Chaos within Kunark
Kunark Ascending, EverQuest II’s 13th expansion, continues two major storylines of Norrath: the Greenmist and the rise of Lanys T’Vyl. The northern reaches of Kunark has been opened up, introducing one new overland zone (Obulus Frontier) as well as several dungeons—including iconic EverQuest zones such as the Crypt of Dalnir, Kaesora, and the City of Mist.
Adventurers need to fulfill several requirements to properly advance through the entirety of the new signature quest series. The level 80 Greenmist Heritage Quest series must be completed (beginning with “The Name of Fear” in Kor-sha), and you’ll also need to be able to speak Goblish, Draconic, and Sathirian. Don’t worry about doing all the adventuring pre-reqs on every character: once you’ve completed the new signature series, “The Essential Kunark Guide” will be available to purchase for your alts. The Terrors of Thalumbra signature quest series is optional, but adventurers who have completed it will receive a better reward from Kunark Ascending. Crafters who haven’t completed their tradeskill epic yet (with the Earring of the Solstice reward) should do so before embarking on the new epic series.
Level 100 adventurers begin their journey in last expansion’s city of Maldura, and find themselves misplaced in an uncharted part of Kunark during a Chaos Stone recovery gone wrong. The progress of Domincus Rile and those iksar devoted to furthering Cazic Thule’s reach will thrust adventurers once again into a mercenary lifestyle, throwing morals to the wind while helping them gain power. My good-aligned human swashbuckler gleefully bartered with ancient powers to uncover the secrets of the original Greenmist weapon.
Within Obulus Frontier you’ll also encounter a mysterious—and awesome looking—tower. Watch the mountains beside it for a short while to catch a cool animation (still not sure what its purpose is, but it’s entertaining). If you’re like me, you’ll fly over and think “gee, I’m going to land and check this place out!”. Word of advice: don’t. At least not until you’re sent there. The aggressive orange-con guards aren’t too happy to see you, but don’t worry, that is rectified over time.
I dove into the adventuring content first, decked out in gear from the Terrors of Thalumbra solo quests plus my ToT tradeskill quest weapon. This wasn’t an issue at first, though I noticed that my elite mercenary was doing most of the damage and tanking. While it was great that I had plenty of time to read a book for class during these five-minute-long, non-life-threatening fights, it was also boring.
Looking into the issue I discovered that the Resolve and Potency stats had become major players in this expansion. It was recommended to get my Potency up to 5000%; so far I’ve only boosted it to 4700%, but around 3700% I started to notice a difference. The higher Resolve the better as well: older gear will likely only have 1 Resolve on it, so even the new handcrafted items will likely boost you there as they have 5 Resolve (new solo quest gear generally has 5-7 Resolve).
Adventurers who are also level 100 tradeskillers may find it beneficial to complete the crafting quests first. You receive a similar introduction to Obulus Frontier, gain faction in places that will make it easier to maneuver around as an adventurer, and also receive a really awesome stat cloak and mount at the end of the new tradeskill epic series. The mount had slightly better stats than the mount offered in the $140 prestige edition of the expansion, plus some bonus harvesting modifiers.
Ascension classes, a new form of gameplay progression, were added in this expansion and are available to any level 100 adventurer who completes the Kunark Ascending signature quest series. Eventually a player can learn all four classes—Elementalist, Etherealist, Geomancer, and Thaumaturgist—and must obtain level 5 in one of these classes to begin the new Epic 2.0 weapon quest. These classes can be leveled up to 10 through a timed leveling system involving scrolls that hold Ascension experience. While shifted into an Ascension form, your character’s non-weapon damage will be converted to a type specific to that Ascension class.
Twelve new Heroic dungeons and one new Challenge Heroic dungeon are available, but buff up your Resolve before exploring their depths. Your stat should be anywhere from the high 100s to nearly 300, depending on the zone difficulty. Six raid zones provide extra challenge for your guild, including the Crypt of Dalnir, the Lost City of Torsis, Kaesora, Arcanna’se Spire, and Vaedenmoor.
Other new features in Kunark Ascending include mercenary equipment and training (additional ranks through five unlock gear slots for them) and a new wardrobe window. The amount of default wardrobe slots available for each appearance slot (head, feet, primary weapon, etc) depend on which edition of the expansion you purchased (6 for standard, 12 for collector’s, and 18 for premium). Further slot expansions can be purchased through the in-game marketplace. While the wardrobe alleviates appearance gear you may be hoarding, once added to a slot it cannot be removed except for permanently deleting it, and the item is stripped of its particle effects—which I was sad to discover far too late.
Kunark Ascending has more excitement to offer than Terrors of Thalumbra did in both the adventuring and crafting fronts. Focus on Resolve and Potency can make it challenging for infrequent or solo players until they upgrade their gear. Daybreak is trying hard to give players the feeling of progression with the new Ascension classes—but there’s still the messiness of time-limited experience gain to slow down players that power to max levels. It also leaves one to wonder: how long will the new progression system appease capped players over a true level cap increase?