Of Flames is a reward for the EQ faithful and it actually
plays like one. by
7, 2006 - EverQuest
may have reached its peak years ago. There seems to
be less people to interact with each week. This expansion
pack, EverQuest II: Desert of Flames was developed
to reward faithful fans rather than as a dumbed-down
recruitment tool for new players. Those players that
have already leveled their characters to the ceiling
will appreciate the extra 10 levels which can extend
the replay value anywhere from months to years depending
on your commitment to this massive online multi-player
the cap from 50 to 60 will be of little interest to
new players. In fact it's almost a deterrent since
you won't be able to interact on the same level with
many of the hardcore players that have been at this
game for years. There have been numerous expansion
packs, patches, maps, races, quests and other downloadable
content that has helped to evolve the game, but at
the same time making it less accessible for newbies.
Desert of Flames is not so much concerned with new
players as it is in delivering new and deeper features.
I must admit that some of it falls a little bit short
and despite the new map, player vs. player and being
able to scale heights vertically, I can see how things
would tend to get repetitious and even a little boring
after a time.
a virtual life in EverQuest is a bit like living in
a large fishbowl. There are restrictions to where
you can and can't go. Some of these restrictions are
conveniently constructed as enemy territory where
you don't want to venture if you value your virtual
life. In an effort to make things seem a bit more
open, vertical movement has been added that lets you
move up and down some areas of the environment such
as in mountainous regions found on the Isle of Ro.
This island has a mid-Eastern flair. You can reach
the island by using a flying carpet. There are vast
expanses of desert wasteland waiting to be explored
and exploited but the jewel in the crown is the city
reaching the island there are two distinct gameplay
options that you can choose from, but you can toggle
between them at anytime. Player vs. player frag matches
takes place in the arena where games such as Team
Deathmatch and Capture the Flag are offered. The third
game is called Destroy the Idol in which each team
defends an idol located in their territory. The opposite
team takes shots at the other team's idol in anticipation
of destroying it by reducing the hit points. These
arena battles can be played as your character or through
Arena Champions which are monster avatars that you
purchase outside the arena. They come with different
attributes to suit various styles of play.
arena matches are a good addition to the series but
for the majority of players it's nothing more than
a novelty. At least it will give newbies something
to do while they desperately attempt to reach the
45-plus level where most of the action is.
are three warring factions on the island and shortly
after you arrive you are going to have to choose one.
They include the Court of Coin, Court of Blade and
Court of Truth which correspond to finance, military
and legislative, respectively, as their core structure.
Each faction resides in a different area of the city
where their influence is at it strongest. You may
find yourself under attack should you decide to venture
into other regions so it's advised that you remain
in your adopted territory.
quests are available for each of the different factions.
There are hundreds of them. Other more generic quests
are available when you run out of the main ones. Killing
NPCs will result in a greater standing in your community.
Fallen enemies will leave behind tokens which you
give to friendly NPCs to gain favor. Some of the NPCs
will actually attack you depending on your ranking.
These skirmishes will take place in the open but you
have to be mindful of the law enforcement officers
which fly around on magic carpets. They will give
you a stern warning and if unheeded they can make
any character's life miserable regardless of how high
his or her level is.
into the 50s is a sheer grind. It was a long hard
battle to get beyond 40. The months of vitality that
players saved while luxuriating at the former cap
are now in danger of using it all up in pursuit of
reaching the new cap. Sure the challenge is artificially
inflated, but you've got little choice if you want
to spend more of your life in this virtual universe.
the game looks much too familiar. It borrows sights
and sounds from the original sequel although some
new monsters, characters and locations have been added.
There is an Arabian theme that is reflected in the
environments with generous sandy and tiled textures,
palm trees and various mid-Eastern influenced architecture
which is displayed in the citadels, domes and minarets.
Colors are more vibrant and backgrounds are more realistic
looking than ever. The animation is still a little
jerky in places but the commands are instantaneous
for the most part. I'll give the server the benefit
of the doubt and blame my slightly-out-of-date PC
for any latency.
best advice I can give beginners and lower-level players
would be to ignore this expansion pack and start at
the beginning, or at least at the first sequel. There
just won't be enough for you to do and racking up
points in this version can be an absolute grind.