For starters, ToV is chock-full of one thing I really love: dragons. Dead dragons, maybe, but still dragons! From the moment this expansion was introduced at SOE Live, I've been looking forward to cavorting through the realm of the dead, hobnobbing with the dragon residents. Then, after hearing more about the dungeons, the story, and the new class, I really couldn't wait. And now that I've seen it for myself, I haven't been disappointed.
I must start with a confession. While I actually never finished the signature storyline in Cobalt Scar (I was distracted by decorating!), I knew that I couldn't hold off seeing what all the dragons had to say. Even so, my explorer instincts took over that first time I ported up to Vesspyr, and I wandered a bit just poking around and checking things out. And what that jaunt taught me was that doing the storyline sooner rather than later was a good idea!
You see, the creatures up in the realm of the dead hit hard, and battles were taking an inordinately longer time than I was accustomed to. And since I knew it wasn't a matter of level (there was no level-cap increase with ToV, just a few added AAs), I knew the issue was gear-based. That's where the story comes in: While completing the signature storyline, you are gifted with various gear pieces that are tailored for the realm. Trust me, you want to collect and equip this stuff as soon as you can because it makes continuing your journeys in Vesspyr so much easier!
On top of that, it's really interesting to hear about the lives and deaths of the dragons. You learn the story behind some wyrms as they relate to adventures you had earlier in the game -- and I don't mean just the recent Skyshrine events, either. I really appreciated how these stories wove into my earlier play experience, such as when I spoke with Harla Dar, the high Priestess of Veeshan, about her time supporting the Awakened from the Kingdom of Sky expansion. Tying things together to the whole of EQII lore is a huge plus for me, making the entirety of the world relevant (not to mention dredging up fun memories!), and I feel ToV made an effort to do exactly that.
As much as I appreciate when games embrace the old and don't invalidate their pasts, I also enjoy new experiences. And I like to see attention paid to little things. One of my favorite Norrathian moments came in ToV when a dragon used subterfuge to rip me out of my body, and I got to see the world in a literally a new and completely unexpected way. Although it was just a bi-product of the tale, I didn't go complete the quest for a while just so I could continue about in that state. It was like flying inside an old photograph negative, and I loved it. (For proof, just look in my screenshot folder!)
New experiences didn't stop there. Back when Producer Holly Longdale announced that the Temple of Veeshan dungeon was so massive that players could fly in it, she should have actually said it was so massive that players could get lost in it! The first time I ran the advanced solo version, my companion and I flew from room to room, weaving between airborn mobs, to get to the first boss. But then the first time I died, I had no idea to get back to where I just was. The scale of that place is truly mind-boggling and adds to the awe factor.
I also appreciate the real challenge offered by this expansion. The Advanced Solo dungeons in particular are an eye opener if you think you can slip in and breeze through. For too long I was just coasting about my activities in EQII, feeling powerful and even untouchable, especially with my mercenary. That all changed when I went to Vesspyr. I really had to pay attention again, not just to my surroundings but to my gear and my tactics as well. Since I no longer raid, that's something I haven't had to bother with in a long while, and it was refreshing to have that difficulty level upped again so that when I succeeded, I felt as if I actually accomplished something.
On the topic of new experiences, no discussion about the expansion would be complete without mentioning the newest class to join the ranks. Only the second class to be introduced to the game since launch, it's kind of a big deal. And this class is more than just new to the game; it is an entirely new take on an archetype. How many games do you know where the healer peppers foes with arrows in order to make friends feel better? As such, playing a Channeler is a pretty unique experience. In fact, it's actually more akin to the other added class, the Beastlord, than it is to any of the classic healers.
I wish I could speak with experience about the role of the Channeler at higher levels, but I didn't get to play the class up that far. That has less to do with the class itself than it does the fact I am really just not an alt person and I happen to really love my Fury. However, I am still drawn to the Channeler, and I hope to make the time to experience it more fully.
Missing the mark
Probably my biggest disappointment in ToV is actually the flip side of one of its strengths. The fact that so much of this expansion is geared towards flying -- flying between islands, flying up and down the topography of the islands -- is awesome, if not a bit dizzying at times. This makes the fact that you can't participate in any combat while flying that much more absurd. The times when I have been stunned in place in the air, unable to defend or even heal myself, while the mob is pummeling me, number more than a few. And unless I can land fast enough, I lose a life without even having a chance. If those mobs can smack me in the air, I should be able to smack them right back! With such an emphasis on flying, I cannot see how aerial mounted combat isn't a priority.
For me, Tears of Veeshan was definitely a worthwhile purchase. It offered a new level of challenge that had been missing from my adventures as well as new experiences. But is the expansion for you? If you are considering acquiring Tears of Veeshan, keep in mind that no matter how neat the content may sound, it is definitely for those at max level. So if you are just starting out or in the mid range, you don't even have to worry about it. The one exception is if you are interested in playing the Channeler; in that case, you'll need ToV starting at level 1. If you are anywhere near your 80s (or you happen to be leveling really quickly), I'd definitely recommend giving this purchase some serious thought.
If you already have ToV, tell me what you think about it. Share your favorite aspects and even your not-so-favorite ones in the comments below.
The EverQuest realm is so big that sometimes MJ Guthrie gets lost in it all! Join her as she explores the franchise's nooks and crannies from the Overrealm to Timorous Deep. Running every Saturday, the Norrathian Notebook is your resource for all things EverQuest Next and EverQuest II -- and catch MJ every 'EverQuest Two-sday' on Massively TV!