EQ2 Rise of Kunark Review

So what is new in Rise of Kunark?

*Level cap increase to 80 for tradeskills and adventuring
*Total of 140 Achievement points
*Zone Blending
*New starting City and Race – The Sarnaks
*The return of Epics
*New Rhino Mount – 70% speed

We will briefly go over some of these things along with some answers from SOE.

Q. What about solo content for ROK?
A. Soloing is always a big issue with the casual gamer not into raiding. When SOE developed this expansion they had a few things in mind. You can definitely solo from 70 to 80.

Q. One big thing we noticed is that on the same setting as we had for the "old" world we could see very far in front of us. How is this accomplished?

A. In ROK there is always something in the distance teasing you to explore just a little more.
One technically impressive thing is that the implementation of pre caching only what your client needs at the time it is needed. Basically what that allows for is you to be able to see very far in the distance without extra strain on your computer resources.

The Sarnak character creation was neat, you can customize horn and many other aspects, there is definitely allot more control over facial features.

Q. Tell us a little about the new Zone Blending feature?

A. Zone Blending
An example of Zone Blending is when players approach Karnor’s Castle within the Kylong Plains, the atmosphere changes gradually until you’re standing at the front door and everything is gloomy and raining. It also means players will experience far fewer loading screens as they travel across the continent.BTW mobs can chase you across zone lines!

Now if you zone into a dungeon, you’re zoned.  But between the overlands, once you’re in an overland area all of the zones are actually just there.  An example would be imagine from the last expansion if you’re in Greater Faydwer if you were to travel into Butcher Block, and instead of zoning you went through that cavernous area in the mountains and the canyons and then came out and you were in Butcher Block and there was no zone screen.  There was no load, you just rounded the corner. say it’s going to be snowing here and it’s not snowing here and as you approach it starts to snow and it builds up and the terrain starts to become more white and it builds up so it feels natural.

Q. How will players Travel to Kunark?
Players will return to Kunark through different means, including new Druid and Wizard portal spells which will drop you off here. Primary travel to KP will be via boats. There will be your standard pickups in Freeport, Queynos and Nek Forest docks.

A. A new travel mechanic is the griffin rides in Kunark. You get you first ride on griffins at about level 9. Unlike Antonican quests where you go get an egg and then can ride a griffin, now you will have a quest to go save a griffin, when you return with the released griffin you may now use it to travel. There is a similar beast called a sokakor in KP that is available after completing some quests.

So lets break down some of the zones you will be journeying to:

Timorous Deep – Lvl 1 – 20
The islands of the Sarnak also contain the Spirocs, a strange man-bird race bent on taking what the Sarnak have built. But the Sarnak are a race in search of answers. Questions about their creation and their place in the world drive them, and the quest line for players who play one throughout the entire continent. And this quest for knowledge will put them into conflict with Kunark’s current overlords, the Iksar.

Kylong Plains = Dreadlands – 65- 70
When you return to Kunark (or are visiting for high level characters) contains frozen Ryjesium Peaks, the forest of Stonewood and the beach of Kunzar Bay.

After arriving via boat you will be at the waystation which is available to players regardless of faction, there are vendors, quest givers and tradeskill merchants. But the other waystations sprinkled throughout Kunark will require some faction building on the players part before they can use the services provided. Waystations can best be related to the Wanderlust fair that is in Darklight Woods near Neriak. It was a distant hub so you did not have to always run back to Hates Envy to get supplies etc..

Karnors Castle – 72 – 76, non instanced,
Zone blending is really shown off as you approach from the dreadlands to KC. The sky starts to darken, rain starts to fall steadily and then you are in a gloom that can only be related to a swamp. The transition is hardly noticable as an event but felt when you are through the blend. Truly how travel in MMO’s is meant to be and Sony got it perfect.

KC still has choo choo trains btw, just the mobs will not aggro as hard. Drolvargs are wearwolf based for mastery strikes.

It used to be the home of a raid target, the Iksar Necromancer Venril Sathir, but he has moved on to Sebilis and the Drolvarg that once roamed the outer halls have now taken over the entire residence. My brief run through of the zone confirmed that the layout is exactly the same as in EverQuest, including the moat and stables, but sadly, no gigantic hands.

Kunzar Jungle lvl 73 – 78 and Sebilis – 75-80
This is a combination of the old Emerald Jungle and Trakanon’s Teeth. The City of Mists was in the distance, but I didn’t get a chance to check it out. Instead, I was led through one of those faction-based waystations and down into the depths of Iksar infested jungle ruins. There I found the entrance to another dungeon, the level 75-80 tuned Sebilis.

Jarsath Wastes  – 77 – 80
This is a large, outdoor megazone for level 77-80 players. It contains the Skyfire Mountains, the Goblin Straits and the tomb city of Charasis, which holds the remains of Venril’s wife, Drusella.

We came across a fallen dragon. Carrion birds were circling it’s carcass in a wild, free-wheeling pattern. Then, a bolt of flame ripped across the sky, hit the bird and it fell to the ground in a writhing mass of fire and feathers. A very neat effect was with the crows, if you ran up to a pack of them feasting on the dragon, as you approach they will disperese and come back after you leave.

Veeshan’s Peak 80+ raid zone, persistent instanced  zone
The new home of Venril Sathir. and due to Venril’s assault on the children of the Wurm goddess, Trakanon has left Sebilis to defend Veeshan’s Peak from the Iksar Legion.
From a design standpoint, this instanced raid zone is split into three wings. And it takes advantage of recent instancing technology Everquest II implemented in the Estate of Unrest. Essentially, the zone remembers how far you have cleared into it so that you may log out and return on another day to continue right where you left off.

Overall the new expansion Rise of Kunark is a sure hit as was Echos of Faydwer, you get a ton of new features, new playable races and many technology optimizations. Truly this expansion shows the dedication of the team at Sony Online to the player base. I am now off to play my brand spanking new evil Sarnak Bruiser and will return with more secrets from Kunark!

Graphics are superb, the new Sarnak race is not anything innoative but is refreshing to play another race that is tied to a larger sotry and lore.  We found the new technologies, pre-caching and zone blending, to be the most important aspects of the expansion. Giving players some lower and higher end content is nice and while forcing players to leave Kunark at level 20 to join the population abroad makes some sense, we feel it could have been executed better as was previously done in Echos of Faydwer.

Enjoy it everyone and stop back to let us know about how your Kunark trip went!

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