MMORPG.com: For those who have been away from EQ2 for a while, can you tell them what GU63 and Skyshrine is all about?
HOLLY LONGDALE: GU63 continues the Destiny of Velious saga. In the story, adventurers have breached the barriers of the Withered Lands seeking entrance to Skyshrine, the glorious ancient dragon city. Now that Skyshrine has become besieged by powerful forces, players must battle and befriend dragons and their wurmkin to save Skyshrine and, ultimately, the world from war and ruin.
MMORPG.com: What exactly was Skyshrine, in terms of lore?
HOLLY LONGDALE: Skyshrine is an ancient dragon city that has housed dragons and wurmkin known collectively as the Claws of Veeshan. The great city has remained hidden behind its massive walls and arcane protections until one dragon, Skyshrine’s leader – a dragon named Yelinak – allowed Norrathians access to the corrupted Withered Land below and ultimately, his city.
MMORPG.com: Are there new dungeons in this update?
HOLLY LONGDALE: There are definitely new dungeons that can be played in a variety of ways depending on play style in Skyshrine. We have several instances in the dragon city area that can be played as solo, normal and challenge group modes, as well as heroic group and raid versions. There’s a lot of variety and different ways to play in Skyshrine and the team is very proud of the options they’ve brought to players. Most players will be able to experience the story and interesting plot events firsthand instead of having to hear about them from raiders. This is the direction we plan to take all of our future content – we want to show the story, not tell it.
MMORPG.com: Will GU63 be bringing any new features to the Dungeon Maker?
HOLLY LONGDALE: You bet. We’ve added a new Dungeon Maker map, called Poet’s Palace, that has a lot of elegance and style. With that map comes a healthy number of free furniture pieces and props and there will be several sets of items to use in the dungeon too that can be earned with Dungeon Marks. We’ve added a set of Adventurers that are used to fight through the dungeons that have a different play style and abilities. For example, by using a small attack several times on one Adventurer, you build up power to do more damage with other spells.
MMORPG.com: How have fans received the game since it went fully free to play?
HOLLY LONGDALE: It’s been a great success as far as we’re concerned. Players haven’t seemed to skip a beat as far as remaining committed to EQII, the game they play and love. New players continue to come into the game and now have a variety of options available to them as far as how much they want to invest in playing the game and the results have been great. EverQuest II is currently more successful on a player-by-player basis than any other time in its history!
MMORPG.com: Is the exploration into Skyshrine setting up anything major for future expansions to EQ2?
HOLLY LONGDALE: As far as storyline, we always like to see our stories tie together and Skyshrine is no different. As mentioned, this Game Update is a continuation of the Destiny of Velious story – which we aren’t done with yet – even with this game update. There is still more to come for the Velious story as well as the Ages End Prophecy that predicts the end of the world. To that end, don’t assume that there’s an “end” to EQII with that storyline. We’re here to stay for a long while….
MMORPG.com: Aside from the city itself, what are some other features or refinements coming in GU63?
HOLLY LONGDALE: There’s plenty to enjoy and find in this game update, arguably the largest update this team has ever made. Not only are there new drake mounts, a level increase to 92, and brand new prestige talents to earn past level 90, the team decided to add additional support to the Age of Discovery expansion features too. There are three new dragon golem mercenaries in Skyshrine that are more powerful while in the dragon city areas. And there’s an elite mercenary in the Withered Land. There’s two new tradeskill apprentices (one of them is elite), and there are several new creatures for Beastlords to tame. At the same time, we’re adding our new pathing with the game update.
MMORPG.com: Thanks so much for your time. Is there anything you'd like to add before we let you go?
HOLLY LONGDALE: The team is really excited and thankful for the participation we’ve had from the community on the Test Copy server. This has been one of the most successful open testing experiences we’ve had and a lot of constructive feedback has come out of it that the team has acted on. We want to thank everyone and hope we’ll see you again to help us test new content for Qeynos this summer!