Besides the revelations at the keynote address, EQII fans had myriad panels, events, and even special play-test sessions to attend to learn about the game. There was a focus on the new Tears of Veeshan expansion overall, a dedicated look at just the Channeler class, a panel just for new systems, and more. Players who missed the Q&A session missed out on learning some specific changes that are being added to the list for the future. Luckily, we've hit these all up and have the highlights for you right here.
Like most expansions worthy of the designation, Tears of Veehsan is composed of many of the things you'd expect. As listed by Creative Director Akil Hooper, EQII's 10th expansion has "a big overland zone, more solo and heroic dungeons, more raids, more quests and missions, a Channeler class, and new Alternate Advancements." Also, the progress through Tears of Veeshan will be much more open, instead of the directed handholding by which players were shuttled from camp to camp in Chains of Eternity.
Of course, that isn't even all of it; the storyline picks up where Darkness Dawns leaves off, and Kerafyrm is marching along on his merry way to fulfilling the Ages End Prophecy and destroying all of Norrath. But that massive dragon does not want to stop there; he plans to destroy all realms, so he is searching for more tears of Veeshan as well as the Keeper, who has been flung through time and lost. And for those who feel that this story arc has spanned enough content updates, Hooper assures that the Ages End arc is coming to a close -- no, really this time! He stated, "We fully intend to wrap up Ages End this summer with this event."
While on route to his goals, Kerafyrm lifts the expansive Temple of Veeshan into the sky, making it into a battle fortress that players must then assault. Temple of Veeshan is broken into separate three wings, so there will be heroic and raid content. Other dungeons include Core of Nexus (EQ lore buffs will know the Nexus was the transportation hub in the center of Luclin), Chamber of Stasis and Stratum of the Protectors (both Shissar-themed dungeons taken over by Naiads), the Fractured Hive (filled with Bixies), and two High Keep dungeons (where goblins have taken over). All dungeons are accessed via Eternal Broodlands, the new overland zone.
With an entire panel all its own after two days of letting players test out the class, you might say that the Channeler was kind of a big deal at the convention. And from the feedback of those present, it was a pretty popular feature as well.
The Channeler is a healer that wears leather like a Druid, shoots a bow like a Ranger, and commands a pet like a Summoner. This new class uses a completely new energy called dissonance, a pool that builds up to 1000 and dissipates over time (more slowly when full and more quickly the lower it is). The Channeler has a new hotbar for its conduit abilities -- the special healing mechanic this class utilizes. The first four slots of that hotbar have to be filled with certain skills (repair, emergency heal, debuff, etc.), but the remaining ones are open for whatever. The Channeler also has skills that allow it to heal while on the move as well as teleport backward.
The construct pet, which can be customized appearance-wise and does not need to be leveled up like the Beastlord's warders (although the channeled essences put in do have to be captured like the warders), is the Channeler's specialty heal mechanic. It intercepts damage and can even debuff some. (The Channeler parses as a healer, even if doing DPS). The interception weakens as the Construct's health falls. The construct can never die, but it will turn off when its health reaches 25%. How long it takes the pet to return to battle depends on what the Channeler can spend to repair it; this pet cannot be healed in any way, only repaired with special skills used by the owner. Channelers cannot repair the constructs of others.
One feature of EQII that players universally agree needed a revamp is getting just that: Dungeon Finder 2.0 will release with the expansion. What does this include? With a new UI, players will be able to see what role is missing from the group and invite a friend to fill that role. Groups utilizing the Dungeon Finder will be rewarded, even if that group was formed by inviting friends. This improved Dungeons Finder will also have accurate gear requirements for the dungeons and only build functioning groups, composed of a tank, a healer, a support, and two flexible slots.
What about a cross-server dungeon finder? That is currently not possible until the entire EQII database is rewritten. The good news is that it is something the devs really want to do and there are plans to rewrite that database in the next year.
Related to this is the group builder system. Using this system, group leaders can actually designate exactly which classes will be allowed to fill what roles, including assigning specific roles or classes to the flexible slots.
Another new feature is the addition of special dragon AAs that open up at level 10. There are four lines in the new AA tree, each dedicated to a specific iconic dragon and covering the roles of healer, mage, scout, and warrior. With the ability to spend 340 total AA's now, even maxed players can allocate points to these new lines without having to rework their entire AA template.
PvP is getting some attention well, with full new sets of armor, new rewards, combat pacing rebalancing (such as increasing balance between single-target and AoE DPS classes so a warlock can't blow up a single target as well as an Assassin can), and more.
Regarding tradeskills: There will be new high-level recipes for consumables (food and potions) and utility items (totems, crafting equipment, and illusion items).
The new T4 guild hall will be the same layout as the T3 guild halls, only with more floors added below. This will be beneficial for those guilds that want to move but keep their current decorating layouts; they can save the layout and load it in the new hall.
While not a part of the expansion, the whole Heroic Character system is a major departure from the norm, but as it's coupled with the bundling of Destiny of Velious into the core game for free, it effectively grants all players a chance to participate and enjoy the newest content, whether free or not. And to allay player fears that those new level 85 players would be forced immediately purchase gear and spell unlocks just to survive in Velious, devs said that the mobs in the area were being reworked to accommodate the new system.
Now these items are not a part of the upcoming features, but they were addressed during the Q&A panel. Concerning overarching philosophy, the devs are trying to move toward a cascading one, giving players the chance to recover from a couple of mistakes and still succeed, instead of a single mistake meaning insta-death.
The devs have also assured players that moving forward, there will be no quests involved in getting to new zones. In time, the team will be revisiting the Deity system, which hasn't really been updated since it was initially implemented. In fact, they really, really want to make this particular system more meaningful, so that worshiping a god actually has an impact on the player beyond just the miracles that can be obtained from the altars. Deities should be more than just a raid mob!
For those really hoping to get the ability to personally color their armor or furniture, you are in for some disappointment. The team has no intention of adding dyes to the game because of how the art is designed and coded.
Did you Conjurers feel a twinge of envy that the Channeler can customize the appearance of her pet? Take heart: The team felt this was doable and added customizable appearance for pets to their to do list. The mechanic will most likely be allowing players to select from any previous pet skins they have learned.
At player suggestion, devs also took note of and will look into changing the color of the red on-screen announcements and target circles to help players who have red/green color blindness. Other suggestions like a "take all" button for all mail in the mailbox, making all special currencies account-wide like the new loyalty tokens, and making a log of deposits for the guild harvest depot likewise made it on the list.
And finally, sometime in the far distant future, the devs would like to do something with supporting raid alliances, those groups of smaller guilds that work together to take on the advanced content. They were quick to say that nothing was in the works now but that it is on their wish list. At that time they may look into making permanent alliance voice channels that can have set moderators instead of the defaulting to whoever happens to log in first as in the current setup.
What happens in Vegas doesn't stay in Vegas, at least where SOE Live is concerned! Massively sent intrepid reporters MJ Guthrie and Karen Bryan to this year's SOE Live, from which they'll be transmitting all the best fan news on EverQuest Next, EverQuest II, DC Universe Online, and the other MMOs on SOE's roster.