Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Visions Of Vetrovia: You Can Call It What You Want But We All Know What It Is.

All this New World all the time has knocked me out of synch with everything else. I haven't logged into EverQuest II for over a week, maybe two, so the first I knew about the official announcement for this year's expansion was when I read about it at TAGN this morning. 

Wilhelm has all the info and the links so I won't rehash the details but I would suggest, if you're at all interested, a visit to the spiffy new official web page. It's pretty. As Bree at MassivelyOp mentioned with some considerable surprise a while back, Darkpaw seem to have invested in either some new web design tools or someone who knows how to use the old ones.

The name of the new expansion, the eighteenth, is Visions of Vetrovia. It's a nice, catchy, alliterative title that follows the long established naming convention for the franchise, the one that goes "Something of Something." Seriously, fourteen of the eighteen expansions use that format. If it ain't broke...

Of course, in this case, there may be another reason. Like "If it is broke, as in "The Broken Shores", for Tunare's sake don't tell them!

Sorry, that's a bit convoluted even for this blog. Let me walk it back a step.

Here's what the press release has to say about the first of the four, new explorable zones in VoV:

Svarni Expanse

  • Located along the western shore of Vetrovia, lies what is known as the Svarni Expanse. The Svarni Gateway was once known as “Natimbi, The Broken Shores”, by the indigenous population.

Everyone knows what that means, right? No? Okay. Natimbi, the Broken Shores was the entry-level zone in EverQuest's notorious, not to say infamous, Gates of Discord expansion. 

That's right. The expansion that signalled the end of EQ's reign as the premier Western mmorpg, saw countless guilds crushed by its unforgiving difficulty curve and drove tens of thousands of players to leave the game for the comparative comforts of the nascent EQII and World of Warcraft.

Even in a business that trades on nostalgia, there are some bells you don't want to ring. I have to wonder whether anyone at Darkpaw considered calling the expansion "Desperation of Discord" or maybe even "Disasters of Discord". 

Then again, I also wonder how many current EQII players even remember the Gates of Discord expansion or its more popular sequel, Omens of War? I don't socialize much in either Norrath any more but I get the impression from the tone and tenor of global chat that there aren't that many original EQ players left in the younger game. 


The thing is, I guess, even the spin-off has been around longer than most mmorpgs ever expect to last. Those eighteen expansions represent almost two decades of continual operation. It's a long time. With a history that deep, who needs legacies?

I do remember GoD. What's more, I remember it with a surprising degree of warmth. I wouldn't go so far as to say affection but I made some lasting memories there. A few of my most intense EQ moments were spent in those terrifying, overtuned zones. Trauma like that takes a long time to fade.

I'm keen to revisit my old getting stomped on grounds although I'm not exactly sure how many of them we'll get. Of the four open-world zones that come with the Visions of Vetrovia expansion, only two specifically namecheck the originals: Natimbi and Qinimi. 

Most of the GoD zones had unusual, vaguely African-inflected names - Riwwi, Barindu, Ferubi - or ones that seemed to be missing a few vowels - Yxtta, Qvic, Tacvi. I wonder if we'll be seeing any of them? 

Even if we do, I don't imagine we'll recognize much, even those of us who were there the first time. The description of what was once Qinimi suggests not:

Forlorn Gist

  • The mysterious village that lies at the center of Vetrovia was once the location of a great city known as Qinimi, but nothing of the original structures remain, nor the structures built in their place by the invaders, known as the Muramite. No, what stands here now is a village without mercy, charity, or trust.

I won't hold my breath waiting for anything I recognize then. Just the names. 

What I will be expecting is more of the same we get with every expansion. There are, as I just said, four new overland zones: Svarni Expanse, Forlorn Gist, Karupa Jungle and Manhgavi Wastes. There's also a central city hub, Vacrul

Other than that, I'd have to say detail is a little lighter than usual. We know there's "all new solo, heroic, and raid content" but how many instances that might include doesn't get a line item. 


There also doesn't appear to be any Special Expansion Feature along the lines of Mercenaries or Overseer this year. There is an allusion to "New Feats" in the press release but only in a heading, with no subsequent gloss. "Feats" do get a whole subsection on the VoV web page, though, so I guess it's... something?

About the only specific mention of anything I could find that's definitely new is something called Tradeskill Blueprints, which "speed up your crafting for things you've already perfected." I'm sure that will be useful to someone but I can't imagine anyone getting excited about it.

There is, presumably, some kind of storyline, although the promotional material really doesn't make too much of what it might be. "Whispers can be heard in the native villages found along Vetrovia's coast of its supernatural master and the horrors it contains. But are any of them true?" That's about as vague as it gets, isn't it? It's literally a rumor.

It seems we're not going to Vetrovia to save the world, for once. We're going to explore. We're going because it's there. We're going because there's loot and five more levels!

Yes, there's a level cap increase, just like we knew there would be. Every second year the cap goes up. It's expected now. There is a surprise all the same. This time it's only five levels, taking the cap from 120 to 125 for both adventurers and crafters.

That is intriguing. In Blood of Luclin, the last time the cap went up, there were ten more levels aded. Getting them barely took a couple of sessions. I thought that was going to be it for levelling. It seemed the days when the process of getting your levels comprised a major part of an expansion's content were over. 

Maybe that was premature. If the same levelling speed applies to VoV, everyone will cap on the first day. It'll take about an hour or two. Is that really the plan? 

I kind of doubt it. Maybe we're headed back to the days when five levels took about as long as twenty-five once did. In a way I hope not. I like my levelling but I did really like the fast version, too.


I guess I could go find out. I pre-ordered the basic $34.99 package this morning and it comes with instant beta access. It's exceptionally good value. As an All Access subscriber I even get a 10% discount so the whole thing only cost me £22.61. That's less than I paid ten years ago or I think it is. Maybe it's the exchange rate...

There are absolutely no perks with the basic expansion this year, unless you count the Level 120 boost. I already have more of those than I know what to do with (literally) so I won't. Count it, I mean. Or use it, for that matter.

Oh, wait, no, I'm wrong! Buried in the detail of the press release, not listed in the specifics for each pack, there's this:

"For all editions, pre-order now and choose between one of two Feathered Stalker Pets for every character." So we do all get a toy, after all.

I did seriously consider the Collector's Edition this year. I've never bought one but at under £45 with the AA discount it does look like good value. Up-to-date, current content viable Mercenaries, Mounts and Familiars for every character on the account is very definitely pay-to-win and also would save me a whole load of time if I ever wanted to concentrate on someone other than my Berserker. 

There's also a Prestige House for every character, which is always welcome, and something new in the shape of a "Weekly Overseer Adventure". If that has rewards that can't be obtained elsewhere it might be significant. I've had some great stuff from Overseer.

Just typing all that out has me almost convinced. Luckily there's an upgrade option, so even though I've aready pulled the trigger on the basic version, if I decide I want the bells and whistles I can convert at any time. Or I think I can. I've never actually tried it. It'll work, though, right?

Finally, there's a release date. Kinda. A release window, anyway. It's December. Guaranteed delivery before the 31st.

Natimbi, here I come!


  1. I am always mildly amused by the fact that subscribers get a 10% discount off the price of expansion. Do a lot of non-subscribers buy the expansions? And this is especially relevant to EQII, which according to last year's reveal from EG7, has a very high percentage of players who are subscribers, more so than any other Daybreak title.

    1. It makes absolutely no sense but I'm not complaining. It reminds me oddly of a toy we sell at work which has a mandatory age restriction that's enforceable in law - you can't sell it to anyone under the age of three years old. We don't get a lot of unaccompanied one and two year olds paying for things with their own money. I have to wonder where they shop, that it needed a law to be passed to protect them from buying things they shouldn't.

  2. "My old getting stomped on grounds" is a great phrase. I'll have to remember to use it some time!


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