My favorite part about SOE Live is always what I have to look forward to for games I've been playing for years and still love. Sure, seeing what SOE is working on next is always fun, but nothing quite tops my excitement for news regarding EverQuest and EverQuest II. While I am seriously looking forward to EverQuest Next, it's not a game I can log into and explore at this point, so I try to keep my excitement reserved and to a minimum. I absolutely can log into and play both EverQuest and EverQuest II at this very moment, so new news for these titles wins me over every year at SOE Live.
While I no longer play EverQuest for fourteen hours a day, or even three-box for that matter, I do like to hop back into the game every now and then. I do spend a lot of time being lost and having no idea what to do, so usually I just load up my bard and go run through some old zones I love, mostly for nostalgia. Every now and then, I do manage to stick around and add on a couple of levels, but I haven't been anywhere close to max level for quite some time now. Considering how many there are in the game now, and the pace of leveling, it does make getting into the game rather hard for new players.
When the newest expansion for EverQuest was announced at this year's SOE Live, hearing that the level cap will be raised to 105 is both super exciting and pretty overwhelming to me. I don't have a character over level 70 and I would not even know where to start, especially since the people I used to game with have either quite gaming altogether or have moved on. However, for new people starting out, I highly recommend the Test server, because the community there is top-notch.
In addition to an increased level cap, The Darkened Sea has other good points to look forward to. Mounts will get a key ring now, making them easily accessible. We'll see the return of our old heroes and long-term nemesis, as their storyline continues, which will spark up a great sense of nostalgia for folks like me, who have been playing EverQuest for the fifteen years it has been around. The Darkened Sea will be available October 28 for All Access Members and November 11 for free-to-play players. If you don't want to wait around for November for new features to roll out to EverQuest, don't worry. There are other things to look forward to on the more immediate horizon.
Today, a new feature for customizable robes are added in. Players will be able to download robe templates and customize them. At the EverQuest keynote, producer Thom Terrazas showed off some examples of the feature, stating that it would be a great way for guilds to create a unified identy while hosting events. Imagine you and your buddies coming up with a design, donning the robes and then doing a level 1 mass invasion on Crushbone. Those orcs won't know what hit them, or at least they won't be able to stop laughing as they slaughter your stylish horde.
Coming sometime this fall is an overhaul to the looting system. The new system is adaptive and will learn from your habits. You can choose what kinds of items you want always looted and the system will ignore those trash broadswords if you decide. Items looted will go straight into your inventory, making manual dragging obsolete. The system will become a hybrid of Master Looter with round robin, which will take effect for solo, group and raids. Overall, the new looting system seems to get rid of several headaches and making it smarter. While EverQuest is not without fault, as games its age are, it is fantastic to see systems like this become modernized.
Included in The Darkened Sea are at least eight new zones, which will include a large variety of environments. As the name would let you expect, there will be underwater areas, but also lush forests, lava to die in if you're not paying attention to where you autorun, magic dominated areas straight out of science fiction, and a new Dwarven castle to explore. The Darkened Sea is not just a nod to an earlier expansion, The Buried Sea, but the new areas are right next to the zones from that expansion.
It will be fun to dive back into a story featuring both Firiona Vie and Lanys T'Val. With the new levels, new spells, quests, Alternative Advancement, and other core features from EverQuest are to be expected. At the beginning of this year's keynote, Terrazas made a point to highlight all of the features, improvements and additions EverQuest had seen since last year's SOE Live, which leads me to believe that not only will this year from now until SOE Live 2015, we will not just see EverQuest's 21st expansion (!!?!?!?!?!), but a whole slew of new things to keep the community busy.
How are your feelings about EverQuest? Do you like the return of Lanys and Firiona? Do you think SOE can continue to put out interesting content for their oldest title?