It wouldn't be EverQuest II without a little lore to introduce our content, and the story behind the Qeynos revamp is that Queen Antonia Bayle decided it was time to work on improving the basic structures of the city and has used funds from her own coffers to get the work done. But she needs more coin to improve the defenses and the harbor, so she sought financial help from the Circle of Ten. This has led to some strife, since some Qeynos residents don't agree that the city needs to spend money on these improvements.
While the Qeynos guards now sport some impressive armor and ride on winged mounts with glowing feet, the residents in the hamlets have not fared as well. Qeynos is dotted with residents from the former hamlets, such as The Baubleshire, Graystone Yard, and Castleview Hamlet. There's even a Gnomish, gear-laden tinkered platform right near the Claymore, littered with hard-working Gnomes. Racial Mentors from the hamlets are now located throughout the city of Qeynos, and you can pretty much track each one down by looking for the pockets of NPCs who congregate in town. The hamlets that are no longer available have become instanced areas, similar to what was done in Freeport.
From three to two
The first noticeable change is that Qeynos is now just two zones: the capitol district and the province district. The capitol is a blend of North and South Qeynos, while the province district includes Qeynos Harbor. It was somewhat hard to untangle it all because some of the zone doors still have the old names (although they were getting fixed as the week went on) and there isn't a city map up on Test yet, but it looks like some of the hamlets have been included in the main city, as have some of the old hunting grounds. Low-level hunting areas that surrounded Qeynos, like Oakmyst Forest, the Down Below, and the Forest Ruins, are also folded into the city along with the Elddar Grove.
Unlike Freeport, though, the city of Qeynos looks surprisingly familiar. The Claymore, castle, and walls have had art touch-ups, and the lighting changes look great (the Mage Tower in South Qeynos really caught my eye at night!), but the general city layout remains the same, with a few new NPCs who have moved in from the hamlets. This city revamp seems different from Freeport's because it's not so much a city overhaul as it is a restructuring of the starting city and hamlets to condense all of the many zone doors that connect the newbie hunting zones to the hamlets and the hamlets to the city (not to mention all those doors to the sewers and tradeskill basements!). The issue that came up with the various housing doors in Freeport was dealt with differently in Qeynos, and there are separate doors for the different types of homes -- they're not all in one spot.
Whether it's due to limited time and resources or due to player feedback, this revamp definitely is different from Freeport's. It feels like a much more practical approach, and while I was hoping for a brand-new look to Qeynos, it actually makes sense to handle it this way. To me, Qeynos always seemed more "done" than Freeport, so as long as the revamp makes the zones more consistent and streamlined, I'm OK with that.
A questing we will go
In addition to the changes to the city, there are new city quests as well as several class quests that players will reach at certain intervals while they're leveling, and they make use of some of the hamlets that are no longer part of the city. The first quest I picked up took me to Willow Wood to kill Gnolls, and I have to admit that when I saw Willow Wood, my favorite home town, under siege and in ruins, I felt a little like Gimli when he reaches the Mines of Moria. Later, I popped into Graystone Yard to slap some sense into some wimpy guards, all while dodging the brawling Barbarians and falling debris that's crashing down all around. I also got a quest to save the Baubleshire but couldn't seem to zone in. Maybe I didn't meet the height requirement.
For players new to the city, there is an introductory quest that you'll get when you first zone in; it leads you to various landmarks and important locations in town. In addition, there are two NPCs who will help direct you to storyline and class quests: Standar Yorden and good old Murrar Shar, both located next to the Qeynos Claymore. Murrar will direct you to content quests, while Standar will tip you off on where to go for your class quests at levels 20, 40, 60, and 80.
Overall, the Qeynos revamp seems to be coming along nicely, combining some nice improvements while still maintaining a familiar feel. I ran into a few snags here and there, like gating to home and ending up in the old South Qeynos zone, but then again, quite a bit has been fixed just in the past week, and as I'm writing this, I just noticed that the in-game map of the new Qeynos is now up and running. Overall, I was happy to dash through town and still see familiar sights like Sgt. Quackers and Nathan Ironforge.
Although I do wonder whether Kualdin Swoonsong was able to flee and make it to Qeynos now that Willow Wood is under attack. I miss his familiar "Gather around, people, gather around...".
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.