Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Everquest II Now Free to Play

Another MMORPG has gone Free to Play (F2P), doing away with download and membership costs. Many MMO's have gone this route in the last couple of years and for most of them it is what has kept them in the water, generally increasing their revenue and player base. Personally, I'm iffy on F2P, they generally make me feel like I'm getting a less substantial game and that if I want to get premium content then I'm going to have pay an untold amount of money. The fact that they get people paying hundreds of dollars for single items in F2P games is horrifying, something that would never occur in a normal MMO. Then again I haven't played Everquest II since the beta and I won't be coming back to it ever again, but for any of you that may be contemplating doing so or are already playing the game then let me lay out all the content changes that are coming with the switch to F2P.

Firstly, they have changed the city of Freeport into a new area that is all contained within one zone. They have also graphically changed the city by improving the graphics all around, giving a new look to the city along with the free feel that it will now hold by having one zone represent an area that used to be four separate zones. They say that most of the content in Freeport has been preserved but they have also added in new race and archetype specific quest content. You generally come to the city around level twenty, from an area called Butcherblock, but if you do come at a lower level then it is okay because the majority of the content will scale to your level. Here is the one fairly low resolution screenshot they have of the new city.

By far the greatest sound thing to come with this F2P change is a standalone expansion that also is coming out today with the change. Age of Discovery is standalone expansion that is designed for any level and has an impressive amount of content contained within. One of the most significant features from the expansion is a new class called Beastlord, who sounds a lot like one of the original classes from EQ1. Beastlords have sixteen different beasts that they can tame, each of which has their own skill tree. The beastlords pets, Warders, also have a new system that allows to look for weaknesses during combat that will allow you trigger powerful primal effects. That means nothing to me, but it's likely that the Warders expose an enemy to very strong special abilities that every Beastlord has, abilities that can only be used in specific circumstances, circumstances that the AI for the Warder will watch out for.

With this expansion there are also Mercenaries being added to the world. There are large numbers of Mercenaries spread throughout the world and they each have unique abilities, traits and appearance. You cannot change their abilities but you can customize their appearance, give them tactical commands and change their names. There are normal Mercenaries and then rare spawn Mercenaries, very powerful Mercenaries that are difficult to find, each of which you can keep with you indefinitely as long as you have the gold to keep them in your service. Mercenaries will also change the ways grouping and dungeons work, now making it easier to do harder areas with fewer players.

The third new feature of this expansion is the Dungeon Maker, which I must say sounds fantastic. You start out with some small maps and a few monster spawners to build an easy to create dungeon, but throughout the world you can find all kinds of objects, monster spawns and maps to make your dungeon even better. There are also about fifty adventurer characters that you can collect throughout the world, each of which lets you enter someone else's dungeon as one of these characters. Each of those characters has it own unique skills and techniques, but you can play through a dungeon with your normal character if you wish to. The incentive for being a builder or adventurer is that you get experience and unique rewards when a dungeon is finished. You can use these rewards on any character, so you need not worry about that. For Builders the more popular your dungeon is the more rewards you will receive, for everytime someone goes through the dungeon you will receive a small reward. You can play through your dungeon with friends or guild mates, or anyone seemingly. You build a dungeon through an easy to use toolbox window that should be very familiar to anyone who has made a house in the game. As a builder you can customize patrol routes, monster names, what text they say, where they spawn from and use effect objects to change their powers. There isn't a screenshot of this one but it does sound like quite a bit of fun and I want to compare it to the D&D Online dungeon creator but I never got much time with that. Take a look at this Age of Discovery trailer.

Next they've added Tradeskill Apprentices. You pick one from among several races and they can be installed into your home. You have them research new recipes and when doing so they can stumble upon quests that will improve the rate of the apprentices researching. The apprentice will be customizable and right now there aren't too many but they are planning to add more in the near future. With apprentices they have also added reforging, which allows you to modify legendary items cosmetically and by changing stats.

Tradeskill Apprentice

That's it for the official features but they said alongside this release there is quite a bit of secret content packed into the world. There isn't any info on how much Age of Discovery does or doesn't cost, but they merely have membership information page that says that all expansions are free to everyone, but no mention of this particular expansion. I have a strong feeling that Age of Discovery isn't free. As far as the free versus paid membership, it looks like you really don't need to worry about paid unless you are planning to do late game stuff and own many characters. You can get them game through their website or Steam. Check out this F2P trailer below and for more information check out their website. Thanks for reading.
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-Written by Sean Cargle


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