Massively tours EverQuest's Veil of Alaris with Community Manager Eric Cleaver

In just a few short weeks, EverQuest is set to launch its 18th expansion, Veil of Alaris. The expansion will raise the level cap from 90 to 95, and players will be able to adventure in 12 new zones. In addition, over 800 AAs will be added, and there will be 13 new raids along with new guild halls that can be player-decorated.

I had a chance to tour some of these zones with Community Manager Eric "Piestro" Cleaver, who showed off some of the new content that's coming soon to EverQuest. Read on for a look at several new zones and the storylines behind them.%Gallery-138817% We began the tour in a zone called Fear Itself, or Fool's Dream. According to Cleaver, a mysterious house appeared in the entrance to the original Plane of Fear. Both players and the gods investigated its meaning, and as the last expansion progressed, players defeated Cazic Thule permanently. This is causing a lot of worry among the gods -- how did it happen, and more importantly, how could it happen? They have tracked the power of Cazic to another continent, one blocked-off by Veeshan and the dragons.

On the live servers, Brell has commanded the Gnomes to build an airship to visit Alaris, the new continent of the expansion. Argath is the entry point for the new content, and as Cleaver explained, it's a little different than previous expansions. Everything in this expansion is open, so players can go wherever they want and fight whatever they want. But instead of finding level-locked progression or needing keys and flags to enter a zone, players must master the language by completing quests for the Alarans in order to access the content. The entry zone is a huge mountain fortress dedicated to the Alaran god of war, highlighted by a giant sword (dedicated to the Alaran god of war) that towers over the town, with molten steel running down the blade. The city and the surrounding adventure areas are aimed at players levels 85 to 95.

While the city itself seems stable, there's a larger political struggle in Alaris. The people of Argath are at war with the people of Erillion, the City of Bronze, who worship order. Players will see the battle first-hand as the Erillion fighters lay siege to the city of Argath. Occasionally the invaders will launch an attack, and players will need to choose whether or not to get involved with the conflict at hand.

The next area we saw is Valley of Lunanyn. This is the bread basket of Alaris, and it's traditionally been neutral territory. But due to the political disruption, things have gone south, and now the valley has been turned into a battlefield.

The conflict between the Alaran factions isn't the only conflict that players will see in this expansion. Cleaver next showed me a camp site with followers of Solusek Ro and even Solusek Ro himself towering behind. You can see the smoking fields and the city of bronze behind as Solusek Ro summons huge fire bolts to smite the Alarans and take the war to them. Players can tackle this content on their own or with friends as they fend off the attacks from Ro's minions.

After that, we visited the Beast's Domain. The Alaran gods are different from Norrathian gods. According to the lore, the Alaran gods draw their power from the belief of the citizen. The Beast's Domain represents the citizen's fear of the primal hunter, and the residents of the zone are much more tribal in nature. The flora is a combination of Norrathian and Alaran flora, and even the creatures have grown to take on the more Alaran appearance and features. As Cleaver explained, the zone art itself helps to tell the story of the expansion and mesh Norrathian culture with that of the Alarans.

Sarith, the City of Tides, is yet another new zone; it offers players a taste of the sea. In the water, you can see a tidal wave, sent by Prexus to flood the city, frozen in time by the Alaran god of the sea, Rubak Oseka. The temple just off the coast is carved from a giant conch shell, and players can adventure inside with groupmates to take on the content. There is a number of quests and missions that players can complete, and the zone is colorful and unique as players follow the twisty tunnel of the shell's interior to the bottom.

After that, we visited the stunningly beautiful Resplendent Temple, appropriately dedicated to the god of beauty. Inside, though, the priests throw anything that's not beautiful or perfect into a giant pit to be consumed by the pig people who live below. The temple shows that the art team really has pushed the boundaries when it comes to EQ's graphics, and this structure is as immense as it is gorgeous.

In the last expansion, EQ added a full player-housing system, and in this upcoming expansion, the team is giving that option to guilds. Players have had guild halls in a more limited form in previous expansions, but now they'll have two new guild halls, and players can place objects in both the interior and the exterior courtyards. We visited a player neighborhood and toured one of the developer's personal neighborhoods. The guild hall we saw has a stonework exterior and outdoor yard that can be decorated with trees, plants, and other outdoor items. One item in particular that veteran EQ fans will appreciate is a placeable guard hut modeled after the one in East Commonlands. Inside, there is an endless number of items that players can collect and place in the guild hall; they come from both in-game and from the Legends of Norrath virtual rewards.

Overall, the tour revealed a nice connection between the familiar names and places of past expansions with the new continent of Alaris, and the zone art really is impressive, especially considering that the game is 12 years old. Veil of Alaris is due to launch on November 15th, and you can visit the official site for more information and pre-order details.
This article was originally published on Massively.