The Tattered Notebook: Skyshrine, mercs, Qeynos, and shields that roar

Withered Lands Giant
For those gamers who have been patiently waiting to hear about GU63, the past few weeks have been a treat. We've shown off a few trailers on Massively, the official site has hosted a couple of team interviews, and even the SOE Twitch TV channel has been focused on EverQuest II. In fact, the recent webcast was the second part of a featured series on the update, and this one took a closer look Skyshrine and also answered a few fan questions. EQII Producer Holly "Windstalker" Longdale, Lead Designer Akil "Lyndro" Hooper, and SOE Executive Producer Dave "SmokeJumper" Georgeson sat down to preview what's coming to a server near you. In this week's Tattered Notebook, we'll look at the highlights and analyze what it means to both new players and old. Read on for the skinny!

Hey hey, AAs

First off, the developers explained more about why levels 91 and 92 are locked behind a requirement of 280 AAs. Players who PUG or use the dungeon finder know the pains of ending up in a group with a level 90 player who is paper thin due to lack of AAs, and it's been a lingering problem for some time. Part of that is because it's almost too easy to reach level 90 and outpace your AA gains. Akil "Lyndro" Hooper explained that by putting in the AA requirement, the team creates a lot more parity among the post 90 crowd. Of course, that doesn't fix the problem of unbalanced groups under level 90, nor does it alleviate the daunting task of getting 280 AAs before you can start getting the last two levels. Hopefully the recent announcement that the team will be smoothing out AA progression will help adventure levels keep in pace with AAs and make grouping under level 91 more even.

Crafting tidbits

If you're a tradeskiller, you'll be happy to know that you'll get pieces of the overall storyline that will match up with the adventuring storyline, bringing out even more details. The story arc takes place in Withered Lands, and you can begin the quests at level 90. There are also new tradeskill apprentices, and they're tradeable, so you can pass them to a friend or put them on a broker. The new recipes require a new tier of harvesting components; the recipes are drops in game.

That wasn't me -- it was my shield!

Longdale talked next about new shields that animate as they're attacked. They are appearance items that will be for sale on the Marketplace and available in game. She mentioned a particular shield in Skyshrine as an example; it's dragon-themed and roars and performs other animations. There's also a new drake mount with five versions available in-game in Withered Lands and Skyshrine. Hooper added that there are new mercenaries available, including new Golem mercs that are tied to Skyshrine, so they're a lot tougher in that particular zone.

Warder appearances

For Beastlords, there are new appearances for warders, like a new raptor, corrupted wolf, and mist panther. Longdale said that if Beastlords pay close attention to their quests, they'll get hints at some Easter egg appearances they can hunt down. The different warder appearances are turning out to be a really fun game within a game for many Beastlords, and I had a few friends who were able to uncover some really odd looks for their pets, so I have a feeling there will be quite a hunt to discover the new ones with Update 63.

Withered Lands Faun
Qeynos, Qeynos, Qeynos

The Qeynos revamp is due to arrive this summer, and we got some new details about what that entails. The city will be divided into two zones, which differs from Freeport's single zone, and the devs will be telling new stories with new quests, just as in the Freeport revamp. Hooper noted that for zone revamps, the team doesn't like "to rip out old content and put in all new content." He used the examples of Runnyeye and Nek Castle and explained how you can go back to those zones and revisit them in their original form and the revamped form. How that ties into the Qeynos revamp is not quite clear, but it sounds like SOE might keep the city closer to its original form as compared to Freeport, which saw a major overhaul and the removal of the original racial hamlets. There was a bit of pushback from fans who were saddened to see the hamlets transformed into instances, so I have to wonder whether we'll see a different approach with Qeynos. It's also interesting that the devs are making Qeynos into two zones instead of one, since the merging of all the Freeport sections into one seemed to work out well. I have to wonder what drove the decision to split up Qeynos and how that plays into the storylines and content of the newly revamped city.

Big PvP news! (soon)

If you're holding out for details on PvP, you'll have to wait a little longer. Longdale said that it is on the list and that the devs aren't ignoring it. There should be an announcement in the very near future; Georgeson said that SOE is "actively working on something that could dramatically affect PvP."

When asked about the relevance of current DoV content, Hooper explained that it's the devs' goal to ensure that some equipment you'll get in DoV will be useful afterward, and he added that while most of the new content will have more relevant gear, items from Plane of War will still be the best that you'll see for quite some time. Personally, I'm not a big fan of gear resets, but then again, given all of the tweaks and adjustments to itemization over the past year, I'm looking forward to seeing the new gear and perhaps getting everyone on a smoother (and clearer) path to upgrade going forward.

GU63 arrives on servers on Tuesday, so you have a few more days to get your toons up to speed and rack up as many AAs as you can before the retroactive AA bump. Also, keep your eyes peeled for even more information about GU63 from a recent roundtable interview. In the meantime, I'll be honing my skills on the practice dummies. (Do they come in dragon sizes?)

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
This article was originally published on Massively.