The Tattered Notebook: Velious itemization and flying Gnomes

Karen Bryan
K. Bryan|02.14.11

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The Tattered Notebook: Velious itemization and flying Gnomes
With the launch of Destiny of Velious rapidly approaching, EverQuest II fans are starting to hear a lot more about what this expansion will bring. This past week was filled with new lore, new screenshots, and another live Webcast with Senior Producer Dave Georgeson, Lead Designer Rich Waters, and Itemization Developer Salim Grant.

As in previous webcasts, the hosts talked about flying mounts, launch day events, and othmir, but the main topic they discussed was itemization and gear progression. There is no level cap increase with Destiny of Velious, and because of that, many players wondered what items would look like, especially since a lot of Sentinel's Fate gear was already loaded with procs, wards, and effects. In this week's Tattered Notebook, we'll look at how the developers tackled this difficult area and what changes players should expect to see with the arrival of Destiny of Velious.

The show started with a look at Velious beta overall, which ends today. Rich Waters said the testing went very well overall and that the team had a larger beta population than in past betas. The recent addition of new testers gave SOE a lot of valuable feedback, and since this beta period was longer, the company had a lot of time to make necessary adjustments and tweaks.

Itemization in Velious was doubly challenging. As Salim Grant discussed, the original Velious expansion inspired many of the items that are in DoV. It even influenced the armor process of collecting gems and components to build your gear. Fortunately, EverQuest vets will get to see some of the nostalgia of the original expansion, like the Coldain Ring and the 10th Ring War. In addition, there are about a half-dozen Heritage Quests based on items from the original expansion, and the team has already planned content updates to add new dungeons, raid zones, and Heritage Quests post launch. The Nature's Defender, for example, is one items players should expect to see put in game after launch.

The second challenge in doing Velious itemization was in trying to offer a viable path of gear progression that doesn't lead to bloated stats and confusion over what's an upgrade and what's not. As Salim Grant explained, the devs were heading down the road where item procs were getting out of control -- the longer the examine window, the better the item. The choice was either to make changes to item stats or to make fundamental rules changes to the game. They chose to rework itemization with the hope that, in the long term, there will be a much more straightforward path to upgrade gear.

With DoV, items will keep their foundational stats such as strength, stamina, or agility, but all special procs or effects have been removed and are now available as item adornments. Items from heroic instances or group content will have a yellow slot for adornments, while items from raid content will have a red slot. As in Sentinel's Fate, players can visit NPCs that sell special adornments for heroic and raid items, respectively. There are three weapon slots and two charm slots that all players can adorn, and for those who raid, belts from easy-mode content and cloaks from hard-mode content also come with adornment slots.

The adornments themselves are also a bit different from those of Sentinel's Fate. As Grant explained, there are generic procs that players can purchase from NPCs, and then there are special war runes that are raid drops. The player who gets a war rune can click it and become flagged for permanent access to purchase it from a Rune Master NPC. These runes are special procs and effects, and there are around 40 different ones available. This new mechanic gives players the ability to customize their gear, and because you can repurchase the adornments, players aren't forced to pass on an item that might have better base stats but worse procs or effects than what they're currently wearing.

With Velious, a new mechanic called critical avoidance is being added. As Grant explained, crit avoidance is similar to critical mitigation, but it affects all players and how much critical damage they can land on an NPC. For example, if a mob has 50% crit avoidance, a player's crit chance would need to be 150% to critically hit that mob 100% of the time. This applies to damage as well as healing, and it essentially breathes new life into the crit chance stat. As for lifting the cap on other abilities, the devs have uncapped multi-attack, but they're still discussing it for abilities such as attack speed.

Next, the team talked about gear progression in Destiny of Velious. High-end raiders and well-geared players can start right off with easy-mode raid content or do Kael, the contested (and highly challenging) group dungeon. More casual raiders will also be able to try Kael or easy-mode content, while a player in legendary gear can start with the quest content, the Tower of Frozen Shadow, or some of the starter group instances.

Switching gears a bit, the hosts tackled a question about battleground armor and whether players will see a new set unveiled with DoV. The team said there would be no new battleground armor at launch but that said armor would come with the next post-launch game update.

To wrap things up, the team answered a few questions about flying mounts and the Velious launch-day celebration. The first way players can get a flying mount is to complete an overland quest, which has a minimum level of 86. You can't hide the mount appearance (apologies to those who had dreams of flying around as SuperGnome). You can, however, PvP on flying mounts. If someone can reach you, he can attack you. He can't knock you off, but he can kill you.

As for in-game events, there will be a President's Day weekend launch event, and then Tuesday is Othmir day. Players can choose from four different Othmir illusions, which come with over 30 different animations. And on Tuesday, March 1st, the devs have a special event planned. All players, regardless of level, will be able to fly. The Gnomes are creating aerial race tracks in Lavastorm, Butcherblock, and Tenebrous Tangle, and all players will have a chance to be a test pilot and race the clock. Players who beat a certain time will be able to get an item as an in-zone reward and will be able to unlock it later on as an appearance mount. If it becomes popular, the aerial race tracks will be added to Tinkerfest as a yearly event.

This webcast seemed to provide a lot more detail about the meat of the expansion, and it shed a lot of light on gear progression and itemization. As beta comes to a close and the NDA is lifted (/hattip Feldon!), we'll probably see a deluge of player feedback and new information. What are your thoughts on itemization and on the Velious information we've seen so far? Share your comments below, and also make sure to keep an eye on the official forums to submit your questions for the final webcast this coming Friday.

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
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