The Shadow Odyssey, EverQuest II's fifth expansion, is not just the usual bump to the level cap, a couple of new raids, and a reset for all the armor you already got. It's none of those things. What SOE has done with this expansion is go through the level 50 to level 80 portion of the game and say, let's make an expansion that has something for pretty much everyone. Let's make an expansion where even if no upgrades drop, you can be working toward some awesome stuff just by playing.

The original EverQuest started out as a supremely casual and social game. It was the players that pushed SOE to make the game more raid focused, but sometime after the heavily raid-oriented Planes of Power expansion, the casual players asked when they'd get an expansion for them. SOE came out with the Lost Dungeons of Norrath, which offered three or four variants at each of six dungeons, meant for single groups of averagely-equipped players. The difficulty and mission type could be selected, and every time you completed a mission, you got points with which you could buy hard-to-find spells, armor of near raid quality, adornments which would push that armor into the quality of raid gear, and some cool stuff only available through the LDoN merchants.

The Shadow Odyssey is EverQuest II's Lost Dungeons of Norrath -- and more. Click on through to see why TSO might be the best EQ2 expansion yet.
Well met, fellow Norrathian! Make sure to check out all of our coverage of the next EverQuest II expansion, The Shadow Odyssey as well as Seeds of Destruction, the next expansion to EverQuest!


THE DUNGEONS

TSO brings at least seven new dungeons to the party; Guk, Miragul's Lair, Befallen, Najena, Nuroga, Mistmoore and The Void. Each dungeon will support several different missions for a total of twenty new instances for groups of six players. Each player can do one of the missions per dungeon per day, not unlike the current group instances in the Rise of Kunark expansion.

Some of these dungeons will be just standard kill-'am-all hack-fests, but most will be a little tricky, like Runnyeye: the Gathering. Many of the dungeons will scale themselves (and give scaled-back rewards) to lower level groups. Najena and Miragul's, for instance, can be done by any group from 50 through 80, but higher level ones, like Mistmoore, will be levels 70-80 only. They will typically be a little tougher than the zone in which they are found. And they are all found in the places you would expect. Befallen will bring new dangers to the Commonlands; Najena will be tucked away in the goblin area of Lavastorm. The Void is an unfriendly place for anyone.

THE RAIDS

TSO delivers four new raids; Befallen, Mistmoore, Guk and The Void. Three of them will be similar in character to the Shard of Hate; much trash, many bosses, easier at the beginning and harder at the end. The last is a zone like Venril Sathir's Throne Room, with just one boss. Hints are that this ultimate boss lives in the Void, but little is known about its nature. Those who completed the Deserts of Flame storyline, it is said, may have some insight into it.

The loot for all avatars will be upgraded, so if there is something off the current ones you desperately need, best get it fast. TSO will bring a new avatar, that of Rodcet Nife, the God of Healing, definitely soon to be a popular choice with healers. Another new deity, the goddess Anashti Sul, the previous Prime Healer before she was destroyed by the other gods for bringing the undead into the world, may be worshiped, though she will have no avatar. Unlocking Anashti Sul will be the job of each server individually. This is just wild speculation, but given Rodcet Nife took over as Prime Healer when Anashti Sul was obliterated, perhaps handing his avatar's butt back to him might call her back? Rodcet Nife better be watching his back.

MUCH LOVE FOR SOLOERS

Soloers will have an immense zone, the largest in all the game, to play in. The Moors of Ykesha, once known as Innothule Swamp, will be filled by soloable trollish pirates and other strange denizens, and there will be quests fir everything. If you haven't got time to group and just want to spend an hour clearing the Moors of its dangers, this is the place to go. All classes should be able to get things done solo in the Moors.

The zone itself is an uneasy balance between two factions. Team up with one against the other, play them both against each other, infiltrate the enemy faction for your own nefarious purposes. There are long quests lines with great rewards, and some shorter quest lines with lest stellar rewards. No more logging in and wondering what to do.

QUESTS

Did someone mention quests? SOE promises at least five new heritage quests with the expansion, though they were coy as to what they might be. There may be more, but five is all they are willing to commit to. And though there won't be a new epic quest in this expansion, there will be a new signature quest which will differ by faction -- there will be good and evil versions of the quest. Naturally, there will be hundreds of normal quests to complete, and you'll need them for the sixty new AAs.

ALTERNATE ADVANCEMENT POINTS.



Sorry for the blurriness. And that head.

There is a new alternate advancement tree in which you can spend sixty AA points, for a grand total of 200 AAs. Unlike the AA trees before this one, you don't need to buy out a row before you can get the final ability, though you will need to spend a certain amount before you can unlock them. The abilities on the right hand side will be new and in some cases, class-defining. There will also be AAs of a more general nature, such as to get more from harvesting. Bards will get a new Selo's run speed buff, but it was unclear if that would have any effect in combat. Aside from the new abilities granted by the AA tree, there will be no new spells or combat abilities. However, they are discussing adding updates to spells and CAs that have not had any.

CRAFTING



Craftng is an integral part of The Shadow Odyssey. Crafters will build the platforms for the gnomish airships to get to the new lands during Game Update 49, similar to the world event when crafters and harvesters built the griffon towers in Thundering Steppes and Nektulos Forest, and helped build the Ulteran Spires in the prelude to the Kingdom of Sky expansion.

In the upcoming Game Update 48, all crafted armors from levels 1 to 69 will get a general boost in stats. There will also not be any missing pieces -- if any of a set can be crafted in a tier, all the pieces in that set will be able to be crafted. All armor sets from level 10 up will be able to be imbued, and there will be much love for cloth and leather wearers -- there will be new color and style choices throughout so that nobody needs to look bland just because they are wearing crafted armor.

The expansion brings much, much more. TSO introduces "crafting missions". These missions will require items made by each of the nine tradeskill classes. All the components, fuels and recipes necessary for the crafting will be available in the instance, but it's unclear whether you can simply buy them or need to obtain them some other way. Since there's a limit of six players in the mission, there will always be at least three and possibly more items that need to be made with a tradeskill nobody has. Those will need to be handled by someone using tradeskill arts in which they have little skill. While it's possible for these missions to be soloed, it could take hours to make the necessary items with the tradeskills they do not possess.

There will be new recipes, new quests, and tradeskill mounts. While the mounts won't necessarily be new creatures, they will look unique and it will be clear that the rider is a crafter of great skill.

GUILD HALLS

Since it's not a part of the expansion proper, there's been a lot of information about guild halls released already. In the upcoming game updates, players will help construct the guild halls being raised in Antonica and the Commonlands, but those guild halls will be 25 room behemoths available at great expense only to the highest level guilds. The smaller guild halls will be in town, and guild members not of that city's alignment will need to sneak to the guild hall. Once at the hall, though, they can buy a beacon from one of the vendors there that will allow them to return directly to the guild hall at any time.

There will be two vendors in the guild hall. The Status Executor will buy status items, while the other is just a generic merchant who will buy your vendor trash for you. No broker or mender was mentioned.

EVERQUEST II REFINED

Pretty cool stuff. A lot of MMO fans have come to expect that MMO expansions will just bring nothing but more of the same. The Shadow Odyssey attempts to refine and redefine the game to this point, includes all of the previous expansion released for the game, and provides a new direction on which to build new content for all players, no matter what their play style. And from what we've seen of the expansion so far, it looks like they have succeeded amazingly.

This article was originally published on Massively.
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