There’d been some discussion about EQ2s next expansion after SoE registered a new trademark for “Rise of Kunark”. I was guessing they were planning a planar expansion, there are numerous allusions to it around the game world from the dialog of the Avatar of Flame to the addition of the fear portal in Feerott.
But it seems EoF was a surprising success to Sony, who have traditionally not been seen as capable sellers of their product’s replay value. What others called an “alt” or a “toon”, SoE called a “twink”.
SoE finally announced the release schedule for a Rise of Kunark expansion last week. But in a double whammy, they also pushed out a major Live Update which brings Neriak back to the world of Norrath and also introduces a new playable race (evil fae).
In the brief look around Neriak and the “Darklight” newbie zone outside what I saw was polish and finesse. Neriak is truly beautiful; it lacks some of the hubub of the original – but given how we all hate freeport I’m willing to allow that. It has enough hubub and its a single zone. It even has a banker and broker a few feet from each other. The few quests I tried were fun.
There were also some sweet little minor changes in the patch, some of the things I harped about including the delayed appearance of mobs and an end to the pain that was moving house. Neriak doesn’t have status housing or a 4 slot house, so I probably won’t be moving there just yet, although the houses were kinda neat.
I imagine Neriak has probably sparked a little surge in re-interest in the game. But how far will all these new alts go? Will people play them to max level like they did Fae, or will they tend to peter out somewhere around 17-25 when their uniqueness ends and they drop back onto the Freeport/EoF progression?
Unfortunately, SoE make it hard to replay their games: The shared bank is divided between cities, only one alt can be brokering per server, there’s no way to give an alt a LORE item, and to give cash to your alts, you have to send it via email, which can take hours to arrive if its in a different city.
All minutae, and Sony have been steadily chipping away at them, but in a reactive fashion that leaves me questioning whether or not they get what alts are, why people play them and most importantly how people play them.
I do understand why people don’t like “twinks”, but go play Vanguard, will ya? Brad made it specially for you.
But the real meat of alts is the opportunity to be someone else within the same community of people that you’ve been playing in. Character-per-server was, imho, the biggest mistake SWG made; that any MMO has mode in 8 years.
There are potential negatives from easy alting – people will delete toons and reroll them to create artificial anonymity – but there are better ways to deal with that than making alt play torture for the rest of us.
Here’s my hopes for RoK:
– Throw wide the door on alt play; let me and my toons be a family even if, roleplayingly, we are embattled city vs city.
– Get rid of coin weight.
– Variety of combat – more mobs with unique attacks or behaviors; one thing LotRO has going for it is that fighting a bear is different than fighting a wolf.
– Variety of encounters – balance the variety of mobs rather than making all mobs equal; my fire-based fury could afford to be less effective against fire elemental than ice elementals as long as the difference isn’t crippling.
– Coin buying system – undersell the plat farmers, but give me something in-game that I need to access the money — like a writ or something.
– Make the elevator at the end of The Nest work again, ya gits.