Rise of Kunark Preview
Our Community Manager, Laura Genender was invited to San Francisco to attend Sony Online Entertainment's "Step Into Fall" event where she got a chance to have a first hand look at the upcoming expansion for EverQuest II: Rise of Kunark.
Yesterday I attended SOE's "Step into Fall" event in San Francisco, where I got to meet and speak with Akil "Lyndro" Hooper, lead designer of EverQuest II and one of the minds behind upcoming expansion Rise of Kunark.
If you're an EverQuest player, the name "Kunark" is familiar; Kunark previously appeared in EverQuest I, both as the first expansion (Ruins of Kunark) and the 4th continent. The EQII Kunark is home to many familiar zones and raid targets, but much of it is changed by the effects of the cataclysm and time.
The first zone that Akil showed me was Timorous Deep, home to the new EQII player race, the Sarnaks. These playable Sarnaks were genetically altered from the NPC Sarnaks who inhabit EQ and EQII zones such as Chardok; they were stranded in Timorous Deep, and have long since forgotten their heritage.
The landscape is very different from the original EQ Timorous Deep – one of the first things Akil pointed out to me was a shard of Luclin (the exploded moon) spiking out of the water. One of the few recognizable POIs was the flooded volcano, where original EQ clerics and druids came to work on their Epic 1.0s.
The city itself in Timorous Deep is called Gorowyn, birthing place of the Sarnaks (you can see the magical mutation chambers!) Players will also find new housing opportunities in this city. Timorous Deep does not belong entirely to the Sarnak, though; the new race finds themselves at war with the Spiroc, brilliantly colored parrot-people that old EQers know from Plane of Sky.
The next zone that Akil showed me was the Jarsath Wastes, combination of EQI zones The Overthere and Skyfire Mountains. The Skyfire Mountains area is simply stunning; the sky is dark and spooky, as is the ground, but the dark colors are broken up by rivers of lava and glowing orange mountaintops like hot coals. The end result is stunning.
Kunzar Jungle, combination of EQ's Emerald Jungle and Trakanon's Teeth, has some similarly spooky areas – while City of Mist is not a zone of its own, the grey temple shrouded in blue mist looks great.
Sebilis was our next stop, and I found this to be one of the most interesting dungeons, both in the cataclysm effects and the storyline behind the inhabitants. In the original EQ, Sebilis was home to Trakanon; in EQII, however, Traknon has taken over Veeshan's Peak and Venril Sathir (previously boss of Karnor's Castle) has moved into Sebilis. According to the dragons of EQII, Trakanon moved to VP of his own will and Venril Sathir took over the then-emptied Sebilis; according to the Iksar, the lizard-like people who have united under Venril Sathir, he kicked Trakanon out and took Sebilis by force.
However it happened, the once rough Sebilis has been civilized by the Iksar. Though the floorplans are very similar to the EQ Sebilis – in fact, you can visit the jail, crypt, and many other well known camps – it's all paved over and built up.
New zones and races are not the only additions with RoK – as mentioned above the level cap is raised to 80, and there are plenty other character changes besides that. The achievement system has been expanded to add a subclass achievement tree – players can now earn 40 more achievement points than before, brining the max to 140.
Three more gods have returned to Norrath as well: Bertoxxulous The Plagebringer, Karana the Rain Keeper, and the Tribunal now offer their blessings and miracles to EQII players. By finding prophets around the world, players can complete quests to earn miracles or blessings, one time use abilities that cost faction to buy. Players can only be aligned to one god at once, and they must pick either a neutral god or a god of their city (i.e. Qeynos citizens can align to good or neutral gods, while Freeport citizens can align to neutral or evil).
So what's in store after RoK? Early 2008 we'll see skeletal revamps to all the characters; as for the next expansion, Akil could not say yet if it was Velious or something else, though he did hint that they were hoping to do some original EQII areas.