Big Happenings in Norrath
There's a lot going on in the EverQuest universe during the next few months. From the original game's 15th anniversary to EQ2's latest updates, to Landmark's alpha launch and beyond, we caught up with the SOE team to talk about everything happening in Norrath.
What About EverQuest?
Thom Terrazas was the first one to dish out the details, focused around EverQuest's upcoming 15th anniversary. Call of the Forsaken's next episode titled "Hate Rising" (out TODAY) will continue CotF's ongoing story and is due out later this month. It all leads to a top secret iconic EQ character from deep within the Norrathian lore. There'll be new gear, new raids, and a big change to the Heroic Adventures. Previously, they've only been for level 95-100 characters. With the update, they'll open up to anyone from level 85 and up. There's also a whole new level scaling being put in place for the HA's too, allowing level 70s to play with level 100s. Might they have a harder time? Probably. But at least they can join in and reap the rewards to boot.
There's also going to be a new Adventure Meta-Achievement, new rewards, new gear, and they'll be opening up the existing Leadership AA's to all players which should help folks focus less on grinding AAs to reach those.
Then in March, as EQ hits its 15th anniversary, the team will add two more race and class combos: the Wood Elf Beast Lord and the Froglok Monk. Also, EQ2 recently did level 85 heroic characters, and in March EQ will be implementing the same station store feature. The goal isn't to skip content, though that is admittedly a side effect, it's just to help get lower level, returning, and new players closer to where the bulk of the playerbase is these days where all the newer content is available and waiting to be experienced.
And lastly, at the end of March the Planes of War zone will finally launch. Originally planned for an expansion a ways back (Planes of Power), the team's been working hard to finish the area and they're very happy to be seeing it added to the game as Spring comes to the world.
How about EverQuest 2, though?
EQ2 also has a bunch coming down the pipe. Holly Longdale got on the call to tell us that on Thursday, the Fabled Kingdom of the Sky dungeons are launching. This has been a big commitment hot on the heels of the Tears of Veeshan, but Holly and her team think it's been entirely worthwhile. Itemization will be complimentary, not above or below, the gear found in the recent expansion. No gear creep, here!
At the end of January, Holly hopes to release some big updates to PVP plus all the usual additions and fixes that come with an SOE patch. But the big PVP stuff will be coming in February as the long-awaited PVP Warzone is scheduled for release. More details on just what that is all about are to come.
Things like the player-voted Oakmyst Prestige home and Darklight Prestige home are also coming soon, and they're looking to release a High Keep contested version, and the North Temple of Veeshan. NToV is going to be the most difficult content in the game in its nearly ten years, says Holly. Not frustrating like Planes of War was in EQ1, but hard and intentionally so.
Lastly, there are also 10 new additional AA points coming, little fixes, new collections, and all that stuff as well. Plus holidays, new player studio items and on and on. In short, Norrath's middle child is still growing and growing.
Okay... now how about some news on Landmark?
Terry Michaels took the horn for some short Landmark updates at the end of our call. The team is really hard at work and nearing the highly anticipated alpha test period. They're really excited to get people in, and Terry (as well as Dave Georgeson who was lingering in the background somewhere) wanted to make sure we all know just how important it is to have the alpha of the game ready for its players. A lot of indie games might let people get at their alphas, but it's a first for SOE and definitely a first for EQ. But by taking this more inclusive approach, they're betting it'll pay huge dividends to let the players in and help make the game they want to play rather than letting the devs guess everything on their own.
Finally, Terry reminded us that the big EQ Community Event is coming up, and our own Suzie Ford will be heading out to the studio on January 31st to tour the offices, play the game, and see how the team works when they're not talking to people and making fancy YouTube videos.
In short? You've got to keep waiting for info on Landmark, and Next... but not much longer. The Alpha is just around the corner and no one is more excited than SOE to make it happen.
Bill Murphy / Bill Murphy is the 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.