But it got me to thinking: What are my favorite EQII expansions? Which expansions stand out, and which ones slipped away from memory? Which ones do I like best, and why? Do I prefer best bang for the buck or better features? Those are questions I set out to answer this week, so please join in this not-really-a-ranking discussion of the best of EQII’s expansions.
Forgotten, but not lost
I hate to admit it, but there are expansions that I can’t ever just recall. No, it takes me rechecking my old expansion list to even remember the name. I guess these are the ones that just never stood out to me, or didn’t capture my attention. Or perhaps 2007 to 2010 gaming was a more of a blur. Whatever the reason, to this day I look at The Shadow Odyssey and marvel that it exists. It actually kind of blows my mind that there is an expansion in one of my all-time favorite games that I just don’t know. To be fair, it came during an EQII hiatus and when money was super tight so it wasn’t possible to purchase it. Perhaps I block it out of my mind to spare me the pain — especially upon discovering that the preorder gift was a super cool house item I have always wanted! Even so, that mental block continues: I still have never really played any of its Moors of Ykesha content on any of my characters, except for maybe a couple dungeons. Maybe. I only venture there as needed for holidays or events or as a quick druid portal stop.
To a lesser degree of forgetfulness sits Sentinel’s Fate and Rise of Kunark. These never immediately ring a bell for me by name and I have to grasp at wisps of memory and look at notes to be reminded about them. I know that I purchased them; I have the RoK box — it was the last physical box I purchased – as well as the in-game rewards. And I know that the Sarnak were introduced then. Once I jog my memory, I remember my friend creating a Sarnak and us playing through beginning content together. I also do like the Kunark lands (fire! lava!) and have done a share of its content (who hasn’t done the plat grind in Sebilis?). With Sentinel’s Fate, while I never remember it by name I have played through the content and continue to return to The Sundered Frontier and The Stonebrunt Highlands (they are great places to grind writs for guild status!)
Most of EQII’s expansions I remember well. How could I ever forget Desert of Flames? It was the first time we got to explore new lands. I remember playing through those deserts very well. I also remember the old way of mentoring where I had to have special bars with only the old level skills! There was also the new city of Maj’Dul that you arrived on by flying carpet. So many fun memories.
Kingdom of Sky, the second expansion, is also burned bright in my memory for the chance to head into the sky. yes, I tumbled to my death by dodging too close to an edge before. And who didn’t love riding clouds between sky-islands? Tears of Veeshan took me to Eternal Broodlands, the afterlife of dragons. Dragons! How could I not love that?! Altar of Malice is unforgettable as the expansion that returned us back to the Isle of Refuge to see what happened after we were rescued there all those years ago. Chains of Eternity is seared in my mind for its evil eyes that follow you throughout the red portion of Eidolon Jungle, the afterlife of the Feerrott. It is also unforgettable as the first expansion I received from being at my first SOE Live.
Not as high on my list but still memorable (mostly because recent expansions are easier to recall because of timing) are Terrors of Thalumbra, Kunark Ascending, and Planes of Prophecy. Honestly, I have not completed much content in these — I want to finish up stuff in AoM before totally moving on. They each have their positive points: You can visit the realm under Norrath in ToT, return to an expanded Kunark in KA, and travel to another plane of existence altogether in PoP. Sadly, these latest expansions also seem to have less and less substance to them compared to earlier ones, making them seem less worth the money to some players. (Thankfully we do still get major updates that introduce new things, but this column focuses on expansions.)
While I don’t feel I can rank the expansions, I know some really stand out to me more than others. First up is amusingly one I can’t even recall buying or being around for launch! I think money was too tight and I got it because I bought KA, but Echoes of Faydwer is in my top favorites because of one thing: Arasai! OK, so the Fae are neat too, but the Arasai are my favorite race. Oddly enough, I never even created one until 2011 that I can find (mostly because I didn’t really do alts before then), but I still loved them. And once they could fly under the power of their own wings — boom! Awesomesauce. I have more characters of this race than any other because they are just so dang cool. Even my main streaming Fury is one: Although I already had a max level Fury I rolled one just to have an Arasai. The fact you had an actual adventure when catching the boat to get there is also mega cool. Butcherblock is also neat.
Taking second in my list of favorites is Age of Discovery. I know lots of people didn’t like how meager this expansion was, but it contained some important stuff, not the least of which was going free -to-play. Granted, I have continued my sub nearly non-stop, but I think this opened the game up so much to many others. AoD also introduced the Beastlord class, mercenaries (I can’t even play without mercs now!), and the dungeon maker system — all super cool stuff.
If you’ve been keeping tabs, you’ll know what I’ve dubbed my favorite expansion — if I had to pick one. Destiny of Velious, the seventh expansion, snags this honor. I could say that it is the addition of flying mounts to game; after all, flying is one of my favorite things. It also allowed for the Arasai and Fae to use their own wings for flight! See how this is a favorite? it might also have something to do with all that snow and cold, which is my favorite. But it is also because there was just so doggone much to it. There are multiple all-new zones filled with Dwarves and the Othmir otter-people, public quests, the Coldain city of Thurgadin, and more. Cobalt Scar is a particular favorite place of mine. (Although technically not in the expansion itself, a later update during DoV’s tenure was the addition of leapers and gliders, and leapers are an all-time favorite aspect of EQII that everyone must try out. It was expansive. Basically, you really felt like DoV was an expansion! From that point on, however, it seems like meaty content started tapering off in expansions. Even though CoE and ToV certainly seemed to have much to offer, DoV feels like the turning point. Oh, and did I mention flight?
So, now that you know some of my thoughts on expansions, which ones would you list as your favorites? Are there any that are not memorable for you? Please share your thoughts in the comments below!