Last week, I toured the Withered Lands and made my way into Skyshrine but only scratched the surface. Thankfully, Assistant Lead Designer Kyle "Kander" Vallee provided more details about what players can expect from the new dungeon. One thing that immediately stood out for me is that this zone is focused on providing deep content for soloers, groups, and raids. Traditionally, players who aren't in raiding guilds end up missing out on the overarching storyline, but EQII has made some steps toward bringing the story together in a variety of ways, and Skyshrine seems to be in line with that approach.
The other exciting tidbit of news is the return of Dozekar the Cursed. Vallee explained that there are four incarnations of him: heroic and raid versions and different levels of difficulty for each version. This update is sure to bring lots of dragons, but Dozekar is one of the most memorable from the original EverQuest, and it's nice that the different versions of him have made him more accessible. The real question is whether he'll drop any tears and whether there will be content related to them as there was in the original game. If there is, I hope I have better luck with the drop rate than I did in EQ!
In a previous column, we touched on the level increase and the fact that you need at least 280 AAs before you can work on level 91 and 92. The requirement was added in order to make sure that level 92 players aren't a detriment to their groups, but it can seem like a pretty formidable goal for newer or more casual players. So it's probably not a surprise that the EQII is tweaking the AA experience curve to make it easier to attain AAs. Back when the leveling curve was toned down, players could end up at the level cap with a very small number of AAs and then face a slow grind to build up AA experience. In fact, veteran players who were working on alts wisened up and would actually level-lock in order to crank out lots of AAs early on and then resume leveling after that. An alternative would be to mentor down and mass-pull lower level zones, but you have to question the quality of gameplay if you have to do that in order to progress your character.
One of the things I love about EQII is that mentoring and AAs keep old content relevant. If you missed out on seeing a dungeon or raid zone, you can always mentor down and go back. But often, there really isn't much of a meaningful reward other than knowing you did it. I'd love to see the devs do more to give that old content some appeal for high-level players, and a good start would be revamping the mentoring system so that mentored players aren't so overpowered and are much more in line with peers of the same level. But hopefully, with the AA tweak, players will be able to dungeon crawl the old fashioned way and get a decent amount of AA experience so they won't have to resort to pulling huge clumps of mobs in order to scratch out AAs.
There's been a lot of reaction toward the latest FAQ on the PSS1 arrangement with SOE, and much of it is tepid at best. What much of it boils down to is the fact that affected players don't trust ProSiebenSat.1 enough to want to let the company handle things like account information, customer service, or monetary transactions, which is completely understandable. And let's face it: Any time we gamers are told we're required to do something, our first inclination is to resist it, so even in the best case scenario with this deal, there was bound to be some pushback just on the fact that it's mandatory.
A year or two from now, once everything is in place and the transition is complete, it's quite possible that this arrangement will end up benefiting players overseas, but the fact that we don't know for sure makes the scenario a real leap of faith. It's too bad that there isn't a way to launch the new arrangement slowly and do it in a way that encourages players to want to sign on. It would be nice to let players see things in action and let ProSiebenSat.1 earn their trust to establish a positive relationship. Of course, when money's involved, it's not always easy to take things slow, but then again, the way it's arranged currently could lead some players to vote with their feet.
If you're playing this weekend, you're right in the middle of a double Station Cash and double experience weekend. It started on the 6th and runs until the 8th, and it's a great chance for players to rack up those AAs and get toons leveled up for the new game update. I plan on taking advantage of the double experience but not before I finish up the Gigglegibber Scavenger Hunt from the Bristlebane Day event. Does anyone have a spare horse egg?
From the snow-capped mountains of New Halas to the mysterious waters of the Vasty Deep, Karen Bryan explores the lands of Norrath to share her tales of adventure. Armed with just a scimitar, a quill, and a dented iron stein, she reports on all the latest news from EverQuest II in her weekly column, The Tattered Notebook. You can send feedback or elven spirits to firstname.lastname@example.org.