EQ2: Shadow Odyssey Announced

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!

4 Replies to “EQ2: Shadow Odyssey Announced”

  1. This isn’t entirely accurate.

    1) only the top tier guild halls will be outside the towns. The tier 1 and tier 2 guild halls replace unused buildings in towns.

    2) monsters don’t drop shards. You get shards for completing missions.

    3) The Void and Nuroga are new dungeons not seen in EQ1. The Moors of Ykesha is a new outdoor zone.

    4) there are 20 new dungeons in TSO, but I don’t know how many of them are totally new or just new to EQ2.

    5) I doubt Scott left Sony in any but the most positive way. RoK was, I believe, the most popular EQ2 expansion yet released. I think (can’t speak for him of course) that Scott just stayed with SOE until RoK was released but was planning on leaving already. Bruce Ferguson is awesome, anyway.

  2. 1) I did at least imply that not all the guild halls would be in CL & antonica (said qeynos that was incorrect), and you are right, however I wonder how effective these town ones will be, I have a feeling they will be only used by guilds who don’t care as those who want them will likely just hold out for the big ones outside town anyway. Regardless, it will empty towns even if it is in town because if you can portal to your guild hall and get everything you need in it, why leave it to go to town for anything? Which btw is part of the point I think, as they want to lower the lag in those two towns…

    2) Thanks for the correction,still seems like gold to me=)

    3) I knew void was new… didn’t know Nuroga, not familiar with EQ1 totally as I didn’t play it.. However, from what I have heard Moors of Ykesha is just renamed and it once was Innothule or something like that (I think I heard somewhere that it was Innothule at least).

    4) I hate the TSO moniker that people use, I prefer SO=P TSO just makes me think of The Sims Online lol. As for the 20 dungeons you may be right, there were also more than 4 big dungeons in RoK, however for purposes of this article I was only trying to count the biggins. Which oddly didn’t include the instance zones at all nor raid zones… from what I’ve read there will be 6 big ones in SO, and the rest would be smaller. I also don’t know if the others are part of the “wings” of the big ones which I don’t consider separate dungeons, nor if they include raid zones, which I consider completely separate as well.

    5) I’ve heard mixed things on it, that he was forced out and that he went out on his own volition. I have a feeling it wasn’t entirely chosen… it might have been one of those “mutual things.” I have heard that RoK was their best selling expansion to date, however I have a feeling it wasn’t their most popular=P I witnessed far more people leaving EQ2 because of RoK than coming into it. I actually would say that the buy rate of RoK was there because EoF was so good and RoK was supposed to be an extension of what they did in EoF which turned out to be largely false.

  3. Moors is supposed to be the cousin to EQ1’s Innothule Swamp, but it sounds like it won’t be much like it at all — not that it had much character in EQ1. Basically it was just the troll newbie zone. It won’t be that in EQ2…

  4. well yeah I wouldn’t expect it to be=P much like the iksar starting town isn’t really the same in EQ2… heck RoK changed scope quite a bit considering it is all high level pretty much and in EQ1 it wasn’t quite like that at all… still it is Innothule all the same and will likely have many reminders for the EQ1 player of that. Not that I would notice given that I did not play EQ1, I just like fresh new content. It tells me that the team might have creativity on it…

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