I have spent a considerable amount of time in Kunark over the past couple days, and I have much more to add to my “first impressions” post from last week. There are a lot of features that the new expansion added that take some time to “sink in”, albeit they are very nice, even those that are only aesthetic.
One feature I had noticed before, but failed to mention previously, is the atmospheric changes as you “soft-zone”. I can’t remember where I heard that term before, but it’s used to describe crossing an invisible zone line in a large zone (like all of the zones in kunark that I’ve seen so far). Essentially, a large zone is divided into multiple smaller zones, though a zoning screen isn’t used when traversing said invisible lines. Since the RoK zones are larger than any we’ve seen, imagine fitting multiple smaller old world zones into one. For instance, in the Fens of Nathsar, you will find part of The Lake of Ill Omen, The Swamp of No Hope, The Field of Bone, and other bits and pieces of worlds we once knew in EQ1. When you are above the Field of Bone, it’s bright and clear, with visible vegetation. As you descend into the pit, the world becomes gloomy, overcast, and dreary. Cross that invisible line again, and the world is a happy place once more. You have to see this for yourself, it’s quite immersive.
Another feature I noticed but forgot to mention, is NPC AI. The AI in this game is amazing. Remember a few months back when an LU introduced the /pet ranged command? Conjurors and Necros rejoiced; their mage pets would finally stand back and cast spells with them, making them much more desirable. Well imagine these few lines of code applied to mobs? It’s finally happened. Mage mobs will cast hostile spells at you from afar, and not swoop in to beat on you with their sticks (although if you close the gap they won’t back away like a player would; the AI still isn’t perfect). Rangers will fire arrows. Chanters will mez you and then cast from afar. Warriors and animal mobs will still come in close, but what other option do they have? Truly though, this is a very good step in the right direction, and I hope they go through and change the AI on mobs throughout the world, it makes for much more realistic gameplay.
Quests have the same feel overall, though there have been some changes for the better. Some quests have different objectives, and though I don’t have examples, you will find out as you move through the questlines. Quest rewards are pretty decent, though if you were a hardcore raider you probably won’t get upgrades for a while. I got a full set of treasured gear after going through Kylong Plains, and have gotten upgrades here and there, including some Legendary gear, most of which has been better than EOF Legendary. The expansion is Faction heavy, particularly once you get to Fens. Here you are dodging multiple aggro factions, but eventually become an ally to most of them. From what I hear, gaining max faction with some allows the purchase of some pretty decent Legendary gear, but I have yet to max faction with any… more on that later.
Recently on the Official Forums there was a discussion on “Easter Eggs” within the game. An Easter Egg is a little quirk the designers throw in to get a laugh out of the player, or can even be a mini-game, etc. One in particular I can remember was inside one of the Microsoft Office programs, you hit a variety of key combinations, and were rewarded with the original pong game. Anyhow, people on the forums were bringing up various pop culture references found within the game, and I have a couple to name off. Both were quest names in the Fens, and I got a laugh out of them. The first was called “Death to S’neuchi”, a reference to the movie “Death to Smoochy“, where you get to kill an iskar named S’neuchi. The second, was called “The Sarnshak Rebellion”, which I’m not as sure about, but reminds me of “The Shawshank Redemption“. Thought I’d mention those for kicks.
RoK brought tome collections along for the ride (which I have always despised). Tome collections have always sucked, because you’ll find pages scattered about, but then you have to find the last pages off of mobs, and they’re always no-trade. Talk about a pain in the ass. I’ve finished very few of these. Well I managed to finish a couple in RoK tonight, in Fens. The Mysterious Black and Green tomes, both have all of their pages scattered in the Fens. So, I finished both, and the pages weren’t difficult to find. But, as an added bonus on top of the AA received from completing them, they both offered language quests. The Black tome offered Salrithian (something like that), and the Green offered Froak. Apparently I have to complete these quests and I’ll learn a couple languages, and it’s not quite as annoying as waiting for body drops off of particular mobs. Kudos to that.
Overall, I’ve been having a lot of fun questing in Fens. My Brigand dinged 73 tonight, and also got his 109th AA. It’s taken a lot of work as compared to 1-70, but it’s been well worth it, the memories in this expansion have been great. I also rolled up a Sarnak Wizard, and have been playing him here and there; he’s level 11. Timerous Deep is just as much a part of this expansion as the high level stuff, and I intend to experience it all.
For the rest of you bloggers out there, the word has been getting around about the new in-game channel for us. But in case you’ve been hiding under a rock, here’s the info: If you’re playing on the Antonia Bayle server, type /join bloggers. If you’re on another server, the syntax for cross server channel joining is /join antonia_bayle.bloggers. Come join in on the chat! I also added a few new mmo blogs to my list, mainly people I’m getting to know through this chat channel. Feel free to add me as well when you guys get a chance.