So, more about Everquest.
As I mentioned a few posts ago, I’m in an era-restricted guild that’s restricting itself to doing raid content in-order, at the appropriate levels, and with appropriate gear. I’ve also gotten a pair of characters to level 100, and I use two AI-controlled NPC mercenaries to give me some extra punch. It’s kind of sad in that it turns a massively multiplayer game into basically a single player game with chat, but it’s letting me actually do modern content in the current expansion at my own pace, which is pretty neat. It’s been a VERY long time since I didn’t feel left behind and I’ve been enjoying the heck out of it.
Anyway, the current expansion is very similar to an expansion from 2003 called Lost Dungeons of Norrath. That expansion featured short, fairly easy, instanced zones that you could round up just about any six players for and have a fair expectation that you would be able to beat the dungeon and earn a special sort of currency that you could spend at expansion vendors. There were loot drops too, of course, but the central idea was that you could basically punch a clock and eventually save up enough of the expansion currency to buy gear instead of sitting in a small corner of a room hoping for a rare monster to spawn and hoping that you would a) kill it and b) beat out the other five people in the group on getting the item you were there for.
It was amazingly popular with the majority of the population, so it was immediately followed up by Everquest’s Worst Expansion Ever, a mind-bogglingly difficult mess that wasn’t cleared by even the hardest-core of hardcore guilds until the expansion AFTER it raised the level cap by five levels.
But I digress.
Anyway, Call of the Forsaken, to put a name to the current expansion, has “Heroic Adventures”, which are basically the same thing. You can grab a few other random people, bash your way through an instanced dungeon with a pretty low risk of failure, maybe get a little loot in the zone, but mostly get currency for gear vendors. It has a couple of static zones to camp rare monsters in if that’s your thing, and those have some nice rewards, but the basic idea is that you should be able to log in, maybe spend an hour or so playing, and make real progress on improving your character.
Also it has bixies.
Bixies are, well, they’re half bee and half pixie and half murderous rage. They’re cute and a little weird and speak with a lot of buzzzzzzzzing and are notable largely for being willing to pick a fight with anything, no matter how one-sided the fight may be. They showed up in a few of the lower level zones in the original EQ (And made a very memorable appearance in one of the harder raid encounters), disappeared for a few years, got a new zone and a new look for The Serpent’s Spine expansion in 2006, and then disappeared again.
Part of the backstory to Call of the Forsaken is that the original bixie clan has gone SO far over the edge that a different clan has shown up to try to bring them back to *reasonable* levels of xenophobia and aggression. This new group of bixies would much rather send adventurers to do the actual dirty work, and that’s where the players come in.
The bixie zones are really, really pretty. They’re full of flowers and rivers of honey and bright colors EVERYWHERE and have a hexagonal / beehive theme to the architecture, and they stand in harsh constrast to the bleak brown ruins and grey dungeons that you tend to see a lot of in fantasy games.
Finally, the missions into the Bixie Warfront get to be a little quirky at times. There’s a particularly memorable bit in one of them where you’re tasked with “debating bixie philosophers”, which can be done either through attacking them or by talking to them. Sometimes talking to them works in your favor, and sometimes you talk them through a logical chain of steps that ends with them thanking you for pointing out that their only reasonable course of action is to try to eat your face.
At which point they try to eat your face.
I’m really glad they brought the insane little adorable homicidal maniacs back is what I’m trying to say.