E3 '07: EverQuest II: Rise of Kunark Impressions
Sony Online hasn't forgotten about EverQuest II--this upcoming expansion pack will add a load of new content to the game.
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Dedicated EverQuest II players will get a raft of new content this November, when the next expansion pack for the game, Rise of Kunark, will ship to retail and also become available for download. From the looks of things, the pack will add a ton of new content in all the places you'd expect in a massively multiplayer expansion. One of the biggest additions will be a new playable race, a species of dragon-men called the Sarnak. To accompany the Sarnak's entrance into Norrath, of course, will be a new start zone, an island chain called Timorous Deep. Of course, this zone will also contain the Sarnak's new capital city.
The bulk of the new content in Rise of Kunark, though, will be geared toward the current hardcore, high-level players. All level caps--that is, for characters, guilds, and trade skills--will go up to 80, and new "achievement outfits" will be included that will allow you to re-spec your character to improve your trade skills more efficiently. You'll find 24 new epic weapon quests, each in two parts. The first stage will be a group quest, and will yield a pretty darn nice weapon. But if you want to power your new epic up to its fullest extent, you'll have to trudge through the second phase of the weapon quest, which will be raid-based. Finally, no MMO expansion is complete without a new mount, and you'll find one--the Kunarkian rhinoceros--here.
In addition to Timorous Deep, SOE will add four new overland zones to the game that start around level 65. These will purportedly be really massive zones, though--an SOE rep said that each will actually be composed internally of three smaller zones that are thematically and geographically distinctive. So you'll get to experience some graphical variety without actually having to zone into a new area.
This year, SOE will change its development cycle on expansions for both EverQuest and its sequel, dropping back to one release annually from two. Players were having a hard time plowing through all the new content the developers were cranking out, and the developers were likely staying up late into the night to produce that content, so this arrangement will probably be more agreeable to everyone. SOE will also offer a rather nice package for newcomers to the series--you'll be able to buy Rise of Kunark at retail for around $40 and receive the base EQII and all previous expansions in the box as well. Tentatively, the same deal is set for the downloadable version, though we've heard conflicting reports stating that only Rise will be available in the online package. We'll attempt to clarify that last point as soon as possible.