The Rise Of Kunark
Will It Be All That We Hope For?
The official announcement of the Rise of Kunark was a much anticipated final word over the many rumors that we have been hearing for months.
I think that a lot of us in the community had gotten bits and pieces of news, here and there, that tipped us off that the old world of Kunark would be included in the next expansion. The details had been very hazy, and I actually hadn't thought that a level cap raise would be ordered, but in that, I was mistaken!
So what features can we look forward to, which do we love, and which give us a bit of doubt?
New Player Race
As I said in my Look Towards 2007 article, the Sarnak would be my pick for a new playable race. I thought that they should be evil as I had never seen a trace of good in these vile villains in EverQuest I, but I imagine to balance out the good vs. evil race selection that it made sense to make them neutral. They have undergone some sort of magical change, so perhaps that will explain why they would be suited to be a good race. In the least it will be exciting to see how the struggle between the Sarnak and the Iksar play out, as they learn to live, once again, on Norrath together.
New Starting Area
I'm sensing a trend in recent days with new races and new starting zones. I had always previously liked that the different races had their own "home field" in EQ1, and it seems that EQ2 is taking on that idea and running with it. The whole idea of many races living together in harmony thing within Qeynos and Freeport seems very weak lore-wise. Can you imagine the Iksar and Sarnak living together in Freeport? It isn't a very likely scenario when you visit the history between the two races. So we applaud this move, and enjoy having a variety of new places to start in when we roll a new character race!
Level Cap Raise
I've been sitting at level 70 for a while, as a lot of us have, so raising the level cap to 80 will in the least, give us something else to strive for, but is this cap raise being used to mask a possible serious problem with character advancement?
The problem with level cap raises is that when new players come into game, they see the end of the road and it looks to be so far away. This gives the ultimate need for a very good lower level game, and I'm not sure that EQ2 excels in this arena. Variety, population, and intriguing quest lines are going to be so very needed to keep the younger characters happy, and not just from levels 1-20, but in those sometimes tedious median levels where a lot of us seem to get hung up at, and are often forgotten when expansion times rolls around.
Another potential issue is that end game content isn't getting the attention that it needs. Yes, they keep adding it, but it is being added up and not out. Again, variety is going to always be a big factor in keeping players happy, and while giving us another 10 levels to grind out is a way to keep us momentarily occupied, what happens when the masses are again sitting at cap? Will we have enough to do, and will it keep us interested? This becomes a very real concern, particularly since it seems we will only be seeing one new expansion a year.
Not that many new zones will be added in comparison to what we saw with Echoes of Faydwer, but the zones will be larger, and done a bit more seamlessly. It has long been a call from the community to give us less zoning, and this seems to be the answer.
I love the idea of large, expansive zones, as long as I don't see ridiculous lag in these areas when they get heavily populated, and as long as good transportation across the zone is readily available (such as the griffons and horses in some of the current large zones).
Which zone am I looking forward to the most? I was always a big fan of the Lake of Ill Omen, and I cannot wait to see it again, re-interpreted and re-born from the minds of the EverQuest II team!
The downside? It seems that if you are in middle levels, you won't be seeing much new in the way of scenery. This expansion is going to be intended for the noobs starting out, and the higher end population. After the release of Echoes of Faydwer, which managed to touch upon every level range, it doesn't seem they see the need for more content in those middle levels. I don't know the stats on how many characters are sitting at levels 21-60, but I'm sure it has to be quite a few, and it is really too bad that they cannot fit a little bit of something in for everyone when it comes to adventuring content.
Epic Weapon Quests
I can go for this! I love the fact that this will be something made somewhat available to all players with rewards within the quest that don't require a raid, but the option will still be there is you want to go above and beyond. It is options like this that keep everyone happy, and I hope it continues to be the way things go!
All in all, I think we can look forward to a good sized expansion that takes a lot of the popular notions from previous expansions, and puts them into play.
Will it meet expectations? I've never been one to get all "pee my pants" excited over games and expansions, so I don't believe I will now. I expect that it will be as good as, or a bit better than, Echoes of Faydwer, since SOE has the benefit of having a bit of previous expansion feedback to learn from. And because it will not be released until November, I expect them to test the heck out of this one, so we can hope for smooth performance at the beginning, though that is never a promise when it comes to MMORPGs.
Questions or comments regarding this article? Please feel free to send your feedback directly to me!
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