November: A month of colorful, falling leaves, Thanksgiving… and an EverQuest II expansion! That’s right, the 11th month isn’t allowed to finish up until we have our next serving of Norrathian goodness, and Daybreak delivered it to us on the 28th. Regardless of not yet finishing up the content in previous expansions, I couldn’t not immediately dive in and explore this new piece of EQII! I mean, me, not explore a favorite world? That’s crazy talk! With only two days (and interrupted ones at that!) to peek into and poke around, what did I find in Planes of Prophecy? Here are my first impressions.
Hop on the Plane
Luckily for me, you don’t need to complete the Signature Quest line (or in my case, even start it) in Kunark Ascending to be able to access the new zone, the Plane of Magic. If you are level 100 and own the expansion, all you need to now is how to get there. For that, you could do like I first did and hop from world bell to druid portal to wizard spire to find the way. Alternately, you could read the in-game mail that is delivered to every level 100 that tells you to visit any wizard spire. It makes sense: Travel to a Plane of Magic through a magical wizard portal! Obviously, I immediately jumped in a portal.
You don’t have to be an Arasi to feel puny when you first arrive. The only visual reference you get is massive ethereal flowers, a high rock embankment, and the spire itself. Wandering a bit brings you to the only inhabitant right here, Aunsellus Tishan, a fellow Norrathian. He gets you started on the Signature Quest line. Before you leave him, though, be sure you grab the armor and weapon bundles from the chest next to him for the low, low price of 0 copper! You will desperately need the new gear in this new land, and it includes something for every slot, including jewelry. You quickly find you are just on a little perch, and the main area is on a different floating island. If by some insane reason you don’t have a flying mount yet, you need one here.
One of the first things you note when you zone in is how beautiful the zone is. Rich colors and luminescence are a personal favorite look, and Planes of Prophecy have them in abundance. The textures are more detailed than the early game. And while the models are based off of earlier creatures, there are new variations to discover. My personal favorite so far is the magical swirling mist that is shaped a bit like an owlbear and armored! This expansion follows the trend over the last few years of offering a beautiful setting; it is well worth it to fly around the area soaking in the view. (Of course, be careful how close you get to the inhabitants if you aren’t prepared to fight!) Get a glimpse of how it all looks in our first look livestream:
I will admit that I am not sure how I feel about the vastly different art styles right next to each other on this plane. I totally get why it is that way: The two houses have developed vastly different from each other and they want to demonstrate that difference as well. It is also a realm of magic, and we all know that means things can vary widely. However, that knowledge doesn’t stop the visual jarring when I look at the two houses’ platforms eight next to each other. That’s not on the game or the designers, it’s just a personal thing for me. Honestly, I find it much easier to look at just one house or the other instead of both at the same time. (I prefer the beautiful natural look of rocks and fiery red glow!)
As pretty as the Plane of Magic is, I wished there was more of it. It is just a little pocket zone. The little regions with their changes in scenery feel too jammed together; you can fly through it in almost no time. Your first impression is that the expansion is puny. Don’t let this disappoint you yet! The title of the expansion is Planes of Prophecy — plural. Although you won’t experience them right away (I am not sure you can even access them without advancing the signature quest line), there are two more planes to discover and adventure in!
Besides the magic realm, there is the Plane of Innovation, with its mechanical theme, as well as the plane of Disease, with its pestilence and decay. There is also the Plane of Storms where the Bastion of Thunder is, and the Plane of Sun that houses Solusek Ro’s Tower. The initial disappointment of such a small space was replaced with relief that there is more there waiting for me — I just have to get to it! Knowing that there are more planes to explore makes me more excited to delve into the content. I just wish I could get to them all right now and get lots of screenshots! I do know that just following that tunnel of light up or down did not work.
Because I have not yet started the signature line or any of the quests, I cannot comment on how quickly this content can be consumed. As usual, I will likely take my time. But my first impression is that it appears that the content is tied closely to the signature quest line. When you explore the first zone, you don’t really come across random quests out and about, so I think you may have to go ahead and ally with a house to get their tasks. Then, if you want standing with the other two groups (and the chance to buy their special goodies), you’ll have to work on gaining their trust at a later time.
Speaking of the quest lines, you will definitely want to be doing them! This expansion is seriously geared for granting XP for quests, not for mob grinding. And you will desperately need that quest XP: It takes over 139 million XP to move from level 100 to 101 in adventuring. Tradeskillers have a higher mark, needing 174 mill XP to get that single level! Talk about disheartening. The good news — should you take it that way — is that unless you own the expansion, you do not need to worry about any leveling because you can’t. The new level cap of 110 (as well as increased merc and Ascension levels) is only open to Planes of Prophecy owners.
And while we are on the topic of leveling…
Special leveling award
If you can manage to break that 101 level barrier quick enough, you will get yourself a prize. Daybreak is awarding a special painting titled EverQuest: Planes of Power for their houses. Players must reach level 101 before Wednesday morning, December 13th, at 2:59 a.m. EST to get this painting.
All big releases involve bugs, and Planes of Prophecy was no different. There’ve been problems with expert recipes, quick travel, stats, and more. But the bugs are being addressed. I lucked out on my first peek on OPTV because the server was taken down for a hotfix right at the end of the stream instead of teh beginning!
One other bug that is related to but not in the expansion that really affected me was actually during the prelude event. I was extremely disappointed that I was unable to finish it on my Fury because the portal the NPC called to send you to all the little instances didn’t work! Granted, trying to finish that up on the last day was not the wisest move, but the quest was supposed to still be working/active until the expansion launched, so I should have had time. The quest was there, but thanks to being unable to use the portal right in front of me I was unable to continue it, and I couldn’t get help with the bug. I was pretty disappointed.