The nuts and bolts
The new public quest is located in Antonica, out in the farm fields surrounding Farmer Walcott. The farmlands always hold nostalgic value for me because the beetle quest was one of the first tasks I did in Qeynos. I ran it so many times that I could have joined Orkin. Walcott's plaintive voice still echoes in my head, and the sprint up the long stairway to do the turn in at the castle really felt epic. So I was happy to see that Walcott's farm is the site of the new public quest. You can tell that something's amiss because there are large Gnoll burrows scattered all over (I bet Walcott longs for the good old days of just being terrorized by bugs!). There is also a guard patrolling the area now (he isn't really protecting the farms very well) as well as a row of farmers who aren't farming (Walcott is really in a pickle these days!).
I headed over on a mid-30s character to try it out, but if I hadn't seen the post about it, I would have run right by. In fact, I waited for almost an hour but never saw the familiar countdown clock that signals the start of the next event. I remembered that the same thing happened in the Commonlands, so I tried the next day and mentored down to level 20. Sure enough, the clock was ticking, and I was lucky on the timing because it was about to begin.
The event is similar to the ring events out in Velious. First a wave of gnoll scouts appears, making a beeline for the farmers. I tried to run in and hold them off, but they were clumped together, so I ended up moving away and picking off the ones that were spawning from the burrows further out. The nice thing is that even though I was the only player participating, the guard was assisting, as were the farmers. Next was a wave of Vanguard gnolls, and again, my strat of staying away from the clump and picking off roamers worked out well. The gnolls are level 20, an even con to my mentored toon, but I didn't have much problem with taking on two or three at a time. I noticed some fun voiceovers with these gnolls too: one taunted me, saying, "Go back to the Crypt of Decay," while another howled at me before charging in.
There was a third round of gnolls, followed by the boss gnoll, who spawned a distance away from the farmers. After taking out the boss, I had one more step in the PQ, which was to loot the chest, but unfortunately no chest appeared, so not only did I not get a chance to see the rewards, but the clock continued to tick, so I never got the closure of victory.
The public quest has a lot going for it, but I'm worried that it's going to get overlooked and that it's being added simply to mirror what was done in Freeport. When Qeynos gets revamped, there will be a new wave of players coming to try the new content and see the sights, so there's potential for some large-scale battles against the gnolls just outside the gates. But I think there needs to be a clearer call-out to let people know where it's located and how much time there is before the next event starts. Perhaps a zonewide message in town, similar to the one in Freeport that signals the execution, could help advertise it.
While I don't know how the event is being itemized, I'd love to see items that players of all levels might like so that even high-level players would be willing to mentor down to participate. Because EQII has so many non-combat activities now, there is a wide variety of things that could be offered up as rewards, such as vanity clothing, house items, and dungeon maker drops. Players don't necessarily need the Uber Sword of Uberness in order to want to do content, but there needs to be something that entices people to give it a try.
Lastly, the event could use one more change. If you step back and look at the big picture, we have one of the most iconic moments in EverQuest history right before our eyes. The Qeynos gate and the constant threat of gnolls brings to mind one name: Fippy. How cool would it be to see Mr. Darkpaw back again, screaming about his lands being ruined and making his Sisyphean charge towards the Qeynos gate? That alone would make Antonica look like the Field of Dreams (if you build it, they will come).
Overall, I think this new public quest has a lot of potential to bring together the longtime veterans and the new players who have arrived to check out the revamped city. I'm happy to see the addition of low-level PQs, and I hope the team continues to use the concept to liven up other great zones that don't see as much traffic as they used to. In the meantime, I'll be out in the fields when GU64 goes live, ready as ever to help a farmer in need.
From the snow-capped mountains of New Halas to the mysterious waters of the Vasty Deep, Karen Bryan explores the lands of Norrath to share her tales of adventure. Armed with just a scimitar, a quill, and a dented iron stein, she reports on all the latest news from EverQuest II in her weekly column, The Tattered Notebook. You can send feedback or elven spirits to firstname.lastname@example.org.