Updated Fri, Jan 02, 2009 by Savanja
by: Tony "RadarX" Jones / Coyote Sharptongue
The end of a year is always a time for reflection, and we at Ten Ton Hammer take that seriously. This past year has proven to be an exciting and bumpy stretch for EverQuest 2. There have been more ups and downs than the servers on an expansion day. How have things really fared in 2006? Let's take a look shall we?
Deserts of Flame most would agree, had some serious issues involved with it. Some broken content, unprepared mobs, mixed with a combat revamp sent the players in a frenzy. Kingdom of Sky was determined to change all that. Furthering the usage of large zones, and raising the level cap this promised to be the end all for those craving more content.
Did it deliver? For the most part, absolutely. The islands in these different areas provided various types of content without building zones. It also gave a feeling of openness, because for the first time we had climbable terrain. New dungeons, quests, equipment, and raid encounters were added and once they were in proper working order (i.e. relic armor wasn't dropping every 3 seconds) everyone seemed to be pleased. Plus, it had a waterfall that ran off one island to another. I can't count how many times I jumped.
Kingdom of Sky also introduced the Alternate Achievement points (they tried to call them Achievement Points but didn't stick) which increased the longevity of the expansion and allowed players to add a little "flavor" to their class. It seems to be working so far and I've seen a number of "builds" from different classes.
And the heavens parted, and SOE smoteth the subcombines and dependence on other crafters for tradeskilling. There was much rejoicing when the tradeskill revamp finally hit live servers. Previously not only did you need other tradeskillers to advance, but you spend mind numbing hours building "fasteners" and "buckles" just to create something.
The revamp took all that "fun" away. It requires the same number of resources you would've used previously, but now there is just one combine instead of 12. Even yours truly took up a smithing hammer and began armorsmithing before reaching the grind of the high 40's. People are crafting again!? *looks for the horsemen of the apocalypse*
Now all SOE has to do is make all the crafted products really useful. Ok, maybe that's a little harsh and comes from a bitter armorsmith. The revamp however was one of the most brilliant moves SOE did in 2006 hands down.
In May, what 2006 hadn't seen so far, was an adventure pack. These quick, inexpensive injections of content wet the appetites of players and gave something new to strive for. At E3, the next adventure pack called The Fallen Dynasty was demonstrated. This Asian themed area added a village full of quests, a brief underwater temple, and an underground city. The theme itself was amazing in my opinion. From the armor and weapons, to the simple village, to the clay warriors, the team who brought us SOGA outdid themselves with the art.
I think I'm Learning Japanese...
What was particularly interesting, was for the first time, quests specifically for crafters were created. Rewards for these quests usually provided things like giant bags which would hold harvest only items. It was a thoughtful nod to those who spend their time crafting, and a welcome addition to the adventure pack. I was a little disappointed you had to be level 50 to get them, but the adventure pack was billed for level 55.
Another point of interest in Fallen Dynasty was the dungeon of Nizara. Ahh Nizara how I hate thee, I'd count the ways but I'd be here all night. This was a dungeon for raiders who didn't have a raid. Very few zones actually require two healers, but this is up at the top of the list. If you were looking for a challenge at level 70, Nizara was a great place to start.
It couldn't have come fast enough. EQ2 players were hovering over Echoes of Faydwer news like crack addicts looking for their next score. No level cap increase? Panic ensued! OMG what do we do!? We've all been level 70 for seven months! What was easily overlooked was, an entire new race was added called the Fae, a good/neutral city existing among the trees, and new zones for levels 1-70 were put in. This expansion was almost exclusively nostalgic. Butcherblock Mountains, Kelethin, Felwithe, Castle Mistmoore, and so many more zones provided EQ1 players with quite a treat and educated some of the newer players. SOE was careful to mention however, Echoes of Faydwer was all about progression in gear for the high level players.
Crafters got another piece of the action in this expansion with secondary tradeskills called transmuting, which broke down objects into crafting components, and tinkering, which allows the creation of useful little gadgets. Crafted items which enhanced certain attributes of armor and weapons, called adornments, were also added to every crafting class and provided a whole new aspect to customization. Are you tank? Buy health adornments. Are you a healer? Buy wisdom ones.
I am...I am Superman!
Loot, loot and more loot. Echoes of Faydwer has it and while I'd prefer no one called it "phat" there are quite a number of worthwhile items. Armor sets which add abilities based on the number of pieces you are wearing were a long overdue addition, some fairly cool Heritage Quest items, and cloaks. Thats right, you can now stand on the platforms of Kelethin, declare that you'll save the Fae and try to fly away. If you are a dwarf, it usually doesn't work.
EverQuest 2 is a completely different game than it was in 2004, and recent changes have brought an influx of new players and the return of those who had left. The achievements of 2006 are something SOE can truly be proud of, and hopefully is an indication of the great things 2007 will bring. Take a look at page 2, to see Coyote's Top Ten Memories of 2006.