Tuesday, October 20, 2009
EQ2's Night of the Dead event is up and running. NOTD has been around for a few years now, but I've never seen it before, so it adds up to a lot of new content for me. In particular, NOTD features three solo instance - haunted houses and a new hedge maze - that feature some serious puzzle-solving. Some of these may have required a group in years past, but now they scale to the player's level and are tuned for a single player. I'm looking to run each of my characters through once for fun and profit.
Most of the NOTD rewards appear to be cosmetic - things you need to make a haunted house in your player housing, perhaps, or costume pieces. They haven't quite given players the full set of world-building tools, but they've allowed for some pretty impressive decorating.
The other nice touch is that the new haunted hedge maze includes mini-bosses who drop heirloom cosmetic armor. You can get something like 3-4 random pieces of the black cosmetic plate armor set on each run-through, and they're all helpfully flagged with the heirloom tag so that you can run the dungeon on the character of your choice. I wish WoW would allow similar flexibility, but they have instead chosen to tie many of the more onerous meta achievement goals to cosmetic outfit pieces which would be a bit too shareable if they were heirlooms.
Unlike the infamous masks that spoiled the WoW expansion, EQ2's Halloween masks physically replace your head with the subject. In this case, the grizzled evil Overlord Lucan D'Lere, who looks kind of funny when you put his head atop a female fae.
The Contested Horseman
There's also the obligatory Headless Horseman boss. Like WoW's version, he drops halfway decent loot, and therefore has been highly in demand. Unlike WoW's Horseman, the EQ2 version is a contested, non-instanced boss on a 2-hour timer; first group to hit him by spamming AOE on his spawn point gets the loot.
This "contested" boss loot is a relatively bigger and more accepted part of EQ2's culture. That said, it was a bit disappointing to form up in a group with some of my guildies (Lyriana's first time EVER in a group, at level 73) in the hopes of paying the horseman a visit, only to find out that the spawns are basically monopolized by campers.
As with my criticisms of WoW's holiday achievements, I'm not convinced that limited time holiday festivities are really the place to put high pressure content - requirements that might be reasonable when the content is available year round are less reasonable when you've got a very narrow window to complete it; if nothing else, they could have mentioned in their advertising that the boss was a contested epic so that players would have known not to waste their time trying.
Blending Atmosphere and Gameplay
Ultimately, I'm really impressed with how they've implemented this holiday. The scaling content means that I'm able to do the content on various characters and actually collect half-decent exp, on top of cosmetic rewards. I'm not going to do every encounter every day on every eligible character, like Blizzard expects players to do with the daily Holiday bosses that have very rare drop mounts. But I am enjoying seeing all the sights once or twice; just enough seasonal flare to make the holiday memorable without having it dominate the month.