We discuss the new instant level-85 character feature with Longdale and Georgeson.
At this summer’s SOE Live convention EverQuest II players were first introduced to the concept of Heroic Characters, an instant level-85 character that came equipped with level-appropriate gear. It was met with mixed reactions and over the following months players have demanded more information on the feature. Early last week a Producer’s Letter was released that dished out a lot of information, including the revelation that all Destiny of Velious content (which includes additional content spanning at least four game updates) will be made free for all players.
Like any information that is released into the EQII community, the letter was met a large flurry of questions. There were some issues that needed to be addressed, which we dug into when we recently spoke to Holly “Windstalker” Longdale, Senior Producer of EverQuest II, and Dave “Smokejumper” Georgeson, Director of Development for the EverQuest franchise.
Holly Longdale took the time to explain that over time many players, even “devout players,” have expressed interest in having a high level character built for them, and that they’d be willing to pay for that type of service. Earlier this year is when the team made the decision to go ahead with this type of feature. It has spent three months in development and has undergone a lot of internal testing “using the wealth of knowledge of our staff.” Holly is excited to have a feature that will allow you to jump into the game at level 85 (current level cap is 95) and said that “we’ve been developing this program that we think is going to be really enjoyable for people either coming back to the game, our existing players and hopefully new players, too!”
How exactly will the Heroic Characters work? There will be two versions, trial and purchase. The trial version will allow for the character to level to 86, but not beyond. The team feels that a player can gauge how well they enjoy playing the quest in the time it will take to obtain a full level, and at that point they will be given the option to purchase the character.
Under the trial version the character will be equipped in full Legendary quality gear which Holly states is “attuned to be appropriate for level 85.” Trial characters will have 100 Alternate Advancement (AA) points, a flying mount, 20 potions to use (health, mana and more), food and drink and ammo. Great Divide was reitemized as well so that “as you progress through the zone, Great Divide is now tuned for these Heroic Characters, and existing characters,” according to Holly. Another point of interest is that trial characters are not permitted to trade anything.
The purchase version of Heroic Characters will be granted 280 AAs and will not have the level progression restrictions that the trial version has. They have the same Legendary quality gear as the trial version. The purchased version will cost 3500 Station Cash (SC; valued at $35USD). Everyone will get a chance to obtain a free Heroic Character during the Hero’s Call promotion, discussed in detail later.
The new Legendary gear that Heroic Characters will equip brought up the question of how Free and Silver members, which traditionally would have to purchase item unlockers to wear Legendary quality gear, would go about equipping their level-boosted character. Ultimately, this drove the team to its decision to lift item restrictions from Free and Silver accounts, which was announced on Friday, September 27. "We were just trying to get rid of the annoyances," said Dave Georgeson. "When people come back to the game—before we had the AA templates, before we had the Heroic Characters, before we removed the item unlockers—it was a pain in the butt to start playing the game again. So what we wanted to do was remove all of that stuff, so that when people come back, they just want to play with everybody; it lets them get right there and start playing with the other players. It makes it a better experience for everybody involved."
SOE didn't want its Gold members to feel that their monthly subscription lost value in this change. Also announced this past Friday were permanent coin loot and mount speed boosts for all Gold members. The coin loot increase is 15% and the mount speed buff adds 10%. "We'll always be evaluating the [Gold] membership to see what things we can do to improve it, to make it a good experience, make sure the value is there, and make it a positive experience to have a membership," Holly said.