Tears of Veeshan, Everquest 2's latest expansion was released last week. Since I was travelling I have only been able to check it out the in the last few days. I admit before the release I was a bit hesitant about it. Mostly due to the changes to gear stats and the promise that the questing would be less linear than the previous one, Chains of Eternity. That and we would have to do some work for Qho again! Well, after spending these last few days with it I am happy to say my worries weren't warranted. 🙂
Story-wise we have to go back to Ethernere again, the sort of EQ2's version of limbo, where the undead pass through before they meet their chosen deity. The difference is that we go to Vespyrr Isles this time, the corner of the Ethernere reserved for all dragonkind. This creates an amusing situation since almost all of the big dragons there used to be raid bosses in previous expansions. So it is kinda funny to see what each of them are up to in their after-life. Surprisingly there isn't any awakard interaction with them due to us being the responsibles for them being dead in the first place. Then again I only raided a couple of them due to certain circunstances. I might go back and try to do the raid for the others just to see if there is any different interaction.
The story is still being delivered thorugh a signature quest, just like in Chains of Eternity. The difference is it is a lot less linear. The first parts allow you to tackle things in any order you want. I don't know if later parts will be the same as I am still doing them. Right now I am in some steps that require doing solo instances. Speaking of which, the solo instances are pretty challenging and in a pretty interesting way too. Let me explain, a lot of times in the past I felt that EQ2 tried to provide challenges in its dungeon through "brute force". By that I mean, it required a certain amount of DPS or a script that required the whole party to do something exactly right or you just couldn't pass through it. In the Nexus Core, the first of the solo instance, and the only one I didn't feel it was the case. It was more of a question of paying attention to what was going in the fight and responding accordingly, usually by running away from some incoming attack. All attacks gave enough warning for me to act on it and there was enough visual cues to know how to avoid getting killed too. So it was more of a challenge to the player's skill rather than their gear or their ability to follow a script where you have to guess what the developer wanted you to do. I don't know if later dungeons will be like this but I will find out soon enough, I guess.
Another interesting thing about the Vespyrr Isles is that they are all floating isles with the only way to get to each via flying mounts. This isn't an issue since pretty much everyone at that level already has one of those. However it does create a very surreal and fantasy feeling to the whole place.
The revamping of the gear stats is something I am still trying to wrap my head around. The intention with the revamp was to make it more interesting and give players choices. I am still unsure if that will work out but one neat thing they did was to add an NPC that can exchange the gear you earn through quest rewards for similar gear with different stats. This allows us to play around a bit to find out what kind of set works best for us. Right now Rakuno, my monk, is wearing a tankish set which has been working well for him. Later on I will experiment with a different set.
Crafters also got a bunch of goodies. My favorites ones being obviously the new recipes for carpenters. Although other tradeskill classes also got some neat stuff, like armorers who are able to use the old AA mirror (now called a polished mirror) to make one that can clear XP debt. Provisioners also got an advanced recipe book which allows them to build a few furniture related to their tradeskill. For those curious there are some pictures and some excellent write-up about that at EQ2 Traders.
Even the return of Qho, a.k.a. the little devil, wasn't that bad. The new quest is pretty short and rewards a improved pack pony that has a chance to bring back some rares, just like the harvesting goblin. The difference is that the improved pony can also bring event harvestables whenever the related event is going on. So if Frostfell is going on then you can tell the pony to bring back frostfell materials. No more scrambling around to get as much event harvestables as possible before it is over!
I think the only thing I didn't really test much yet was the new class, the Channeler. I only tested it for about 5 levels during beta and found it really amusing that their way of healing is by shooting arrows at the mobs! Besides that the class seem to have potential to be really fun. I intent to make one Soon (tm) but for now I got other priorities.
Hm. I think those are the major things that came with the expansion. Or at least those are the ones that caught my attention the most.
Have you gotten the expansion too? What are your thoughts on it so far?