Due to recent events in the San Diego area, the requested screenshots did not arrive, and I have no wish to further delay this press tour writeup. So, one "stock" press photo for now will have to do the trick. Sorry about that, folks!
If you are one of those boring folks who happens to like plain-vanilla expansion previews, ignore the sections in italics. We aren't quite sure why you're expecting plain-vanilla from Mum, and you're probably horribly lost and feeling out of place with all these crazed crafters, but that's ok, we'll try to lessen the trauma for you a little and make it easy for you to find the meaty stuff. First, however, I give you ...
The Obligatory Not-So Tiny Fine Print
The information contained below is from an SOE-sponsored press tour of the new expansion. The NDA (non-disclosure agreement) is still in effect. Do not think that this gives you, the player, permission to talk about information from your beta experiences in public, because it does not. Certain fan sites, including this one, have been given official permission and limited NDA release to talk about their experiences.
I hate to "shout" with such information, but based on past press tours, someone is going to either complain about me breaking the NDA or is going to think this means the NDA has been lifted, and I want to stop those lines of thought right off the bat. Now, on with the tour tale ...
A tiny redheaded halfling sat at the end of the dock in Kylong Plains, large feet dangling above the waves as she frowned and scribbled. So intent was she that she failed to notice the gnome standing beside her until he spoke up.
"There you go again with your made-up words. It is bad enough when you've written things in the past that end up leaking into the common slang, such as 'munge' and 'transmute gunk', but I have to say, 'ginormous' takes the cake."
Her blue eyes narrowed as she glared at the nosy gnome. "Pffft, fat lot ye know, whoe'er ye are. I'll hae' ye know that 'ginormous' be a perfectly valid word, an' munge was, too, e'en if my definition o' it was a bit older than th' common vernacular use o' it."
Adjusting first his monocle, then his suspenders, he continued in a shrill nasal before she could continue, "I am Cobbles Wordsworth, President, Founder and Senior Publicity Agent for PPPUCC. That is Press People for the Proper Use of Correct Common, for you ... amateurs." He sniffed disdainfully and continued, choosing to ignore Niami's slowly reddening face. "I realize your newswriting lessons were quite some time ago, but there is really no excuse for using such creative and unprofessional words when there are several other perfectly good words that could be used in place of ... 'ginormous'."
As he continued to drone on, two spectators, one a Kerra with a TTH tag on his hat, and the other a lady dark elf with a 'Zam pendant resting above an impressive chest, spoke in hushed tones to each other. ("Did he just call Mum an amateur?" "Sure sounded it to me, Coy." "You have to give him points for calling her creative, though, Kiara." "Not when it has been prefaced with sidelong references to her relative age, though." "5 plat says there's going to be a gnome-punting." "I'll put 5 on the RPoD!")
"... so you see, while technically correct and accurate, you still should be using ..."
Pasting an overly-sweet smile on her face, Mum interrupted the gnome with a syrupy voice. "Why, ye're right, o' course. It has been a couple decades since my newswriting class, an' things are a bit fuzzy."
("Ut-oh, she's using 'the voice'. This is bad." "Define bad." "Shhh, wait a sec.")
"I just can't come up with a more appropriate word ..." Mum fluttered her hands helplessly, and continued on, batting her eyelashes at Cobbles."
("OMG. Did she just flutter?" "That was definitely a flutter, Coy." "AND the eyelash-bat?!?" "This is VERY bad. Crossing the streams sort of bad." "Can I change my bet, Kiara? I don't think a punt is going to do the trick.")
Overhearing them, Niami fought to keep a straight face as she continued. "Mayhaps if ye were tae help me wi' summat, ye could help me come up wi' a better word...?"
Feeling puffed-up from his apparent win, Cobbles snapped his suspenders proudly and proclaimed, "Of course, dear lady, anything I can do to help."
"Perfect! In order tae properly describe th' region, ye have tae be familiar wi' it. I need ye tae tour th' Kylong Plains region first. Oh, on foot, o' course. Withoot any travel enhancements. Do ye need a map? A bodyguard? Extra food? An' a warm coat, mayhaps?"
Stunned, Cobbles simply shook his head in negation. Regardless of whether he was trying to deny the need for the offered items, or he was just trying to say that wasn't what he had in mind with regards to helping, his brain latched onto the last words said. "A warm coat? It is perfectly warm and balmy here!"
"Right ye are. Ye don't need me warning ye aboot the climate or th' dangers. I'm sure a wordly wordsmith like ye has seen worse in yuir travels. So, off wi' ye, lad. When ye're back wi' a better word, I'll rewrite that part o' th' review." With a gentle push, she sent the confused and bemused Cobbles towards the nearby hills. "An' thank ye SO much frae offering tae help. It really means a lot tae me!"
Cobbles, being a male gnome, did what any self-respecting male member of the gnomish race would do in the face of female gratitude. He puffed up his chest, ignored his doubts, and set off.
("Smoooooth." "Wow, 5 plat says he doesn't survive.")
"Och, ye twa! How aboot a way that ye BOTH make some cash, eh?" Her blue eyes twinkled with merriment as she glanced from one to the other.
"Kiara-lass, he's headed right frae th' drachnids, and some o' those lasses can mesmerize a man. I expect ye know how tae break such a hold as well as cause it. Take my mount sae ye get there afore him, but do nae rescue him until he's squirmed a bit. Then leave him tae wander on his own frae a bit an' ride ahead tae set up a picnic near Ryjesium Peaks ... which ye'll be glad tae share, frae a fee, o' course." With that last, she prodded a filled picnic basket at her feet. "I can always make more frae my own lunch, an' frae th' bottomless pit o' kerra appetite."
"Meanwhile, Coyote-lad, do ye think ye could bribe Krunnk wi' some goodies in return frae rescuing th' gnome from th' hill giants? Mayhaps he can talk th' gnome intae using him as a bodyguard, though knowing Krunnk, what he thinks is proper pay may be interesting. After that, hide up near th' yetis in th' Peaks wi' this cloak. I suspect ye can sell it tae him frae a pretty penny at that point. Make sure ye bring summat tae keep yuirself warm as well. E'en wi' all yuir fur, it'll be a wee bit chilly. Ye can alsae either sell him this map at that time, or wait an' just happen tae' find him again when he's trying tae find his way tae Stonewood from Teren's Grasp."
"Basically, make sure he makes it back alive, more or less, but make him pay through th' nose frae it, an' keep th' profits frae yuirselves. It should give me a day or twa o' peace so I can finish writing this."
Not Just Big, It is ...
By now, you've likely seen some information about the new EQ2 expansion that is due out next month. While I am sure a person or ten has already leaked the fact that the expansion, and the zones are large, that doesn't do it justice.
New landmasses, new mob models, a new playable race, stunning new graphics, and large, large areas contained in a single "zone".
Forget big, large, huge, and so forth. The zones are simply GINORMOUS. Smirk all you want about my choice of wording, but it really is appropriate. That isn't just the perspective from someone with short stubby little halfling legs, either, as part of the time I was playing the tallest of the playable races, the new sarnak race. Niami with scales was a fun experience!
Like Greater Faydark, the starting area for sarnaks and a few other evil races is one big zone that covers levels 1-20 content. It makes GFay seem almost small, though, as you're sent from area to area, island to island during very logically-progressing and story-filled quest lines. By around level 10 or so, you have been introduced to very newbie-friendly griffon-travel to help speed you along your way, and are learning quite a bit about the history of the area. By level 20, if you've explored the various quests that have been offered to you, you have several decent pieces of gear, have been introduced to crafting, have learned a bit more about the sarnak history, and are ready to get your scaly toes wet out in the big wide world that is already out there. (At this point you are given a quest to go to Butcherblock, leading you towards the already-existing content for level 20+ players.)
Fast forward now with me to when you are level 65-70 and visiting Kylong Plains for the first time. This is where you really get to see the concept of "multiple regions, no zoning" shine. Picture stepping off the docks to be greeted with a sunny day. Wander a ways in one direction and as you approach Karnor's Castle, and you may find the day seeming darker, gloomier. You've hit one of several limited-area environmental effects areas. (As opposed to the way it is now, where the entire zone gets the same environmental effect.) Head up into the mountains towards Teren's Grasp, and not only will you find snow on the ground, but you may run into some localized snowstorms. Head into the Stone Wood and Highton area, and you may get a feel for what happened to Burning Woods after the Cataclysm. And so on. I lost count of how many pages of in-game maps it covers, but you get a wonderful chance to immerse yourself in the area, and stay immersed, even as you run into various changes in environment that fit the areas that you are visiting. The other overland zones are like this, too, so don't be fooled by the "Only X new zones!" complaints when someone goes by the numbers and starts griping.
Of course, something this massive means a lot of traveling, and the savvy adventurer will hit the ground questing, in order to obtain access to the region's transportation system - the sokokar flight paths. Earn your brownie points (and your non-combat sokokar pet) and travel to the various sokokar hitching posts throughout the zones to access the interconnecting flight paths. The more you explore, and the more posts you visit, the easier it will be for you to travel from place-to-place later on. (Much like griffon flight paths in the "old world", however, jumping from the back of a moving sokokar because you see a glowie could be a painful experience if you don't have a feather fall ability!)
What Else is There?
In case you missed it elsewhere (if you missed it, have you been hibernating in a crafting instance all this time?), this expansion will raise the adventuring and tradeskill level caps from level 70 to level 80. Guild level caps will go from level 60 to level 80. (Yes, crafters, this will mean new recipes for every class, among other things. I'll go into more detail regarding that "soon", if all goes well.) A new playable race, the sarnak, will be introduced. A new mount type will also be released, the Kunark rhino. (I can tell you a this time that high-end guilds will be able to purchase them, but can't tell you anything more about any other methods to obtain them.)
Adventure-wise, there should be something for everyone here. Much of the overland content is soloable, because, let's face it, most of what folks tend to do when wandering around large outdoor areas is solo or small group. For those wanting group content, there will be multiple dungeons and instances to crawl around in with your friends (or your enemies, for that matter, if you need sacrificial bait for certain mobs!). There is also some pretty challenging raid content, such as in Veeshan's Peak, where Trakanon has returned and is in charge of the Ring of Scale. We managed to go in and say hello, with special tour buffs on us to keep us alive, and ... wow. NOT a friendly group of drakes, golems and other critters.
Quests, We've got Your Quests!
For the quest-a-holics, there are quests everywhere. Lots and lots of quests of varying types and difficulty. Lore and Legend, errand-running, killing things, stealing things and alllll sorts of mischief and mayhem.
Along the way, you'll run into numerous areas with their own special factions. With proper picking, choosing and careful killing, you can even get in good with "opposing" factions in an area. (The ones that are not in open warfare with each other don't mind if you help their opponents with a few quests, as long as you watch who you're killing.) Better faction allows you access to more amenities, vendors and the like, so it can be a happy thing to have when you're wayyyyyyyy away from what you would normally consider proper civilization.
There is of course, quite a bit more to the expansion. We can't spoil everything for you, of course! However, I do hope to have some tradeskill nitty-gritty for you in a couple days. Since that isn't part of a typical beta press tour, I need to see what I do and don't have permission to talk about, and see if I can convince them to also release a few screen shots for me!
Meanwhile, it seems poor Cobble did manage to find a zoneline while trying to avoid some aggressive iksar, and was last seen trying to chase down a cockatrice in the Fens of Nathsar for some dinner before he continues on his exploration of Kylong. Tune in next time to see if he makes it back in one piece, and his verdict on the whole "ginormous" thing!
Created: 2007-10-17 10:01:54
Last Modified By: Niami Denmother
Last Modified on: 2007-10-26 01:23:37
© 2003-17 Niami Denmother.
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