Yesterday I had the chance to chat with four developers from Sony Online Entertainment about EverQuest's upcoming 20th expansion. That's right, twentieth, how crazy is that? During our chat via a livestream we delved into what you can expect in the Call of the Forsaken expansion. On the scene was Jonathan Garaker (Lead Designer), Julie Burness (Assistant Lead Game Designer), Josh Augustine (Game Designer), and Thom Terrazas (Producer). Let's jump into some of the new content you can get your hands on starting today.
The largest feature everyone couldn't stop talking about would have to have been the Heroic Adventures. Heroic Adventures are basically dungeons that players can tackle either alone or as many as six people. Currently the feature will be for players level 95 to 100. What makes each heroic adventure special is that they're randomly generated. The layout will be different and the objectives will change, allowing for a unique experience every time you hop into one. It won't just come down to grinding the same dungeon for a special item you want.
Heroic Adventures will also scale the creatures to the player's level. It will set the levels of most creatures and rewards to the highest-level player in the zone. What's interesting is that if the highest-level player leaves the party, then it'll drop down to the second highest player changing the flow yet again. If that player rejoins or another player hops in that's of a higher level, it'll scale to up them. While it won't jump the level up of a creature you're fighting when these changes happen, it'll happen to the environment around you. It's unique to have that in play to keep everything balanced.
With more than one developer stating this is just, “The tip of the iceberg,” you can imagine they may have big plans in the works. Further touching upon that, they mentioned that by having the scaling system in place, it can allow for extending Heroic Adventures to levels below 95. But it wasn't something set in stone. For now it’s just something that could happen.
By participating in Heroic Adventures you'll gain a currency that will allow you to purchase new gear for both yourself and mercenaries. With the coming of the Call of the Forsaken, players will be able to enhance their mercenaries’ overall strength by equipping them with special gear. You can also tweak the settings of mercenaries using the alternate advancement system. Fortunately for most people that aren't crazy, you'll have the benefit of using mercenary-gained AA experience on all your mercenaries. Players won't have to individually gain AA experience with each and every single mercenary they have. I'm sure there's someone who would like to, but we all know that'd take quite a while.
With those two large features out of the way, let's discuss each of the four new zones granting you tons of new content to experience. The first zone shown off on the stream was Ethernere. Ethernere was once full of lush green plains and adorable animals. Alas, finding anything green or full of life in Ethernere now would be a challenge.
Ethernere has become a dark and barren wasteland with lakes of lava flowing. The once peaceful animals that lived among these plains are now giant spiders and foes you'll encounter in your journey. Your adventure here will begin by meeting Lady Lendiniaria, but the twist is she's a dragon from another dimension. Somehow, the Harrowing Horde has also found its way into Ethernere.
The second zone we delved into may look a little familiar: the Bixie Warfront. Some of the work produced on the Bixie Warfront design was inspired by the Stone Hive home to the Bixies. Depending on where you'll find yourself in the Bixie Warfront you'll come across plenty of honeycombs, flowing honey, and more underground. In this underground zone, you'll also come across the water cavern in which a majestic waterfall trickles.
The Bixies are preparing for war against the Drakkins and in some cases you'll have to fend off waves of enemies approaching the Water Cavern. Work with Commander Zavrus in order to defeat the Bixie army led by Queen Shulriya Flume.
The third zone we took a look at would have to have been the darkest and gloomiest of the bunch. Although that didn't stop Julie Burness from ironically considering it “One of the most alive areas... filled with dead things.” What's interesting about the Dead Hills zone is that there have been a lot of myths and urban legends about what the deal is with it in the past. Everyone has known about it since it’s been a part of the original EverQuest map, although it never got much attention from the SOE team until now.
The Dead Hills is a region that behemoths came to die, hence the name. What makes the Dead Hills special is that you will notice the behemoths wherever you look while traversing the zone. You may see what looks like a skull decaying on top of a mountain or you may even be walking across the spine of a dead behemoth. While getting an idea of what the area looked like, we also saw plenty of wooden scaffolds, outposts, and walls throughout the territory.
To give you a tease of one of the Heroic Adventures you'll be hopping into here, it has do to with smart ogres. Generally ogres are picked on for not being the most intelligent race out there. In fact, they’re often much more toward the dumber side of the spectrum. In this case, something is different, odd, and in your questing you'll discover why these ogres are different from the norm.
Neriak Fourth Gate
The last zone we got a quick look at was the Neriak Fourth Gate. The Neriak Fourth Gate is yet another dark area although it had the occasional bright tint of purple and blue. With constant bad news comes that the Teir'Dal royal family isn't quite well. The King Naythox Thex and Queen Cristanos Thex are divided and both preparing for what appears to be a civil war soon to breakout. But your mission will be to gather important artifacts that may have the ability to save Ethernere and better yet, Norrath.
Before everyone vanished from the stream, they mentioned that this isn't the end and from how it sounded, you will be left with wanting more. There's plenty of content I've discussed here and plenty more for you to get hands on with, so snag the Call of the Forsaken expansion for $39.99 or $59.99 for the Collector's Edition.