Game Update 60 heralds the first in a reported two-year rollout of endgame content involving the AgeÂs End Prophecy. SOE set up the updateÂs backstory like so:
Following the events of Sentinel's Fate, the twin Swords of Destiny, Soulfire and the Qeynos Claymore, have been drained of their powers, setting the stage for the destruction of the EverQuest universe. The prophecy known as Age's End begins to unfold in the legendary continent of Velious and it is here where the war for Norrath will arise. For there to be any chance to save Norrath, the Swords of Destiny must be restored. NorrathÂs guardians who undertake this burden will be tested by labyrinthine dungeons, the harsh Velious tundra and powerful creatures. To succeed would mean ultimate glory. To fail would mean annihilation.
According to Executive Producer Dave Georgeson, AgeÂs End has been percolating in EQ2Âs lore for years, so with GU60, how close are we to its resolution? ÂThere are two answers to that question Â one is how much adventure we have left in the story arc, and the other is how much time is left. The answer to the latter question is many, many months. We have a lot of content to go through.
ÂAnd as for where we stand in the Prophecy, well, with Destiny of Velious thereÂs the Fortress of Drunder which now stands inaccessible above the Eastern Wastes. The plot Â the twin swords and what the gods want to do with their power versus how the mortals can stop this power from shredding the universe Â really unfolds there. WeÂre probably about halfway through that prophecy right now.Â
GU60 will add three new instances and three new raids (both in the Fortress of Drunder, which is off-limits unless youÂve purchased the Destiny of Velious expansion), a number of daily missions and quests including Heritage quests, and Crystal Caverns, a throwback to the original zone in the December 2000 Scars of Velious expansion for EverQuest. Dave explained that in EQ2, Crystal Caverns is a new Heroic instance planned to be between easy and moderate difficulty.
HereÂs the never before seen synopsis of the Crystal Caverns instance for you burgeoning EQ2 lore hounds:
RyÂgorr Orcs within Eastern Wastes have unearthed a passage leading to the once thought lost Crystal Caverns. Unfortunately the caverns have grown unstable and are at threat of fully collapsing at any moment! As if that werenÂt bad enough, Queen Drachnia has found her way up to the upper tunnels and blames the coldain for the collapsing tunnels. Help the coldain rescue their brethren trapped within the caves before you become a permanent fixture among the growing crystals!
Another side of the game thatÂs getting a much needed boost is PvP. The new match type, Vanquish, will govern the game's newest battleground, Frozen Tundra, and feature up to 18 players on a side. Dave elaborated: ÂThereÂs NPCs involved Â giants on one side and Coldain dwarves on the other - and towers on each end of the battlefield.Â These NPCs will fight each other to a standstill if left alone, but players will attempt to simultaneously protect their NPCs and fight to hold the other tower. ÂThe scoring has different mechanisms, but thereÂs a lot of protect and hold as well as capture and hold elements from other PvP games you might be familiar with.Â With NPC ÂcreepsÂ thrown into the mix, Vanquish might have more than a hint of MOBA and tower defense gameplay thrown in, as well.
General PvP improvements are coming your way as well, if not in GU60, then soon after. ÂWeÂre making battlegrounds more fun and better balanced, and adding things like a lobby. What would happen before was when youÂd join a battleground, as soon as itÂs over Â bam! Â youÂre back where you were. Instead of that, we would like the PvP players to be able to work together and create a better community. So youÂll return to a lobby area Â I wonÂt spoil the surprise on what itÂs dressed up as Â and be able to hang out there and interact with merchants too.Â A new Adornments interface is on the way as well, which, according to Dave, should help players stack multiples of different colors with a flexibility players donÂt currently have.
Dave also mentioned a new token-based veteran rewards system thatÂs currently in the works, and also announced plans to add more public quests, even ones at lower levels (but no details at the moment). Dave confirmed that the Freeport revamp is still on the way, as well.
Finally, while the future of EQ2 might be uncertain, it certainly isnÂt in doubt. The destructive implications of the AgeÂs End prophecy (and even the name itself) had led some to wonder if Velious might be simply a segue to EverQuest Next. SOE has repeatedly said that EQ Next is a Norrathian retcon that takes place outside the EQ and EQ2 storyline. Dave revisited that message, reassuring us that he sees no reason why EQ2 and EQ Next couldnÂt exist Âside-by-side, in perpetuityÂ since these games are targeted at different audiences.
Though the Destiny of Velious expansion is still rolling out and will continue to do so through 2012, Dave confirmed that SOE will keep to its trend of annual EQ2 expansions. ÂThere will be an expansionÂ weÂre really excited about whatÂs going to be in the expansion. It will have nothing to do with Velious, but thatÂs about all I can say right now.Â
Thanks to SOEÂs Dave Georgeson and Ryan Peters for taking some time to share more details regarding GU60 and the Ages End Prophecy.