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EverQuest II Age of Discovery Beta Impressions

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Posted by: Lance Liebl

SOE has recently announced many changes to their MMORPG EverQuest II. It now has free-to-play models, but that wasn't all that the minds over at SOE had in store for the game. After listening to what players have been asking for in the forums, they're making changes and adding things into the game. A tour of these new features included Freeport Reborn, the Beastlord class, a Dungeon Creator, and Mercenaries.

The city of Freeport has literally been...well...reborn. The developers felt like the addition of Guildhalls killed cities, but now they're adding lots of reasons to venture back into the cities. Freeport now feels much more active. There are no longer separate zones; Freeport is now all one zone with instanced zones for quests. The city also has scaling quests with your level, so you will always have something to do. The look of Freeport is also getting a huge upgrade, with textures and lighting improvements. I was shown one part of the city where the city guards hold executions. After reading off the offenses of the charged, they announced the penalty of death, killed the person, and shoved the body off of a ledge into a pit. It's active encounters between NPCs like this that is bringing the city to life.

A huge addition to the game that players have been asking for is the Beastlord class. They actually said it was the number one requested feature that they add. SOE didn't just want to take this epic EverQuest class and plug it into the game; they call it a re-imagining of the EQ Beastmaster. Beastmasters use warders (faithful animal companions), and they start with one right from level one. Later, you tame others from any of the 16 families of warders. The families are things like spiders, birds, bears, and tigers. Each warder levels up and has different abilities, strengths, and weaknesses. For instance, a warder that is more for tanking won't be doing as much dps. Warders also have the ability to tell the weaknesses in enemies, which in turn allow you to hit harder and let you trigger primals (special attacks). The gameplay of the Beastmaster is really different from any of the other classes in EverQuest II, and players should love it.

The feature that I'm most excited about is the Dungeon Creator, giving players the ability to create and publish their own dungeons. Both creators and players of these dungeons will be rewarded. The tour guide explained that it was kind of like creating housing but more expanded. The Dungeon Creator will allow players to become well-known in the community. You get different layouts and items for your dungeons from drops from monsters in the game. There are new forms of loots, like the maps, items and monsters for the dungeons, and other things for you to use.

The possibilities are virtually endless for the Dungeon Creator. Place a desk in a hallways, turn it, move it, enlarge it—whatever you want. Place an enemy spawner of mages and you can set them to partrol a certain route that you set, have them wander randomly, or put a campfire near them, and they become a group. Players can also rate the dungeons that they play and see the top created dungeons when they are choosing which to play.

One thing I asked is if players will be able to create scripted events or dialogue. You won't be able to, but they added a big yet at the end.

The last new feature is Mercenaries, and the feedback from players in the beta have been great. There will be 10 or 12 different mercenaries at launch, with each having different abilities. You can choose which compliment your game style the best; if you are a ranged dps class, you can choose a tank mercenary to take hits for you, a healer to keep you alive, or another dps for even more damage output. Each Mercenary has a fee that you pay, and they take a small cut of whatever gold you make while they're with you.

A great thing about Mercenaries is that they can fill in your group's empty spots; if you can't find another player, the Mercenary can be used in parties, dungeons, and raids. If there are only six players and each of them have a mercenary, they will be able to raid. The Mercenaries are also balanced to be a little less effective than the average pug player. So don't rely on the Mercenary to carry you.

Mercenaries can also be dressed up with your items. Don't worry; you don't lose your items. It is merely for appearance purposes. Also, if you hire, dress up, fire, and then rehire the Mercenary, it will remember what items you had on that Mercenary and redress him accordingly. Lastly, there are extra powerful, rare Mercenaries that you can find and unlock. Though they are quite expensive to hire, they are much better than the average Mercenary.

Overall, these are all great changes to EverQuest II that the player base should be excited about. While the Mercenaries feature might be brought on by the companions in the soon to be released Star Wars the Old Republic, it is still a nice feature. With a new class and and awesome dungeon creator that creates endless possibilities, the EQII train looks to be picking up some steam.

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