War.

As the update explains "In addition to familiar training potions, you will also be able to use new familiars to level your favorite familiar." You simply Examine (right-click) the familiar in your inventory and select the option to "consume" it, adding the xp generated to the familiar you currently have equipped.

So far, so familiar, so to speak. Except that it only works with the current Season's familiars - any you already have from previous Seasons aren't eligible. As the website says,  "Familiars earned through /claim, quests, and any other specialized way will not be able to be consumed for experience".

Boo! And Hiss! Right? More slippery cash shoppery practice! Well, no, not really.

EQ2 has a first class cash shop. As well as acting as a sales window for the excellent Player Studio it sells all kinds of good and useful things, most of them for very fair prices indeed. Yes, there are some of the dreaded loot crates, containing randomized Mercenaries and Familiars, but whatever you get out of them can be converted to the valued Status currency, something which no regular player can ever have enough of. There are people who buy the crates just for that.

I would wager that we get to visit this "Conservatory" at some point. Once it's in the lore it's only a matter of time before it's in the game.

Still, there were murmurings about the new leveling route for Familiars taking this particular curve. And then this happened. A new quest that rewards a Season 3 Familiar Crate.

I spent two hours doing the new quest, Familiars Wild, last night and when I finish this post I'm going to spend a couple more doing it on another account. I found it to be both entertaining and rewarding. Especially rewarding.

The EQ2Traders link above gives the full walkthrough but in brief it goes like this:
  • Find a bunch of new NPCs hanging around outside the bank in either South Freeport or South Qeynos.
  • Chat with them for a bit.
  • Read the book they give you (actually that bit's optional but reading books is good).
  • Chat to them again.
  • Go find the type of "familiar" they ask you to look for.
  • Catch the required number with the cage they gave you.
  • Open the reward and get a free Season 3 familiar.
You can then add the familiar to your collection or use it to upgrade a familiar you already have.

I first did this with my Berserker which was, let me tell you, a barrel of laughs, oh yes... Did you know a Berserker has no zero-damage attacks? I've been playing one for years and I never noticed. I killed an awful lot of insects before I finally got eleven live ones in that cage. When the very least damage you can possibly do is about half a million hit points it's hard to be gentle.

Hard to say who looks the most ridiculous..

I was very pleased with the Legendary Familiar I got. I had a look at him. He wasn't pretty but he was amusing. The familiars follow you like pets and have full animations. You can hide them if you want but where's the fun in that?

It was only about half an hour later that a thought struck me. The Familiar I received was flagged No Trade. If this quest was per account, wouldn't it need to be Heirloom? I was on another account (a free to play one) by then so I went and did it with my Necromancer. Then I did it again with my Guardian. Then with every character on the account. I found it very moreish indeed and if it hadn't gotten so late I might have logged in more accounts just so I could go on doing it.

So, the quest is per character and according to Niami Denmother, who knows, it's intended to be a Daily. The NPC certainly invites you to "come back tomorrow" although at the  moment he won't give you a repeat. That's supposedly a bug, to be fixed in the next patch, which should be Tuesday.

This one licks the top of his own head. And you really don't want to see what's going on down below...

After that you should be able to complete the quest for a current season familiar every day, on every character on every account you have including F2P. As I said at the top, that seems to me to be immensely generous.

I'm one hundred percent happy with the way Daybreak post-SOE manages this kind of thing. It seems to me that they bend over backwards to make sure that everyone gets a fair shake, whether they pay or freeload, whether they eat, sleep and live EQ2 or just drop in once in a blue moon out of curiosity. There's always a wealth of things to do, usually something new, and as a semi-regular, rather casual player I always feel fully included.

This quest is a fine example of that philosophy. I just hope they don't go and nerf it tomorrow and leave me eating crow. It does seem extraordinarily generous...

1 comment:

  1. Just ran this on a couple of characters, here's hoping it remains repeatable for a while at least. I got the soulscreecher on my Inquisitor - could be his new favourite pet!


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