Friday, October 11, 2019

Pretend We're Dead: EverQuest II

It's that time of the year again. Almost. The second week in October feels a little early but there's so much to do. Earlier the better.

EverQuest II's Halloween celebration, Nights of the Dead, is one of the biggest holidays in a calendar chockful of major events. Over fifteen years the program has expanded to include nearly twenty quests, half a dozen collections, a couple of races and a slew of Achievements.

For crafters there are a dozen books filled with themed recipes and the number of items to be bought from special vendors with the event currency, Candy Corn, is frankly insane.

I seem to be shifting into something of an EQII phase right now. Whether it's the fallout from the Blizzard Bombshell or just that there's a positively overwhelming amount of stuff to do in Norrath this Autumn I'm not sure. A bit of both I expect.

This year, to make things easier, all the items from earlier years are on the vendor to the left (the tall one) and all the new stuff is on the little fella to the right.

The thing that I perhaps don't stress strongly enough about  EQII is the sheer quantity of things the game offers that I genuinely want my characters to own. Every holiday comes stuffed to bursting with house items I covet and appearance items I want my characters to wear. This is a sensation few MMORPGs give me.

There are also mounts and familiars and petamorph wands that turn your boring old elemental or undead pet into something far more aesthetically pleasing. All of it free if you just play the game. A few top items take some effort but the tokens to buy most things can be earned in minutes. Unless you want a lot of them, of course; then it's a lot of minutes.

I could very easily spend most of each month doing the current event (or, often, events - there are so many they frequently overlap) if I was so inclined. In the past, when EQII was my primary MMORPG, that's exactly what I did.

The game also has the best cash shop I have seen in any game, by which I mean there's actually stuff in it that I both like the look of and find reasonably-priced. This morning I broke into my savings to give my Necromancer something she's always wanted - a witch's broomstick to ride. I may well buy another for my ratonga necro on my older account, too.

From left to right: Necro Undead Tank Pet, Clockwork Mercenary Dok Tok, Bat Familiar (comes with the broom), Black Cat, (also comes with broom), Snowman Appearance Pet (doesn't know what month it is). The pumpkin's not mine.

Before that I ran my Berserker through the excellent new quest, "Night of the Barking Dead". There's a short walkthrough on EQ2Traders but I didn't need to refer to it. Everything you have to do is fully signposted in game.

The quest begins when you dig up an NPC named Thieving Hardy, a fresh addition to the regular gravedigging event. I got him on about the fourth or fifth dig. He drops a "gnollish terraporter rune bone". When you examine it a quest pops up, sending you to where any veteran would have gone instinctively - the infamous Splitpaw Gnoll terraporter at Mirror Lake in Thundering Steppes.

This infernal device used to be the bane of my life back in 2005. It was the way into the second Adventure Pack, The Splitpaw Saga and if you'd bought that, which naturally I had, every time you happened to aggro one of the gnolls standing near it you'd be hoiked into Splitpaw.

The Splitpaw Saga was a very popular addition to the game in its day, largely because certain parts of it could be run and re-run for very good, fast xp. I liked it well enough the first time but I never felt much need to go through it again. Being yanked off my feet and stuffed into an underground cave just because I happened to have passed a foot too close to a gnoll was something I found quite annoying.

Don't yank my chain.

Unless you had Call To Home up (and it had a sixty minute cooldown) you were stuck in Splitpaw unltil you could fight your way out. That took ages, assuming you were even playing a class that could solo well enough to do it at all. Most of the Gnolls were Heroic mobs meant for groups. I died a lot trying to escape that dog-hole.

Worst of all, Splitpaw used a new mechanic that the developers were determined to show off at every opportunity. You had to find and carry boxes and barrels from one part of the dungeon to another, stack them up and climb on them to get over various obstacles. Fun the first time - infuriating the fifth.

Thankfully, the new quest doesn't make you do any of that. All the kidnapping gnolls have been temporarily removed so you can approach the terraporter and enter the Splitpaw Crypt in your own time. When you get inside all you have to face are at-level solo mobs.

"I didn't want these old bones anyway!

Best of all, at no point do you have to carry anything anywhere. There were two places where mobs were up on platforms above me, one of which has to be killed for the quest to progress, but there's a handy ramp up to the first and the second I pulled easily with an AE.

The quest itself is a simple story, familiar but well told. I enjoyed it as a classic fireside cautionary tale. It took me maybe fifteen minutes to complete. The rewards were worth it - a choice of two good house pets or twenty-five candy corn, a sum that will stand you several worthwhile purchases at the event vendors.

All being well, I plan on running that quest with a few other characters on various servers and accounts. I'd also like to farm some Candy Corn and go on a bit of a spending spree. There's a lot from previous years I haven't picked up yet and I want it!

"I choose you!" Oh, wait, wrong game...

There are also two new collections that I'd like to do but they involve throwing pumpkin bombs at other players. This posed me two problems this morning: I didn't have any pumpkins and there were very few other players. Hardly surprising since I was on a U.S, server at about three a.m. Pacific. I'll have to work out how to get the bombs and then come back in the late evening my time, when people in America are just settling down for an evening's fun.

I also want to run through the repeatable pre-expansion quests a few times while they're still around. I haven't yet taken a look at either of the two main quests for that event, either. Not to mention Fabled Kael, the dungeon that was added a month or so back...

My annual All Access subscription just renewed, too, reminding me I'm getting close to having too many subscriptions. When I get back to work I think something might have to give, especially if the EQII expansion makes it for November.

All things considered, it's a great time to be an MMORPG player. Well, depending which games you play, I guess.

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