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Looking into the Heart of Fear with the EverQuest team

Karen Bryan

SOE Live is just a couple of weeks away, but before the EverQuest team heads to Las Vegas, it has launched a brand-new update for the game called the Heart of Fear. It continues the storyline of the House of Thule and Cazic Thule, the god of Fear, that began three years ago.

The team led a tour of the new areas and gave some insight into what new goodies players will discover along the way. Check out the highlights of this final chapter in the Thule storyline.

Gallery: EverQuest Heart of Fear Screenshots | 6 Photos

EverQuest has rich and deep lore, and Heart of Fear draws upon that to wrap up the three-year storyline involving the House of Thule. Walking us through the new update were Lead Producer Thom Terrazas and designers Julie Burness, Dave Stewart, Jonathan Caraker, and Norm Freeman. Most of them have been part of the team from the start of the epic storyline of Thule, and it was bittersweet to bring it to its conclusion with this update.

The content for Heart of Fear is in one zone, but it's so large that the team had to split it up into three areas, each with its own distinct look and feel. The scenery changes the closer you get to the Heart of Fear itself -- the center of Cazic's power. There are gestation crystals throughout the zones, where creatures of Fear are birthed into the world. Of course, as you continue deeper into the zones, the larger the crystals become and the larger the creatures that hatch from them.

When Cazic was killed, his powers were split apart into seven crystals. The names of the crystals were drawn from some of the avatars in the original Plane of Fear, such as Terror and Dread. Adventurers are tasked with helping the Harbingers bring Cazic Thule back to life because even though not everyone loves Cazic, he's a welcome alternative to the god of the Alarans, who is trying to take over as the new god of fear.

Adventurers can access the new zones from Shard's Landing. The first area is a maze of caverns, with jagged rocks jutting out from all over. The zone is immense, and the "ceiling" is actually the crystal in Shard's Landing that you entered. In the next area, there is a series of tunnels and ramps, with plenty of creatures of Fear scattered throughout. Compared to Shard's Landing, there were about 700-800 mobs in that zone. In the three parts of Heart of Fear, there are well over 2,000 creatures, so there's plenty of content to go around.

The final area is a large cavern with the seven crystals that represent the seven parts of Cazic's power. There are several new "mini-raids" based on common fears, such as the fear of aging, the fear of spiders, and the fear of darkness. These raids are a little easier than usual but are still aimed at parties of up to 54 players. There are many clever mechanics in these raids that are meaningful and fit well with each theme. Overall, there are six raids, and they offer immersive content that ties up the storyline well.

A look at the Heart of Fear update with the EverQuest team
Of course, all those creatures mean new loot, and Heart of Fear will give players a chance to wield unique weapons. There are two versions of these class-specific weapons: a group version and a raid version. The raid version has a little more flair, with more particle effects and even an eyeball embedded into the weapon. The class-specific weapons are linked to content from Rain of Fear, Shadow of Fear, and the Heart of Fear, and players will need to have completed content starting back with the Rain of Fear missions and tasks. Terrazas added that the Hero's Forge system and the more recent reforge of that system has led to improvements in the look and fit of gear; the new weapons will complement that well.

The team wrapped up by giving some hints of what's to come at SOE Live. SOE plans several new reveals, including the announcement of EverQuest's 20th expansion. As Terrazas put it, the game's not going anywhere, and the team is going to be pushing the limits when it comes to technology and art to experiment with new improvements to the game. The devs are trying to make the game more cinematic and to keep it up to date with its peers while staying true to what has made the game so successful through the years.

Heart of Fear is free to players who purchased Rain of Fear, and it's part of the new plan to release episodic content on a more regular basis between expansions. Thanks to the EQ team for the guided tour of the new update!

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