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On the eve of Velious

GnollI realize that EverQuest II’s next expansion was just pushed back a little but I still feel like it is right around the corner. That is a fact that has me extremely excited! Velious was my favorite EverQuest expansion and if I could reclaim just a part of that glory I’ll be happy. With me being in Germany a good half of Sentinel’s Fate was a loss. I haven’t been able to raid with my friends and that has frustrated me. I’ll be coming home just in time to start up fresh with a new expansion and that is something I’m looking forwards to.

When I heard about Velious at Fan Faire I wrote a piece about what I hoped it would be. As we get closer to the release date I’ve heard some more details that excite me! Since I’m trying to get back into the swing of writing (I am still out in Germany) I thought it might be fun to rehash my hopes against what we’re actually looking at now.

Levels that matter – My first wish was that Velious only include levels that matter to EQ2. To quote myself: In Sentinel’s Fate we were given ten new levels for no reason. These levels could be completed by hardcore players in less than 12 hours. Casual players might need a week. No new spells or abilities were introduced. Someone literally copied the 71 to 80 spell list and pasted it onto the 81 to 90 list. Much to my excitement Velious is a “no levels” expansion. It is AA points only. I applaud SOE for this. Everyone says, “You have to add levels” but the honest answer is that no, you don’t. You can always provide character progression through other means.

It can’t be small – I didn’t want Velious to be geographically tiny like the last two expansions. I felt it needed to be big like Kunark! I haven’t heard anything about this yet. If someone wants to let me know I’d appreciate it!

Forget the low end – I still feel strongly about this one. EQ2 has plenty of content to get you up in levels. SOE needs to ensure that there is plenty to do when you reach max since it is so ridiculously easy to do so now.

Time for a new AA Tab – I’m pleased to say it sounds like we’re getting one. Velious is an AA expansion! I can’t imagine SOE just tacking on new (and somewhat disappointing) AAs to the existing lines like they did in Sentinel’s Fate. With any luck we’re going to see some pretty interesting choices that let you take your class in a way that suits your play style.

Real, open dungeons – I know we’re getting one and evidently only one. I hope that it is truly supported and doesn’t turn out like the Hole in SF.

Itemization corrections – I saw a post that quoted the changes coming out of beta. It sounds like everyone is crying nerf but I honestly agreed with almost every change. SOE recognized some of the problems with healing I (and many others) have been harping on. This quote said it best: The requirement for procs was most prevalent with healers in the form of ward procs. After looking at these procs and how frequently they were being used, we realized how much we’ve been balancing combat and encounters around the power of wards. That meant if you did not have ward proc you were in dire straits. Spamming all of your heals as fast as possible so that your wards proc’d doesn’t equal skill. It cheapened our experience and made us easily replaceable. If healers have to start thinking again I’m all for it (Thank you to MMO Symposium for the quote).

It is obviously too soon to make any kind of judgments on Velious (although people are already doing so thanks to the beta). I for one am feeling pretty confident. A lot of things I’ve put my two cents in about seem to be included. Now we have to see how they were executed! See you on EQ2 in February!

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11 Responses to On the eve of Velious

  1. I wonder if you (and SOE) are a bit too focused on the “you have gained level X” sound and lightshow. I don’t know what’s going on behind the NDA, but I’m guessing that 50-100 AA points and a partial gear reset (at least on par with Kunark -> TSO) are safe bets. If you’re getting new abilities, replacing all your gear, and tackling new content that is balanced assuming your new abilities and gear, does it really matter that the arbitrary number by your name hasn’t changed? The only differences I can think of are that TSF mobs won’t grey out and crafters (especially Scholars) will have less new stuff to offer. Oh, and those of us who actually like overland solo content are going to start the expansion over-leveled unless they changed the plan for the new content to start at level 86.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m no fan of the meaningless levels of TSF either. Maybe now that Blizzard has put out a five level expansion, SOE will be willing to move the needle by fewer than 10 levels in 2012’s expansion. Either way, my interest in Velious is pretty low unless there’s something impressive lurking behind the NDA. (Wonder how much launching on Rift headstart day is going to hurt them too.)

    • Ferrel says:

      I’m sure that the release on head start day is intentional. That is a play out of the WoW handbook. I’m not sure it will work as well for SOE as it does for Blizzard.

      As far as the level cap going up I’m not sure I follow the first bit! I was advocating no increase or a small increase only to it. I’m generally against it as I see it as largely pointless. Huge level gaps just turn new players off even if they’re easy. Nobody wants to feel like they need to earn 100 levels just to play with their friends. So I’d agree that previously SOE and Blizzard were focusing on that. Now they might be slowing it down.

      • I would rather have seen the cap increase by exactly two levels and have the new solo content targeted at 90-92 than keep the number the same and then waste time putting in 86-90 content (again, this was the plan as of FF, dunno if it happened) that isn’t needed because they already based the exp curve to get players to 90 in TSF content. Yes, we can still do it for AA, starting four levels higher than the content is designed for, but I believe the term for that is “chores”. :P

        If they were making a serious effort not to increase player power (i.e. not having new AA and easily obtained gear), that would be a good argument against raising the cap, since it breaks hit calculations and other mechanics that are tied to level. If they are adding these things, which seems almost certain, then I don’t see who benefits from holding the cap steady. (Raising the cap by 10 would be equally pointless.)

        • Ferrel says:

          Ah I understand your point now. Of course I have to ask, why couldn’t they make all of the content level 90? What ensures that it will be 86-90?

          • The FF announcement last said that it would be 86-90. This may have changed, no one who knows any better can say due to the NDA. Expansions (including past EQ2 expansions) almost always start slightly under level so that players who quit because they couldn’t take yet another zone of whatever (eg blasted rocks in WoW’s Outland) without reaching the cap can skip to the new stuff.

            This is where I don’t understand why people complain about 2-year WoW expansion cycles. A single expansion with 80-90 in TSF+DOV would have come in about equivalent to a two year WoW expansion (a bit more group content, a bit less solo content). Instead, EQ2 players pay twice and get an exp curve that crams all the levels into the TSF solo zones. But at least we get two commemorative boxes and CD coasters?

          • Ferrel says:

            Ah yeah I forgot about that. Good point! As much as I hate to agree I pretty much have to. Blizzard does seem to give more for the player’s money when it comes to expansions.

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  4. Bhagpuss says:

    I’d just point out that far from Sentinel’s Fate giving us ” ten new levels for no reason” it actually gave solo, duo and small group players another twenty levels of content. Being 90 rather than 80 opened up huge swathes of existing Heroic content that had previously been out of reach and being able to go to those places was the best part of the expansion. Certainly the actual content in it wasn’t of any great interest.

    As for moving the start to the Rift Head Start day, the effect it’s had on Mrs Bhagpuss and myself is that we now probably won’t be buying Velious at launch. There’s very little chance of us logging in to EQ2 once we have the option of logging into Rift, not until we have played the heck out of the newer game, anyway, so there’s no need to get Velious right away. Had Velious launched two weeks before Rift we’d have bought it there and then but now we may leave it til we cool down on Rift, which could be many months from now (I hope!).

    • Ferrel says:

      Now this is an excellent point. Being over leveled does help causal players to see things that were previously not available. I would say that gear power creep and AA does this too! Great point though.

    • “Had Velious launched two weeks before Rift we’d have bought it there and then but now we may leave it til we cool down on Rift”

      Now that you mention it, this might bode poorly for the progress of the beta (though it did get off to a late start). Some players who wander off to Rift for 7 months might decide to wait and get DOV free with the 2012 expansion box. TSF was definitely a bit rough around the edges when it launched, and DOV must be even worse for them to have been willing to delay it with a major competitor so close at their heels.