Looking Back a Month - November
Overall a pretty exciting month... Over here in the UK, in November, we celebrate 'Guy Fawkes Night' more commonly called 'Bonfire Night'. It seems big fires and fireworks are more worthy of celebration than failed terrorist plots. Going stateside, November is the month of Thanksgiving, but from a gaming point of view, it's more than fires and turkey, it's a very exciting month. Traditionally, the pre-Christmas 'Triple-A' releases all vie for our attention and back in the day, before I was aware of MMOs, November was 'Tomb Raider Month'. But now, for 'Everquest II' subscribers like me, it is expansion month.
But not this year. We won't receive the new expansion, Sentinel's Fate, until next February. This delay is a small price to pay for an extra bit of polish, in my humble opinion, but that doesn't make for a good article now does it? So, what are we to do in the meantime?
The answer has come in the form of 'Live Events', something which Sony Online Entertainment (SOE) does particularly well. In Novemeber, we were blessed with a smorgasbord of events, and I had the pleasure of sampling a few of them.
Moonlight Enchantment mini event
On the 20th of every month (real time), Norrath gets a full moon (the 'in game' moon always looks full, so any astronomers among you will just have to learn to accept this bizarre phenomenon) and with this the barrier between the "real" world and that of the faerie folk becomes thin and it's possible to travel between the two using the mushroom rings in Norrath's forests as a portal.
There are five portals, each one leading to a different grotto inhabited by wee mythical creatures: Brownies, Zygomids (a type of mushroom creature), Dryads, Naiads and Fay (pixie people). I picked the Brownie and Zygomid grottos to explore, although maybe "explore" is not the right word. These instances are tiny, but it is called a 'mini event' so I can't find fault there. Once inside you get either one or two quests depending on which grotto you pick. The quests aren't particularly challenging - I had to collect flowers for one and then later, ingredients to brew a root beer. They are purely for fun and the rewards reflect that. Each quest grants you some currency which is only accepted by the merchant in that instance and you can only buy cosmetic items or house decorations.
Each instance also has a 'collection' associated with it. For those who aren't in the know, collectables, also known as 'shinies' appear all over the world, usually in areas with a lot of harvesting nodes. They range from leaves to bugs to body parts and bits of machinery. Completed collections can then be handed in for a reward, again, something cosmetic.
The down side to this event is that once you leave the instance, you are locked out until next month. So that limits the amount of rewards you can glean from them, including shinies, as each instance spawns only one collectable for you. To complete your collection you would have to return each month and hope to get the ones you are missing. Alternatively, you can run it with your alts and mail the collectables to your main character. I opted to do it the slow way. I'm going to come back anyway to repeat the quests to buy more rewards from the merchants, so I don't feel the need for haste.
This was a player-run event organised by the Fallen Façade guild on the Lucan D'Lere server. This ran over three days and as I could only make it on day two, I missed out on the harvesting contest on the first day and the theatrical triple feature on the last.
I did, however, attend the 'hart hunt', held in the woods in Antonica. The turnout was a little disappointing, with only enough players for one group, so any kind of contest was out of the question. The whole thing became more of an 'RP' event. I made a character on this server just to come to this, and at level five I was a bit outclassed by the other attendees. Nobody seemed to mind my being the 'runt of the litter' or my numerous deaths at the hands and claws of low level mobs.
We followed our wolves as they tracked the deer (all animals were portrayed by players using illusion forms), then we headed back to town for a celebratory drink after the 'hart' was killed. Overall, it was great fun, with the reward being a good time spent with a bunch of players who just love their game. With more people playing, I can imagine this event to be a blinder of a competition and well worth a go.
EQII 5th Anniversary Celebration
EQII is five! Aww, it seems like only yesterday when...never mind, I'm getting nostalgic. What better way to celebrate an anniversary than with some brand new quests. On release the only two cities available for players to live in were Qeynos and Freeport. Both of these cities have birthday quest lines, and as I play a goody-goody Templar, I tried out the Qeynos events.
To accompany these new quests SOE posted this:
"It's been five years now since Queen Antonia and Lucan D'Lere opened the doors of their respective cities to the castaways landing on the Isle of Refuge.
A lot has changed in Norrath in those years! To celebrate, Antonia and Lucan have some plans... But, they'll need your help with a few minor details".
Back in the day, all players started out as 'refugees' in the appropriately, if unimaginatively, named Isle of Refuge, before being sent off to our starting city. The in-game reason for the celebration was to mark the 5 year anniversary of us 'newbies' being rescued.
Added to the new quest lines, was another collection to complete, with shinies appearing all over South Qeynos. The reward for completion is a tapestry depicting 'Luclin', Norrath's destroyed moon, to hang in your home and marvel at.
The quests took place in North Qeynos (NQ), starting around the Claymore Monument. My first was simple - run around North and South Qeynos and set off fireworks in celebration. Fun, but not very satisfying.
However, other quests had a lot more meat on them.
Queen Antonia Bayle was planning to give a speech and we were tasked with talking to her guards to make sure security was tight. The last guard informed me of a suspicious person among the crowd of onlookers, so off I went to interrogate the various characters hanging around. The mob titled "anxious reveller" was unsurprisingly our culprit, and, when accosted, turned out to be a vile Freeportian assassin! After dispatching the cad and saving the day, I was granted one of EQ2's rarest sights: the presence of Antonia Bayle herself, who had descended the palace steps to address us loyal subjects.
The final part of the birthday bash, and the one I found to be the most interesting, was the quest to look for a missing character called Thumore D'Armer. Apparently, the festivities just couldn't go on without this guy. After asking a few NPCs, it turned out he was sleeping in one of the North Qeynos stores. It wasn't possible to wake him up but by clicking on his body I was able to enter his dream. Once inside, D'Armer gives you the quest to gather up shards of his memories which are hidden away in five instances. These instances are copies of dungeons, one from each of the current expansions and in chronological order. The whole thing is solo-able and as someone who had a break from the game for two of the expansions, it was cool to play some of the content I missed, the most interesting by far being the grounds of a spooky mansion.
The quest line ends when you've gathered up the five memory shards and returned them to D'Armer (who turns out not to be who he seems). D'Armer is actually some kind of lesser god who was broken up and scattered across people's memories. I'm not entirely sure how this works, but gods are a weird bunch, so it's best not to tax your brain over it too much. The rewards are two house items - a commemorative painting and a replica of the Claymore monument, both of which are look pretty funky in my house, even if they are actually in my backyard as the monument is taller than any of the rooms.
None of the EQ2 Live Events that occur matter that much in the grand scheme of 'phat lewt' or the end game, but they are a very welcome break from the long road to level cap or the toil of trade skilling. SOE always seems to put a lot of thought into these events, and they usually end up being interesting, satisfying and lots of fun. Previous expansions have usually had interesting live events going on in their run up, and Sentinel's Fate has two updates coming before it goes live. I'm expecting things will get very interesting in the lands of Norrath. This will be a good time for any players who have been meaning to check out or return to Ever Quest 2 to jump aboard.