With FanFaire last weekend, SOE officially announced the upcoming expansion as The Shadow Odyssey.
Here’s the bullet points from SOE’s press release, paraphrased by me.
- The expansion will center around Innothule swamp, which was a zone in first-release Everquest, and even then had an excellent, creepy mood.
- The expansion will feature goal-based dungeons. I think this means something like Everquest’s Lost Dungeons of Norrath, e.g., an instance with a goal. In LDON, you could have one of four or so different goals for a particular dungeon. What if this time around, the goal changed the behavior of mobs in the dungeon somehow? That would be cool. What if they decided that this was another opportunity to make players grind? My experience of LDON was basically: do 20 dungeons, still can’t buy anything that seems at all worthwhile. Not so cool.
- There will be a mysterious group of Erudites who will sell you gear for void shards. See item above re: grinding instances.
- A Dungeon Delving mission system that “lets players replay content with new and different experiences. See above comment re: different behavior.
- Two new deities, Rodcet Nife and Anashti Sul, Five new Heritage quests, AA cap raised to 200. No raise of level cap mentioned.
- They mention “nostalgic Everquest dungeon themes, such as Najena, Mistmoore, and The Sebilisian Empire. The geography is a bit confused. And I thought we already had Mistmoore Castle in the game. But these are themes? What are those, house decorations? Actually, it would be way cool if I could decorate my basement like Mistmoore Castle for Halloween.
Tipa adds two tidbits from FanFaire. This expansion will focus more on grouping. I think that’s probably good. In support of that the game will introduce hirelings. Hirelings are NPC’s that can be added to your group. Presumably they come with an AI, I’d bet that there aren’t going to be hirelings corresponding to every class, more likely one for every archetype. The AI’s will be easier to write that way.
The design problem here is if the hirelings are too good, then nobody will group with actual characters, preferring hirelings. But if they aren’t that good, why bother? I think the design goal for me would be to make them able to cover a simple role, e.g., heal the tank, or hit my target, in a simplified way. That is, a healer hireling is better than no healer, but not as good as a competent healer. Healers these days have a lot of other utility, so one way is to just simplify what a hireling can do. A hireling scout will never evac you, for instance. Maybe a simple buff that isn’t any better than an Adept 1? Something like that.
At least one of the “mission dungeons” will be Befallen. Tipa summed up my feelings:
Also returning is the dungeon of Befallen, which is a little odd, since we all kinda thought Stormhold was Befallen, given the NPCs like Gynok Moltar who spawn there, the heritage quests like the Bone Bladed Claymore that go through there, etc. and now, here’s Befallen.
It won’t really feel like Befallen unless you can fall into a deep hole, die, lose all your stuff and have to start over.
Ah, Befallen memories.
Lobilya and I both got a chuckle from this and then immediately swapped our favorite Befallen stories.
Hers was about how she first fell in the hole and died, but being a rogue, managed eventually to sneak down and drag her corpse back. After a while, she would earn money by jumping down the hole with her sneak on, and dragging other people’s corpses back for coin. Not to mention that back when lockpicking didn’t break sneak, theives would practice on the upper doors of Befallen, in order to skillup.
When you wandered into that first big room and you saw the door opening and closing for no apparent reason, then you knew that a thief was practicing.
My favorite Befallen story concerns my monk, Aquino, who one day after dying twice in Najena, decided to move to Befallen, where he died three more times in a 24 hour period, losing a level in the process. The goblin casters down there had a dot they did on you called Blood Boil, which featured several small ticks followed by a big hit as it expired. I died to that thing after beating my opponent at least once, and it always was nerve-wracking watching that thing tick away.
I never had to start over though. FD FTW!