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Terrors of Thalumbra Expansion Examined

William Murphy Posted:
Interviews 0

EverQuest II will be growing soon with its twelfth expansion, Terrors of Thalumbra. We had a chance to chat with the team behind the expansion to find out more about its systems, features and new zones.

MMORPG: We asked this question to the EQ team but at this point it is just as relevant to the EQ II team as well. After 11 years and 12 expansions or adventure packs how do you keep the game fresh for players?

EQ II Team: It’s always a challenge for us to keep content fresh and different. We do not want expansions to feel like it’s just more of the same. We try to come up with innovative designs that players haven’t seen before to make the experiences new and engaging. An example of this would be the level-agnostic dungeons coming in this expansion. This opens up new dungeons to more than just players who are max level. Now, if your friend is a few levels behind, you can enjoy the same content and experience something new and unique together. Ultimately that is what playing an MMO is all about -- having fun with your friends. 

We are also always trying to add more depth through the game via interesting ways to do itemization, spells, and player progression without completely changing everything. At this point in our games history, major change can be very difficult and sometimes unwanted by our player base. We have some really awesome ideas for the future for character progression that are really different than anything we have ever done. Just adding levels is easy, we want to do something that is more engaging and also helps add to the bond with your characters.

MMORPG: What is Thalumbra and why is it important?

EQ II Team: Deep underneath Norrath is a realm on the edge of the Plane of the Underfoot known as Thalumbra. This expansive, subterranean domain is home to fabled races and ancient, unimaginable terrors born within the oppressive, dank, and dismal darkness of the dark depths!

The tenuous struggle between hunter and prey in this aggressive land has reached new heights with the arrival of Lanys T'Vyl, the recently resurrected demigoddess of Malice! Maldura, an ancient city, expertly carved out of the deep stone by dwarven masons and adorned with magnificent gems and metals by gnomish artisans is being threatened. Through the actions of heroes and manipulations of a goddess, players find themselves as the principle actors in a play that threatens deity and mortal alike in the world of EverQuest II.

MMORPG: What kind of unique challenges do you face designing dungeons that are supposed to be fun and engaging for characters that are either level 20 or 95?

EQ II Team: We have scaling content in our level agnostic dungeons that allow players to be together in the same dungeon regardless if they’re level 20 or level 95. The major challenge here is player power. The power differences between 20 to 95 are astronomical. Basically everything is handled by code, damage and heal-wise, so the challenge is to have players in this huge level range play together and all feel like they are contributing to the group and not being carried through the dungeon by the higher level characters.

When designing a dungeon for such a wide level range we have to take into account the tools available for the full spectrum in the level range. For example, we would not be able to use a mechanic like curses as cures for those not available to a level 20 player. We have to focus much more on making the dungeons more fun, event-style dungeons rather than complex mechanics or difficult strategy dungeons.

For broad levels of play, it's important to use the environment to solve puzzles, avoid obstacles, or defeat bosses. Standing still and pressing a button or two to defeat an encounter is far from engaging, but dipping your weapons in pools of acid to be able to damage a giant spider might be. (Disclaimer: This may or may not be a strategy for one or zero boss encounters in Terrors of Thalumbra…)

MMORPG: Can you give us an introduction to the new infusion system? How will we upgrade our items and what kind of upgrades will we be able to perform?

EQ II Team: There are two ways that players will be able to infuse their new equipment, both handled through the new Deity window as these infusions are power gleaned from the ancient gods of Norrath.  First, players will be able to use infusions found throughout the game, or crafted, and apply them directly to the item giving it a chance to receive increased stats. The chance to successfully apply the infusion, and the magnitude of the increased stat is based on the infuser that you used.  

The second way to infuse equipment, also found through that Deity window, is to tithe in game platinum directly.  Every time you tithe you receive a chance to increase one of four stats on the item.  Both of these methods work seamlessly together, allowing you to use both infusers and to tithe to become more powerful.

MMORPG: What can players expect in the new tradeskill quests?

EQ II Team: The Far Seas Trading Company is concerned by some odd phenomena recently noticed around Norrath (elemental attacks in the prelude events currently on live servers). A series of quests investigating these events helps the tradeskill player to discover information about the long lost city of Maldura and leads the player into the new overland region of Thalumbra.

Once in the new lands, players will need to earn the trust of the residents, evaluate the situation and dangers, and learn who they can trust… and who they can’t.  Tradeskill players of all adventure levels will find themselves working with old acquaintances as well as new ones, using disguises and subterfuge to obtain vital information, sneaking into heroic dungeons to recover vital equipment, discovering the dark secrets Maldura is hiding, and crafting a recipe that might have the power to save the city itself. At least 20 new tradeskill quests, plus a tradeskill signature quest and an additional 8 repeatable weekly missions, plus new tradeskill collection quests.

MMORPG: Players will be able to purchase the expansion for $35 which will give them access to Terrors of Thalumbra as well as all previous expansion content. However, players can purchase a digital Premium Edition for $140. That’s a significant price difference. What do the players get for that extra $105?

EQ II Team: For players who want the expansion, plus access to all previous expansions, beta entry, and the pre-order altar house item, then the standard edition will be the best bet. If you're the kind of player who enjoys getting all the extras, then there are two additional options. The Collector's Edition, for $89.99, will give players a mercenary companion to help them in battle from level 20 and up; a spectacular cavedrifter flying mount can also be used from adventure level 35 (all previous flying mounts were not available until level 70); a house item that will teleport you directly to Thalumbra; a prestige home themed after the new expansion; a recipe book allowing players to craft unique modular decorating pieces in the style to match the prestige home; an expansion themed painting to hang in your home; an 88-slot bag with a completely unique goblin appearance for players to display on their back as they journey; and a special Thalumbra themed "burbur" plushie for one’s home or to use as a pet illusion. We think agree that's a ton of value! But if players want even more, then the Prestige Edition includes all the above, plus a bundle of equipment upgraders which can be used to increase the stats on any equipment earned in the new expansion zones; a weapon adjustment bundle which allows players to increase or decrease the speed and damage type of a weapon; and an additional flying mount, the Darkhaven Cavedrifter, whose stats will actually upgrade as players complete content in the new expansion.

For more details on the three bundles, players can visit the EQII site, and see a visual preview of the items.


William Murphy

Bill is the former Managing Editor of MMORPG.com, RTSGuru.com, and lover of all things gaming. He's been playing and writing about MMOs and geekery since 2002, and you can harass him and his views on Twitter @thebillmurphy.