And to let you in on what's in the pipeline for these three titles, I got to speak with all the games' producers -- EQ's Thom Terrazas, EQII's Holly Longdale, and EQNL's Terry Michaels -- as well as Franchise Director of Development Dave Georgeson about March's upcoming content. To help illustrate their words, we've also embedded a video after the break that highlights that very content.
On March 16th, EverQuest will celebrate its 15th anniversary, but the current festivities in-game are only the beginning of the celebration. As Terrazas put it, "This is the big drive to get everybody into the content that most of players are playing and most of the content we've been working on in the last couple of years."
You already knew that Heroic Characters -- level-85 toons that come complete with armor, AAs, big bags, and a raptor mount -- become available next week, as do the new race/class combinations of Froglok Monk and Wood Elf Beastlord. What you may not know is that the two new combinations will be available as Heroic Characters from the get-go, so anyone can grab them and start adventuring right away. On top of that, returning players with a Gold membership will have an added bonus: automatically granted AAs scaling to the player's level (up to 85). Unlike the free Heroic Character that is limited to one per account, however, the auto-grant is available for every single character on the Gold account.
More anniversary festivities include an increase in rare mob spawns and a decrease in lockout timers. Following in one to two weeks will be the release of the player-created missions from SOE Live 2013. Then on April 2nd, players can look forward to some nostalgia with the launch of Plane of War.
Having changed up the update routine in February (weekly with one big one each month), EQII has new things planned each week, starting with a new character stats window this week, a feature that was developed from player feedback. On top of that, for those who who really want to check out the Channeler class without going through yet another starting zone, the newest healer will be available as a Heroic Character.
The following week, EQII will help celebrate EQ's anniversary with two new Heritage Quests, Zlandicar's Heart and Hero Bracer, as well as an updated Chronoportal event. Then come April, players will have access to 10 more AAs, increasing the cap to 350. Those AA skill will undoubtedly be useful in the new High Keep contested zone that includes 20 brand-new events, new loot, and another new Heritage Quest (the Bloody Shank). Additionally, a new mount is on the way.
During this second month of alpha, EQNL is adding new features on a weekly schedule to prepare for the closed beta that will start on or before March 31st. According to Michaels, the team is "making really good progress" toward that goal. In fact, thanks to some great work over the weekend (especially by the UI team), some of the features expected over the next couple of weeks might even make an appearance faster than noted in the official roadmap. But for this week, players can expect the addition of groups, friends (not the actual people, but the ability to see who is online, where they are on the map, and where their claims are), and permissions so that said friends can help each other build.
What will players come up with now that their creativity can be cooperative? The devs are eager to find out! Georgeson said, "We expected really phenomenal things, but some of the stuff that's being created blows us away. It's just fantastic."
When readers want the scoop on a launch or a patch (or even a brewing fiasco), Massively goes right to the source to interview the developers themselves. Be they John Smedley or Chris Roberts or anyone in between, we ask the devs the hard questions. Of course, whether they tell us the truth or not is up to them!