EverQuest: The Ruins of Kunark
Publisher: Sony Online Entertainment
Developer: Verant Interactive
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"But as you explore the new continent of Kunark, it'll become increasingly clear to you that the expansion's value is as immense as that of the original game." - Greg Kasavin, GameSpot Review
The original EverQuest was a highly ambitious game that drew its themes and content from traditional Western fantasy lore, legends, and imagery, and it continues to allow thousands of players to enter a virtual 3D online world where they can indulge in adventure by playing as elves, barbarians, trolls, dark elves, gnomes, dwarves, and more in a variety of classes such as necromancer, druid, magician, wizard, shaman, enchanter, and so on. EverQuest was already a very successful game before The Ruins of Kunark appeared in late March this year, and the expansion has definitely played a notable role in increasing the original game's popularity and longevity.
The Ruins of Kunark introduces a new landmass, the rather lush and exotic continent of Kunark, as well as a new playable race of lizardmen called Iksar. It's perhaps an understatement to say that the expansion has an ambitious scope, but the developer was faced with the challenge of keeping thousands and thousands of dedicated fans fervently interested in its game. As such, The Ruins of Kunark features a number of improvements over the original game: an enhanced graphics engine that allows for more-detailed graphics, including higher-polygon 3D models and animated scenery; a great number of expansive and scenic outdoor zones; tougher dungeons and monsters, including fearsome new dragons; new spells and disciplines for the character classes; and last but not least, all-important new loot and experience-giving quests. In addition, the expansion lets you surpass the original game's level-50 cap to attain 60, and with this new cap, you get many new powerful spells. Many of Kunark's outdoor zones like Dreadlands and Burning Woods are especially intended as adventuring grounds for high-level players, whereas in the original game high-level players had been gaining experience mostly in dark dungeons or in the planes.
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In terms of gameplay, The Ruins of Kunark presents a greater challenge to solo adventurers and adventuring parties. Although the core gameplay hasn't changed drastically, monsters native to Kunark hit faster and harder than on old-world continents, and engaged monsters do lose interest in you if you wander too far from them. In addition, a greater variety of creatures will attack you on sight, so adventuring in Kunark entails more risk but with greater potential reward. In light of this, the expansion successfully pits players against themselves as they must constantly weigh risk against reward, and as such, The Ruins of Kunark delivers abundantly more excitement that players crave from the fantasy world of Norrath. And because the game is open-ended and has no scripted scenarios, teamwork and cooperation during expeditions and raids, prime motivators for players, have become more important to develop. Judging from an increasing subscriber base and its ability to hook and totally captivate an audience, the EverQuest: The Ruins of Kunark expansion is not only a great expansion for EverQuest devotees but also the best expansion this year.
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