Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Here Come The Pandas

It was more than four years ago that the first Days of Summer event arrived in EverQuest II. As I said back then, "It arrived without much of a fanfare" but the seemingly fluffy, inconsequential little quest series quickly became one of the cornerstones of the EQII year.  

There's a very simple explanation for that: the rewards are off the scale compared to any other event or questline anywhere close to being as accessible or easy to complete. All you have to do to get started is take a portal to a 100% guaranteed safe zone, chat to a panda and find out what you have to go collect or look at this week. 

Then you use the Fast Travel map or the spires or the bells to go to the relevant zone and fly to the right part of the map using the description in the quest. It usually includes the name of a point of interest which you can see on the map, assuming you're using the EQ2 Maps add-on, which virtually all regular players would be. Once there, you wander around looking for whatever it is you need to click on, which will almost always be glowing or sparkling or obvious in some way.

Most of the quests ask you to do that three times, sometimes in the same zone, sometimes in different zones. If you were having any difficulty at all EQ2 Traders always has the exact location in a walkthrough, including the locs, which you can copy and paste into the game to get a flashing map marker and a glowing trail to lead you right there.

Panda quests are about as foolproof as it's possible to make them. There's a new one each week for the duration of the event, which is always nine weeks long. In this case the nine weeks started yesterday and run until 23rd November. 

All the quests remain in game permanently so there's no rush. You could do like I do with TV shows if you want and wait 'til they're all available before bingeing on the lot. Indeed, very much like a long-running TV show, if you're just discovering it now you'll need to go back to the beginning and start there. You can't do the various annual quest sets out of sequence but you only have to do them once per account for all your character to reap the rewards.

When I say "reap" I really mean "shop." Every reward from the past four years plus this year's lot are on an undersized panda called Pas Yu, also known, appropriately, as "Carrier of Things".

Five years of assorted rewards can be hell to sift through so to save time I'll mention that this year's all have "Hua" somewhere in the name. Just search for that.

As I said, these are really very good rewards indeed. Not for raiders or Heroic dungeoneers perhaps, although there are all kinds of non-progression goodies like house items, prestige houses and cosmetics sprinkled in there, but for solo players and casuals all of all stripes. 

The question isn't why is the Hua such a slight upgrade, it's why am I wearing such low Resolve pieces in the first place?


The armor and weapons, of which there are all types for all classes, are only small improvements over the free stuff from last year's expansion and they'll almost certainly be rendered redundant by the freebies in the starter box from Visons of Vetrovia, but that's the nature of a gear progression based game. For now, they'll do a job for anyone who needs to play catch-up.

I spent some time last night looking through them and comparing stats. Even on my Berserker, my best-equipped character, there are a few Hua pieces I'll use, although mostly that's because I fell off the EQII wagon back at the start of the summer and stopped working on him before he was done.

As for my half-dozen other max levels, all of them could benefit hugely from the Hua gear. On the other hand, they aren't likely to get much playtime before the next expansion drops, so whether it's worth the bother is another question. I could probably stand to wait until then before taking the whole crew to wherever the expansion begins and fitting them all out in whatever's in the now-inevitable box on the floor next to the first questgiver.

This, however, is something I very much need.
I can't craft green Adorns and I've had
absolutely no luck getting any as drops for years.

Then there are the Adornments. Adornments are extremely important in EQII. Without the right sets you are going to have a very rough time of it in any at-level content. My Berserker is also a maxed-out Adorner with nearly all the recipes but not all Adorns are craftable and anyway it's a lot of time, effort and expense to make adorns for everyone. I'd rather use the ones the pandas hand out wherever possible.

The drawback is taking them in and out. It's easy to do but it takes a while, de-adorning and re-adorning an entire suit of armor plus accessories. I'm not sure I want to go through all that effort over the next nine weeks only to find that the VoV starter gear comes with better Adorns already fitted.

I'm thinking since I'm unlikely to be playing anyone other than my Berserker and my Necro before then I might just kit those two out and leave the rest until the expansion arrives. Either way, it's hardly a pressing issue right now.

There'd be no question of my not doing the panda quests even if I didn't want any of the gear. They're some of the most enjoyable, relaxing quests in the game. I'd do them if the only rewards were a smile and a thank-you from the pandas themselves. 

There are other reasons, too. This year, like every year, there are some very appealing non-combat choices. I have my eye on the captain's hat and the 44-slot backpack that displays as a papoose with two panda cubs. There's also an ant ground mount I want. I don't think we've ever been able to ride ants before.

I like the way the whole thing has morphed from a Summer seasonal to a quasi-holiday centered on panda culture. Moving it into the autumn and renaming it Panda Panda Panda seems like a good move. I'd be up for it turning into a full holiday one day. We could do with something on the calendar between Tinkerfest and Nights of Dead.

That's about all I have to say. It's a simple event but a very good one. It shows you don't have to over-elaborate to give people something they'll both look forward to and appreciate. All you need to do is make it fun and worthwhile.

You wouldn't think it was that hard, would you?

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