A little over a year ago I wrote up my vision of the as then unannounced EverQuest II expansion.
My vision then was Kunark.
And, when it turned out I was right, nobody was more surprised than myself.
So I am going to put down my guesses for the next EverQuest II expansion again.
I have two reasons for doing this.
1) Remind everybody I was right last year!
2) Prove that being right was a fluke
So with my goals laid out, and half way accomplished already, let me dig into my prediction.
As Indie Rock Pete will tell you, nostalgia is one of the strongest forces in the universe. The linkage between pre and post cataclysm Norrath has been successful enough that it has actually begun to flow both ways. Meldrath the Mad, who appears in the current EverQuest expansion, Secrets of Faydwer, began his career as a ghost in EverQuest II in Klak’Anon.
When it comes to playing the nostalgia card, I see no turning back now.
So the first aspect of my prediction is that it will be another location from pre-cataclysm EverQuest, brought forward and updated.
The past two nostalgia infused expansions, Echoes of Faydwer and Rise of Kunark, played similar hands from different directions. Both were islands that introduced new races and new home towns, EoF concentrated on Qeynos aligned content while RoK was Freeport slanted. They both raised the level cap as well.
The second aspect of my prediction is that the EQ2 team will break from that pattern this time around.
No new races, no new home towns, and no raise in the level cap.
The last one is going to be hard for people to swallow. On the other hand, after what seems to been more of a brisk stroll than a race to level 80 in RoK for some who claim not to be hard core, it seems that levels alone are not the way to ensure a deep expansion. Plus, with EQ2 seeming locked into 10 level increments, level cap increases could quickly approach the absurd if used every expansion. I have decried the gap between new content and new players when it comes to EverQuest, I would hate for that to become a big issue in EverQuest II. Starting off and looking at 90 levels might seem daunting indeed.
Rather than levels, I think this next expansion will be based on the idea of expanding your character in other directions. There are different ways this can be done, one of which is to offer some serious meat for the raiding community.
And since have the gods back in post-cataclysm Norrath, I think it is time we paid them a visit.
So I think the next EverQuest II expansion will be throw back to The Planes of Power.
Raids. Progression. Equipment.
All of those in enough measure to keep the high end guilds busy for a long time. Perhaps all of these aspects in enough measure for some EverQuest guilds to take a serious second look at EverQuest II.
The Same But Different
While I expect that the basics of the new planes will be the similar to how they exist currently in EverQuest, which is to say instanced versus wide open, there will have to be changes. The gods will no doubt have revised their defenses. Of course, they won’t go overboard, as you can only have 24 people on an EverQuest II raid, unless they chose to change that as well.
And I will also predict that there will be no repeat of the Plane of Knowledge. There is no reason for it in EverQuest II, there already being a game wide sales and broker system available that is superior to that found in EverQuest (if only because you do not have to stay online to sell), so the Bazaar (I know, it was a Luclin zone, but it is attached to the Plane of Knowledge) is not required.
And a travel hub, such as the Plane of Knowledge would only have the same effect in EverQuest II that it had in EverQuest, which would be the almost complete depopulation of the traditional home towns. (Though in EverQuest today, it does help concentrate the remaining population.)
That does not mean that there will not be a plane of that name in the expansion, but it will not serve the same purpose.
Show Some Class
What about the rest of us? Well, there will certainly be non-raid sections of the planes, but we’ll need something else to get us excited, something that will make us start new alts.
I said no new races above, and I stand by that. But a new playable class, now that might be a different story.
And the class I think we will see is a pet class that handles and tames animals, like the beastlord in EverQuest. However, I think this class will be more akin to the hunter in World of Warcraft. Some will moan about this, but since the hunter class is one of the most fun to play in WoW, it will end up being an asset to the game over all.
This will, of course, screw up that whole “Magic of 24” thing, the mystical guiding number for EverQuest II, but I think that is inevitable at some point.
I actually see this pet class being showing up as two classes, ala Fury/Warden or Troubadour/Dirge, with one very, offense oriented, with ranged weapons figuring prominently, and the other very much focused on defensive skills and aggro management. They will show up in the scout category, which will give them tracking, a natural fit for a hunter, but they will not get stealth or evac.
Obtaining pets will be on the model of WoW, where you will actually go out and tame the creature of your choice. However, it will differ from the WoW model otherwise, with creatures having their own “classes” with skills that will be available in the EverQuest II skill model for players, with advanced versions of the skills being available via player crafting, with the appropriate trades picking up the skill production.
This addition to the game will get a lot of people rolling up new characters and exploring the dynamics of the various pet and skill combinations. The main complaint about the class, at least initially, will revolve around the limited number of animal types that can be tamed. Bears, wolves, spiders, and scorpions will all be appreciated, but some people just won’t be satisfied until they can have a pet badger.
Fleshing Out Options
Of course, with no new levels to conquer, there will have to be some place to channel experience for those who choose not to roll up an alt. This will likely take the form of a new tier of alternate advancement, accessible only after a certain level (I would guess 70) and only after you have spent a given number of points in the currently available AA trees.
Also, with the addition of the planes, you can bet there will be more deities and related quests for players to choose from.
And, finally, the planes won’t be solid, level 80 content. The expansion will serve up both the high end raiding content as well as widening the experience path from levels 65 to 80.
So here is what I claim will/will not be in the next EverQuest II expansion:
- No level cap increase
- No new race or home town
- Content based on the Planes of Power
- Lots of raid content
- Expansion of level 65-80 solo and group content
- New pet based, hunter-like class
- New, third tier AA tree
- More deities from EverQuest brought into the game
You Make the Call
My reasoning behind choosing the Planes of Power as the model for the expansion has to main arguments. The first is that SOE has been to the well twice in a row for terrestrial expansion based on EverQuest. A third run would be a mistake, in my opinion. The second is that, of all of the remaining EverQuest expansions, The Planes of Power I think was the most anticipated by people I knew. That was the expansion that turned people into raiders. For good or ill, it heavily influenced the game going forward. And, as much as I am solo Joe, I think EverQuest II could use some of that influence as well.
There are other expansions in EverQuest that have had influence on the game, but none that I would consider worthy of the next expansion.
Luclin went boom and Velios was good, but no Kunark. And after those and Planes of Power, EverQuest stopped introducing quite such influential zones. The penalty for doing two expansions a year, no doubt.
I can see, for example, something like Lost Dungeons of Norrath making an appearance in EverQuest II. In fact, my guess is this is the sort of thing that they will re-use the raid content areas for, as Scott Hartsman alluded to in an interview a while back. But I would guess that would be put in as “between expansions” content.
Now here is where I invite you to take issue with what I have presented.
Tell me how I am wrong. Tell me what you think the next expansion will be.
Just remember my stated goals at the top of the article!