EQ2 Destiny of Velious First Impressions
On February 22nd, 2011, the creators of EverQuest II, released the game's seventh expansion, Destiny of Velious. In a genre that sees more flops than wins these days, and during a time that marks a disturbing trend of major titles going free-to-play before the dust even settles the pretty release packages, EQ2 is still going strong. Being able to claim such a feat is more than just an accomplishment in this market, it is a full fledged badge of established game honor that very few get to claim.
The Scars of Velious was one of the most popular expansions for the original EverQuest so the EQ2 team had a lot to live up to when it came to delivering these beloved zones and characters to the world of Norrath once again. With stiff competition this gaming season and plenty of player of nostalgia to live up to, did SOE manage to hit the mark in this veteran game? Patched, locked, and loaded I hopped into game to see what DoV has to offer.
I think it's fairly clear right off the bat that Destiny of Velious caters to the higher level players, and really it should. As an older game, most that are privy to the MMOG market already know about EQ2 and perhaps have tried it. Scraping together new players probably shouldn't be a high priority, but keeping those loyal fans happy should be. This expansion applies to players that are level 85+ with most of the impressive content being right at the level 90 cap. If you never made it to level 90, DoV is a great way to get caught up and even better for those who are level 90 and would like to have a reason to get back to earning those alternate advancements.
While not a particularly large expansion, DoV comes in smaller than Sentinel's Fate, EQ2's previous expansion, in regards to overall content and item additions, but do keep in mind that SF was also accommodating a level cap raise which is not an issue with this latest expansion.
DoV offers two nice sized overland zones that are suitable for all players in this level range. The Great Divide and Eastern Wastes provide plenty of quests to do and new lands to discover. A new feature in EQ2 that you might be familiar with from other MMOGs, are public quests. These events give a new dimension to overland gameplay allowing single players, groups, or raid forces to work together to accomplish various tasks within the public quest area. In recent years, overland zones have become less utilized by the more dedicated players as they have contained mostly just solo content. Public quests, wondering heroic mobs, and more contested content is making a comeback which is a welcomed change.
Of course, more variation in overland content does not mean that the instances in DoV are lacking. This expansion boasts ten new group instances and six raid instances. This content is vitally important to the veteran EQ2 playerbase. Not only does end game in a good spread of new content, but it also needs to be challenging...now and later. SOE pulls this off by allowing for instance difficulties. Guilds can tackle new instance with a normal challenge level, then go back later and increase its difficulty. This gives battle-hardened raid forces a reason to get in there and get competitive and to have a little challenging fun while they do it.
A lot of new items have been added, including armor sets and weapons. I assure you that you will need them. However you were decked out for Sentinel's Fate, it won't be good enough to hold up against the mobs in DoV! There might be some complaints regarding the scary amount of damage our new enemies can dish out, but the expansion supplies all of the tools that players need in order to progress. EQ2 may not have added additional levels, but you will find that you're going to need all of your AAs and a full set of upgraded gear to feel like you are master of your domain once again.
So does Destiny of Velious provide what the players want? My early experience in the expansion says "Yes!" The step up in challenge not only surprised but also delighted me. New elements such as the public quests and flying mount give players something to get excited about again, but they also didn't skimp on old favorites, such as a new signature quest line and new heritage quests. The level of art and sound quality that has been with EQ2 throughout most of its life, continues in this expansion and it is something that never fails to impress me.
Where does DoV lack? While more challenge is great, just tossing in higher damage and higher health on new mobs doesn't necessarily give EQ2 any real staying power. As players upgrade their armor and weapons, the game will pretty much play as it did before and the high-level playerbase will be back to square one with many months to go before the next expansion finds its way into game. The game needs some work done on itemization to bring in better balance between quested, looted, crafted, and battleground armor and I would love to see future updates add a bit more in diversity that isn't in the marketplace.
All in all, Destiny of Velious is a better quality expansion than what we have seen in recent years. I give some credit to the developers for attempting to bring EQ2 back up to its glory days with more attention to collaborative gameplay rather than just tossing in a silly amount of solo content. Every type of gamestyle has been addressed while still keeping the "multi" in "multi-player" reminding us all that EverQuest II is still a top notch MMOG in a sea of wannabes.
Have you had a chance to check out EQ2's latest expansion? Share your opinions on Destiny of Velious, its hits and misses, on our forums.