Wednesday, March 17, 2021

When You Hear The Call

I've kind of fallen of the EverQuest II wagon these last few thanks to Valheim shouldering everything else to one side. It's niggling away at the back of my mind because I had a very loose plan of action for the winter and spring involving filling out the gaps in my Berserker's gear with drops from PQs and getting all the adornment slots filled and upgraded through crafting.

That's what I did last year and it was steady, satisfying gameplay. Nothing spectaular but gently enjoyable, a background hum of pleasure in the gaming day. 

It helped a lot that at the time I was regularly getting very nice upgrades from the Overseer system. Over the lifetime of the two EverQuest games there have been too many innovations and additions to remember, but only a handful of systemic changes that I'd consider to be fundamentally game-changing - AAs, mercenaries, flying mounts...

The Overseer mechanic is one of those. It made me in-game rich (by any previous standards I'd known, anyway) and better-equipped than I'd ever been before, in both games. I was really hoping the same would happen this year with a post-expansion new season but as yet we haven't had one. 

The good news is that one is definitely planned. Until it arrives there's not much incentive for me to keep up my previous routine, bashing out Overseer quests as though they were dailies. Which, I guess, they are.

Oh, I remember this one!

By dipping out to go play viking I've also missed the bus for this year's PQs. They'll still happen, of course, and people will still do them, but the feeding frenzy that was so compulsive back in January will have abated to a desultory trickle by now as most people who care will have found the drops they wanted.

I really love public quests in mmorpgs. I think they embody the spirit of what the genre was probably always meant to be better than just about anything. Certainly much more so than instanced dungeons or raids. 

To my way of thinking, the true meaning of "massively multiple" is scores of people, hundreds if the infrastructure can stand it, all engaged in the same activity at the same time in the same shared space. And it needs to be an open space into which anyone can wander by accident, not some by-appointment, only if your name is on the list instance.

Without a doubt that's the primary reason I've stuck with Guild Wars 2 all these years, even though at times it frustrates and annoys me as much as it entertains. The original vision, overhyped and oversold as it was, still comes closest to my idea of an ideal mmorpg. 

ArenaNet never managed to close the deal on the promises they made but luckily for all of us mmorpgs are so ferociously complex in their construction, so iceberg-weighted with unseen engines and ballast, that even when those who seek to control them want to make changes there's only so much they can do. You can put a hat on the cat but its still a cat for all that.

Not so sure about this, though...


For all the time and effort the developers invested in fractals and raids, GW2 remains at heart a sprawling, open-world game, where things happen and everyone joins in. Yes, your character has to be level 80 for a lot of them and yes you have to have bought the Path of Fire expansion, but even allowing for that there's a never-ending firework display of "events" in the parts of the game anyone can visit for free.

EQ2 doesn't have the advantage of being built that way but it has a good track record of inclusivity all the same. The mentoring system and the agnostic dungeons are both intentional attempts to get everyone playing together regardless of awkward barriers like levels. They're shaky in implementation but the ideas behind them are sound.

The team has stuck doggedly with Public Quests for many years now, even though they cause all kinds of problems. It's tempting to say the game was never built for that number of people to come together and fight giant monsters except apparently it was because I have screenshots of my characters doing it a decade and a half ago. We had dragon attacks when we put the wizard portals back up after the cataclysm and I'm pretty sure that was in the first year after the game came out.

I just bet you would.
No-one called them "Public Quests" back then. I think we called them "World Events". They didn't have the semi-formal structure that came later. You just heard something was happening and you turned up to see what it was. Now you get quests and achievements and guaranteed, personalized drops but it's really the same thing.

Over the years, EQ2 has bundled dozens, maybe hundreds of these things together to make a living world. Some, like the raising of the portals, happen only once. Others come around time after time, like old friends.

Norrath's calendar of holiday events, as I've often said, is second to none in the genre. This month sees one of the year's biggest flurries of activity on that front. Brew Day is winding down but even before it goes we'll have another event to enjoy. The Chronoportals open today.

As well as some very nice-looking new house items, including some excellent paintings, the drops from the Ancient Cyclops instance (the one that's a PQ in all but name) have been updated to make them useful for max levels. Another chance to upgrade some of those slots for a casual like me. There's also a new Overseer quest, something I'm very happy to see.

The chronoevent is a short one by Norrathian standards. It's only here for just over a week. It's just as well because two more are coming along right behind. The Beast'r Eggstravaganza and Bristlebane Day are both active on the Test Server right now.

I read the patch notes for both and they look great. Beast'r has five more egg pets to find and a title for finding them. And there's another new Overseer quest for Bristlebane. 

The trickster's feast also brings a new patchwork fight (yet another kind of unofficial PQ) to the dark side of Luclin. I haven't seen the loot table for that but historically the patchworks have been very generous when done at level so I'm hopeful my Berserker might get something he needs when he goes to try his luck. 

Everyone loves an egg pun.
There are also the inevitable new crafting books that I'll buy and never use and of course all the old quests and features from every other year are up again. 

I've spoken before about the misleading naming convention in Norrath that has events known as Brew or Bristlebane Day lasting for weeks but there is actually a proper Bristlebane Day. It is, of course, April the first and that's the one and only chance you'll have (this year) to match wits with a new riddle-setter. 

We already have the Sphinx but rumor is (if you can call something a rumor when its already happening on Test) they'll be joined this year by another question-setting entity for just that one day. That's definitely appointment gaming.

As well as the returning holidays, there's a major game update brewing. I'd say more about it but I don't know much. Or indeed anything. 

Well, I know what's in this thread. It's called Whispers of Tyranny and most of it probably isn't going to be for me, being raids and heroics. There's some solo content, though, and some quests but no mention of a new Overseer Season. 

There's a beta starting today but I won't be joining in with that. My days of beta-testing content for live games where I'm going to be playing that content just weeks later are over.

All of the above is also motivation for me to get myself organized and get back to logging in to EverQuest II at least often enough to see all that new stuff. Maybe to stick around and farm the drops I need if there really are some good ones I could use. 

And I need the push. It's getting to be all Valheim all the time around here and I'ma  little uncomfortable about it. Much though I've enjoyed being a viking these last few weeks it's good to be reminded other pantheons are available.


  1. Speaking of all Valheim all the time, another game you'd posted a few times but then silence was My Time at Portia. Did you drop it like a hot potato or was it a gradual falling away?

    1. I'm a little surprised my Time At Portia hasn't come up more often in the many discussions about Valheim. There are some major similarities between the two games, so much so that playing Valheim has made me want to go back and do some more in MTAP.

      I have just under 70 hours played Portia according to Steam and I would guess I was maybe 50-60% through the main storyline then although I think you can keep playing even when that's done. I was enjoying it a lot but I stopped for much the same reason you can probably tell I'm slightly wary of Valheim - I find it all too easy to get sucked in to games of this kind and end up spending more time there than I think is good for me.

      There's a sequel to MTAP in the works called My Time at Sandrock, which is supposed to have more of an adventure/combat focus in addition to all the same stuff that was in the first one. I'm keeping an eye on that.

  2. I have not played much of EQ2 lately either. Once I finished the signature quests, I did not find as much fun running through daily quests and solo zones to be much fun. I think but am not certain that they took away some of the better drops off of the PQs. That is why there was as a drop in interest in running them.


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