EverQuest’s Veil of Alaris Expansion – A Hands-On Preview - Page 2

Updated Tue, Nov 08, 2011 by Ethec

Not only that, but the game looks far more visually crisp than I remember. Of particular note was the movable UI. Eric noted that the hotbars got another pass this expansion. Players have far more options in customizing and resizing hotbars, plus with the Veil of Alaris expansion, players can create custom cooldown timer-enabled macros with icons of their choosing. .

EverQuest: Veil of Alaris preview
The Resplendent Temple is easily Alaris’s biggest visual landmark.

Pointing into the distance, Eric let me feast my eyes on the Resplendent Temple. “The first time I saw this, I couldn’t believe it was the same game,” he extolled, and I couldn’t disagree. A huge, fully explorable temple dedicated to the Alaran god of beauty, the temple features a pit in the center into which the Alarans throw anything which isn’t perfect or beautiful. In the depths of the pit live a race of pig people that worship the people above for the gifts they bestow upon them. From that dual existance comes a lot of fun content, Eric quipped.

EverQuest: Veil of Alaris preview
The visually striking Temple of the Sea fills the inside of a gigantic conch shell

We skipped over the port city of Seris in order to check out the giant conch shell turned temple in its harbor. The Temple of the Sea, called Rubek Oseka, blended seashell glossy-walls with muscle fiber “carpet”, a sandy, gem-laden floor, and a giant pearl altar at its base, I’m hard pressed to recall a more striking visual environment in any expansion from the last 5 years, let alone 12. As Eric and I journeyed down the spiral, he explained that the two factions of sea worshippers here have yet another language that players must learn in order to progress through the Rubek Oseka story.  

Our final stop in Alaris was the Sepulcher of Order, a “megachurch” with temples to each of the Alaran deities. “It was so big that we ended up having to split it into three separate zones,” Eric explained. “Each of the gods has a raid associated with it. Players will be spending a lot of time here with many, many, many quests.”

In an era of shrinking raid sizes, I was glad to hear that EQ has stayed true to its roots. I asked Eric what a typical raid comprises in EverQuest nowadays, my wood elf ranger main  long retired, and he stated that 50+ people fighting through “a dozen or so mechanics” (whether that means one boss or many) for around 45 minutes was common.  

The “all or nothing” (and usually nothing) nature of EQ raiding is on its way out as well in this EQ expansion; Eric wouldn’t go into specifics but explained that if players were really focused on getting a specific item, they would have an alternate means of doing so through raiding. I asked if this would be a token system similar to what we find in other MMOs (no-drop, no-trade tokens are acquired by most if not all raid goers, and stacks of tokens can be traded for gear), but Eric wouldn’t comment.

For something completely different, Eric introduced me to guild housing. Another new feature in Veil of Alaris. In the last EverQuest expansion, House of Thule, players gained the ability to enter a neighborhood, buy a plot of land, build a house, decorate their yard and the interior, and place any trophies they’ve acquired inside.  Guildhalls expand on that concept with more communal space and tools to help guilds stay organized and share resources.

EverQuest: Veil of Alaris preview
Decorate your EQ guildhall with concept art. It’s so… cyclical

The guild lobby is a hub of player activity. “Any time, day or night, you’ll probably see about a hundred players milling around in here, but this is also the gateway to the player neighborhoods,” Eric explained. Every location has its own unique address – a fun, neighborhood-y touch – and inside the medium guildhall Eric created was a veritable doll’s house of furniture and fixtures, all of which could be purchased either in-game, through the SOE marketplace, or are available as rewards from the Legends of Norrath digital trading card game.

EverQuest: Veil of Alaris preview
Dinner party of 54, please.

From a feasting hall that could “seat” dozens, to a library, to an NPC courier to send out items, to a crafting area, to a guild teleporter so that the guild could travel as one, Eric explained that the goal was to create a big enough space so that everyone could participate in decorating and enjoying the space. Even better, with the advent of guild halls, SOE can dole out guild trophies for various guild level achievements for working through content and defeating different bosses.

As with houses, the guild must pay upkeep for guild halls. The guild must maintain a certain number of players to keep a guildhall of a certain size. Other guild niceties are in the works for Veil of Alaris; every guild can name its ranks however they like and assign individual permission levels for the guild bank.

EverQuest: Veil of Alaris is due out on November 15th, 2011. Thanks to Eric Cleaver and the SOE team for showing us around!

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