Friday, June 3, 2022

Let's Tink Again (Like We Did Last Summer)

Not to rehash my own joke but it's Jubilee weekend here in the UK and by complete coincidence (I'm guessing...) it's also the week EverQuest II kicks off its very own Summer Jubilee. There's a pun in there somewhere involving EQII and Elizabeth II, Q(ueen) but I'm not going to be the one to try and dig it out.

Summer Jubilee incorporates three events and the first of them is Tinkerfest (The other two being Oceansfull and Scorched Sky). Relocated from midsummer, it's been polished till it gleams.

Judging by what I've seen so far it's better than ever, impressive when you consider it was already one of the top holidays in EQII's extensive calendar. It's also long been one of my personal favorites. I read the official announcement with interest and enthusiasm. 

Credit for some of that has to go to new Community Manager, Accendo. When he first arrived I wondered if he might be a little brusque, especially after the exceptionally affable Dreamweaver. For all I know, he might be a regular demon in ding-dongs with players, always a risk (Just ask RadarX), but in prose he has a strong, confident style and a sense of humor that amuses me more often than not. I'll take it.

For regular Live servers, there's a lot to dig into, all of it handily detailed in the press release:

  • New adventure quest!
    • Blood, Sweat, and Gears offered by Tickni Kerplooie at Gnomeland Security in Steamfont Mountains for players level 120+.
  • New tradeskill (tinkering) quest!
    • Gearing the Competition offered by Navier Stokes at Gnomeland Security in Steamfont Mountains.
  • New dungeon with solo and heroic versions!
    • Innovation: Tinkerer's Trial [Heroic] and [Solo]
  • 11 New Merchant Items sold by Myron in Gnomeland Security, including a new mount!
  • New Tradeskill recipe book, "Tinkerfest Blueprints 14.0” sold by Myron in Gnomeland Security in Steamfont Mountains. The recipes require Shiny Tinkerfest Cog obtained as quest rewards or harvested, and other low level harvestables as components.

Special Ruleset servers get whatever subset matches their current timeframe and whatever rewards don't break their local zeitgeist, as per usual. 

I'd like to say all the regular events, quests, collections and achievements are back as well but I'm not absolutely sure if that's true. There's a slight element of ambiguity in "Lots of stuff is returning for this year's event too including achievements, recipe books, collections, quests, and more." "Lots" isn't a synonym for "All" but I imagine I'm reading more into the choice of words than Accendo intended. 

I made straight for Tinkerfest Central - Gnomeland Security in Steamfont - where I hoovered up every quest I could find. Some of them I recognised, some I didn't, but that happens at most festivals, whether there's anything new or not. I can't remember every quest I've ever done in EQII. There must be thousands! 

Most had blue feathers indicating repeatable content, something that's probably going to turn out to be important given the new Jubilee currency, the Copper Jubilation Medal. I had a good browse through the inventory of the Jubilee vendor I found, hanging around the East Freeport Docks later. Anyone taking this event seriously is going to need hundreds of medals to buy everything they want.

The rewards are very tempting, too. Lots of great housing and appearance items as always but also some very nice stat gear, at least for a solo player. The big ticket item is the 340 Resolve bracer trailed in the original announcement but there's also 300 Resolve gear for all armor classes. I imagine there'll be a full set of that by the time all three events have arrived. 

There's also a dog. That got me wondering if there had been dog pets in the game before. I'm sure there must have been. The dog model has been in the game from the start. I imagine they've always been there but I just never noticed, me being more of a cat person. 

Now we have a dog of our own I'm seeing dogs in all kinds of places I never saw them before, like on my lap while I'm trying to play EQII. It wouldn't matter so much if she didn't like to rest her chin on my mouse arm. 

Fortunately, EQII is relatively easy to play one-handed. I managed to grab all those quests and pick up a load of the Shiny Tinkerfest Cogs lying all over the place. The cogs are the Tinkerfest-specific currency, the event having vast amounts of buyables independent of the Jubilee. No doubt the same will apply to the other two festivals so it's just as well the quests reward both kinds. 

As soon as Beryl changed position, allowing me the use of both hands, I mapped to the other center of Gnomish activity, the Dropship Landing Zone in Moors of Ykesha to look for the the portal to the new, non-combat instance of Plane of Innovation. I wanted to do the tradeskill quest given to me by Navier Stokes back at Gnomeland Security. There's a lot of to-ing and fro-ing in Tinkerfest, always was, but even without All Access travel perks it's easy enough via the handy temporary portals the gnomes install for the occasion.

I've been around Plane of Innovation many times but sightseeing always feels better when nothing's trying to rip your arms off. I had time to look at the architectural details for once. 

The quest itself was very good, assuming you like EQII quests, which, obviously, I do. I'd pretty much have to, still to be playing after all these years. It follows the classic gather, craft, install sequence, where you spend ages wandering around picking up materials before knocking them into something on a local crafting device, before following a glowing trail around the zone, sliding the doohickeys you've created into the correct slots.  

No-one could claim this kind of content is challenging but it sure is relaxing. As a very, very bad tinkerer, I appreciated the huge Tinkerfest crafting boosts, the absence of negative effects to counter and the easy skill-ups. I didn't notice whether the quest was repeatable but if it is I might grind it out a few times until the recipe goes grey, just for the tinkering points.

There's a narrative thread relating to the possible induction of the first ever Froglok to the Ak`Anon Tinkerer's Guild. I found it oddly intriguing. It started me wondering just which races are capable of tinkering these days. I have a suspicion it's all of them. I know it used to be a purely gnomish skill back in EverQuest but I can't recall whether Ratongas could always tinker in EQII or whether that was a later concession.

Of all the races, you'd think the most obvious candidate after Gnomes would be Dwarves. I don't believe I've ever played a Dwarf in EQII, or not for any meaningful amount of time, at least. Frogloks would come a long way down any list I ever made but then I try not to think about frogloks at all if I can help it.

I'll have to give it some more thought as I work my way through the rest of what Tinkerfest has to offer. Next up is the new adventure quest, Blood, Sweat and Gears, followed by the Solo dungeon, the Tinkerer's Trial.   

I hope that one's not too tough. I always think holiday instances should be lenient but if the drops are competitive with current content it'll probably have to be at least as challenging as a regular Visions of Vetrovia instance, probably more so than the ones in the basic storyline since they're already beginning to fall behind.

I don't have all that long to get everything done, either. Even though the Summer Jubilee runs all summer (Well, duh!) Tinkerfest is only with us for a couple of weeks. The gnomes shut up shop on June 15.

I'd better get on with it, then.

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