EverQuest II: Look Forward - From CES
International CES – January 5th through 8th in Las Vegas, NV – saw the Sony Online Entertainment PR team setting up this year in a room in the MGM Grand. Chris Kramer – Director of Public Relations was present with his team.
After introductions to Michael Shelling, the two-week new PR Manager for EverQuest2, lots of ribbing about getting the games EQ and EQII straight, we launched into the game and the expansion to come.
Growing and Expanding
EQII has come a long way. From Tradeskills revamp to Skills and Spells revamp, to an upcoming class revamp, the EQII you started playing in November of 2004 is not the EQII of today.
When asked about how they garnered player feedback and if the player summit played a big part in the direction the game was moving, Chris had this to say.
“I think our success in getting these changes out without player revolt is communication and preparation. We did not spring these changes onto our player base on a whim. We read the forums and listen to what our players have to say. We play the game ourselves. From what the players are discussing and the experiences of our own team, we realized that these changes were needed to improve the game. Then we let them know the “what”, the “why” and the “when” we are making changes, we answer all the player questions we can and continue monitoring player reaction.”
The latest expansion to come, hot on the heels of the last, is EverQuestII: Kingdom of Sky, to be launched Feb 21st. In between that and now, will be the class revamp, and the PvP feature will be launched at the same time as the expansion – available to all players as a Live Update. *
As explained by Scott Hartsman in his Producer’s letter, the idea behind the Archetype, Class and Subclass progression was to ease players into the game, providing them time to explore play styles behind their main archetype and eventually "growing into" their final profession.
However as time would tell, it could be seen that players settled very quickly into the game and the journey to the final profession choice was quick. Rather than playing a generic fighter type or mage type class, players were more interested in a specific class. Being able to select a profession at creation also will provide a player the ability to try out different classes immediately instead of having to play a generic base class for 20 levels.
To enhance the change, the starting experience will be very different as will the starting towns. A more racially distinct experience is planned. Much like the skills revamp, when this change occurs, players under level 20 will be asked to make new choices when this is rolled out.
The long requested PvP experience finally will come to EverQuestII in February. SoE polled its players on their official forums and the majority leaned towards separate servers with distinct rule sets. For a game that pits good against evil, Qeynos against Freeport, SoE could not ask for a better basis for PvP game play. The rules will be pretty simple.
EQII has passed its first anniversary, had released two adventure packs and a major expansion. There have been two major changes in game play. So I asked the $64 question.
Chris Kramer pondered on that a while before answering for everyone. If there was one thing that the EQII team wished they had done better it was to keep EQII rooted in the world of fantasy.
“EQII was meant to be set in a fantasy world. We have player races of elves, gnomes, dwarves and trolls, and other fantasy races such as Ratonga and Kerra, but then we went too photo-realistic with everything else. Look at the elephants and hyenas in the Commonlands… in our magical world. It takes too long for players see creatures such as goblins, treants and giants. Even the Griffins look like real birds. We want to be in Norrath. Not the San Diego Safari Park.”
Was that a hint of things to come? New models or completely new critters for EQ2? Chris was mum but for a wink and assurances of wardrobe changes to come, as well as new quests and events; which led us back to the expansion.