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Sony Online Entertainment | Official Site
MMORPG | Genre:Fantasy | Status:Final  (rel 11/08/04)  | Pub:Sony Online Entertainment
PVP:Yes | Distribution:Download | Retail Price:n/a | Pay Type:Hybrid | Monthly Fee:n/a
System Req: PC | ESRB:TOut of date info? Let us know!

EverQuest II Review: EverQuest 2: Desert of Flames Review - Edit

EverQuest II made its debut November of 2004 and during the following year the developers at Sony Online Entertainment made a myriad of additions and changes to the hit fantasy MMORPG; among these were a couple exciting adventure packs for a pretty inexpensive fee of $4.95. Last May, SOE announced their first retail expansion pack: Desert of Flames. This expansion was intended to add "flavor" to the game. Did it succeed?

Graphics

Undoubtedly, EQII can be declared as a very graphically intensive MMO. You need a fairly up to date graphics card to get a very good idea what EQII can dish out. The details in the armor and weapons are sometimes very intricate while other items are somewhat lacking detail.

Desert of Flames is no different. The desert landscape is rich in wildlife, monsters, and dangerous factions. As you run across the sand dunes you can almost feel the hot sun pressing down on you. If you have the right video card, you can even see a "heat shimmering" effect as the sun bakes many of the ancient structures.

However, as pleasant as these graphics can be, the art department still lacks in some other areas. The magic users are sorely in need of better robes. By the time you hit level 45ish to level 60, the only decent robes are pretty much all the same gold/purple robe. Sure you find loot or can buy more powerful robes. But they're purple as well. The same can be said about armor. Vanguard armor looks all the same, save minor color variations for the tiers (levels) of progression.

If they put just as much effort into their armors as they do with the landscape EQII could have mind blowing all-around graphics. Right now, everyone of a similar type looks the same.

Sound

SOE spared no expense on this feature. The music behind Desert of Flames is just as rich as the music from the original EverQuest II. You can tell that a lot of time and effort was put into the development of a musical score. There are times when I get lost in the music and feel as if I'm enshrouded in an Arabian Nights fantasy.

Voice emotes have also added a lot to the game. As with the original EQII, you have many, many emotes you can use. When you have DoF (Desert of Flames), many of those emotes are accompanied by audio saying anything from "Hello" to "Um...excuse me...there's a train coming." Each race is given a set of vocals so everyone doesn't sound the same. Do you not like the way your elf sounds? No problem, you have an option to change your accent.

Role-Playing

In my experience, other players in EQII: DoF do not seem too interested in role-playing. Many servers are just "play as you are," which is fine. However, if you really feel like playing the misunderstood High-Elf Templar who has a sheer morbid love of the undead, I would recommend playing on the Antonia Bayle server. Role playing is much more prevalent on that server.

In terms of in-game role-play with the NPCs, there is plenty of that in DoF. Right from the start, you can choose many different roads to follow. Which royal court would you like to align yourself with? Blades? Coins? Be careful, because too much of a good thing with one set of NPCs can lead you in a world of trouble with another set of NPCs. The storyline is very involving and it will not be long before you find yourself working for one or more factions.

Value

Desert of Flames retails at 29.95 in most stores. You get what you pay for. There are a lot of quests and new things to do in this expansion. However, if you are a power gamer, this expansion will fly fast. Many power gamers argue that the expansion lacks enough quests to keep them occupied and DoF doesn't really offer any impressive "end-game" content for them.

However, SOE is well known for adding tons of free or nominal fee content as time passes. So, you never know. In a few months, DoF may have enough quests, items, content to please even the hardest of hardcore player.

Fun

Just like any MMO, fun is how you make it. Are you a loner? Then DoF will offer you many exciting solo friendly quests and challenges. Are you a group-lover? DoF will still offer those who love groups a good challenge or two. There is something to do for everyone in this expansion.

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And did I mention PvP? Those who wanted to try EQII, but prefer games with PvP will find arena matches and a unique PvP city in this expansion.

If you love the original EQII and had fun with it, then chances are you will like DoF.

If you had no fun and found fighting MOBs over and over very boring in EQII, then you may want to stay away from DoF. The Beetle Armor quest almost drove me insane. The armor was nice, but the hours it took to complete all seven or so quests was very tedious.

Community

No complaints here. I haven't met a friendlier group of people than in EverQuest II and Desert of Flames is no different. Sure, the newbie lands have the occasional offensive player spouting in OOC chat, but by the time you enter DoF, most players are seasoned and very helpful.

If you would like to be even more immersed in the EQII community, then I would heavily suggest being involved in a guild. Some of my best times in any MMO are spent just simply goofing off in guild chat to pass the time as I complete some of the more tedious quests (like that beetle armor quest...ahem).

Performance/Lag

This is still a sore issue for me. If you are a Qeynosian (like me) stay away from Qeynos Harbor. It lags like molasses in a snow storm. What does this have to do with Desert of Flames? Well, if you are of good alignment, you must travel to Qeynos Harbor to get to the Desert of Ro and the city of Maj'Dul. I have three gigs of RAM and I still have frame-rate problems in Qeynos Harbor. East Freeport is not so bad, so those of evil alignment luck out.

Out in the desert, the lag and frame rate are ok. I haven't experienced a problem with frame rate in the new zones, at least until I got to Maj'Dul. I have an occasional issue or two in the city so I can only imagine how a system with 1 gig will fair.

EQII is definitely taxing on the modern day computer system. This is a mixed blessing. It is good, because the game will be "up to date" for a few years; while it is bad because many people simply cannot play it without having to shell out quite a few bucks. The expansion also did not fix the memory leak issues from the original. After about six to eight hours of gaming, your system will be about as fast as a Commodore 64 until you reboot.

Customer Service

These are not the droids you're looking for..... move along ...move along. No, but it all honesty, the customer service is sorely lacking in both EQII and EQII: DoF. Given the amount of money they must have to put into this project, you'd think their customer service would be top notch.

Sadly, it isn't. If you have a problem, you will almost always get a pre-generated auto response the next day. If you are very new to MMOs, I would rely on the gaming community to help you because you will probably not get it officially from SOE.

However, if you call them about an issue, their customer service abilities improve. I would suggest phoning them and stay away from the CSR ticket option in game.

Summary

Desert of Flames is a pretty good expansion. If you are an average player, this expansion will keep you busy for a few months. If you're a die hard power gamer, the expansion will be too short.

If you are a level 45 player wanting to see a change in your surroundings and want to experience consensual Player vs Player, then the $29.95 is probably worth it. However, for those new to EverQuest II, I would not suggest the expansion just yet. Level 45 is probably the absolute minimum level where you can fight effectively.

Is it worth the 30 bucks? I would say yes.

Final Score

8.1

Graphics
9
Role-Playing
8
Fun
8
Performance
6
Sound
10
Value
8
Community
9
Service
7

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