EverQuest 2's Test and Test Copy servers were updated last Tuesday with Game Update 52. Having thought about it for a week and read some of the arguments on the forums, here are some of my initial impressions on the upcoming content.
Kunark Overland Quests - So we get to fight a mysterious army, do we? I'm hoping these new solo quests are a prelude to the next expansion. Feldon over on EQ2 Wire says they are and has the pictures to prove it. Grouping is fun, but with my guild's schedule there is a lot of time we don't have enough players on to have a viable group to do the TSO instances. Plus, I need the alternate achievement experience.
Kurn's Tower - The exciting part of this news for me is that the instance has two difficulty settings; one set for a single group and one set for a 12-toon raid.
The Item Proc Nerf - As a going away present, former EQ2 Senior Producer dropped this little bombshell on the player community:
Fairly often the data confirms something that one of you has pointed out in a post, or in feedback, or a ticket with Customer Service, and we start looking at ways that we can correct whatever that issue is. There is not a one of us who enjoys putting something into the game that eventually needs to be "nerfed", but at times changes get in that end up doing something completely unexpected, despite our testing. Even the mostinnocuous item or change can make a significant difference in a game with the complexity of an MMO, especially with the size and scope of EQII.I don't know what to think about this yet. As a ranger, will the change to Toxic Expertise mean I will not lose any dps? The math seems to indicate this. In that case, poison damage will be pretty steady and the lack of critical poison hits may actually help me manage aggro better. But since this also affects healers, I'm wondering if my small guild's 5-toon trips into some of the TSO instances is about to come to an end.
This is the situation we've run into now. We've discovered that with the items that we released with The Shadow Odyssey, that proc additional damage, the amount of damage being caused has grown considerably, and we need to adjust it. So, in the next game update, we're going to be adjusting to the way triggered procs on items work.
The first change of note is that we're removing critical damage from the item's base proc. This will help us even out damage from the items we've already released, and also assist us in maintaining a standard going forward.
The next thing you'll see in this update is that the values of the procs can no longer be modified, with a few notable exceptions like achievements or item set enhancements. Generic bonuses will no longer apply to triggered damage generated from items. This will allow us to move forward with creating items that can have higher damage item procs in the future.
Predators will see a change to Toxic Expertise, The spell will now improve the base damage of poisons. We're also making adjustments to the Death Mark and Inspired Daring spell lines so that they trigger melee attacks instead of spell based attacks. This is to refocus the combat art back to improved poison damage, rather than the spell crit damage it has been doing.
We recognize that these are substantial changes. We wouldn't be making them if we didn't feel that things were currently unbalanced, and becoming more so as the game continues to grow. These changes will bring the item procs and spells back to a reasonable standard.
Research Assistants - If the item proc changes are not the most controversial item in GU 52, then that title belongs to the new Research Assistants. Here are the details as compiled by Arbreth on the EQ2 forums.
Answers below are from Kirstie (the lead game mechanics developer)...
Where this is at this time? GU52 will probably hit the test servers on the week of the 18th, and this feature is slated to be part of that. Once it goes to the test server we'll be looking for feedback again on the specifics of the implementation which should be fully spelled out then.
How to get it? The research assistants are going to be moving out into the world instead of staying in people's homes. You'll find them in many of the places where you would have previously bought App II's. There is
also a good chance that we'll be adding a research assistant as a guild hall amenity either in 52 or future update.
What if I get the spell as a drop before the RA is done? As it is implemented now, if you change what the researcher is working on you'll be refunded one third of the days he's been working on the spell. So if he's been
working 10 days on a spell you'll get 3 days back (it's rounded down) to apply to the next thing you want to research whether he's part way through the research or all finished.
How long for a spell? A level 80 upgrade from Adept III to Master I is set to take about 30 real life days to complete. Even if we don't get a full 30 days on test, there are a lot of other levels of upgrades I'm hoping people will try on test to help us make sure its working correctly (range is 1 to 30 days). The time spent researching a spell is based on the spell level, not the player level.
What are the requirements to get a spell? There were a few changes made between my initial post and now. The primary one is that we removed the tradeskilled versions of spells and combat arts from the progression of the research assistants. This means that in order to use the research assistant you will have to have scribed one of the tradeskilled versions (APP IV or Adept III) of the spell/ca you want to research.
How many can you get? Each account can have one character working with the research system at a time. The only exception is if you have characters on separate servers. Antonia Bayle researchers don't talk to Sebilis researchers so one account could have one character on each server researching.
Right now there is no limit on how many you can get other than the time investment. Getting all the spell upgrades for a full account of characters would take a long time.
What is the cost per spell? The only cost associated with the RA is acquiring the previous tier of the spell (Journeyman or Expert) and the time required by the Research Assistant to finish your upgrade.
One other thing alluded to was the veteran rewards system. Currently you only acquire time towards your veteran rewards while you have an active subscription. In the past it has had some problems, but the RAs are using the same logic to find out how far you are in researching your spell as we use in determining veteran reward time. In the process of implementing the RAs we've cleaned up some of the bugs that system had.
Does this mean we can upgrade "masters" to "grand masters"? Nope. The Master II system is not being touched right now. You'll get Master II's or "Grand Masters" as they will soon be called the same way as you did previously.
To tell you the truth, I'm really disappointed in the fact we will not have research assistants in our homes. Besides the fact that requiring a player to have to work to get a research assistant shouldn't be too much effort to ask of players who want to obtain their masters, I really wanted something new and cool to put in my apartment.
What I'm wondering about this new system is can it help players level? In particular, I'm thinking about the pet classes who get charged an arm, a leg, and their first born child for all of their pet spells. Getting master level spells for pets would make leveling much easier. But how about just the upgrades from apprentice IV to adept 1 spells while levelling? Due to the requirements of transmuters, adept I spells are rather expensive.
Shadow System - Yes, I know this isn't content, but the fact that shadows will be built on the computer's graphics card instead of the CPU should lead to not only better in-game graphics but better performance as well.
Spell Renaming - In a move to simplify the game, all the spells are being renamed. I'm pretty sure this will require all players to modify their macros. On the plus side, any bets crafters will get disco credit for making the first of the new spells?
User Books - Yawn.
TSO Faction Quests - The faction quests in Tupta, Grobb and Firmroot Moot will now award more faction. All I can say is it is about time.
Tradeskills - GU 52 once again proves that Domino loves us, and not just because she is working on getting us peacock feathers. From her sticky post in the Tradeskill Forums...
Stuff to look forward to, coming soon:For a good preview of the crafting changes (with lots of pretty pictures) visit Niami Denmother over at EQ2 Traders.
Level 50+ Sages will soon be able to make a set of notebooks, which can hold user-created content (see Rothgar's EQII blog post and the related forum thread for more information about this).
Carpenters may find it worthwhile to investigate -- or send their friends to investigate -- the Estate of Unrest a little more closely.
Tailors will see some changes to their hex dolls, which include a much reduced casting time, stat increase, and a set bonus for the mastercrafted ones.
Woodworkers and tailors will see their ranged weapons (bows, satchels, bandoliers, etc.) get a stat upgrade also!
Adventurers may find some small goodies in the new Charasis West wing, including perhaps a couple small
goodies for provisioners.
A few minor changes to the void tradeskill instance that folks have been asking for... including a slightly more satisfying ending, and more harvests per click.