Sunday, June 24, 2018

Excuse Me While I Scorch The Sky : EQ2

Next Tuesday the latest quarterly instalment (overdue) of The Living Story (World, whatever...) should finally drop for GW2. Handy for me since changes to my work pattern this week put me at home Tuesday through Thursday. Then again, the weather forecast is so good I may not want to stay indoors...

The trailer certainly doesn't encourage me to miss out on the sunshine. It's lackluster in the extreme, especially when compared to the excellent lead-in to the last episode. If I never see or hear Joko again it will be too soon. Everything other people felt about Scarlet goes double for what I feel about this tedious, cliched piece of fan service.

Still, nothing wrong with lowering expectations. Under-promising means anything not terrible feels like a win and something halfway decent knocks it out of the park.

That's a lesson Daybreak Games seems to have taken very much to heart. With restricted resources and reduced ambitions, the small team working on EQ2 has apparently decided to make a virtue out of necessity. They're making a pretty good fist of it, too.

As previously mentioned, despite having one of the more extensive Holiday Calendars in MMOdom, there has always been something of an early summer lull in Norrath. Nothing much happens between Bristlebane Day in April and Tinkerfest in mid-July.

Well, it does now. May is still vacant, other than for the regular, monthly City Festival and Moonlight Enchantments, but June now has the otterly charming Oceansfest and next we get another new Live Event - Scorched Sky Celebration.

It begins on June 28 and runs until July 10, squeezing into the gap before the gnomish carnival arrives on the 19th. Scorched Sky is already up on Test and EQ2 Traders has a breakdown of what to do and where to do it.

I enjoyed Oceanfest so much I thought I'd jump the gun and drop in on rehearsals over on Test. There's a bit more to do this time than just collect gifts. That said, I'm not knocking the otters. They may not have laid on a whole lot of quests or activities but I'm certainly very happy with the gifts their deity, Prexus gave me. I now have my own permanent Othmir celebration on the shores of my Mara Estate home and it looks fabulous.

For Scorched Sky there's actually some fighting to do. Fire elementals spawn all around the celebrations, which take place in nine different zones of varying levels. The mobs aren't agro until you get within melee range, whereupon they stabilize at your character's level to give you a fair fight. Fair for you, that is, not for them. They die very easily.

They also have a slight tendency to flicker in and out of agro status, which may be fixed before they go Live. If not it won't matter. It only happened to me two or three times out of more than eighty kills and it only lasts a few seconds.

Every elemental drops a Coin of Ember (two if you're an All Access subscriber), which is the currency the merchant takes. There's one at every celebrant camp and the stock is very enticing, particularly if you happen to be a decorator. (You can watch a seventeen minute video about that, which gives you more detail than you'll probably ever want).

The pricing is also extremely generous, to the point where I wondered if it had been set low for testing purposes. I bought both the house pets for three coins each and the mount for fifty. That's about fifteen minutes farming for a subscriber. For the first day or two, competition for spawns on Live may slow that down a tad.

I might not have bought the fiery horse had I realized that being ground-bound means it can't be used as the appearance for a flying mount. On the other hand, it only took me about half an hour to collect fifty coins so why not? It looks great!

When I'd killed my way to precisely half the cost of the mount, an Achievement popped up. Killing twenty-five elementals gets you a title - "the Scorched". I love titles. They're one of the few things I'll jump hoops for in a game - titles, pets, mounts and hats, pretty much.

There's also a collection, which follows the newly familiar pattern: a set of three shinies in each of the three level ranges of the nine zones. It makes the collect fair for all levels and encourages people not to stand in one place all day, farming for alts. You have to stand in three places instead.

I completed the collection without any hassles except in The Commonlands, where the very long grass around Dog Trapper Lake made it hard to spot the little purple dots. Got 'em in the end. Unfortunately I  forgot to do the hand-in so I don't have a snapshot of the reward, which according to Naimi Denmother is a tapestry.

The final part of the holiday program is a repeatable quest in the main cities that sends you looking for firework launchers to light up the sky. The quest sneakily doesn't appear at all until you buy a 10 copper sparkler from the vendor, whereupon the guy standing next to him spots you have the wherwithal and pops up a blue feather. I liked that touch.

I liked the whole thing, in fact. A lot. I pottered around for an hour, enjoyed myself, relaxed and came away with some very nice additions to the decor of my Ratonga Bruiser's three-room Freeport suite. I will very definitely be doing it all again when Scorched Sky goes Live, most probably with several characters.

We'll see what happens come Tuesday when the next LW chapter drops for GW2. Maybe something will surprise me there. My expectation, though, is that I'll get more entertainment and more lasting satisifaction from Daybreak's "summer fun" than Anet's raised "quality bar" can provide.

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