Although even more details will be forthcoming as the convention progresses, there were some definite highlights shared by SOE CEO John Smedley, EverQuest Producer Thom Terrazas, and EverQuest II Producer Holly Longdale, including expansion announcements, release dates, and even some EverQuest Next tidbits.
Dragon's Prophet & EverQuest Next
While the second half of the keynote was all about the two current EverQuest titles, Smedley shared some news regarding other games as well. The first reveal was a launch date for Dragon's Prophet, and it's a lot sooner than expected. The dragon-centric game leaves the land of beta forever on September 18th, 2013!
Smedley then brought the composer of EQ Next's soundtrack up on stage, introducing none other than Jeremy Soule to the audience. Convention attendees and livestream viewers were treated to a preliminary piece of the theme.
One of the biggest bits of EQ news is that the next expansion is literally right around the corner. Terrazas announced that Call of the Forsaken, the game's 20th expansion, starts beta in just two weeks on or around August 14th, with release following in late September. The expansion will have a brand-new system called Heroic Adventures; this system will handcraft scenarios, generating objectives, pathways, mobs, and loot for each individual group when it enters the zone. Players will also be able to increase mercenaries power. More new content building on this expansion will be coming at the beginning of and throughout next year, and all expansion owners will get those updates for free.
Terrazas also gave a sneak peek of new Hero's Forge armor sets (themed around current content and storylines) as well as animated effects on helmets. The August release will also see more robes in more colors. Terrazas then discussed how EQ is experimenting with voice-overs and cinematics. And lastly, he officially named the two incoming Hardcore Heritage zones: Nagafen's Lair and Castle Mistmoore.
The final topic Terrazas covered was plans for EQ's 15th anniversary. Players will get to vote on new race/class combos to be added to the game, the player-designed missions from SOE Live 2013 workshops will be added, and The Plane of War zone will relaunch.
Before getting into the new EQII expansion, Longdale spoke about the increase in bug fixes for the game (more than 1,000 in the last six to seven months). She also highlighted a new feature coming mid-September that will allow all players to join in and experience the high-level content. Heroic Characters are level 85 toons, with a full set of armor and preassigned skills, that players can select to play. They will also come with a flying mount. Even better, Heroic Characters will be available to all players for free.
EQII's 10th expansion, Tears of Veeshan, is a continuation of the recent story played out since Chains of Eternity. This expansion, springing up around approximately the same time as the Heroic Characters, will bring plenty of new content. For starters, there's a new class! The Channeler is basically a bow-wielding priest with a pet construct.
High-level players will also adventure through the new overland zone of Eternal Broodlands, the afterlife for dragons. Besides the overarching signature questline for the expansion, each of the nine dungeons (including High Keep) will have its own local stories. The Temple of Veeshan dungeon, home to a record-setting 20 bosses, is so large that it will be the first one that players can actually fly in.
Additionally, T4 guild halls and mercenary slots are being added, and the dungeon finder is getting updated. New AAs will be available, and the cap will be raised by 20; these dragon abilities are broken into four categories (healer, warrior, mage, and scout) and are based on four legendary dragons.
Longdale concluded her presentation by showing the new Frostfell zone coming later in the year and noting that the next round of fabled dungeons, this time built from the Kingdom of Sky expansion, will be coming in January as will new raids and an interactive PvP zone.
What happens in Vegas doesn't stay in Vegas, at least where SOE Live is concerned! Massively sent intrepid reporters MJ Guthrie and Karen Bryan to this year's SOE Live, from which they'll be transmitting all the best fan news on PlanetSide 2, EverQuest II, DC Universe Online, and the other MMOs on SOE's roster.