Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Anything Else You'd Like Me To Help You With? : EQ2

The Cobalt Scar main quest sequence, like the Ethernere timeline from the Chains of Eternity expansion, is a long one. Long, but very enjoyable.

It benefits enormously from the strong nostalgic affection many longtime Everquest players must have for the original zone that inspired it. Alright, that I have for it, then. The nostalgia factor comes through very strongly even though in most respects the EQ2 version is scarcely recognizable as the same place. About the only thing that remains unchanged is the crescent shape of the water, water which, it transpires, (Spoiler Alert!) is no longer an ocean at all but a large lake.

Indeed the entire zone now has the feeling of someplace halfway up an Alp, with great swathes of nordic pine forest covering half the map and bears and stags roaming all over. It reminds me a lot of Timberline Falls, one of my favorite Tyrian landscapes.

Hey, I've got one of these at home! Smaller, and his head goes round and round.

Missing, and much missed, is the crazed musical score that so enlivened every day, and there were many, that we spent among the Othmir. I still whistle that tune at work now and again. The otter men themselves are there in force but no longer are they the jolly top-hat wearing comedy figures (and perpetual murder victims, although never at my hand) that once they were.

Now, in keeping with the grimmer mood that seems to prevail in almost every imaginary online world, they are desperate, driven refugees, harried on all sides by forces they don't understand and cannot hope to defeat. Well, not until I come along to sort it all out for them, as usual.

If we had a bridge we could play Pooh Sticks. Oh, sorry.. Funeral.

It's a pretty decent plot, too, as these things go. It certainly makes more sense than the Ethernere one, sticking to a much more down-to-earth mystery model than that confusing metaphysical mash-up. Actually, it's two mysteries. The Case of the Undead Othmir is solved but the Enigma of the Eerie Encampment remains just that - an enigma. Maybe I missed a step.

Along the way I got to participate in an Othmir funeral (they send the dead back to Prexus on rafts, Viking style, although without setting anything on fire), got turned into an Othmir (the nearest we'll ever get to having them as a playable race, sadly) and listened to foliage reliving the past (as exciting as it sounds).

Ulthork Man-O-War. Can't go wrong with a Classic.

I also had to kill about a hundred thousand bazillion things. The current design brief for EQ2 zones appears to be "Hey, you left a square foot of grass free over there! Put a mob on it! No, wait. Make it three!"). For every Kill Ten Ulthork quest (yes, there are Ulthorks, although no Bulthar that I saw) I'd estimate I ended up killing twenty. Often more. There wasn't any quest that I ever found to kill wasps but I killed dozens of them trying to get to the bears. And forget any thought of flying over all this stuff to avoid it - Cobalt Scar airspace is jealously guarded by flying snakes, drakes and plain old hawks.

I'm the one in the fancy hat.

For all that killing, and there was enough of it that my mouse finger was aching long before the end of every session, experience moved like treacle going uphill. With the entire timeline completed as far as the last segment that will take him into Siren's Grotto my Berserker stands at 93.65.

With luck and a following wind Siren's Grotto and Frostfell should take him to 94, at which point I'm hoping he'll be ready to start on the real current content. He certainly couldn't do it at 93.  That means back to the Ethernere for a cruise around the Vespyr Isles. And after that I imagine both he and I will be ready for a lie down.

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