Now that Rise of Kunark has settled in, and mostly disappointingly at that… I have started thinking about the next expansion and how they can move this game forward….
Looking at the bunch of expansions there are some things worth noting… I think the current progression of what worked best and what hasn’t is Eof, KoS, and then RoK and DoF are very close to each other. Currently I would rank RoK slightly ahead of DoF which was an expansion that I never liked in the least bit, both in theme and in content. Before I began my ideas, I wanted to do a quick rundown on the positives and negatives of each of the expansions to date.
DoF +: Different landscape than had been in game, climbing, PvP… -: Largely reused creatures, crappy and worthless city, arena never was fleshed, badly designed areas
KoS +: Really cool areas, good and challenging raids & instances, AA… -: Was sometimes a pain to travel around, small zones meant lots of load times, inclusion of AA helped some on lower levels but wasn’t much for anyone other than 60+
EoF +: Something for everyone, really well designed and funny quests, large & vertical zones, the dynamics of the race was cool & refreshing, new AAs to balance, secondary tradeskills were great, challenging raids… -: raids were sometimes too hard for much of the population, despite majorly filling in some large gaps in game play thanks to zones like Klak & Crushbone, there was still a huge gap from about 58-66.
RoK +: Ginormous zones!, interesting though fairly basic race, decent instances, some areas are really cool & interesting to visit (entrance of Chardok)… -: WoWization of EQ2 (too easy, too brainless, no group dynamics whatsoever until you get to the harder instances, too focused on questing, bad & cheezy graphics often a problem), there seems to be a giant raid gap where the real raiding guilds find the raids far too easy while everyone else can’t even get past the first tier, the loot is god awful, most of the time being worse than anything from the previous two expansions. And just god awful contested content.
So why the recap? My big idea for how to deal with the upcoming expansion is to essentially revamp the game as is…. I can imagine a lot of people would think this is a silly idea. But the reason behind it is good. While Qeynos in particular maintains its dominance as the city of choice, the areas of the old world are largely underused (with the exception of Runnyeye which is still one of the most popular dungeons in the 30s and almost always you can find a group running it), this is largely because EoF really changed the scope of everything because it was so good, and also because server numbers are down and now anyone restarting is likely starting in one of the newer cities (they spread out the newbs!). A way to fix this is to revitalize the content. People are bored with Commonlands and Antonica and Feerrott… I think this is part of the reason why EoF was received so well, people needed new stomping grounds in the lower levels.
But my idea isn’t only to just make the old content interesting again, it is to do a better job of interweaving levels. One thing I have absolutely adored about EoF was not only that a level 10 could conceivably run into Loping Plains on accident and get his ass handed to him, but also that the whole zone ran from 1-25 pretty much. That and the bigger zones and my idea brings me to the thought of a combining of zones to make for larger old zones. Under this plan Antonica & Thundering Steppes; Commonlands, Nektolos Forest, & Darklight Wood, Rivervale & Enchanted Lands, and Sinking Sands & Pillars of Flames would be combined using the RoK technology to make the super zones come alive in these older zones.
In addition to this combination, we would see new content brought to life within these older zones. The first that I’d like to see added is new areas added via climbing. Many of the old zones have unreachable mountains that we could go up. Now these mountains were never intended to be used as play areas and thus they are often too narrow to use as solid areas… however you could easily create a climbing area in some of these sections and add high level guards and create a raid instance in the heart of thundering steppes. New ways to climb in these areas would be a really nice and easy way to really add to the game! In addition, old instances like FMG, Bloodskull, and some of the contested ones like Wailing Caves and Blackburrow would receive a revamp. Some would get level bumps (what if you made Bloodskull into a level 30 group instance and moved the heritage out?), and some could receive new areas (Blackburrow is currently a small zone, maybe we could unearth a new previously unknown cavern). I think this is important on some of the older unused zones like Blackburrow or Bloodskull that could find new uses.
With these reworks, I think it’d be cool to redo some of the graphics as well and add some new foes to the areas we know and love, make them more dynamic… add some one up nameds like the new low level areas have, take out heroic non-dungeon areas like Rivervale and Lavastorm (leave some parts heroic to keep things interesting but LS & EF especially were initially meant to be end zone contents and thus the difficulty of them was high, now they are long in the tooth and hard to play cause they weren’t meant for smaller groups/solo). I’d like to see them also pick two or three old enemies and come up with new and updated graphics to those as well as sound… who isn’t sick of hearing the cackle of the skeletons? Even if there was a different cackle to listen to, it might be nice. What about new effects for items both new and old to really add some jazz to them? Looking at some of the pictures of the epic weapons coming up, they look pretty awesome and I think this is going to be a direction that SOE goes with in future expansions so this will need to occur retroactively at some point.
I’d like to see an addition of 2 new secondary tradeskills. I think that Tinkering & Transmuting were a great sucesses! They are difficult, useful, and make for a good money sink all at the same time, but the problem with them is that there are only two and only limited uses of each. Tinkering seems to be the more useful of the two in the long run given its no-trade items, but you do need a few transmuting items. It’d be nice if there was more options as a group. That being said I don’t know what they would add. Once upon a time, I thought item appearance changing (both in color and form) would be interesting to add into a secondary tradeskill but with the addition of the appearance tabs and the obvious use of them in higher level tradeskills (very colorful I think so that people will want them even if they don’t equip them), this might not be as nice. And you don’t want to add too much more in the way of benefits and what not or make current tradeskills/mobs useless… however, one thing I think you could do is maybe add a slotting procedure where the new tradeskiller could create a slot or two or even three in an item to put transmuted items in. This would be extremely limited though. Still I’d like to see something in this manner.
I’d also like to see 4 new classes added to the game… one for each main type… fighter, mage, cleric, and scout. Though honestly I think this might be a tall order in one expansion and would settle for 2 (I’d suggest Scout & Tank first) and do the other two in the following expansion after that. My choice for these would be a kinetics-like healer (kinetics from CoH… basically they dmg/debuff opponents in order to heal/buff the group.. it offers a really interesting dynamic into the game that this one doesn’t have), a mage-like fighter (I really enjoyed both the reaver and the thane in dark age of camelot, if they could make maybe a chain tank with some offensive spells I think it would create a very different setting for a tank (yes I know SK does this currently, but I mean one that can do serious damage which is offset by their worse armor, maybe also taking away shield or at least anything but a buckler not that most tanks use more than a buckler)), the beastlord as a scout (i’m torn on this largely because we have a lot of pet classes and this class would be a disappointment regardless in this game because it likely wouldn’t be overpowered… however there isn’t a class with a pet that has no ability to range attack so I think that would be a decent combo here, give it some nice debuffs and average dps and you all of sudden have a somewhat different scout class), and for mage… I don’t know but it seems like the mages we have aren’t at all interesting. I realize classes aren’t easy to deal with because of raid & group dynamics needing to get balanced with them in it, but this would be a much better way to go than yet another race and yet another new city. Keep the cities we have, give the races a break and make some new classes. One thing I noticed with the Sarnak is that while I wanted to try them, I’ve played most of the main class types and am bored of what they had to offer, thus I didn’t really know what to play as a Sarnak… and so didn’t. This can be alleviated a bit, also add 2 new char slots with this expansion to help (expansion only though! don’t make it something everyone gets, make this something you get with the expansion.
Package Bloodlines & Splitpaw into this expansion as perks. This way those who didn’t buy them yet, will finally get them. And in so doing also bring the explosives into the normal game. This is something that could be done not only in the original content, but also DoF & KoS to really spice up zones. I would say include Fallen Dynasty into this as well and then you guys would get cheap new zones at every level, but FD was a great AP on its own and is still worth the buy. The other two really aren’t anymore and would be more to make life easier on those of us who have it to group there since they have group zones in them.
Increase the guild cap, tradeskill cap and level cap by 5 instead of 10, and then do the following expansion by 15. I Know this would be unorthodoxed, and unlikely, but it would give a greater intrinsic value that would be easy to see. It would allow some of the newer zones to be this new 80=90 level range that would need to be filled and give people something to work on. In addition to this add a new level to the AA lines. You could do one of three things… add a new skill after each line, add a new general class line (so instead of 5 lines there would be 6 to the shaman line, perhaps you could do something unique here too like adding a little of every stat or mitigation, or maybe improving a base quality of the class), or you could add an entirely new tree that would contain general things that any class could access (this tree could have a tradeskill line in it, or travel lines, or maybe a line that could reduce cost of menders & housing, etc).
If the guild housing isn’t in yet, this would be the perfect opportunity to add some. I’d also like to see some new patterns for the guild heralds (both in the basic symbol as well as trimmings that could be added to the cloaks), and honestly also wouldn’t mind seeing personal patterns (so you could choose to display a guild logo or one that you made just for yourself). I would like to see a general sweep of guild rewards to be more all encompassing. I have a feeling that some of the guild housing plans are going to do just that, but I think it is silly to have 80 levels and at best you get something every 5. Give us more for these levels at different intervals! And if you are going to wow-ize everything, why not take their banking idea and make it so guild bank is box slotted instead of tabbed and the guild levels would grant access to a new slot, where each additional one would cost more and then you’d need to put a bag in it. It wouldn’t be much but would be a minor cash drag on the economy and would also give carpenters a little more work (btw isn’t it ironic that EoF did such a great job at money drains and then RoK just went and killed all that work?)
New Underwater zones!!! I think this is generally something a lot of people have kind of wanted for awhile. There are some pretty cool underwater areas in RoK (In Seb mainly), and I’d like to see more complete zones. You could do this by basically connecting some of the older zones (so you could potentially have an area between Nek & thundering steppes underwater). This could also open up lost areas (though I don’t know the lore well so they may not be as lost as I think) like Grobb, Oggokk (this i think is in or near one of the dungeons currently), najena, guk, befallen, etc (I know odus is also wanted but think they should hold off for a bit on it still, I honestly think on the next expansion they should have mostly brand new content with a touch of eq1 addition). If they still don’t want to do pure underwater areas, I would suggest adding some new planes with this expansion but if they ever touch those planes seriously more than they currently have… for the love of god don’t make the mistakes they made in EQ1 with the planes.
3 New Deities… Don’t know anything about the EQ deities really so can’t make any particular note on what would be good… though I’d like to see a new tradeskill one that might help secondary tradeskillers in some fashion… I actually really enjoyed the RoK Deities as i think they added a lot to the game. If they bring in new classes, it wouldn’t be a long shot to have a new deity that favors them. Also in with this, I am not sure if RoK will eventually get T8 god powers, but obviously if it doesn’t this, and maybe another addition to the god powers should be made in this expansion to further flesh out that system. (Actually guild gods might be a kind of cool twist where maybe a guild could worship a neutral god in addition to personal gods and the leader could sacrafice status for a guild wide power… would be interesting).
If you can’t tell, what I think was really special about EoF was the little bit of everything that they had. It offered great areas for all levels, new challenging high level conten, great loot, and new things to do. These are things I’d really like to see repeated in some fashion in the next expansion.
Finally… my pipe dream that wouldn’t happen in a million years… I think it’d be a great storyline if the dragons got fed up with the people of Norrath, came down and devastated Freeport and Qeynos. This would be a great live event too of having everyone come and try to protect the cities against the dragons. And could have potential of getting rid of the good vs evil system that remains on the non-pvp servers. But in the end the dragons would defeat the cities, destroying them and thus transforming the cities and he areas around them into high level zones, instances and raiding areas. Wouldn’t it be cool if like Freeport turned into a level 90 raid zone? Or if Stormhold became one of the standard instances?) Or to go near the old city gates and see everything burned and scorched, dead bodies littering everywhere… it would make for a really classic event that I think anyone involved in would remember for years to come. Though I think you could make it so that “survivors would get moved to the newer cities… forcing such a move I think would be the main reason why SOE would never touch this idea… though I think it would make for a great expansion and would really help the game out by lowering the amount of new player areas dramatically.