So now that I have gone a little further into the Rise of Kunark expansion I thought I’d give more in depth thoughts on the expansion. So far, my thoughts on the game have been fairly cosmetic. I like the largeness of the world, but hate how the world now looks and feels like WoW.
I forgot to mention the new “dynamic combat music” that they added into the game and overall I would say it is a resounding “bleh.” I think it is a great idea, but the music doesn’t seem to change at all in combat, any more than it did previously. I wonder how much time and effort they have wasted on this non-feature because it could have been used much better than this. Maybe in some respects they can take comfort in knowing that I can’t tell that the music is dynamic… but I think the unfortunate part is that they made all the dynamic bits sound the same and they all sound extremely drab so it’s just as bad as if you were listening to the old static music. I think a more productive idea would have been to add 4 or 5 new songs into it, maybe have a different song for each type of mob (normal, heroic, group, x2, and x4) and then in the future add new kinds of music for special zones or just to mix it up from time to time. At least this idea would have brought variety to the music (the one upshot of it is that the combat music does seem to change somewhat based on the zone you are fighting in which is similar to what I’m talking about).
Gameplay itself… this was a travesty of the game. I’m not exactly sure what exactly they were thinking here. Quests are amazingly good… obviously a nod to WoW design. You generally get 2-5% xp from completing a quest, plus xp, plus a fairly nice piece of equipment (usually better than what you would get off from mobs just by killing them). Mosts quests you can do solo, with a few heroic quests thrown into ends of lines with better loot rewards. It is also good to note that many of the quests are not group friendly, this is especially true in Kylong Planes. This means that if you have a quest to get 6 Drachnid Silks, you often need to do it for each member of the group so if you have a full group that is 36 drachnids.
Mobs themselves are fairly worthless, it seems the drop rate on chests has gone down significantly, and xp at 70-73 is about .1% per mob and above that it goes down significantly. Dungeons aren’t any better on xp, and at least in Karnor’s Castle the loot is even worse. They recently doubled the xp in dungeons and after going to KC with a group we quickly realized that with the increased xp, it still wasn’t worth grouping in the dungeons. This is how bad traditional group xp has been in this expansion.
Still, the xp from quests is so good, that many people have already leveled to 80 and gotten some of the first sets of good gear and even progressed through much of the raid instances already. At this point I’d also like to note that there is a weird juxtaposition within the game. It is incredibly easy to level due to the ease of quests (some of which give you 3% xp and 14g just for walking 20 feet and talking to an NPC), yet I think many classes suffer. Any class with a basic mez and decent dps should be able to solo their way to 80 easily, in fact probably faster than it took to get from 60 to 70. Yet rangers and healers for sure are often having a difficult time with the mobs. This is due to the fact that the mobs themselves hit really really really hard and often times stun. If you can keep these mobs away from you they are easy, even if you have one other player they tend to be easy. But here’s the rub, no one is looking for groups from 70-76 until the high level instances to show up. This is largely due to the inconvenience that is grouping together to do quests mixed with the lack of places to xp as just a group.
So the basic point is, if you got a constant group around in your guild or friends in which you can all do quests at the same time, you will likely hit 80 within 2 weeks fairly easily, but if you are in a small guild or on at times when others aren’t, you will find it painful to play this expansion. In fact, I have personally given up on the expansion entirely and gone to harvesting tier 5 instead.
What makes this expansion even more frustrating, is on top of the already more hard hitting mobs, Sony in their great wisdom has decided that healers don’t need mitigation and thus they only decided to put in leather for healers in the expansion until you hit the high level sets. This is awful because the balance that was in place was that Druids did more dps and in exchange they lost armor (glass cannon theory). Well the chain and plate healers lost their armor without getting anything in return.
I’m not exactly sure what drugs Sony was taking on this expansion, but it was not good. They said that they had a lot of the same devs as EoF, and they were trying to build upon the good things they did in EoF… yet here we are and EoF is one of the best MMO expansions I have ever seen, and RoK isn’t even close. I think on EQ2 alone it ranks #3 out of 4, just ahead of DoF (I never liked DoF because there wasn’t a lot of area too it, the only thing they really added was 10 levels and climbing, and while climbing has gotten progressively better with each expansion, it wasn’t enough to justify an expansion). If Sony honestly thought RoK was building on the positives of EoF, they lost something in translation. They must have thought the only good things in EoF was a new race, old content, and larger zones… these things they have done again. But what was brilliant about EoF was also the secondary tradeskills, cloaks, second earring, fleshing out missing content spans (zones like Crushbone and Klak really did a lot to fill in some gaps previously inherent in the game).
Even the lessons they “learned” were screwed. Yes it also had good quests with useful rewards and decent xp, but it was well balanced, dungeons and zones were given for nearly every level that also had good xp and loot. You could solo, but you could group. The raids in EoF were actually harder than ones in KoS which from all accounts were harder than the ones in RoK. I realize that part of SOE’s new plan is to put the good cotent in at a later time (such as Throne or Unrest in EoF), but they should provide something to those people playing now and they also better come up with more than 2 decent zones in the next year because this expansion is lacking something fierce. The new race was interesting, but they stuck it even further in the middle of nowhere than Kelethin was… to this day I have attempted only once to visit there and gave up because I couldn’t figure out when the lifts would come down to get me (not even sure I was in the right place but think I was). I’ve heard that there is no way to get from Timorous Deep to any of the high level zones, which I can kind of understand because you don’t want low levels stumbling in but at the same time, why is it harder to go 1 mile away than it is to go 1000 miles away? Gorowyn is actually BETWEEN qeynos and Kylong Planes on the map, yet the boats make no stop at Gorowyn for any of the old cities, go figure. There are also no druid rings or spires to TD the way there were for Kelethin, people complained enough about transportation to Kelethin, Gorowyn is 10 times worse. The zone bigness is their other big lesson learned and they are bigger, in fact this is the only thing that Sony did right by this expansion.
After a few days of playing, I think I gave RoK about a B- which is respectable. After a couple weeks, I give them a solid D. The only thing that really saves this expansion is the big zones, and honestly I also liked the rework on racial traits which was badly needed IMHO. I think these features alone really did a good job at placing it ahead of Pillars of Flame which was the first expansion, but comes no where close to Kingdom of Sky or Echoes of Faydwer. With their recent commitment to not add any more adventure packs and not to release more than one expansion a year, EQ2 is now in trouble because I’m considering canceling my account after 2 weeks, how they going to fill the other 50 weeks?