Wednesday, August 21, 2019

News From Norrath: EverQuest, EQII

Since a significant portion of my search traffic comes from people looking up stuff about EverQuest and, particularly, EQII, I thought I'd throw this up quickly as a public service. Rather than rely on me, though, if anyone is playing or following EQ, I'd strongly recommend you bookmark The Everquest Show, or add it to your RSS feed. It's fast becoming the best source of news on EverQuest. It also covers EQII to an extent but for the moment I think I'm ahead of them there!

I can't claim any credit for finding The Everquest Show. Wilhelm did that. I just jumped on the train as soon as he told me about it. After a slow start it's really picking up speed. It's also in the blog roll to the right so all the new posts should appear at the top as they come out.

Holly "Windstalker" Longdale, EQ Franchise Producer, who I was bigging up the other day for Developer Appreciation Week, released two Producer's Letters today, one for each game. Both come with screenshots from the forthcoming expansions and The Everquest Show have some extra exclusive shots on top of that.

The EverQuest screens look amazing. Apparently the game now has "ice shaders" for the first time in twenty years and considering the extreme age of the engine the difference they make is stunning. The titles and theme of the expansions haven't been announced yet but it's entirely obvious that EQ players will be headed back to Velious.

This autumn is a much bigger deal for EQII players than their EQ cousins, who had their time in the sun back in the spring when the 20th Anniversary rolled around. EQII hits fifteen in November and there look to be plenty of celebrations coming down the pipe. EQ will also be supporting the anniversary, as EQII supported EQ's 20th earlier in the year.

Both games are getting a new progression server but they look to be radically different from the norm. In EverQuest "Players will start as Level 85 Heroic Characters with experience gain at the same rate as live servers. Content up to the House of Thule expansion will be available at launch with expansions unlocking every 2 – 3 months". House of Thule, the seventeenth expansion, raised the level cap to 90, which is where the current Heroic Character cap is set, so that makes sense.

The new EQII server sounds... odd: "Start as a Heroic Character with all content unlocked up to the Chaos Descending expansion and live server (normal) experience rates!". Chaos Descending is the current expansion so I can't quite see how that's going to work. It will be one expansion behind the Live game but otherwise functionally identical. Holly does say it will have "a unique rule-set" so I guess we'll just have to wait for the full details.

There's precious little information on offer about the expansion itself.  The Producer's Letter has a single teaser screenshot. It looks gorgeous but I have no idea where it might be. There's a Wizard Spire in the background and some creature I don't recognize at the front. It reminds me a little of Odus but really it could be anywhere.

One tidbit of hard data: EQ2's sixteenth expansion will release in December. Pretty much what I expected, not least because they won't want it to crash the anniversary celebrations.

Those include "new content for Heroes’ Festival" and "a completely new server-wide event on live servers". What's more, "the dragon-themed event will come with a reward that is a FIRST-EVER for EverQuest II players". That has really got me thinking. It almost sounds like a new addition to the game - a new gear slot or type of companion for example.

Before then we have the third year of Panda quests and the Karnage in Kael update, both of which drop on the 27th of this month. Intriguingly and possibly revealingly, Holly says the update "wasn’t originally planned for the year", which, given its release date, does suggest a counter-measure to WoW Classic. Personally I plan to play both. I resubbed today and so did Mrs Bhagpuss.

Other than that there will be Labor Day weekend bonuses and the now-traditional Gear-up, Level-up event in September as we slide downhill towards the expansion. Both games also have their current expansion at half price as of today.

Last and for me least, since there's no earthly or Norrathian chance I'll be attending, the team is still trying to assess the potential interest in a get-together. There's a poll/survey you can fill in on Google Docs if you think you might be interested.

And that's your lot - for now!

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