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Everquest 2 Content Galore!
Since the release of Everquest 2 in November 2004, Sony Online Entertainment has experienced tremendous success and laid claim to its 2nd established MMO. So what is Sony’s secret to success? Let’s take a look at what has been added since release, just a short 6 months ago.
BloodlinesThe Bloodline Chronicles is Sony’s first Adventure Pack. According to John Smedley these Adventure Packs are an industry first (John Smedley’s letter to the community dated April 7th). In essence, Adventure Packs are “Mini Expansions” bringing a set of dungeons with a particular theme to the game. The adventure packs are free to Sony All Access Subscribers, $4.95 to regular Subscribers.
The Bloodlines Chronicles consist of 5 dungeons each with progression in a gothic style complete with new beasts to combat, like the vampires and hellhounds. The Dungeons for the most part are fun; the new breakable walls add even more depth and atmosphere to the zones. If you are a level 40+ player the first 3 or 4 quests that enable further progression may seem a little mundane and easy, but it gets more challenging the deeper you go. Some of the spell effects on the new monsters are very impressive, for example, one particular female vampire, casts spells that summons a swarm of bats around her, again this just adds to the theme of the adventure pack complimenting the overall atmosphere. You have your normal undead mobs, ghosts, skeletons etc, but the mix of new mobs is nicely done. The hellhounds are pretty scary looking!
Some of the boss’s in quests are well thought out and follow storyline and theme very well. For example you have to kill a boss of a dungeon, who is drawing power from an unidentified source; this power must be eliminated before killing the boss. Unaware of this fact, the group I was in spent a good 4 or 5 tries attempting to kill a rather unhappy Vampire, who just kept fully healing at 10% health each time. It wasn’t until we removed his power source; we were able to kill him with little difficulty.
Most of the items in Bloodlines require faction points. Once you finish quests you are awarded faction points, which increase the amount of items you can purchase from the special Bloodlines vendor. If you are an ex-Everquest player, this probably sounds a lot like Lost Dungeons of Norrath, which it sort of is. You do need to complete missions within the Bloodlines storyline to be able to “Unlock” more items, but those items will need to be purchased with cash, not points. Once unlocked, they will remain permanently unlocked. One particular item you can get from the vendor is very shiny silver plate mail armor. Other people can see their own reflections in it!
Players that pre-ordered Bloodlines or were just Sony All Access Subscribers were able to play the first part of the expansion several weeks before its release on March 21st 2005. There was also a competitive aspect to the pack, with 1 artifact item dropping on each server and the prestige of being the first guild to kill the boss of the zone being announced server wide.
Zone, Quest and Trade Skill ContentWithout counting bloodlines, 15 new dungeons were added, 12 of those level 50 epic dungeons. There is already a significant high end community, which needed some attention. The addition of the higher end dungeons was a good move by Sony to keep level 50 characters playing. The new epic zones support up to 24 person raids. The 2 other dungeons are for the level 25-35 community, in the Commonlands and Antonica.
The latest Dungeon to be added was return to Nektropos, where players can once again visit Nektropos Castle, one of the most popular and well designed Dungeons in the game. This time, with Lord Everling dead, you can now enter into deeper and more dangerous parts of the castle. This dungeon was also designed for the higher level community and brings some of the best treasure the game has seen to date.
Also added to the game were thousands of new quests, even some more heritage quests, like the Golden Efreeti Boots. When you play Everquest 2, the sheer volume of detailed quests is a testament to the amount of content in the game, it truly is staggering.
Lots of new content for solo and small group players were added after the initial release. A lot balancing and tweaking was done, to make solo players and groups of 2 or 3 players feel more rewarded for the effort that was made.
Sony added several dungeons to help solo players and smaller groups level up. In my opinion these dungeons lacked attention, detail and were just flat out boring. I guess if you had the patience you could grind in them. Overall this feature was lackluster.
One final mention about content was the addition of special “Uncommon” materials which can be harvested like normal materials. These items can be refined by Alchemists and then shaped and molded into items that can either be imbued into armor and weapons to allow power ups such as reactive heals to armor and damage procs to weapons. The other option is to take the refined material and create a new item type, “Hex Dolls”, which can be added to your useable slot and activated to increase such stats as agility or stamina and even add bonus to attack speed.
Norrath Gone PostalOne of the most recent additions is the ability to send mail to other players. Each message sent costs 10 Copper. Once the mail is sent the recipient will see a new buff icon on their current buffs in the form of an envelope letting them know they have new mail. You can also attach items to an email for an additional cost. The recipient will then be able to open their email and the items will be added to their inventory.
This new mail system was a great implementation. My guild uses it extensively to send new combat arts, spells etc to each other. Although, I have to admit, the ability to send multiple items would be a very nice upgrade, only being able to send 1 item is very restricting. We can also take donations towards guild housing in the form of mail. Not having to wait for someone you need to trade with to be online is a feature that everybody will use.
Player HousingOne of the biggest restrictions with player housing - and a frustrating one at that – was the limit on the number of items placed in the house and only the owner of the house was able to make payments. Since the release, Sony has increased the cap on the number of items you can add to player housing and added the ability to share the burdens of cost on houses. This is a particularly useful addition if your guild owns a guild house, allowing your fellow guildies to help with the weekly rent payments. Also added was the ability to give your house pet’s names, finally!
ConclusionIf the amount of content at release was abundant, the additions post release continues that trend. With more adventure packs and an expansion pack being announced at E3 2005, Everquest 2 is going in the direction I like to see all MMO’s going, Content Galore!