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Touring EverQuest's Rain of Fear with the SOE team

Karen Bryan

It's hard to believe, but EverQuest is due to launch its 19th expansion, Rain of Fear, in just a few more days. It brings a nice balance of the old and the new as it re-imagines some of the old classic zones but also introduces some stunning new ones as well. In addition, it launches with some features that longtime fans have patiently been waiting for, like the offline broker system, aggro meter, collection shinies, and hunter titles.

We had a chance to talk with EverQuest Producer Thom Terrazas, Lead Designer Adam Bell, Assistant Lead Designer Alan VanCouvering, and Community Manager Eric Cleaver about the upcoming expansion. Join us for a look at the lore and new content in Rain of Fear (and a sneak peek at two of the coolest mounts ever!)

EverQuest is releasing its 19th expansion but 20th major release overall. The game's had close to 17 years of production all total. With this expansion, the team focused on telling the story by playing the game. They wanted to make sure that players came across the main storyline as they're out adventuring.

In the past two expansions, Veil of Alaris and House of Thule, the main storyline involved the Alarans, a race from another dimension. They have their own Pantheon of gods, and retreated to Norrath after their world was destroyed by Discord. Their plan was to recoup and recover their power, but some of them wanted to capture one of the Norrathian Gods and steal its power instead. Through the construction of the House of Thule, they captured Cazic-Thule and tricked adventurers into killing him. This caused powerful shards to fall across Norrath, and those shards have corrupted some of the well-known bosses of Norrath as well as some new ones.

With this expansion, players need to achieve a balance between the Norrathian Gods and the Alaran Gods, and end the corruption of the fear shards.

Touring EverQuest's Rain of Fear with the EQ team
The first zone we visited was Shard's Landing. The harbingers are worshippers of Cazic-Thule and are motivated to get Cazic back. They're trying to recover enough crystals to restore Cazic's power, and the largest one in the zone is known as the Heart of Fear. It's basically the main hub for players to gather before they set off adventuring, and there are purple gates throughout the area which will teleport you to the various zones in the expansion.

Next, we went to the Church of the Unspoken, an area inside Shard's Landing. Inside, is a secret sect of Alarans who worship a different entity and have broken away from the rest of the Alarans. They're hiding away in the temple, which is part of a much larger complex. The Alarans here are non-aggro, but will fight back if attacked.

Touring EverQuest's Rain of Fear with the EQ team
After that, we went to the Valley of King Xorbb. Longtime EQ vets will remember King Xorbb, the gigantic evil eye in Beholder's Maze, and in this expansion, he's received one of Cazic's shards of power. Xorbb, and evil eyes in general, like to control everything, so naturally he's trying to use the shard to take over the world. He's had a bit of a makeover, and is now tinted with the purple glow of fear from the shard. In this expansion, each boss that has received a shard has been influenced by it, and it causes them to either seek more power or become paranoid. Players will be able to fight King Xorbb as a raid boss and as part of a mission, and the zone itself is one of the most difficult zones, so it's aimed at level-capped players.

Touring EverQuest's Rain of Fear with the EQ team
Another familiar zone to old EQ fans is Kael Drakkel, and it's been re-imagined in Rain of Fear. Tormax is back and he's got one of the shards, but he's become paranoid by it. Corrupted dwarves threaten in the background, symbolizing Tormax's lingering fear of the Coldain. Essentially he's made a pocket of reality where his fears have become real. In another zone, there's also a dragon, Zeixshi-Kar, who received a larger shard and uses it to try to enslave the Coldain and the Giants, so the old three-way rivalry of Velious is brought back in this expansion.

Touring EverQuest's Rain of Fear with the EQ team
Switching gears, we left the nostalgia behind to see some new content. The fear shards have influenced Evantil, the Vile Oak, whose heart is one of the shards. When the shard struck, it opened up an area where a giant tree took root, and the creatures who ventured to the area have become corrupted by the fruit that grows from the tree. The tree is massive, and players will be adventuring both outside and inside the tree, even out on the canopy.

And for those who like decorating and housing, they can get a smaller version of the tree to use as a home with the purchase of the Collector's Edition. The Collector's Edition also comes with two paintings; one is of the cover art,and the other is of the Heart of Fear (the Standard Edition comes with the cover art painting). In addition, there are two new mounts: players with a Collector's Edition will receive a Thulian hand mount, while Standard Edition users receive an animated hand. I have to say, after watching the hands skitter around and jump, they're some of the most unique mounts around.

Touring EverQuest's Rain of Fear with the EQ team
The final zone we visited was the Breeding Grounds, which is a re-imagined version of Dragon Necropolis. It's an ancient dragon breeding ground and one of the shards has fallen here. The dragons are corrupted as well as the eggs, which hatch if players get near them and cause fearwings to pop out and attack (so you can have your very own Leeroy moment in EQ!)

We then had a chance to see some of the new features being added to the game. There will be an offline broker system coming to EverQuest, something that longtime fans will surely celebrate. It allows players to flag themselves and allow their character to continue to sell items even after the player logs off. Meanwhile, players can access the broker from anywhere in the world through the UI, and from there, they can search the market, purchase items, and have them delivered to their mailbox or straight to their bag.

Touring EverQuest's Rain of Fear with the EQ team
Another great feature is the aggro meter. It's similar to the system put in EverQuest II, where your aggro shows up in the target window, but the group window also shows the relative aggro of all members in the group. It's a handy feature, not only for those trigger-happy nukers and rangers who accidentally steal aggro, but it's also helpful for off-tanks and coordinating tank transitions in certain fights.

Lastly, the team showed off the new collection system, located in the achievement window. It's basically the same as the shinies of EverQuest II, and players can gather them up and complete various collections that reward experience and occasionally an item. They're currently just in the expansion zones, but they have plans to add them to older zones as well.

EverQuest's Rain of Fear launches on November 28th, and in addition to what we saw on the tour, it also raises the level cap to 100 and features 13 raids, nine new zones, and 19 missions. You can get all of the details about the Standard and Collector's Editions on the official site, and the Collector's Edition is currently on sale.

Massively's not big on scored reviews -- what use are those to ever-changing MMOs? That's why we bring you first impressions, previews, hands-on experiences, and even follow-up impressions for nearly every game we stumble across. First impressions count for a lot, but games evolve, so why shouldn't our opinions?

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