The Tattered Notebook: Five zones that deserve a revamp

Recently, EverQuest II developer Kyle "Kander" Vallee tweeted his followers asking for input on the following question: "What #EQII zone would you love to see revamped into new heroic content?"

That's a tough but really fun question. Over the years, EverQuest II has added so many overland and instanced zones that there's no shortage of choices. A quick glance at the dungeon list at EQ2i shows well over 100 major heroic instances and open dungeons for groups. If you add in the list of minor instances, like the Splitpaw adventure pack instances or the Fallen Dynasty trials, it's easily over 120. In fact, there are so many group zones that it's nearly impossible to level up and see them all (I vote for a new in-game dungeon listing for the next UI revamp!).

I've played through a good chunk of these zones and put together a list of the top five dungeons that deserve a makeover. Read on for the full list!

New Tunaria

This is one of the prettiest zones in the game, and I'd wager that the percentage of people who have ventured into this zone for any length of time is in the single digits. It would be easy enough to gauge -- all you'd have to do is ask a random player whether he knows what zone is in the background of the character select screen. When it comes to the zone layout, it's set up perfectly for a nice crawl. It's basically EQII's version of Rivendell. From the courtyard to the watery grotto to the impressive architecture, this zone has plenty of spots for some interesting named mobs and scripted fights. Even the story is good -- the Dark Elves destroyed Felwithe, and the High Elves who survived have now closed themselves off from the outside world in order to protect their bloodline. And at night, it now has a race of vampire elves that spring out of the ground, thanks to good old Mayong Mistmoore. (Although personally I preferred the original version, sans vampires.)

The problem with this zone is that there's little incentive to go there. There isn't much loot to speak of, and the experience isn't that great compared to other zones in that level range. With a little makeover, though, this could be one of the best group dungeons in the game.

Tower of the Drafling

This one is a hidden gem, and it was always one of my favorite zones for the low-to-mid forties. The lore behind the tower is not only interesting but a bit murky. The tower was the home of a Drafling, a cross between a dragon and a Halfling. No one has ever seen this mysterious Drafling, although he's apparently been around since the original EverQuest. His tower has been taken over by bixies, and when you click the little beehive at the entrance, you're magically shrunk to get a bee's-eye view of things. Along the way, there are little quirky rooms that remind me of the old Plane of Mischief zone from EverQuest. It's perfect for a revamp -- the zone layout is straightforward, and you could come up with some interesting encounters that use the different architecture in the rooms. Plus, it would be a great opportunity to flesh out the story of the mysterious Drafling a bit more.

Forsaken City

Mara's another one of those places that look beautiful but never really got used enough. Today, it's mainly used by tradeskillers. The Fallen Dynasty adventure pack had some really interesting zones, and the main dungeon, Forsaken City, is one that deserves a fresh look. It's not as pretty as the outdoor zones, but it makes up for that with its stunning vertical depth. The stairwells and ramps twist and turn, and after a while you feel like you're totally lost in an M.C. Escher drawing. The open-air rooms give you the fallback option of jumping down to the water below, but you may find that a dangerous choice, given the fact that it's patrolled by octopii and a giant man-eating plant. A revamp of this zone would be nice, if only to allow us to bust up waves of those terracotta soldiers once again.

Kael Drakkel

Put down the pitchforks! I know it's a current dungeon from Velious. I know it's supposed to be a hard dungeon. But this is one of the biggest dungeons I've ever seen, not only in the size of the zone but the rooms and hallways themselves. I remember the old Kael, with three or four groups to a room happily chain-pulling giants and sometimes helping each other out when things got dicey. That's just not happening in the EQII version of Kael, and it's a shame. It would be wonderful to see Kael get more use, and I'd like to lobby for a revamp. I know it's been tweaked a bit already, but I'd like to see it toned down more. Yes, that would mean the loot tables would need to be adjusted accordingly, but before you scream dumbed-down, ask yourself: Wouldn't it be better for the game to have such great zones as Kael be more accessible to the general population? I'd love to see Kael hopping on a weeknight, but right now, it's just the Hole part II. Take the best loot, make it drop more rarely, and bump up the experience so players will give that zone the treatment it deserves.

Isle of Refuge (or Queen's Colony/Outpost of the Overlord)

We loved the starter isles, we objected to their removal, and we miss them today. Bringing them back, freshly revamped, would be a great nostalgia trip and would satisfy those of us who harbor a bit of a grudge about their elimination.

Originally, the islands were where you were dropped off by a Far Seas Trading Company ship, confused, unarmed, and clothed only in rags. We were refugees from the great cataclysms that shattered the lands of Antonica. What if the islands were brought back, and this time around, it'd be our job to help rescue and protect some of the refugees arriving onshore? Or what if some of the rival factions set up camp on the islands to lure in new recruits from the waves of refugees, and it became our job to choose whom to help and whom to drive out? Sure, there are NPCs now in town that talk of how the refugees are few and far between, but there are so many islands in the Tranquil Sea... who's to say that the Far Seas Trading Company has found them all? Of all the zones that deserve a revamp, it's the starting island (just make sure to keep the same zone music!).

I could easily add another dozen zones to this list. There is so much content available in EverQuest II and so many stories behind these zones that have unanswered questions and unsolved plot twists. Choosing a zone for a revamp has to include many different factors. The zone should look decent, have quality architecture, and feature a decent layout. It has to be the right size for a group crawl -- longer than a 15-minute romp but not so big that it takes more than a couple of hours to complete it. And ideally, it should have a good storyline behind it as well as incentive to go there (good experience, good rewards for the challenge). I've listed a few that fit the criteria, but what are your suggestions? If you had to pick zones to revamp, which would you like to see the EQII team make over? Post your ideas below!

From the snow-capped mountains of New Halas to the mysterious waters of the Vasty Deep, Karen Bryan explores the lands of Norrath to share her tales of adventure. Armed with just a scimitar, a quill, and a dented iron stein, she reports on all the latest news from EverQuest II in her weekly column, The Tattered Notebook. You can send feedback or elven spirits to karen@massively.com.
This article was originally published on Massively.