Saturday, October 17, 2015

No Ordinary Rabbit : EQ2

Yes, I know it's not exactly in the frame. Pardon me, but it's surprisingly hard to take a screenshot of a bunny at the exact moment it tries to bite your head off. And, let's be fair, this is not the kind of behavior you expect from a bunny. Least of all the harmless, hoppity-skippity bunnies that dot the Norrathian countryside, grazing quietly on the foliage and not bothering anyone.

Who at DBG it was who thought it would be a fine idea to turn all the bunnies in the land into crazed killers I can't say, although I have my suspicions (looking at you, TTobey...) but it's yet another of theose little touches that make me so much more interested in EQ2's upcoming Terrors of Thalumbra expansion than I am in the now-imminent arrival of GW2's Heart of Thorns. Okay, the bunnies don't actually have any connection to the expansion but it's the attitude that matters.

It's not as though I even respond well to Monty Python references. I grew up while the original show was airing for the first time on T.V. and my schooldays were peppered with would-be wags repeating the punchlines and doing the voices. Usually wrong and badly. In my day an over-enthusiastic reverence for Monty Python was, if not exactly a red flag, then at the very least a warning sign.

I did, however, always make an exception for Monty Python and The Holy Grail. I was fortunate enough to see it at the cinema some four or five years after its original theatrical release, at the exact same time I was studying Medieval English Literature at Cambridge University. Terry Jones, the chief medievalist among the Pythons and co-director with Terry Gilliam of Holy Grail, had read English at Oxford a decade and a half earlier (the blink of an eye in Oxbridge time) and not surprisingly he filled the movie with a slew of undergraduate in-jokes that struck me with immense familiarity, adding a whole extra level to the already multi-layered experience.

My first encounter with The Bunnies came by chance. In the ongoing lead-up to the expansion DBG have been romancing the installed base with gifts and presents and this past week we've had another flurry of double experience. I've not had much time to take advantage but when I've had the chance I've been out and about on my 91 Warlock, trying to push a little way further to the cap.

At the end of a very successful and enjoyable session the other night, after clearing The Conservatory in The Vasty Deep alongside his trusty mercenary Stamper Jeralf, the Warlock went for a short jaunt around Velious. There he encountered a rabbit that went from harmless ambient scenery to ferocious triple-up-arrow predator in a second. Amost before we knew what was happening Warlock and mercenary were both face down in the snow.

Okay, face up then. Literalist. Any way up, dead is dead. It seems that although the bad rabbits scale to the level of the player that agros them they are tuned for current end game gear. There have been complaints. Well, a complaint. Never mind. We can adapt.

This morning I woke my Berserker early and we went rabbit hunting in The Commonlands. It didn't take long to find one. Considering how small they are, they're surprisingly easy to spot from a distance, even from the air. Bearing previous experience in mind we approached cautiously. Slightly less-trusty mechanical merc Dok-Tok Mk III was standing by to save the day, or at least act as a speed bump if the call came to run away.

We needn't have worried. The blood-stained bunny couldn't get his big buck teeth through Altar of Malice issue plate armor. Neither did he have any defenses against a flurry of level-cap steel.

Bunny down. No loot but he gave good AA xp. I flew around and picked off a few more. Same story. At this point I remembered two things. Firstly, I have Scrolls of Tracking, one of the best purchases an All Access Member can make from the Station Store with the monthly stipend of 500 Daybreak Cash. Secondly, hadn't I read something about an Achievement for dealing with this lapine threat?

Reddit came to the rescue with this helpful thread. Not one but two achievements waiting to be...erm...achieved.

I've never been a huge fan of achievements in MMORPGs but over the years the drip drip drip of achiever content in almost every game I've played has worn down my resistance somewhat. Even so, I barely noticed when EQ2 added a full achievement system several years ago. The message pops up occasionally as I unintentionally hit some notional mark and I carry on, unimpressed.

This time, however, there's a hat involved. Now that's different! Fifty bunnies for a hat sounds like a deal. And it's not like it's the first time I've hunted rabbits for a hat. One more time and it's almost a tradition.

I put the final day of the England vs Pakistan Test Match on the radio and set to culling bunnies. It was relaxing work. As someone commented in the Reddit thread it didn't really feel like fifty kills when the achievement pop-up popped up.

And what a hat it is! A touch of the Jackelope about it, I fancy. Nothing at all like the ones those silly knights wear. I'm sure there'll be some occasion when it's exactly the right thing. Can't quite imagine what it will be but, yes, for sure, something will turn up.

Along with the hat came twenty Holy Hand Grenades. Not of Antioch, possibly for reasons of Lore, more probably for reasons of not wanting to get sued. No, these are the Holy Hand Grenades of  Aeteok.

So, I googled Aeteok. Of course I did. I never would have done it if I hadn't been writing this piece but I am an obsessive fact-checker when it comes to putting my name to public statements.

You could have knocked me down with a rabbit's whisker when I found out that Aeteok really is a pre-existing, significant and, arguably, appropriate name in Norrathian history. Who knew The Nameless was into munitions?

This is the kind of thing that keeps me coming back to EQ2, over and over again. The sense that it's being made by people who are every bit as nerdy about the lore as any player and yet always willing to go that extra mile to entertain. Of course they don't get the tone right every time and occasionally (alright, more than occasionally) things backfire, but there's always something going on and, way more often than not, it's something I enjoy.

If there's one problem I have never seen arise in EQ2 (or EQ for that matter) in all the many, many years I've been playing it's a "content drought". There is, almost literally, something new to do every week and there always has been. Sometimes it's silly, sometimes it's fluff, sometimes it's useful or profitable, but almost always it's something worth doing.

After three years of ANet's angst, earnestness and hype, DBG's willingness to entertain the home crowd feels so refreshing. And hats. Never forget the hats.

I'm off to be killed by bunnies. 15 times. You get a different hat for that. Now I just need to pick a volunteer...


  1. This is pure awesome! Love seeing when devs do things like this. :)

  2. Yes. The wife and I constantly wander back into EQ2, mainly for the wonderful touches the staff does. For us, the humor is pitched just about right, there's tons to do, and the pace isn't so frentic. Just about a week ago we finished up "To Speak as a Dragon" -- now we have to decide if we'll level-unlock for the first time since steppping into Norrath and go see the first expansion.

    1. In all these years I have still never done "To Speak As A Dragon". I really must get round to it sometime!


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