As a fan of EverQuest and EverQuest II, when each was released, it was a nice bit of nostalgia returning to the game over the holidays after a six-year hiatus. EverQuest II Visions of Vetrovia increases the level cap from 120 to 125, removes a couple of systems to help make the game accessible, and continues the story of some classic EQ characters. The team at Darkpaw Games has created a solid expansion with only a few issues.
At first, many systems and elements felt unfamiliar, and it took me just over a week to settle back in with the game. My first hurdle was to overcome the sheer amount of inventory clutter. Logging onto my level 95 Warden to a full bank and bags with more than 30 slots per storage contained reminded me just how much random stuff you collect adventuring in EverQuest 2. Once I got my existing characters sorted and a new character underway, it didn’t take me long to notice that questing in the VoV expansion accumulates loot just as quickly.
The crafting system was easy enough to get back up to speed with since I was starting from ground zero in a new profession. The initial trade skill quests act as a great guide to the basics. The developers at Darkpaw Games did introduce blueprints in VoV where a max-level crafter can remake items at a 20 percent extra resource cost. I can see the appeal of blueprints, especially for quickly making multiple stacks of ammo or consumables.
Alternate Advancements was another challenge that took me a while to customize for leveling with over 300 points and a few new tabs from previous expansions to explore. For those players not interested in creating a custom build, there are default builds you can use as well. I personally just like tailoring everything to my personal preferences.
I leveled up my Channeler to level 10 before boosting them to 120 and beginning my playthrough of the VoV signature questline. The first issues I ran into were, I admit, all my own doing. Once boosted: I equipped the supplied gear without paying much attention then picked up my first few quests.
Due to the inventory clutter and icon sizes, I missed my two high-level charms, which dropped me below the amount of Potency I needed to effectively damage enemies. Once I had my boosted gear finally sorted, I doubled back to check Tishan’s Lockbox near the start of the first zone. The equipment it provides is slightly better and includes more adornments. For those not familiar, adornments add various combat effects, increase Potency (a multiplier to spell/combat art damage and healing), and increase Fervor (a multiplier to the totals) to gear.
When you boost a character, you also need to set up your Familiar, Mercenary, and Mount. Leveling each to reach their full potential is item/time-gated, and a set of barding can add a good amount of Potency. Though if you are willing to spend some actual money on the Marketplace the systems can be skipped.
I am thankful that the developers decided to remove two systems within this expansion, equipment Infusing and Reforging. Otherwise, getting my gear set up would have taken a lot longer and been even more of a hassle.
For anyone thinking of returning to play the new expansion I highly recommend looking at the EQ 2 Official Forums, specifically the VoV Guide for Beginners (or Returning Players). It will save you a lot of headaches with a good summary for getting a level 120 character set up.
Afterward, I started mowing down enemies instead of effectively shooting them with Nerf arrows. Combat feels good in EverQuest 2, and I enjoyed the feeling of danger at times if I ended up getting too many enemies at once or had a massive boss wandering in the background. The tab targeting still holds up. I quickly found myself back into the rhythm of tabbing through my enemies and making use of the 6 hotbars I typically have up on the screen.
VoV starts players in the Svarni Expanse, where you discover other characters that have been stranded or shipwrecked on the island. The graphics in EQ 2 are still good, and while the engine is showing its age, the art team has done an amazing job with parts of the environment. The game does tend to reuse many enemy models in different zones, but the new models in VoV look great.
I quickly met up with the local tribe of centaurs and started working my way through the signature story quests. The story was a bit of a slow starter, but once I reached the end of the first zone, there were enough interesting plot points that it started to pick up. By introducing the vampires and Mayong before the second zone it succeeded in pulling me along. I was not sure how centaurs were going mesh with an undead/vampire plotline about Mayong Mistmoor, but it worked out quite well by the end.
The first centaur village you enter fits the coastal/swamp area perfectly. Exploring an undead pygmy village in the first zone had a good, albeit creepy atmosphere, which carried over to similar areas in the second zone, Karuupa Jungle. Each zone in VoV was interesting and fit an individual theme, but they could be tedious to traverse. Needing to go back and forth repeatedly for quest turn-ins amplified this even more. Thankfully, completing each zone’s signature questline unlocks flying so I could eventually avoid most of the aggressive enemies.
I found the number of available quests overall to be sparse at times. But as I completed more of the signature story, enough side quests did become available to keep me going. However, if you get bored quickly of slayer and fetch quests, brace yourself - there are a lot of them in Visions of Vetrovia.. While I did find myself running back and forth a lot, I was also always on the lookout for heroic named enemies, public events, and collectibles which broke up what could have turned into a boring slough to level 125.
The solo instances in VoV were fun and helped break up the questing in overland zones as well. While there were several simple tank/DPS down style encounters, at least a couple of bosses in each dungeon could be a challenge until you figured out the mechanics. I had two fights that were my most memorable. In one, I needed to replace items/toys in display cases to calm the boss down, or he would eventually enrage enough to kill you. The other was the final fight of the expansion’s solo signature questline, where you needed to sacrifice an enemy and clear packs of mobs as they spawned.
I partnered up with my wife to do some of the named heroic overland encounters in each zone and complete an instance. While it was slow to take targets down, it was fun. We are going to go back and try the instance content again now that we are both level 125.
Two things did disappoint me as a returning player. First, the in-game economy is in rough shape. Many items listed on the broker are selling for so much that I don’t bother to look anymore. I could see prices being a shock for new and returning players.
Second, the game crashed or froze occasionally after a few hours of play. The crashes typically happened when zoning and the client would close without warning. More rarely, I could also get a semi-transparent white over the client window and have it freeze while questing.
While the start of this expansion is a bit slow, I enjoyed almost all of my time with VoV. The final story arc and three final boss fights of the signature questline are interesting and fun. The boss designs look great for these fights, and it adds to the lore of EverQuest 2. They bring everything together in a satisfying way. Unfortunately, the ending is a predictable story trope. While it is not enough to ruin the experience, it was kind of a disappointing note to end on.
Overall, the expansion is good. The graphics still hold up, combat is fun, and the new zones are interesting to explore. The developers did a great job with the story, and while the ending was a bit of a letdown it leaves enough open story threads for hopefully something interesting in a future patch. Everquest 2 Visions of Vetrovia kept me engaged and rekindled my interest in EQ 2 to the point where I have started a new Monk and am already level 50.