EQ2's Night of the Dead event was a favorite of mine last year, so I suppose that I can't complain too much to see the event back with minimal changes this year - there's a new crafting book, and a new title to be earned from a quest that players will complete by clearing each haunted event once.
I'm not sure that I would have been willing to pay for a month's subscription to the live service just to get the one additional title. Fortunately, thanks to EQ2X, I don't have to make that choice; the scaling holiday content is free to play and not too difficult to complete while working with silver F2P restrictions. Unfortunately for SOE, this shift means that I'm unlikely to resubscribe solely for a holiday event ever again, but such, I suppose is the peril of going F2P.
Server Merges, and Servers Left For Dead
Speaking of peril and F2P, SOE finally announced plans to merge eight of the game's twenty seven servers. Each closed server will be folded into an existing server, so, all told, sixteen servers' worth of players will have larger populations to play with when the dust settles.
There are some complaints about how naming conflicts will be handled (current subscribers will receive priority over inactive accounts), but I haven't seen anyone from the affected servers say that they do not want a merge to happen. Populations were low across the board, and SOE's decision not to open up the existing servers to free EQ2X players sealed the fates of these servers. The only question remaining to be answered is whether combining these sixteen servers into eight still leaves too many.
Of the eleven servers that will not merge, three (AB, Nagafen, and Crushbone) are not merging because they actually have sufficient populations. The remaining eight are not being merged because there is nowhere for them to merge to because of language, ruleset, or other contractual obligation. As a resident of Lucan D'Lere, I'm feeling somewhat uniquely hosed by this call.
It's relatively obvious why you can't merge servers speaking Russian, French, and Japanese, and why the RMT servers need to remain separate. LDL, on the other hand, is being kept separate because it is technically a Role Playing server. The only other RP server is the game's most popular (AB), with no room for an additional merge. The thing is, I don't think I ever encountered any form of actual role playing on LDL. I know that there are some high quality events to be experienced, but these are almost always scheduled in advance via the out-of-game forums, and therefore could continue basically unaffected if LDL were to be merged with a non-RP server. This option, though, is apparently not on the table.
End of the line for Lyriana?
Frankly, the last time I let my EQ2 Live subscription lapse, it was largely because I had trouble finding groups for the group content that was the main thing left on Lyriana's to-do list. A merge during the current expansion cycle would almost certainly have brought me back to the game to try and complete her epic weapon questline before players move on to Velious.
Now I have limited reason to pay for the live service for the remainder of this expansion. I'd be happy to pay for new level 90 content in the next expansion, but the new continent will instead offer new level 86-90 leveling content that won't offer any significant challenge if I start it four levels too late.
At this point, it's looking more and more like the smart play is to wait until next summer, when retailers will be dumping unsold Velious boxes for half price to clear shelf space. There will presumably be a station cash sale sometime between now and then (it's been double SC for the 4th of July two years running), which I can use to save some money on copying Lyriana over to EQ2X so that I can play her in the future without paying for a subscription. Though this would technically be a copy that would leave the original on the live service, I doubt that I would ever return once I invest time and money on the shift to EQ2X.
If that's the way this plays out, it's a sad ending. Unfortunately, the way that SOE has this set up is leaving me feeling like rolling on a RP server was a mistake. If this is the only alternative they're currently prepared to offer, I guess we're both going to pay the price.