Ten Ton Hammer Tour of Echoes of Faydwer
by: Tony "RadarX" Jones
This, of course, was Raijinn's subtle signal to go ahead with my plans for Ten Ton Hammer to conduct our own tour. He reaffirmed his approval as I walked away by saying: "Seriously, do you know me?"
One of the crown jewels of the expansion is a new race: The Fae. Everyone has heard about them and seen screenshots. If you are anything like me, you've ridiculed them endlessly. I do have to admit, begrudgingly, that they actually do look very cool floating around. There are numerous wing options, but I've yet to find anything that looks manly enough for me to be comfortable playing one. They are a very cool race, though.
The theme of this expansion seems to be nostalgia. Original Everquest players are going to eat this up. It was very cool to see so many of the places I remember from the original game. There are some new additions, of course, and things won't be exactly as you remember. However, every now and then you'll go, "Oh yeah! I remember that!"
First on the list of places to visit is Kelethin. The Fae's starting city is built, well, exactly like the old city from Everquest. There are a few cosmetic differences, though. The first, of course, being the buildings. Giant acorns. These buildings sit on platforms connected to each other by bridges. With no railings. No more running around while tabbing between multiple windows. What can you find in this wonderful city? Everything. Housing, (disturbingly round), a bank, class trainers, crafting machines, quests, you name it.
I made it to level six and decided it was time to look around. I made my way toward where I'd heard I could find Crushbone. To be honest, it takes a lot to impress me. Crushbone did the job. After going through a long tunnel, I arrived in a large area dotted over with a few orc camps and tents. As they did in Everquest, the orcs keep slaves for labour and they appear to be unearthing something like a meteor (which, to my disappointment, held no face eating aliens). I made my way into Crushbone Keep, and let me tell you, this dungeon should be interesting. It seems to be designed for people in the high teens to low 20's. I was expecting it to be an instance, but it's an open dungeon. There were so many orcs hanging around it was nearly impossible to move through the halls, even while invisible. I tried anyway. What I managed to catch a glimpse of,before being one shotted, looked excellent.
I still had at least forty percent to go on my armour, so I decided to explore some more. Next on my list was the gorgeous city of New Tunaria. Ignoring the warnings of the guards, I proceeded into the city. There, I ran into the high level sentries. Of course, they saw through my invis. Not to be deterred, I rushed by them, almost dodging the attack that was ten times my hitpoints. Eventually, I was able to sneak by. For some reason, this group has become very xenophobic. I'm surprised that the residents didn't try to kill me as well. The city itself is absolutely gorgeous, as you can see from the screenshots. So, it's possible they figure dwarves will dirty it up some. Totally unfair, I say! Definitely look forward to this higher end zone.
From there, it was time to leave the relative "safety" of Faydark and make my way through Butcherblock. Now, being a dwarf on most of my characters, I was elated to see Butcherblock in the game at last. I'd heard rumours of other Dwarven ruins, but was satisfied just seeing the Butcherblock Mountains. Moving through a number of level 20ish kobolds and wolves, I made my way to the first set of ruins. That is where I started to weep. DWARVES, BABY!!! The buildings were the fabled Ironforge. My dwarven kin were running around like they owned the place. Which, I guess, they kind of do. This is a safe place to rest, visit the vendor, and probably mend as well.
On a side note, it seems that SOE has listened to the players about having more places to take a break from adventuring. Places to heal up, mend, vendor their trash loot, etc. There appear to be a number of strategically placed rest areas throughout the expansion.
I travelled through the rest of Butcherblock, and besides an amazing view of the ocean and it's islands, I saw something else so beautiful that words fail me. Kaladim. Yes, home. I rushed toward the gates, tears streaming down my face. My tears of joy were quickly dried by the 50ish level heroic guard who pulled a Mortal Kombat fatality on me. After my spine was properly reinserted, I made my way back a little more carefully. I learned that apparently Kaladim had been overrun by kobolds. A travesty. Clearly this will be one of the first places I go in an effort to cleanse my homeland of the vermin.
The next place on the agenda was Steamfont. I'd been hearing a lot about it, so I was excited. Giant, evil, aggro robots? Yes, please! Steamfont more than lives up to the old world feel from the original Everquest. There are mountains, trails, craters, and geysers. Crawling with wolves, spiders and more frelling kobolds, you'll find plenty to keep you busy. One of the more interesting features in Steamfont, is the gnomish safe area, aptly named, "Gnomeland Security Headquarters." Here, you'll find crafting stations, a mailbox, a banker, and just about anything else you could need. Plus, OH MY GOD, battlebots!! You HAVE to see the battlebots.
I'd heard rumours that Ak'Anon was supposed to be in the expansion as well. Happily, these proved to be true statements, as I discovered when the wonderful Niami directed my past the hordes of renegade mechanical menaces. Apparently, the gnomes broke everything, as usual. So now, the ruined city is filled with more dangers than the movie, Runaway. They even have metal spiders, which... really creep me out. I'm sure all of you have read about the uber raid bot at the bottom of the zone. If you haven't, well, he'll be hard. Let's just leave it at that.
There was just one zone left on my list (not counting Castle Mistmoore, which is just super cool). The Loping Plains. I didn't see this mentioned on any of the tours, but it has to be one of my favourite zones, so far. Think Castlevania and old Dracula movies rolled into one. For starters? REAL ZOMBIES!!! No, not the "flesh peeled off" zombies like in Antonica or Nek Castle. We're talking lumbering, foot dragging, weapon scraping, risen dead, chasing you. Did I mention there were zombies? (Editor's note: We're getting him help for his zombie fetish, really.) Also in this zone, there's a small Transylvania-looking town, complete with large graveyard, an amazing looking church, and all the amenities you could possibly need to rest from a long day of adventuring.
My overall impression of Echoes of Faydwer is positive. Graphically, the game looks good, as I've come to expect from SOE. The zones are colourful and they've captured the essence of the original Everquest. Also, the Fae look amazing.
With regards to gameplay, it seems like the new Alternate Advancement trees will provide some much desired customization. Additionally, you'll now be able to choose a diety. There is still extensive testing being done on the combat revamp and, as usual, there are concerns from the raiders about the high end game. I, personally, haven't seen a lot of it, but I expect it should be complete before the end of beta. I'm fairly certain there will be plenty of content in the expansion to keep everyone happy.
The new additions to tradeskills; Transmuting, Tinkering, and Adorment should provide crafters with all new abilities and toys with which to play. I've had the pleasure of chatting with Niami about the new skills and I'm excited to see something new just for the crafters. There are some other new additions to tradeskilling, but I'm sure that Niami will be reporting on these and far better than anyone else could.
The expansion seems to be shaping up rather well. It looks nice, there is a ton of new content including the new gods quests and a few new heritage quests. The new race looks great and the new starting city will be a very welcome improvement. The testing continues and as time goes on, more and more stuff is fixed up and ready to go. Look for Echoes of Faydwer to hit the shelves around November 14th. Be sure to pick up your copy.
And get a look at more exclusive screenshots right here!
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