Last week was SoE’s yearly fan fest where they have fans from all their games get together to have fun, talk about their games, and make announcements for the year ahead. I have never really been too excited about many of their other games, so of course I want to talk mostly about what they talked about in reference with [amazonify]B001EPZD7A::text::::EverQuest 2[/amazonify]. The big announcement was their yearly expansion announcement. It isn’t ever really a surprise that they announce them, but just more what exactly will be in it.
The sad thing about the announcement is really the lack of web support for it. The website didn’t actually announce the new expansion until July 1st, about 4 days after the expansion was actually announced. This despite promising a stronger web presence with daily updates and twitter updates on the fan faire (they may have had twitter updates, I could never find their twitter account). They had their town crier & norrathian home updates before the expansion announcement, and then they quickly buried that with news of new pay items for sale. This actually worries me to some extent that the expansion is utter crap and they know it so they are trying to stop people from getting excited about it.
New Features in Sentinel’s Fate
The expansion itself is taking place in Odus. I’m a little more OK with this since TSO dealt more with revisiting old zones so having another revisit of EQ1 areas seems a little more ok to me. It also will be coming with yet another new starting city as well as a new free trial experience. I guess the Fae one was download intensive and the new one will be geared. Probably time for a new one anyway.
There will also be an increase in adventure level, guild level, and tradeskill level to 90. This was expected, SOE likes to do their level increases every other expansion and this was the time for that. They are also raising the AA cap as well as adding new AA skills to the end of the lines in the class & sub-class trees. This is a very good thing to help even out the leveling experience. Sadly, I think SOE needs to keep upping the AA with every expansion now that they are yearly expansions instead of a new expansion every 6 months. People will generally get the new level cap within 2 months, but the AA takes longer.
The big announcement I think is that they are finally doing a graphical update to the game. It isn’t much workwise for them it doesn’t seem, but it does a ton for the visual beauty of the game. They are updating shaders from 1.0 to 3.0. This makes everything lighted better, and makes the textures much more saturated. I found the following video showing the differences in Nektolus Forest, they are quite astonishing.
Other minor additions… they will be getting rid of loams, in its place they will have gem nodes to harvest instead. This should make it easier to harvest all the components for tradeskilling. Scalable instances will make a debut, this is being added to allow for non-hardcore players to at least see the end bosses and such. They won’t be getting the great loot that they drop but it will allow them to play through all the content. A good change I think. They haven’t really made an announcement as to a new race or anything like that, but I wouldn’t be surprised. What would an expansion for EQ2 be without a new race?
Upcoming EQ2 Updates
In the updates leading up to the expansion they are adding an Achievement system (not to be confused with AA) which grant new titles. This is already kind of in the game with Slayer titles, but they are expanding it to have a lot of various achievements to earn like rare harvests, # of max cap chars, etc. Players will be able to “auto-mentor” down to levels to allow them to finish grey quests and still get rewards for them, I’m not sure I like this one. And we will also see a couple of new raid zones such as the Shard of Love.
One really worrying thing I noted from the conference in relation to EQ2 was that they are slowing down the development of the game. Regular updates will be moved to once every three months, where I think it is currently every other month. And the expansion is being released in Feb of 2010, the previous schedule being every November, the new date is a full 4 months later.
This makes me think that they have started pulling developers off of EQ2, probably ue to the fact that EQ2’s population has been skydiving since the launch of Rise of Kunark. This doesn’t give me much hope for the future of the game. Some people have suspected that they are under development of Everquest 3 now, and this actually seems pretty likely. They felt they made a mistake launching EQ2 because EQ1 hadn’t totally run its course, and they were probably right. However, with the population of EQ2 dieing out now and EQ1 being 10 years old, they need to start thinking of the future of the franchise and the only way they can really do that is by launching a new game or having a new required expansion for EQ1 that completely overhauls the engine (basically a sequal and not very smart). I just hope that when they launch EQ3, they learn from their mistakes on EQ2.