Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Come On In, The Water's Lovely! : EQ2

In my opinion, EQ2 may not have the most MMO holidays but it definitely has the best. The major events - Frostfell, Nights of the Dead, Tinkerfest, Brewday and the rest - come packed with enough quests and collections, races and achievements to keep regular players occupied for days, if not weeks.

As well as the big ticket events there are the monthly City Festivals and the Moonlight Enchantments that follow the lunar calendar. There's almost always something to do in Norrath so you might think there'd be no need to add any more annual events. The EQ2 team would beg to differ.

I only happened to notice the addition of the upcoming Oceansfull festival when I spotted a single-line entry on EQ2 Traders a few days ago. If it hadn't been for the accompanying picture I might have missed it altogether. The news squib links to a full description of the brand new holiday event, which is currently running on the Test server before it goes Live on June 8, when it runs for ten days until June 18.

Oceansfull is the Othmir celebration of thanks to their god, Prexus:

 "For generations, the othmir have been giving thanks to Prexus at this time of year for all he provides, above and beneath the waves. You are welcome to join any you may find celebrating along the oceans' edge, across Norrath. They say if you search the waters nearby their celebration locations, you're bound to find evidence of Prexus' generosity."

The new event seems to have been timed to fill that uncomfortable gap between the final flurry of festivals late Spring and the arrival of Tinkerfest in mid-summer. It's also been timed to make its first appearance almost exactly as I'm away on holiday. I will be back for the last few days, but rather than wait I decided to wake up a few of my old Test server characters and take a look right now.

Niami Denmother describes Oceansfull as "a mellow little festival", in keeping with the well-established gentle, whimsical nature of the ottter-like Othmir race. There may be people who don't like Othmir but if so I don't think I'd want to spend much time hanging out with them.

I've had an abiding affection for the fish-eating, hat-wearing seafolk since they first appeared in EverQuest's Scars of Velious expansion all the way back in the year 2000. I spent many happy hours helping the Othmir protect the beaches in Cobalt Scar, glaring with disapproval at the greedy druids and wizards who chose to slaughter my furry friends for the loot instead.

The Othmir have played a significant, if minor role in EQ lore ever since, cropping up in various contexts in both games. Several of my EQ2 characters have taken on Othmir tradeskill apprentices over the years. I still visit them now and again to give them some more training and copy down the new recipes they discover.

Playing on Test used to require two separate installations of the game but these days you can just toggle from Live to Beta to Test from the Launcher. It works perfectly. I did that, then looked at my large roster of Test characters.

Having played there for five years or so I have a wide range to choose from. I have several level  90s, the cap  when I moved to the Freeport server with the coming of F2P, and plenty more in most deciles down to level 20 or so. I picked my Level 90 Ratonga Bruiser, who was the character I was playing most often when I was a Test regular, logged him in and took him to the nearest qualifying beach, which happened to be at the Commonlands Dock.

I had time to take a single screenshot when the heavens opened and a massive thunderstorm began. EQ2 has some very dramatic weather effects. Freeport goes almost black when rain sets in and even in the Commonlands heavy rain reduces visibility to a few yards. It also leeches the color out of everything, rendering screenshots muddy and miserable. Not ideal for a blog post about a cheerful little summer festival.

Fortunately, travel in EQ2's version of Norrath is quick and easy, especially if you have an All Access Member's right to use the Fast version for free. In a matter of moments I was flying a griffin across Antonica to the Tower of the Oracles, where the handy list of locations at EQ2 Traders told me I'd find Othmir celebrants letting off fireworks and dancing.

I found the otters alright. It wasn't raining either so I was able to snap a few shots as they capered. There was a problem, though. The event consists almost entirely of opening giant clams to collect gifts. Clams live underwater. In EQ2, unlike GW2, you need special apparatus or magical assistance to breathe underwater.

You'd have thought that a level 90, who'd retired at the peak of a highly active adventuring career, would have some piece of equipment that would provide a basic function like Enduring Breath. Or at least a few Totems of the Otter, the crafted consumable that cast that spell. Yes, well... you'd be mistaken.

Five minutes later I was back on the Griffin, heading across Antonica with my Level 60 Inquisitor. Inquisitors can cast spells that let themselves and their groups breathe underwater. So I did that. Then I swam around in the murky waters off the Antonical headland, opening clam after clam.

It's a gloriously soothing experience. The clams are huge and easy to spot  from a distance. There are plenty of them. They have a short timer before you can re-open them, so you can't just stand next to the same one and chain-click, but by the time you've done the rounds of nearby clams the ones you started on are ready again.

There seem to be a lot of items to get. It was a good while before I started seeing duplicates. A lot of the presents are house items in any case, so multiples are welcome. Especially so since GU106 added stackability to most house items.

As well as furniture I got a consumable Othmir illusion and several appearance weapons. It was addictive and fun. In the Test channel several people were saying exactly that, almost purring with satisfaction as the little bursts of dopamine stroked their pleasure centers. I notice no-one ever says developers are scoundrels for including this kind of content - it's ony when they lock it in a box and charge for a key that people begin to claim no-one wants it.

Oceansfull also brings a traditional shiny collection, which takes place on land. I found a few purple shinies but they seemed relatively scarce compared to the norm in other festivals. I didn't really spend long looking - I'll save that for the few days I have when the festival is Live.

All in all Oceansfull looks to be yet another excellent addition to the holiday calendar. It's quite astonishing that the small team left working on EQ2 is able to keep coming up with so much new stuff. This is a simple festival, yes, but it's fun and it fits with the lore, too.

Oceansfull is available on all servers including Progression/TLE from the 8th to the 18th of June. It can be enjoyed by characters of any level at a variety of beaches from starting areas to end game. There are no quests to get - jump right in the water and start opening those clams.

Just don't forget your diving gear!

1 comment:

  1. I read about this on EQ2TC, can't wait to collect stuff when it goes live! Those little guys are too cute, I have one as a merc it's so adorable waddling after me, lol.


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