Saturday, October 10, 2020

Pumpkin, Pumpkin

It's that time of year again. Pumpkins, candles, spooky stories, all that stuff. It's going to be a bit of a strange one out in the real world. Can't imagine too many people wanting to take their kids trick or treating in the middle of a pandemic, although then again...

Nothing to stop the celebrations going ahead as usual in virtuality, though. There's no need to socially distance in cyberspace although ironically most of our characters are probably wearing masks anyway. 

Next week sees the return of the indescribably dubious Mad King shenanigans in Guild Wars 2. Seriously, does anyone at ArenaNet ever actually listen to the argument between Mad King Thorn and The Bloody Prince? It was disturbing enough when I first heard it nearly a decade ago but the world has changed quite a bit since then. There are things that sounded "edgy" in 2012 that just sound completely off in 2020 and that routine is definitely one of them.

Then again, maybe my pop culture compass needs re-calibrating. I watched the first episode of The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina last night. It felt like it would be seasonable and I thought it would make a nice wind-down from the harrowing six seasons of Bojack Horseman I just put myself through. I mean, it's Sabrina the Teenage Witch, right? The girl from the Archie comics? The one with the extraordinarily badly-animated cat?


Yeah... no. Not really. So, Sabrina's an actual satanist now. And the cat's a demon. And her wacky aunts drain the blood from human corpses for their satanic rituals before eating the leftover flesh for dinner. But, hey, Sabrina's gender politics are impeccable, so there's that. I will, of course, be watching the rest of the series. The first episode was pretty good, even if I did literally have to close my eyes for two whole scenes. A fluffy, relaxing romp, though? I don't think so.

Bad taste dialog notwithstanding, I'll most likely still end up running round and round the Mad King's maze with my Necromancer, firing off ground target AEs and hoovering up the loot. Some people do it all day for the entire event and make tens of thousands of gold or so they claim. It was always mindless but with the addition of the autoloot mastery it's now so mechanical it's hard to stay awake. I can usually manage about an hour before I'm literally nodding off at the keyboard. 

Other than that I probably won't bother with any of the other activities. They're always the same, near as makes no difference, and I've done all of them more than enough times already. 

Nights of the Dead has already begun over in EverQuest II. The options there are staggering. It's one of the big holidays of the year and SOE/Daybreak/Darkpaw add something new every time. In a decade and a half that really adds up.

The quality is high, too. There are several big set piece events - the Hedge Maze, the Haunted Mansion, Wake the Dead and so on - as well as a wealth of collections, achievements, quests and crafting activities. New this year is a series of Overseer quests given by a halfling on the Nektulos Forest docks and an upgraded version of the Headless Horseman public quest, now with new loot.

I did the PQ twice yesterday. It was popular. There were three instances of Nek Forest up whenever I logged in and people were calling the event as it started and sending out raid invites. It took about ten minutes to kill him each time and everyone was very good humored about it.

Drops were good, although I have to wonder what the point is right now, with the panda quests already giving out items for just about every slot that are better than anything else I've had all year and certainly better than the PQ drops I've seen so far.  

If the last few years are anything to go by, the panda quests will upgrade most anything a solo player's likely to be wearing, then a few weeks after that finishes we'll get the expansion and a box on the floor next to the first questgiver will upgrade the panda gear. Then the quest rewards from the signature questline will upgrade the stuff from the box and the drops from the third season of Overseer quests (not yet confirmed but you know there will be one) will upgrade everything from the Sig line and on we go with the dance.

It's how the game works. Nothing is permanent and most things barely last a couple of months. I like it. It gives me things to do along with a spurious sense of purpose and satisfaction but I can see how some people might find it wearing.  

I might do a few of the other Nights of the Dead events just for fun. The PQ requires someone to have the lost necklace from the Hedge Maze to get it started so there's an element of social responsibility there. And even as I fact-check for this post I see there are a couple of events I can't remember ever doing so maybe I'll give those a go, too.

I imagine just about every MMORPG will have some kind of Halloween-related event on the slate. Probably quite a few unmassive live service games, too. Like Christmas, it seems to be a holiday no-one can resist. I never really paid much attention to it at all before I started playing MMORPGs but it's firmly on my calendar now.

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