Updated Thu, Apr 28, 2011 by Ethec
Game Update 60 heralds the first in a reported two-year rollout of endgame content involving the Age’s End Prophecy. SOE set up the update’s 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. Norrath’s 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, Age’s End has been percolating in EQ2’s lore for years, so with GU60, how close are we to its resolution? “There are two answers to that question – 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.
“And as for where we stand in the Prophecy, well, with Destiny of Velious there’s the Fortress of Drunder which now stands inaccessible above the Eastern Wastes. The plot – 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 – really unfolds there. We’re probably about halfway through that prophecy right now.”
GU60 will add three new instances and three new raids (both in the Fortress of Drunder, which is off-limits unless you’ve 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.
Here’s the never before seen synopsis of the Crystal Caverns instance for you burgeoning EQ2 lore hounds:
Ry’gorr 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 weren’t 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 that’s 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: “There’s NPCs involved – giants on one side and Coldain dwarves on the other - and towers on each end of the battlefield.” 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. “The scoring has different mechanisms, but there’s a lot of protect and hold as well as capture and hold elements from other PvP games you might be familiar with.” With NPC “creeps” 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. “We’re making battlegrounds more fun and better balanced, and adding things like a lobby. What would happen before was when you’d join a battleground, as soon as it’s over – bam! – you’re 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 you’ll return to a lobby area – I won’t spoil the surprise on what it’s dressed up as – and be able to hang out there and interact with merchants too.” 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 don’t currently have.
Dave also mentioned a new token-based veteran rewards system that’s 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 isn’t in doubt. The destructive implications of the Age’s 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 couldn’t exist “side-by-side, in perpetuity” 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. “There will be an expansion… we’re really excited about what’s going to be in the expansion. It will have nothing to do with Velious, but that’s about all I can say right now.”
Thanks to SOE’s Dave Georgeson and Ryan Peters for taking some time to share more details regarding GU60 and the Ages End Prophecy.