Updated Fri, Jan 02, 2009 by Savanja
Ten Ton Hammer had the opportunity recently to attend a press tour for the Rise of Kunark, EverQuest II's fourth expansion, due out in November. It was great getting a solid overview of what we can hope for with this much anticipated game addition, and while we can't spill all the beta info for our readers just yet, we can share a few things.
We first gathered in Timorous Deep. This is the starting area for the Sarnak, and other neutral races and will take you to level 20 before you will be heading back into the already live zones.
The first thing that I think everyone will notice right off the bat is the amazing attention to detail. The smallest of things have made the land around you come alive. There are waves crashing against rocks, you can look out and immediately spot various land textures, hills, mountains, and water features, the trees. I encourage everyone to hop a griffon as soon as you can to get a good idea of how much space there really is. These zones will definitely be a treat for the explorers! The ambient sounds and music that plays is truly beautiful and this expansion was one of the few times in which I have played with my game volume turned up.
Next stop was Kylong Plains. This zone (if you can call it that because it is HUGE) has plenty to do for the level 65-70+ players. A couple of my favorite features in this zone were the drachnids (they look as mean as ever!), and the flow of
landscape. While the zones are large, they are definitely NOT boring. The landscape changes. The weather changes. Everything flows as if you were walking on real life land. I had the thought that Kylong Plains was somewhat like the state I live in; the beach, snowy mountains, and lush greenlands all within reasonable travel distance. You walk your character up into the mountains and you will progressively see the landscape change and snow will start to fall. Being old enough to have played through the birth of online games, I nearly wept with joy at how far graphic detailing has come!
A very commanding structure resides in Kylong Plains, and that was where we made our next stop. Karnor's Castle is a heroic dungeon for the 72-76ish players, and is packed with mobs. This zone is surely going to be fun and entertaining for the groupers. Not much as changed here from EverQuest I, but we all love nostalgia!
Kunzar Jungle, geared for the mid to upper 70s, is an amazing sight. This place is dangerous and over run by some rather unpleasant Iksar! Because these zones are large and have a wide variety of content, the sometimes tedious grind that comes with a level cap raise will be somewhat eased I think. Places like Kunzar Jungle allow for you to progress through various areas naturally as your character matures, and have such a different feel throughout the zone that you sometimes forget that you ARE in the same zone.
And on to Sebilis! This is another familiar heroic dungeon that remained much like it was in EverQuest I. Sebilis is for the 75+ groups and I hope this one will be a decent challenge. Keep an eye out here for Venril Sathirs, I'm sure he has plans for any invaders that dare step into his home!
The last place we visited was Veeshan's Peak. There really isn't much I can share about this raid instance except to say the new persistent instance feature is going to be key here, and when you and your raid step inside, you better have brought your "A" game! I cannot wait to see guilds work for the honor of being the first to clear this truly spectacular epic zone.
I love the feel of this expansion. It seems as though real effort was made in getting a little bit of everything for everyone with no playstyle left wanting. The Rise of Kunark will be a particular treat for higher end casual players who have grown bored of current high end content, something that I'm personally looking forward to. A clear point was made with this expansion; SOE wants everyone to be able to enjoy this game regardless of real life time constraints.
There were doubts, and I'll admit that I had them too, that Rise of Kunark will be as great of a success as Echoes of Faydwer, but I see a successful expansion here that not only will give back to the currently loyal players, but will also bring the attention of the MMOG playerbase worldwide. Rise of Kunark is definitely the best one yet!
Thanks so much to SOE and Grimwell for having us on their tour, and to the developer team that has worked so hard on this expansion.
NDA is still in effect, but please keep an eye out here on Ten Ton Hammer for Rise of Kunark updates. We'll share what we can now and when the NDA is lifted, we will be releasing all that we know!