possibly make a game with over 300,000 players even better?
You guessed it: a new expansion. And
even after the rousing success of Verants MMORPG Everquest
and its initial expansion, the Ruins of Kurnark, Everquests Scars of Velious is quite an
expansion, introducing an entirely new land, Velious, to the EQ atlas. Velious was
discovered by the gnomesas every EQ player knows, the most driven explorers and
tinkerers of all the races inhabiting Norrath. Intrigued
by Norraths oceanic ice fields, the gnomes created the mighty Icebreaker
to cut through the icy expanses and see what lay beyond.
What lay beyond
is Velious, a new and very dangerous continent for adventurers who have already invested a
good deal of time in Norrath. The lowest
level recommended for Velious is 30, but realistically you wont stand much chance of
finding glory--or group mates--at such a low level. Those
players in the low 30s seeking fame and fortune in this new land will instead find
shallow, unmarked, snow-covered graves. Of course, this may vary from server to server,
but on mine it was almost impossible to find a group to join until I clawed my way into
size of Velious is impressive. It adds 16 new
zones (increasing the size of Norrath by 20%). The zones are themselves quite expansive
and filled with new creatures, new loot, and new spells.
The new armor, weapons, and spells, are amazing and every race/class will
find something to work or save towards. The
player-based economy is as strong (or weak, depending on your point of view) as ever. Even
this early in the continents history, you can usually find someone who will sell you
that special item youre looking for--as long as you can meet their price.
have been a number of most welcome improvements to the game interface. There are now more keyboard commands, and you can
create more then the original six hotkeys, allowing your casting/attacks to be much more
fluid. The NPC AI has also been adjusted in
Velious. In the past, if you had trouble
retrieving a corpse, you could have a comrade drag your corpse out of danger to another
area of the zone. In Velious, however, a new
angle comes into play. If you have bad
faction with a new mob (lets say Ice Dragons) and you are killed with your corpse
surrounded by Ice Dragons youll face a new obstacle.
If you call on a friend who has good faction with Ice Dragons and they try
to drag your corpse away, that friend will find that the Dragons (who normally tolerate
their presence) will attack as soon as he tries to drag the corpse. Nasty.
teleport areas called Dragon Circlestheyre similar to the old Druid Rings and
Wizard Spires--are also seeded throughout Velious, and can be used by any Druid/Wizard
with the appropriate spell. Of course, there
is a twist to these as well. Before players
can teleport to these rings they must first venture to the rings themselves and collect an
artifact from the ring. And this goes for the
caster of the spell (Druid/Wizard) as well as those seeking to tag along. I have also
noticed that Dragon Circles are not nearly as "safe" as the Druid Rings or
Wizard Spires; I have rarely--if ever--been attacked immediately after gating to a ring or
spire. In Velious however, attacks inside the ring are quite common, and require alert
adventurers to be prepared for attack as soon as they arrive. Its not unusual to arrive at a circle only
to find the corpses of an entire party that was caught by surprise as they arrived.
every EQ player has a different philosophy and style of play, let me offer a few
suggestions: Velious is NOT a place where you want to simply kill every creature that you
find. Faction plays a huge role on this
continent, much more so then other areas of Norrath.
If you destroy your faction with certain creatures you face hours upon hours
of time to rebuild that faction so that you can venture into some areas. It is also possible that you will not be able to
rebuild your faction, which can block your access to some areas.
Graphically, the games looks have been tweaked and the system
requirements have been bumped up a bit. The new look will be welcome for those who have
updated their driversremember, because Everquest is always evolving via patches it
requires players to keep up to date with drivers.
time there has been an odd kind of love/hate relationship between EQ players and Verant,
but despite the complaints and rants the fact remains that Everquest is one of the most
popular games around. It is by far the most
popular MMORPG on the market and with its 300,000+ active accounts it has the numbers to
back up its claim as top dog. While a host of
new Online RPGs are on the way over the next year or so, the addiction that so many
players have with Everquest will not likely die down anytime soon. Verant has really pioneered this relatively new
genre of game and Norrath will probably remain the fantasy world of choice for years to
The biggest down side to the Velious expansion and Everquest in general is that it
can consume all of your free time. Its
quite easy to jump on the server planning to play for an hour or so, only to find that six
hours have slipped by. But thats
testament to the compelling and exciting nature of the game, one is made only richer by
excellent expansions like the Scars of Velious.