I present the EverQuest II Expansion & Game Update News from Fan Faire in a rollup post. This is partly based on the Fan Faire 2009 Consolidated News by Kalyyn. I started with Kalyyn’s great writeup and have built upon it, adding dozens of new details and minor corrections based on everything I observed at the 2009 Fan Faire EQ2 event in Las Vegas.
I’ve archived the individual news posts I submitted over the weekend. If you still want to read them, they’re           
And now, without further ado, my writeup of EQ2′s future in 2009 and 2010. UPDATED AS OF JANUARY 29, 2010:
EverQuest II Expansion: Sentinel’s Fate
- EQ2: Sentinel’s Fate will be released on February 16, 2010.
- SF will be based around the EQ1 continent of Odus and will cover Erudin, Paineel, and Ratonga lore. The void storyline will be ending with this expansion.
- Adventure, Tradeskill, and Guild Level caps all increase to 90.
- 2 large overland zones (Stonebrunt Mountains)
- The Hole – a large level 82+ contested zone (similar to Sanctum of Scaleborn) with 3 wings, you spawn in the middle
- 12 New Group Instances
- Some existing TSO group instances will also be available in a T9 (level 80-90) version.
- Guild Level increases to 90. New Guild Hall Amenities and Amenity Slots.
- No new deities with expansion, nor will there be T9 solo deity quests.
- Deity miracles may be reconsidered.
- Group and raid zones will scale in difficulty (not adventure level). A choice will have to be made when pulling or fighting certain mobs that will set the encounter difficulty to easy, normal, or hard. The difficulty level will be set by the manner in which you start the encounter (i.e a boss may have a narrative, depending on your choice, you may get ‘easy mode’ where he sends his minions and escapes, or hard mode where you fight the boss himself)
- AA cap to 250. New abilities are going to be added to the bottom of the Class (KoS) and Subclass (EoF) AA Trees, below what is now the end abilities. Some of these endline abilities will be passive, triggering based on specific chains of other abilities being cast.
- Mythical weapons will not be the ‘Number 1′ weapon, but will have another, important, use. It will be usable as a clicky item to get the unique class-defining abilities.
- Grouping, Soloing, and Questing will all be viable leveling options.
Artwork-by-Mail, and StationCash
- HP will be offering — through StationCash — high quality EQ2-related artwork (paintings of Antonia Bayle, Lucan, etc.) prints and eventually in-game items and prints of your character sent directly to your door. One being considered it a hardback book containing pictures of all of your guildmates.
- The plan is to make it possible, in the future, to purchase expansion packs and new game keys through station cash.
Game Update 55 — Halas and Streaming Launcher
NOTE: Halas has slipped to Game Update 56 and the Streaming Launcher was made available in November.
Halas is being added as a good starting city in Gu55 to coincide with the release of the new expansion, Sentinel’s Fate. Gu55 will be a free download whether you choose to purchase the expansion or not.
The starting race has not been confirmed, but in EQ1 Halas was the home of the Barbarians.
Incidentially, this new area will be considerably streamlined and will be built out as the new EQ2 Trial. The existing EQ2 Trial is a massive download and really not that great a tool at recruiting new players. The new EQ2 Trial will be optimized for download size, will have streaming download, and will really act as a marketing tool for new players.
Extremely preliminary zone art was shown of the new Halas.
Who Gives a Crit
Critical damage stats including Spell, Melee, Ranged, and Heal are being merged into a single ‘Crit’ statistic. Each class will have a critical coefficient. So the same item will offer taunt and melee crit to a fighter, ranged crit to a ranger, and heal crit to a healer.
Double Attack and Ranged Double Attack are being combined into DA, with an appropriate coefficient as RDA is c0nsidered more powerful to a ranger than DA is to other scouts.
Resistance types are being streamlined down to just Noxious, Elemental, Arcane and Physical. Naming on items will not change for variety/lore reasons.
NOTE: Gear Scaling has been canceled.
Once considered for the Rise of Kunark, items will now scale down in effectiveness starting at Level 60, eventually “greying out” when the item is 10 levels below your adventure level. The effectiveness of such items will be reduced by 33% at 10 levels.
Legends of Norrath
Set 7 of the LoN cards, Storm Break, goes live on July 9th. This will be the final part of the void series. New loot cards include a cloak with a, once-per-day, clicky effect that completely repairs your gear.
The number of buffs and casting time of buffs is being considered, especially for support and healer classes. Certain classes always use the same self-buffs and these may be consolidated.
Class Balance (Bards, Enchanters, Summoners)
Typical raid lineups currently include 3-4 illusionists, 1 coercer, 3-4 dirges, and a troubador. Yet they often do not offer ANY slot to summoners or druids.
Some Enchanter and Bard buffs will become raidwide or applicable to one person in each of the 4 groups. The example given was an illusionist giving Time Compression to one member of all 4 groups. Other buffs could go raidwide. This will be done in such way so that having 4 illusionists will not be a significant advantage over having 1 or 2.
Currently, Brigand “Dispatched” and other debuffs are crucial for raiding and some group situations. Meanwhile, Summoners are finding they rarely get a seat at the table. As a result, Rogue debuffs are being refocused to work on melee, while Summoners step into a new role of debuffing spell abilities.
Also, with regards to Rogues, Brigands and Swashbucklers each have irreplaceable abilities such that most raids have 1 of each. Some of these abilities will become common between the two classes so that any Rogue can be effective in raid situations.
Summoner pet survivability is going to be looked into. Dumbfire pets will now act like a spell with appropriate graphics, rather than being affected by AoEs. These pets will also do spell debuffs in line with Summoner’s new role as spell debuffers.
Class Balance (Druids)
It has been recognised that Heal-over-Time spells come way behind wards and reactives when dealing with large spike damage (mainly in a raid and the hardest heroic settings).
A new component is going to be added to Heal-Over-Time spells for Druids which will save up the heal after each tick if the target is at full health, and further, any leftover heal will transfer to the group member with the lowest health on expiration.
Over 2000 new recipes for Tier 9.
No Rare Loams in Tier 9. Instead, Ore and Gems will be used to make Expert (Adept III) spells. Ore nodes will always respawn as ore nodes, gem nodes as gem nodes.
Would like to completely revamp Adornment system, but at the very least, new adornment recipes will be Transmuter-crafted only.
Players will be able to be a Tinkerer and Transmuter.
NOTE: Shaders 3.0 will likely slip to Game Update 56.
EQ2 is getting a graphical facelift!
Shaders are small pieces of code which take the textures and apply an effect to them, providing metallic appearances, glows, bump mapping, caustics (rust, decay), lighting effects, etc.
These are being upgraded from the ancient Shaders 1.0 to Shaders 3.0. Nearly any graphics card since GeForce 3 will be able to handle the new GPU Shaders. At higher resolutions, preliminary tests have shown that framerates stay largely the same. At lower resolutions, framerates of GPU shaders seem significantly improved.
This will not be a substantial download. Each shader is just a few kilobytes. So far, 3,000 shaders have been upgraded.
Nek Forest looks awesome now. The whole idea of a torch in the darkness, lighting up trees, rocks, and enemy mobs looks head-and-shoulders above the current “flat” pea soup grey haze and flat colors on everything.
When the EQ2 developers saw the first screenshots, they thought it was another game.
In addition, Flora Displacement which moved to the GPU last year will still get further performance tweaks (known issue on nVidia cards).
Finally, he’d like to move particles to the GPU but due to some design decisions, some particles are tied to animations. Will have to go back and separate them out.
There is developer interest in a torch slot, so this is being considered. Devs would also like to do High Dynamic Range (HDR) in a future update, but nothing is immediately planned.
Expect several new mob designs with more robust animations. Some seriously funny, cool, and creative new mob designs and revamped appearances to some existing mobs.
* fighting pandas
* displacer beasts
* two headed giants
It is known that emergency “Stun-and-Heal” is a real detriment to healers and is required for too many encounters. Will be reconsidered.
Rangers — Stream of Arrows will be changed to an AoE. Originally intended as a fill in between auto attacks, but auto attacks are so large now that using it reduces DPS output.
Although it is higher than intended, there are no immediate plans to adjust Auto Attack damage.
Bruisers/Coercers – Drag, thought snap are so overpowered we have to disable them or mobs are trivialized
Conjuror Mythical Pet – This pet is class-defining for Conjurors. However with the current mechanic, that pet would stop leveling at low-to-mid 80′s. Will look at this going forward.
Certain raid encounters will benefit from crowd control, giving enchanters another job besides power regen and buffs.
Will void shards have value in T9? No. A different token system is being used for T9 armor.
Guild Rally Flag - Can we have some means to find out where the guild rally flag is located? Some coding has already been done for this. Putting it in guild window would be somewhat wasteful for those guilds that don’t have this amenity (one of the most expensive amenities FYI), so considering hailing the strategist.
Illusions Driving You Crazy? – A change was made in GU52 that racial illusions pick a random appearance each time they are displayed. This applies to guild hall NPCs as well. Even the devs are annoyed at this change, so are investigating a Magic Mirror house item to set your illusion appearances, and a similar mechanism for guild hall NPCs. Also, some folks make frequent use of different illusions. Look for an Illusion Manager window.
NOTE: Game Update 54 added this Magic Mirror ability.
Smart Loot is being implemented over time. Lock boxes in Mistmyr already have mini-smart loot for each person that loots.
Harvester NPCs could auto-deposit in Harvest supply depot in the future.
More new Armor Appearances in EQ2:SF are coming than are currently in the game. Substantial new choices for mage appearances other than robes, such as tops, pants, etc.
Devs would like to add more mannequin types such as Ratonga mannequin.
Current tier upgrades are coming for Bone Clasped Girdle. Not so much for the bloodthirsty choker.
It is recognized that Curing is perhaps getting out-of-control. Casting time of individual cure potions may be considered. In addition, certain detriments are getting different effects on them such that curing that detriment can be worse than leaving it, or may cause another detriment to trigger. The intention was never to stare at the Profit Cure bar the entire fight.
EverQuest II Game Updates & Features
These are features and updates announced at Fan Faire which are now present in EQ2:
- AAXP Slider, when earning xp, you will be able to set a ratio that is earned as AA instead.
- Automated Server Transfers will be available on the Station Marketplace for $25.
- Buffs - Certain persistent buffs now persist through death.
- Wizard “Rays of Disintegration” has been changed to single-cast spell, instead of causing all mages in the wizard’s group to stop all casting to cast this spell. Rays of Disintegration was very disruptive for Enchanters who must maintain a certain casting order and rhythm to do their jobs.
- Quest Window received facelift. Namely side-by-side quest list and quest details.
- Revamped Player Inspect window shows regular and appearance slots and many more stats.
- Daily Double and new Hot Zones are now shown in the Welcome Panel.
- ACT Parsing – Gravitas, Chimes of Blades, and Cures (some healers spend their entire time curing but don’t show up on the heal parse) are now parsed in ACT.
- The Lavastorm Elevator to WoE was fixed to continue to it’s destination.
- Kelethin houses received a transparent window. The most expensive Maj’dul house received additional rooms and a skylight. Kelethin, Neriak, Freeport, and Qeynos houses gained an additional room.
Hail an NPC in one of the home cities and you will be able to mentor down in 5 level increments (20, 25, 30, 35, etc.) and complete quests, kill named encounters, etc. at the appropriate level. This does not require mentoring another person and will not offer the extra bonuses given to folks who naturally mentor one of their friends.
To prepare for this feature, a list of named mobs on long spawns in existing zones has already been assembled to have their timers tweaked. Also, low level contested zones will instance themselves (Sinking Sands 1, 2, 3, etc.) in case of large populations.
Similar to XBox Live, EQ2 is getting an Achievements system. The expansion will launch with 500-700 achievements. This will merge the old Slayer titles (kill 5,000 Orcs), plus adventurer titles (complete 20 Heritage Quests), and introduce new titles. For example, number of level 80 characters you have. Whether you defeated a dungeon/raid on the hardest difficulty, Going back and completing old zones while mentored, etc.
The Alternative Achievement system in EQ2 (currently 200 points) is officially being renamed to Alternate Advancement to avoid confusion.
- Shard of Love & Miragul’s Planar Shard
In GU53 is Miragul’s Planar Shard, a raid zone which will use the new mechanic of difficulty scaling on certain bosses.
The Shard of Love — a casual group zone. The storyline for this zone will relate to Erolissi Marr.
There will be more commentary to come, but those are the salient points about the rest of 2009 as the EQ2 team takes some extra time balancing the live game before plunging into the expansion in February.