EQ2 shifts to a DLC-like format while heading toward its April content update.
Yes, we know it's April Fools Day. This announcement is 100% serious.
One of the major concerns players had back in February was whether or not content would continue to roll in as expected for EverQuest II. In a Producer's Letter released this evening by Executive Producer Holly "Windstalker" Longdale, it was announced that the team will now be releasing content in "campaigns" in lieu of the common expansions and game updates we have become accustomed to in years past. We attended a roundtable with Holly this afternoon to discuss this change as well as the upcoming Rum Cellar campaign and beyond.
UPDATE April 2nd: Clarification on zone instance types has been included below.
Coming on April 28th, the Rum Cellar campaign is the first of this new DLC-like initiative. Before going into what the update will entail, we'll first tackle what campaigns mean for players.
If you've played a game with DLC, you can imagine campaigns to be similar to that. It's pay-for content, not as extensive as an expansion, but quicker to be released and not as expensive in these smaller doses. While pricing will not always be the same for every campaign, the current price for Rum Cellar is set at $15; no, you can't pay in Station Cash (we asked), but members will get their 10% discount on it.
"Our notion is [that] we want to be more nimble in how we release content. We want to be able to react more quickly to the community, how often it changes, and what their desires and feedback are. Essentially we'll be releasing about the same amount of content as we would put in an annual expansion, but we're going to package it up in a variety of ways over a year."
Campaigns will allow the team to deliver content on a quicker schedule than the previous few years, where their efforts throughout the majority of the year have been focused on a single expansion pack. In later campaigns we can expect various bundle options based on your play type, but for Rum Cellar the only bundles will include a discounted Altar of Malice expansion, as the campaign content will require being able to access the xpack.
"With the larger campaign in the fall, we're going to looking at flexibility in the options we give our players. We'll be exploring bundles that benefit players who are in familiars or have multiple accounts. Decorators might get a package that's specifically made for them, or adventurers, or collectors. We're trying to be creative in what the community has been asking us for over the years."
Rum Cellar will introduce the level 100 Far Seas Distillery zone to Altar of Malice. This zone has four instance types (solo—not advanced solo, heroic, event heroic and raid), but none of the content is locked. In the story you'll find yourself teaming up with the Brokenskull pirates to help prevent the Rumpocolypse (an end to rum production—such a travesty), starting with a temporary undead parrot companion named Nibbles who will assist your recon of the distillery. The entire campaign story is delivered through the solo and heroic zones, while the raid zone story is complimentary to the storyline. Raiders can expect 10 raid events: nine plus a one-shot boss.
[Clarification on the zone instances: There is a solo, event solo (editor's note: this may be Advanced Solo, not Event Solo), heroic, two event heroics and a large raid instance. (x)]
UPDATE: We received another update on zone instances, stating that Challenge Event Heroic and Advanced Solo will be added. This makes the available instances as such:
- Advanced Solo
- Event Heroic
- Event Heroic – Challenge Version
Holly stressed that there was high replayability with each of the four instances. They all have their own rare loot table and a couple of the items mentioned were a human drunken monk mercenary, as well as a zeppelin mount with stats (think Moors of Ykesha zone travel balloons, but more epic with cannons). Need a dismembered arm to charge into battle with? The distillery has that, too.
The content will also include the normal assortment of collections and achievements. A merchant who accepts Ferrin will sell various items, including a non-stat version of the zeppelin mount. Holly mentioned that there's hidden content a couple of times, so keep an eye out for extras in the distillery.
The Far Seas Distillery will be accessible in the Phantom Sea behind Castle Highhold. Speaking to an ogre named Groo will start you on your journey. Keep an eye out for the new content to hit the Beta server the second week of April.
Moving on, we discussed that players can expect the cross-server Dungeon Finder this summer (they're hoping for August). International servers will be segmented at first, but the team would like to find a way to integrate everyone together. The recent backend database changes are still ongoing, which have been setting the stage for cross-server play.
In the fall, we'll get a larger campaign that, while not expansion-sized, will be larger than the Rum Cellar one. There wasn't any details what the content will include, but Holly stated that the level cap will remain at 100 for a while. We can also expect to see a new Deity system this autumn, which will include a system to purchase abilities and AAs; Holly likened them it to expendable AAs, which EverQuest veterans would be familiar with.
Holiday and monthly content will continue to be delivered as normal, and yesterday some class changes were announced, which are currently on the Beta server. Remember to help test the Rum Cellar campaign once it hits Beta and gear up for its April 28th release!
Holly's Producer's Letter is now available over on the official forums.
Ann "Cyliena" Hosler, Managing Editor