Everquest II has been delivering adventures to gamers for eight years now, and the ninth expansion for the game, Chains of Eternity, is releasing November 13th. This latest expansion takes players to the once-idyllic Ethernere, the realm of the afterlife in EQ2. Something has gone terribly wrong and it's up to the players to solve the problem. Not only does Chains of Eternity have a hefty plot, but a number of new features are introduced to EQ2. Ten Ton Hammer got a preview of EQ2's latest expansion from Holly Longdale, Producer, and Carlos Mora, Designer.
At the beginning of our preview, we learned that long time players of EQ2 will receive various rewards for their loyalty, ranging from potions to a new display case allowing players to sell more items with the broker. Our attention then turned to the new Chains of Eternity expansion. Unlike other expansions, Chains of Eternity had the story and plot fully developed first and the various zones and creatures were created afterwards.
The central plot for the players in Chains of Eternity begins with the death of Firiona Vie. It seems that while she is regaling the players about her latest adventure, she coughs and it appears that her soul is drained from her body and she perishes. The greatest academics investigate and it appears that many people throughout Norrath are being afflicted in a similar way. The conclusion is that something is terribly wrong in the Ethernere, the afterlife in EQ2. A rift has been opened to allow the players to travel to the Ethernere and confront the problem at hand.
The new content for EQ2 found with the Chains of Eternity is the two new zones situated in the Ethernere, nine new dungeons, and some new creatures. The two zones, the Obol Plains and the Eidolon Jungle, are very lush environments with each having a distinctive palette. One interesting graphic feature was that when the players venture into areas controlled by the Harrowing Horde (which are the previous defenders of the Ethernere but are now acting as enemies), the vibrant colors are leeched away until the land is basically black and white. As the players progress through the storyline, they will travel back and forth between the Ethernere and Norrath.
The graphics in Chains of Eternity are top notch, and the various locales all have their own distinctive look. Little details, such as having Ashloks (a new race of rat-men who eat the bone marrow of dragons) scampering from ledge to ledge or having twisted trees that have embedded eyes that follow you as you move past them, bring the zones to life.
Tip: The Ashloks are stronger at night so be aware of the time of day when encountering them.
We got a look at two of the nine new dungeons in Chains of Eternity. It was stressed that each dungeon has their own unique look and design. Foremost in our preview was that SOE wanted to make every effort to show you the story visually, not to tell you the story. This was evident in the first dungeon we went into, Temple of the Faceless, when you meet the boss. A scene will begin showing lizardmen worshipping and then the boss will enter through a portal and he'll begin to smash the puny lizardmen before turning on the players. A quick peek into the second dungeon shown us rewarded us with the appearance of Drinal, the god associated with the Ethernere and known as the Silver Reaper.
Chains of Eternity adds more than new adventure to EQ2. First, the level cap is being raised to level 95. Spirit stones are being introduced. These are new adornments that you can add and they will gain experience with the player and grow in power, opening up new abilities. One example given was the Sigil of the Silver Reaper which would unlock more stat bonuses the more the player healed other players.
Each subclass gets new prestige abilities in Chains of Eternity. A big addition is prestige tradeskills, which begin at level 90. With prestige tradeskills, players can do a variety of things. One, players will be able to mass produce items with 100 items mentioned as a top tier. Players can also refine resources into purer ones and also salvage items, gaining the components of said item. Players will also be able to experiment on items, making the item stronger and better if they are successful.
Overall, there is quite a bit of additions to EQ2 with the Chains of Eternity expansion. There is the new level cap, the spirit stones, new prestige abilities, and prestige tradeskills. There is also the introduction of the two new zones in the Ethernere and nine new dungeons to explore. The more content in a game, the better it is. Players can now see what awaits their fabled characters once they shuffle off the mortal coil of Norrath and enter the afterlife of the Ethernere.
Our thanks to Holly Longdale, Carlos Mora, and everybody else at SOE for this preview of EQ2's Chains of Eternity.