Everquest: The Scars of Velious by Al Giovetti
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Everquest: The Scars of Velious
Summary * History * Company Line * Game Play * Plot * Graphics * Animation * Voice Actors * Music Score * Sound Effects * Utilities * Multi-player Features * Cheats, Hints, and Walkthrough * Journalists * References * Letters
Almost two years ago, Everquest – the commercial version, was released for public consumption. Since that time they have released expansions near the Christmas season. The largest and most ambitious expansion was last year: The Ruins of Kunark. Kunark introduced a new player character race, the Iskar, and 20+ new zones to play in. Many game players criticized this new world due to its insane difficulty in transportation, very few gates, and for its zone difficulty. Kunark won kudos for access to monsters, large sized zones, and greatly improved graphics.
Velious has 19 new zones, including 2 new plains for good gods. Velious has no new player character races; Kunark added one new race – the Iksar. Velious has no new player character levels; Kunark added ten more levels allowing characters to go up more levels and obtain more skills and spells. Kunark adds many new races of monsters to kill including three new cities with races in those cities: Velious Dragons of Skyfire, Coldain Dwarves of Thurgardin, and Frost Giants of Drakkel.
Velious is cleverly designed to make things more difficult and deadly especially for the unwary and unprepared. There are 19 new zones, which just happen to be divided by areas with potentially hostile beings. The areas that divide the continent are cities with high-level guards that could easily crush your little group.
The factions in Velious are insidious. Many have applauded them for their deviousness. The three intelligent races that have cities, those very cities that you have to pass through to get to dungeons are all opposed to one another. There is a monster race, the snow orcs that also guards a fourth dungeon.
The three new races, the giants, the dwarves and the dragons, all have quests to help with their three-part feud with the other races. If you kill one of these races you will increase faction with one or both of the remaining races. The giants are warring with the dwarves and the draconians. The draconians and dwarves are warring with the giants. Thankfully the draconians and the dwarves are indifferent to one another.
In the original continent of Antonica if you worked hard enough you could get faction with all the races except for the ogres and the trolls who were warring with themselves so almost no race save the dark elves were safe with them. And dark elves could never reconcile themselves with the high-elves or wood elves. Even neutral races like humans, gnomes, and erudites had their problems fitting in with some races.
Even deities get into the act. There are good, bad and neutral deities who in many cases are divided up by racial preferences. In Antonica you could get by if you were agnostic, but some classes and races require a deity. It's too bad that no one, even after two years, understands the nuances of the deities and their impact on faction.
It would be nice to know a good neutral god that everyone could get along with. One of the surest ways to die in this game is to go into a paladin or cleric guild, which is run by a rival god to the one you have chosen. More people have died in this game because they have selected the wrong deity. I knew of a level 40+ enchanter who had to start over because he picked the wrong deity instead of picking agnostic.
On Velious if you pick the giant deity you will have an in with the giants in drakken. Gods play a very little role save the two new good god plains, which were added as two of the nineteen areas in Velious.
One of the most important introductions of Velious is the new hot keys and expansion of the six one key commands to now become ten keys. Unfortunately, Verant did not redesign both player interfaces to accommodate the new keys only the full screen interface works with all ten keys.
Monsters are above level 30 so the minimum character should be above thirty. Many of the monsters and quests are suitable only for characters that are above level fifty. Many of the monsters may be beyond the level 60 maximum level.
Many of the monsters found in the cities require multiple groups of over 50 characters to bring down to complete the quests. This is part of the Verant policy of encouraging people to group. Grouping is not always a good thing.
As with many online computer games politics are often more important where grouping is concerned than persistance and good game play. Many groups reward those that they like the most rather than the most deserving. As a result many Everquest gamers would prefer to play alone. Some system has to be designed to discourage greed and jealousy.
Druids cannot gate to the new dragon portals until they are level 34 for Iceclad, and 39 for the other two gates. The gates are not the old spires and druid stones of Antonica and Kunark, but are totally new dragon gates, which both the druids and wizards can use. A tooth is required to use the portals, which can be found in the middle of the gates in the Scars of Velious and the Great Divide.
The result of combat is loot. Verant has already moved to nerf, reduce the amount of, the loot. Ry'Gorr orcs no longer drop loot in the great quantities.
This nerfing of loot is designed into the game. Early on all new dungeons and areas have frequent drops of good loot. As the area is farmed out of loot, the drops of the loot become less and less. The more popular an item is the rarer it becomes. The longer it takes for the monster to spawn that drops the loot. It happens so often I would be surprised if it was not a part of the game code.
The dwarves and Dragons hate the giants. The giants hate the dwarves and the Dragons. And thankfully the Dragons and the dwarves know little of each other.
You must choose sides in this continuing battle to have a place to call your own. The dwarves have the most amenities so that the giants seem to be a natural group to be enemies with. On the other hand if you kill Dragons you can make the giants like you. But many giant quests require that you kill dwarves and not Dragons. Confusing? Yes! Many people just end up enemies with everyone.
If you go to the two new plains and kill stuff you may alienate the good gods and their races making the cleric guilds of the high-elves and the wood-elves and some druids kill you on site. All in all Velious is a lovely place to start a war.
Probably the best thing about the new worlds and the old worlds are the graphics. Verant's world is pretty. Everquest is so pretty that people keep coming back to see more after tons of reasons to quit. Kunark is prettier still with more detail and interesting graphics to support the interesting plotline.
Of course it could be that people are just addicted. But there is often a reason for addiction, and with this game one of the major reasons is eye candy. The graphics are just beautiful. And the new graphics are even better than the original game, which is almost two years into its full release version.
The secret is not tons of polygons; cause Evercrack has fewer polygons than many games. Its in the detail and beauty of the skins that Verant wraps on those polygons. Some of the most beautiful animation art ever produced.
For this day and age the animation of the characters is somewhat less than sterling although its smart animation. The animation does things that keep the users interest and has enough repetition to lull them into familiarity. Keep the interest of getting used to the mannerisms.
Ogres and trolls scratch their butts while standing and waiting for the next camped mob to spawn. Iskar lizard persons stand and sway from left to right. All other races look around and kind of shift their weight. All characters bend from the small of their backs.
Nothing in all of this is new however. Verant was given high marks for the original animation and nothing has been added with the Scars of Velious. This is a serious mistake for any game company. Character animation should have been enhanced for all characters.
Little things show this lack of concern for detail in some areas. Most places the attention to detail is exemplary. Halfling and wood elfs complain that they cannot wear robes because Verant designers are too lazy to draw the animation sets with robes. Female Iskar complain that they have no curves because Verant chose to accept the fiction that lizard humanoids would not have mammaries and fat pads to encourage familial bonding and that lizards and dinosaurs do not nurture their young. All this to avoid drawing two sets of body type animations for the Iskar race. Even if you do not support the need for breast feeding to encourage familial bonding of young to the females, you have to realize that most dinosaurs and lizards have different body types for each sex that go beyond mere plumage and coloration differences.
The best animations are reserved for the monks who can “flying kick,” kick, punch, swing a weapon and inspire fear in their enemies all with different animations. Most melee types are limited to a two handed or double handed motion with the weapon, a kick and a bash or smash with the off hand for the larger races.
Many of the best animations are associated with emotions or “emotes.” The dance, shrug, shiver, and nod animations are really nice. There are several others like the rude gesture that are equally fun and are all animated.
Everquest animations could be improved with a little more variety and some variation to make them more personal. While signature animations are nice. Most of us get a bit bored seeing the ogre scratch his ass for the ten millionth time. Perhaps it would be good to see him blow his nose or scratch the back of his head. But Velious added nothing in the animation area.
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