Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Gonna Get What's Mine


Today's the day EverQuest II's seventeenth expansion, Reign of Shadows arrives. The patch notes are already up, including an extremely lengthy section on the new Alternate Advancement (henceforth to be referred to as "AA") system. I started to read through the details but my brain wasn't having any of it so I gave up and came here instead.

I'm not sure exactly when the expansion goes live. I'm guessing it's after the regular scheduled Tuesday maintenance. That usually starts at three in the afternoon where I live and finishes an hour or two later but I'm guessing it might take a little longer than that this time. (Breaking News! Servers just came down, an hour earlier than usual. Downtime is estimated at six hours).

When the servers come up and we're able to log in I imagine there'll be the usual round of restarts and emergency patches before we can get down to the real substance of the update - the bugs, unfinished content and broken mechanics. I'm not working again until Saturday, so I'm reasonably confident of getting a session or two in before then but if things are working smoothly this side of New Year I'll be both surprised and delighted.

In the meantime there's holiday fun to be had. Frostfell arrived last week with remarkably little fanfare. Given that it's arguably the biggest in-game holiday of the year (Halloween runs it close) the timing is unfortunate, clashing as it does with both the annual expansion and the anniversary. Nevertheless, Frostfell always attracts a great deal of interest, particularly among crafters.

Nothing says winter like reddish-pink.


Every year I buy the latest collection of seasonal tradeskill recipes from one of the vendors in the ironically-named (but is it, though?) Frostfell Wonderland Village. I rarely use them to make anything but it's nice to have the complete set.

This year there's a new quest with the puntastic title "Icy Something Worth Mining". Yeah, I nearly missed it, too. Then when I got it I kinda wished I hadn't. That's Frostfell for you, though. 

The quest itself is pretty good. On one level it's a simple solo dungeon romp through some frozen caves but on another it's a searing indictment of the fae/elf industrial complex and how it exploits Norrath's irreplaceable natural resources. Or maybe that's just me.

Before you can even see the exclamation mark over Sugarbow's head you need to complete the lengthy precursor A Deepice Mystery. This mildly annoying quest was introduced in 2013 along with the major revamp that created what we might call Modern Frostfell. (Only we don't). 


Elf down!

The reason it's mildly annoying is that for some unexplained reason it has to be repeated every year to unlock a number of the other repeatable quests, meaning if you want to re-do any of the main questlines you get to do this one whether you want to or not. Only not any more!

This year it becomes a one-and-done deal, as I discovered by checking the write-up on the invaluable and authoratative EQ2 Traders (here's wishing you a Merry Frostfell and a speedy recovery, Mum!)

 "The quest "A Deepice Mystery", which used to require that players complete the unthawing process on various Frostfell NPCs before they could do the other Frostfell quests in the Frostfell Wonderland Village is being changed to a one-time quest. You will need to complete it this one more time, then in future years, you will not need to do it again."

I was checking because, naturally, I'd tried to get the new quest and hadn't been able to find it, even though the walkthrough on the wiki does clearly start with "You must have completed A Deepice Mystery at least once to obtain this quest." You mean I actually have to read this stuff?

Oh, yeah, now you talk to me.


One final round of defrosting fairies and blatting ice creatures to get Sugarbow to pop his punctuation and down the mines I went. As well as the faint environmentalist subtext there's also a hint of lore. If you ever wondered where all that holiday cheer and spirit, not to mention the "elven radiance" come from... 

Yeah, okay, no-one ever wondered that. Or at least I hope they didn't. Except that at least one person must have because someone wrote this quest. I guess there's no problem so small it doesn't keep someone awake at night.

It seems that these fuels (yes, in Norrath "holiday cheer" and "holiday spirit" are physical items you can pick up and put into stacks before using them to make seasonal casualwear in colors even great aunt Maude would balk at) have to be mined from crystals that form in subterranean caverns. (Wait, aren't all caverns subterranean by definition? And wouldn't that be "subnorrathian", anyway?). Geez, I'm never gonna sleep tonight.

Hug it out!

As anyone who's ever played an rpg is going to guess before they even get to the end of this sentence, mining those eldritch crystals has set something loose, in this case elementals. And it's up to you to sort them out because in fantasy worlds no-one ever clears up their own mess. 

Before I got started on clean up in mineshaft seven I thought I might as well gear up for the occasion. Not in a hard hat and pickaxe, obviously. I'm talking Frostfell robes and a sparkler. 

I'm very fond of EQII's wardrobe system - in theory. I add stuff to it regularly and spend cash shop currency on more slots but what I forget to do is wear any of it. I tend to set a look and forget it for years at a time, even though it's one of the easiest of all the appearance systems to change on the fly.

This time I rifled through the hangers and found some of the Frostfell gear I'd crafted back when I used to do things like that. It's all pretty hideous but what holiday outfit isn't?  Bad taste is traditional. 

Despite being dressed for the ocasion, somehow I managed to bug the quest on the first run-through. The mobs are supposed to scale to level but at 120 my Berserker was one-shotting everything. I think he may have pre-empted a script through being so awesome. Whatever the problem, the standard fix worked - if in doubt, relog. 

Apart from that one little glitch it was smooth slaughtering. I crushed ice elementals, mined crystals and generally took care of (someone else's) business. A couple of nameds took a few shots to kill and didn't drop anything special.  At one point I hit someone so hard a wall fell down. There was a final boss fight that I could have missed if I'd blinked, which I didn't. Good times were had by... well, by me. Not so much by all those creatures I killed, I guess.

In the end it's all about the presents, though, isn't it? Forget the thought, it's the gifts that count and the rewards were nice. A choice of house pet or cloak. Or you can just take the tokens to spend in the Frostfell goblin shop. I chose the cloak because I collect them. It's a harmless affectation. I could quit if I wanted to. I just don't want to.

Sometimes I don't know my own strength.

By then I was in the mood so I ran through the whole of the Icy Keep dungeon. On "Hard". Which is actually "Easy" if you're max-level, or so it seems. The scaling algorithm may not have been updated. I remember either last year or the year before, trying it on "Hard" and getting my tail handed to me by the first mob. This time it was a (fruit) cake walk.

I picked up my daily present from Santa Glugg and called it a night. I'm not sure how much more seasonal stuff I'll get around to this year, what with the dark side of the moon and the Shissar invasion and all that, but there are a few things I'd like to buy and a few new presents in Santa Glugg's sack I wouldn't mind having.

We can't be saving the world all the time, can we? Sometimes it's just about having fun. 

And the presents. Don't forget the presents.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Wider Two Column Modification courtesy of The Blogger Guide