Friday, June 14, 2019

Down By The Sea: EQ2

When I got home from the airport yesterday afternoon, one of the first things I did was fire up the PC to check Feedly, which I hadn't looked at for more than a week. The "Latest News" from Pitchfork led the backlog. I checked to see who'd died while I was away. Just Dr. John, of people I've ever heard of, if not actually bought a record by. Also M.I.A, late of this parish, got an MBE, which was nice for her mum.

Next by volume came MassivelyOP, where I found more than a hundred and seventy five news items waiting for me. Scanning the headlines I felt the urge to open fewer than half a dozen, which must say something about the current state of the genre, my involvement, or MOP's editorial policy. Probably all three.

Of the handful of articles I looked at, the only one that really interested me was this, a brief re-phrasing of a Daybreak press release alerting readers to the return of EverQuest II's Oceansfull festival. The MOP piece didn't tell me much but I found a lot more detail at the official website and a full breakdown of all the available activities and rewards at EQ2 Traders.

The latter was linked directly from the EQ2 website itself, something that has become standard procedure of late. The Daybreak post also linked to EQ2 Furniture, a self-explanatory enterprise I haven't had cause to visit before.

The MMORPG genre has always had a touch of the co-operative movement about it, although at times the relationship has fallen considerably short of those high mutualist ideals, and the practice of calling attention to fan sites is far from novel. Still, in these late days, with shrinking audiences and resources, it has never seemed more necessary or welcome.

Oceansfull is a very new festival on Norrath's crowded calendar. It began last year as a very low-key event, "timed to fill that uncomfortable gap between the final flurry of festivals in late Spring and the arrival of Tinkerfest in mid-summer".

This year brings several new additions to the schedule, including a couple of quests, both of which involve a small amount of fighting, presumably so adventurers feel included. I did them both for the first time last night, largely without the aid of out-of-game instructions, although I'm not sure I'd have found one of the two at all if I hadn't spotted the starting location on EQ2 Traders.

The Nursery in Greater Faydark certainly isn't the first place that comes to mind when you imagine beachfront property in Norrath. It's the hidden starting area for new characters that came with 2006's Echoes of Faydwer expansion and if you'd asked me I'd have said it was landlocked. There's never been much of a reason to go there if you aren't a Level One elf or fae and I'd completely forgotten it had a seafront at all.

It does, though, and somehow the Othmir managed to find it. They set up their altars and set off their fireworks in celebration of the Ocean God Prexus but then their arch enemies, the Ulthorks, turned up, which is where we, the players, come in.

I'm always up for some Ulthork bashing. I happily clattered eight of the aggressive walrus-men then fixed three of the altars they'd broken before returning to Kippy for my reward, a choice of scallop shells.

The other quest, much easier to run into by accident, starts at the Commonlands dock. For this one I had to find a missing Othmir and encourage him to return to safety, while I took over his shell-gathering duties and dealt with the mysterious threat he'd glimpsed lurking in the dark waters.

That threat turned out to be some sort of octopoid, although for a while I thought it might be nothing more than a trick of the light. There's a chance for the vicious eight-armed beasts to spawn whenever you pluck one of the sparkling conch shells from the sand but nothing jumped me until I was putting shell number seven into my waterproof backpack.

I only needed eight to complete the quest. As a reward Binn, the worried othmir who'd sent me to look for his friend, gave me three of the golden conches back.

Almost all the rewards for Oceansfull are house items. There are also a couple of appearance weapons - a shield and a staff - and a pet crab. There's also a cloak from the collection, which returns from last year.

The quality and variety of the house items is quite extraordinary. Several have spectacular particle effects and all are worth having. Other than the quest rewards, they're all waiting to be found in personalized black pearls, enclosed in clams beneath the waves, in eleven different locations covering all level ranges.

Although the contents of each pearl is random you can open one every ten seconds or so for the duration of the event, ensuring that, with just a modicum of patience, you should be able to find everything you want. Only five of last year's extensive range have returned for an encore. The rest have been replaced by seventeen brand new options, many of which are real must-haves.

I was particularly taken with the Aqueous Sentinel Plushie, a watery golem inside which fish swim as though encased in a tank. The other plushies are impressive, too. The Marid hunters look particularly good in my Mara Estate home, which is where I'm placing most of my Oceansfull goodies.

Oceansfull began, as it did last year, while I was away on holiday, making this a very late notification. There are still several days left before the Othmir pack up their trappings and start the trek back to Velious.

The festival ends at midnight on June 18, more than enough time to complete all the activities and find all the things you might fancy. I plan on grabbing a few dozen more pearls on characters on two other servers and possibly even on another account.

Sadly, my character on Kaladim will have to miss out once again as the TLE servers don't get the event at all, presumably because neither Othmir nor Ulthorks have yet been discovered there. Given the rewards are all cosmetic that seems a tad unfair but I guess if you choose to wallow in a bed of nostalgia you have to lie in it, too.

As I was playing last night I was also following a discussion in the Test channel, where several people playing on the Test server were linking items from the Scorched Sky festival. It's currently in testing, due to follow Oceansfull on Live later this month. Judging by what I saw, we can expect another impressive holiday upgrade when it arrives.

I'd say "keep up the good work, DBG", but they obviously already are.

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