Everquest 2’s next expansion was announced recently, and though I don’t regularly play EQ2 anymore, I still have enough interest in the game where I feel the need to discuss this upcoming expansion a little. The expansion seems to be based completely on Dungeons, including supposedly 6 new dungeons and 5 new raids.
The dungeons themselves seem to be fairly large. I envision that they will likely be kind of like Veeshan’s Peak in RoK, where you have one really large dungeon with several wings, each wing needing to be completed seperately. You may not have to do that in SO, but I bet the idea will be the same with seperate halls in each large dungeon that allows you to pick where you go. This idea could be either good or bad. Good in that it allows the devs to concentrate on just a handful of themes while giving the players a large amount of content in return. Bad in what I think of when I think of the dungeon zones in, in particular Chardok. Chardok was a great zone for groups, however, the stuff worth going to was such a pain to get to, no one went to it and thus the zone in itself got largely unused. I could see this happening again. If a group has to go through small group/low level stuff to get to the good stuff and spend an hour just to get to the spot, no one will use it. The devs will have to be careful on how they implement this.
One thing about this expansion and its focus on dungeons that I’m really pleased about is that these new dungeons largely seem to be in the older lands. If you’ve followed my posts at all, you know this was one of the top things I wanted out of the next expansion. Well it looks like some wishes do come true (should have wished for something better!). Befallen for instance is being said to be placed in Commonlands, and Najena will be in Lavastorm. This in conjunction with recent makeovers in older zones like Everfrost, should really rejuvinate some of the really old zones and make them more used. On top of that, this should help mix in old players with new players making the game as a whole feel a little less empty.
Making the world feel a little more empty is the fact that Guild Halls will be the “free” addition for this expansion. Every expansion comes with it a main feature that all players get regardless of if they buy the expansion. Guild Halls will certainly be the new money drain, costing tons of cash for guilds, but will provide really nice features such as teleporters to other lands, teleporters to member housing, fuel merchants, crafting station, writ givers, status merchants, banks, mailboxes, brokers, and that’s just to name a small portion of the new features. These halls for the most part will be placed on “islands” out in commonlands and Qeynos, further weakening any point in starting in the newer towns that they keep on adding (which really sucks as Neriak is by far my favorite town to live in). These halls in conjunction with beacans to teleport you back to them should sufficiently vacate all towns of any remaining life and make them all ghost towns which is too bad. Though I really like the concept of guild halls, I have yet to see them done right, and this doesn’t seem to be it either.
Another new feature that they are touting with this expansion is a “shard” system. Basically shards will now drop off monsters, and with these shards you can go to merchants in town to purchase decent loot. It seems to me this type of system has been around before.. not only as a direct shard comparison, but also as what we in the industry like to call gold. Long ago, we knew gold as this thing that drops off stuff you kill which you can go back to town and use to buy items and such. It is truly an innovation by SoE. These sort of things seperate from Gold, is very difficult to balance. I understand the desire by SoE to offer players a better way for them to be able to get the loot that each player particularly wants AND allow for casual players to be able to attain good loot, but this likely won’t work. It seems to me how this usually ends up being is that either the items will be so good that no one will need to raid, or the items will be so bad that no one will want them (ala the items you can buy with gold). I just think this is a waste of time.
The last thing I think i will mostly go in depth into is that I really think that this expansion should have been an expansion filled with new content. And by new content I don’t mean stuff that wasn’t around in EQ2 before, I mean stuff that wasn’t around EQ before. Instead of doing 5 or 6 dungeons that everyone has seen before in EQ1, I would have liked them to do 2 or 3 dungeons everyone remembers, and then 2 or 3 brand spanking new dungeons that no one has seen that are completely unique to this game. The last two expansions have been mostly recycled material, and that is fine, many EQ1 players really like it. But at some point they need to differentiate themselves from EQ1 a bit and this was the time to do it again. I don’t mind revisiting, they just need to also get more newer stuff in here. That being said, it isn’t entirely old. There will be one goddess entering the game who never appeared in EQ1, I also think the dungeon named The Void is completely new to EQ2. This has certainly been how they deal with recycling is that they will bring 1 or 2 new things each recycled expansion. I just think they need to bring in more.
There are also smaller things around this expansion that could be good. 60 new AA points, AA tradeskills, AA class-specifics, tradeskill missions, yet another new race (supposedly another erudin-type race), likely a new player city (to go along with the new erudin), and I’m sure that the guild halls will bring with them plenty of brand new recipes that tradeskillers will enjoy. But these seem rather minor all in all. I remember a time when a new city & race were huge, but now they are standard. The AA additions seem like they are must-haves considering the lack of any new levels, and in fact because of that seem minor.
Overall, I feel skeptikal about this upcoming expansion by Sony. Rise of Kunark was so bad that it may very well have cost the producer his job. And it does bring me hope that there is a new producer in charge of this one. However, I’m already noticing some glaring design flaws and barely anything has been said about it as of yet. It also seems fairly shallow and that there may not in fact be much to enjoy. I mean 6 big dungeons and 1 big land area may all be well and good, but RoK had 4 really big above ground zones and 4 big dungeon zones and THAT felt shallow. It’ll be interesting to see how this one turns out. I surely want to pre-order it just in case it is great, as I want that bear mount!