I still have faith! And as I post up these screenshots one last time for posterity, my concerns over EQ Next were tempered by more details about the upcoming update in EverQuest II, including big PvP news, adjustments to the fighter classes, and some interesting changes to gear. Let's look at a few highlights from the recent SOE Webcast with SOE Executive Director of Development Dave "SmokeJumper" Georgeson, EQII Lead Designer Akil "Lyndro" Hooper, and Associate Designers Brian "Omougi" Ferguson and Mike "Xelgad" Ganz to see what impact the changes might have on the game.
Even though I'm hardly a PvP champ, I'm excited to see the changes coming to this area of gameplay. What surprised me is that SOE is addressing needed changes on several different levels, from gear to the reward system to the battlegrounds themselves. Gear will be adjusted so that there's more unity between PvE and PvP stats. For a long time, there have been separate stats for PvP, meaning that it's difficult to keep one set of gear on when you're transitioning from PvE to PvP. Someone who enters a battleground without toughness or potency, for example, is setting herself up for failure. (Believe me, I know!) For players on PvP servers, this has been a particularly tough problem.
Token rewards have also been changed so that there's one common system between the open world and battlegrounds. There is now just one set of PvP gear, although players will see more than 1,000 new PvP gear pieces and items coming with the new update. There three tiers of gear, which are available from levels 30 to 92.
The team has also taken a close look at the battlegrounds themselves and are working on several adjustments to make them fair but hopefully still enjoyable. In Gears, there will be walls by the spawn point, and there is an increase in points for killing the person with the relic. In Ganak, the flag carrier won't be affected by speed buffs but will be snared. In Smuggler's Den, the devs adjusted the point value of the towers and how quickly players can take control of them. But the devs stressed that they're seeking feedback and that none of the changes is final.
What surprised me most was that the team is pulling out the Frozen Tundra Battleground. SOE decided it just wasn't fun enough to keep it around. The team will either adjust it to make it better or make it a different battleground altogether.
In addition, the devs are tweaking the way that tokens are rewarded. They will be adding in "bonus tokens" for accomplishing certain things during a battleground. The studio used the example of a player who will get bonus tokens for a kill streak; a player who defeats him and ends the streak would also get bonus tokens. You can get up to 20% more bonus tokens during battlegrounds from this extra system. Also, tokens are awarded based on the duration rather than being a flat sum based on whether you win or lose. This means that (hopefully) players won't just try to grind Gears instances and will instead be more willing to run the longer BGs, Smuggler's Den in particular.
Probably the biggest change to PvP is that, as we alluded to last week, battlegrounds will be level-agnostic. Level 92s will have their own separate battlegrounds, but players level 30 to 91 will all play together and their abilities will scale accordingly. A low-level player, for example, will see an increased percentage of damage and healing against a high-level player. It won't be completely even footing, but it will give lower-level players a fighting chance and stresses skill over gear and levels. Because of these changes, the leaderboard has been adjusted and revamped (you can see a screenshot of it below).
Another interesting change comes in the creation of class focus effects, which essentially take the passive effects from high-level gear and put them in the character development window. In addition, the devs have streamlined the attributes window so that it includes the class focii and lets you spec almost as you'd spec your AAs. Lead Designer Akil Hooper explained that SOE made the change because this lets players pick and choose focus effects without having to wear a piece of gear that might not have the best stats as a result. Players who spent tokens to purchase adornments with class focii will be refunded the tokens.
There are a few changes coming to the fighter classes, one of the biggest ones being the addition of a new stance called Recklessness. It's a much more offensive-minded stance, and the idea behind it is that it will bump up fighter DPS, presumably putting it on par with typical DPS classes, to allow extra fighters on the raid who won't feel like a fifth wheel. In short, your damage output goes way up, but the amount of damage you take increases dramatically too. This is long overdue because there's always been an imbalance on raids when it comes to the archetypes. While there are four, you really don't want 25% of your raid to be fighters, and in fact, you usually only need one or two for the tanking and off-tanking roles (unless it's one of those fights that requires one of each fighter type, like the Triplets in Palace of Roehn Theer).
What this sounds like is that fighters have the ability to temporarily become scouts, and while that might not be popular with everyone, I like the fact that there's a little more flexibility when it comes to class roles. We don't necessarily need the soul system of RIFT, but with changes like Recklessness, as well as the class focii, players will have even more chances to customize their characters based on needed roles.
These are just a few of the many changes coming with the Qeynos update, and a lot of these are "nuts and bolts" improvements that will help streamline the game without removing the challenge. I'll be taking a closer look at some of these changes, particularly the PvP adjustments, in future columns. And I'll also be looking at a few that I didn't have a chance to mention in this column, like the Darklight Woods revamp and the big Qeynos revamp. EQ Next might still be miles away, but EQII definitely has a lot to talk about!
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.