Progress Report - EverQuest: Secrets of Faydwer
Recently, Community Manager Laura Genender attended a press event for Sony Online Entertainment. While there, she had a hands-on demonstration of EQ's latest expansion, Secrets of Faydwer.
Last Thursday at the SOE “Step into Fall” event, I spoke with EverQuest’s senior game designer Ryan Barker about the upcoming EQ expansion, Secrets of Faydwer. This expansion brings 30 new raids, 5 new levels, new areas, and so much more to the massive world of Norrath.
The expansion is based in Faydwer, where an evil gnomish necromancer named Meldrath the Malignant has shattered the earth by raising his air fortress Mechanotus. Players can visit the floating fortress itself – or delve into the newly exposed areas of Faydwer.
To start the interview, Ryan gave me a tour of these areas. Our first stop was Mechanotus, the floating city – and to get there, we had to take a catapult! Clicking on the catapult launched our character into the air and into a zoneline – though by the scattering of bodies on the far wall, I could see a few unlucky players had not made the zone in time!
The fortress is made up four zones: one central fortress area, and 3 towers. These areas provide grouping and a few raid encounters for characters between 75 and 80. As for décor, it was fairly clockworky and gnomish and not too remarkable when compared to other EQ zones. Some of the models were cool, though, including a giant metal spider (raid boss) and mecha-suits for the gnomes.
The next zone Ryan showed me was Bloodmoon Keep, back down on Norrath (you take another catapult to get down there!). This zone was an ancient Elven city, conquered long ago, and more recently inhabited by the Bloodmoon Orcs. These aren’t just any EQ orcs, though – as you fight them, they turn into wereorcs (their avatars actually change into furry orc avatars) and grow considerably stronger. This zone provides several unique opportunities, including 12 man raids for smaller guilds or groups of friends, and slaves of different races – elves, dwarves, etc – that you can free for faction with their hometowns.
One of the most interesting things in SoF is a mobile zone located in Dragonscale Mountains, another new zone. Wandering around Dragonscale is a giant metal Guardian, slow and lumbering but absolutely massive. In his foot is a door – if you have the appropriate quest you can enter, otherwise you get kicked across the zone! Entering the door zones you inside of him, where you can kill him from the inside out. As you kill him he will react in the outside world, too, even deactivating for some time if you win!
Our last stop was Crystallos, the high end raid zone of Secrets of Faydwer. Back in the days of Velious, when the four Guardians of the Sleeper were killed, the dragon Kerafyrm rampaged across Velious destroying everything in sight; the developers did not expect anyone to kill her, and only one server managed it, calling in 100s of people to take her down. Well, now she’s back and seeking revenge – Kerafyrm resides in Crystallos, and adventurers will have to face her again. Unfortunently, that encounter is not yet finished and Ryan could not tell me if players would have to kill her or put her back to sleep.
Either way, the fight will take a good amount of work – players have to clear through four wings of Crystallos before reaching Kerafyrm: one for each element. I was a little disappointed to see another elemental-themed challenge, but they did a good job of making the encounters wildly different from anything else in EQ. There’s a bit of an ‘Indiana Jones’ feel as Ryan called it, an action element that has not appeared in EQ before. While fighting through the dungeon, players will have to dodge firebursts out of the walls, and even hide from bounders rampaging down conspicuously boulder-shaped hallways.
Also added in this expansion are the Heroic Item and Attribute systems; certain Heroic items will give players a new statistic, called Heroic X (as in Heroic Strength, Heroic Wisdom, etc). Not only do these stats stack with normal stats, but they provide extra perks i.e. an INT caster with Heroic Intelligence would get extra mana regeneration. Unfortunately, Ryan did not have information, yet, about the finalized new spells and AAs.
As for the future of EverQuest, Ryan couldn’t say much. He couldn’t comment on player housing or future races/classes, though he did say that races are more likely than classes, just for ease of implementation. The infamous “west” bug – for some players, turning west will blank our their screen until they restart – is being worked on but there is not yet a fix. One bit of good news – the new and horrendous item window is not for keeps.