Rise of Kunark

I wish I could get screenshots of the game, but unfortunately that is still disabled on the beta servers. However, NDA is now lifted so I feel like talking about it.

First, the obvious comparison with EoF. The devs have been talking about how they wanted to copy EoF’s successes with this expansion… well I don’t think they did. EoF to me is still far and away a better expansion. Now here’s why….

The first thing you tend to notice in the expansion (depending on where you start), is size. This is an obvious nod towards EoF. This part I love. You thought everything was big in EoF? Multiply it by 3! The zones themselves seem to be about 2 or 3 times bigger than your average EoF zone. For instance, the average RoK zone has 3-4 pages of maps. If you look at these maps, the feature I notice most is that those wings that we see for cloud lifts in KoS and the zone in symbols are a fraction of the size we are used to seeing them, at least half the size. Which means even though there are multiple pages, each page is much bigger in size than your average page from the old maps (they do now have a zoom feature to help you see things close up too). Not only are the size of the zones big, so are the points of interest. One of the first awe inspiring moments I had was in the mountains in the first zone where there is a little outpost. This “little” (I say that as there really isn’t much there) outpost has spires towering over it that I swear are at least 50 times the size of the spires you can teleport to KoS from, they are huge. Underneath them is a bunch of pyramids (not the CT style but more Egyptian instead, actually look a little sci-fi in appearance). The reason these are awe-inspiring is that you don’t see them build up, they are hidden by a mountain peak, so you turn a corner and you see it all… it is awesome. The devs have gotten so much better in zone design with each expansion and this one is no exception.

Once you get past the bigness however, the second thing you notice tends to be…. “My God, this looks like WoW! Ewww!” Don’t get me wrong, some of the new graphics are cool, I particularly like the formerly mentioned pyramids, many of the zone in areas (like the castle, veeshan’s peak, etc) and a number of the new creatures (like the spider people, the iksar/scorpions, the wurms, the new yetis, the cockatrices, and there are a few more that I won’t mention here). However, some of it makes the game seem downright cartoony, and I don’t want to spend my life playing a cartoon world, if I did I’d play wow or toon town. The trees seem ripped straight from wow, they even have a railroad track through a sarnak mine that seemed stolen from the newbie area of WoW. it is overly colourful (of which I’ll be honest in saying colour is good, but it is unrelenting). I thought Kunark in EQ1 was supposed to be a dark and brooding expansion, here it seems bright and cheery.

However, I do like much of it’s kind of primitave feel. Cockatrice’s, Sabretooth Lions, werewolves, giants, wurms, wyverns, droags, etc. make it feel like you are visiting a fantasy dinosaur land. Especially with looming volcanos (the SkyFire Mountains). This is a nice feal, and certainly a new type of feel that we haven’t seen yet in EQ2. The main types of zones seem to be Badlands, Volcano Range, Large Pine Forest, Snow Mountains, a gully area, and I know there is an underwater zone which i haven’t been able to find quite yet.

The Sarnak, I’ve never been too fond of appearances since they released the first pictures, but I do think there will be a number of people who hated the Fae & Arasai who will like the Sarnak. It is a shame they made them evil because they would make great paladins. They have high wisdom, str, and stamina I believe (although it may have been agility instead of strength). Their racial traits include +wis, the firebreathing aoe that had been mentioned, falling damage reduction, healing crit & heal skill buff, taunting resistance reduction buff, think maybe a +sta, and then a couple tradeskills. I think it is best suited for Pally, but I do think it would still see quite a bit of use as other tanks and priests as well.

The reports of a new flying mount is true, sort of. However, in reality it is just a new way to do the griffons. You have to do a 5 step quest which as a reward you get a pet and a flying mount. However, you can only use these flying mounts at various shrines throughout the zone to other similar shrines. Thus the concept is the same as the griffon. It is nice to see graphic variation though, I think they noted that people really liked the horses for GF and LF in EoF. From what I’ve heard the new rhino mount is the reward for being guild level 80. I don’t know what other rewards are involved from 60-80, but I think the rhino is the 80 reward.

Another reason I really feel that this isn’t as good of an expansion as EoF is besides the largeness of the zones and the persistent instances, there really isn’t much NEW to it. EoF brought with it an entire new AA tree, 50 points, 8 gods, cloaks, 2nd earring slot, tinkering, transmuting, and portal spells. RoK is bringing 3 new gods, 40 AA points, and 10 levels to every side (including 20 guild levels). I think the main point they are making is the levels, as they almost didn’t even put in the 40 AA. The levels are great, and well needed addition to the game (I think people were more than a little bored of the 70 level limit by this point), but I would have liked to see SOME new feature to the expansion that was more than just cosmetic like the bigger zones. In a way I was kind of hoping for a third new secondary tradeskill as I feel the choice of just 2 was limiting (I was really hoping for an appearance adjusting secondary tradeskill).

From what little i’ve seen of the beta, I would give the expansion about a B-. Cheesey graphics and lack of new features being the negatives, and big zones, monuments, level raise being the positives. Sarnak kind of fall in between, I do appreciate that they didn’t just pick random animal and turn it into a biped like many fantasy creators seem to.

Of course, this grade was given without a huge amount of playtime put into it. I mostly have just kind of looked around at the new zones, found out where some basic things were, and seen if there was anything new that they haven’t really talked about. I am in no rush to ruin the content. With expansions only coming 1 time a year, we are going to be living with these new zones for a year, and I am sure by this time next year we will be quite sick of these zones because this is all we have for 74-85. Why would I want to rush me being sick of it?


2 Responses to “Rise of Kunark”

  1. 1 tipa November 12, 2007 at 1:35 pm

    Hey, Stranger! Nice to see you back.

    Most of the areas you comment on were in the original EQ1 (the Combine spires in the Dreadlands rose over a city much like Teren’s Grasp (I’m using a picture of the EQ1 city as my banner image on my blog); the cockatrices et al roamed around the Overthere and the Dreadlands), so for a lot of the funk, you just have to look back toward EQ1.

    I’ve gotten used to the way Sarnak look. They definitely have a vibe to them which puts me more in mind of the EQ1 Iksar than the EQ2 Iksar do. It’s too bad, considering their shared heritage with the Iksar, that they weren’t placed on the good side to balance out the other reptilian race.

    You can make your Sarnak look absolutely and utterly unique — it’s amazing. That’s what I like best about them!

  2. 2 Razakius November 19, 2007 at 10:18 pm

    I imagine that they will be adding a good Sarnak in a few months much like they did with the Arasai for EoF. Maybe with a new city, but they may also just decide to throw them in an existing city such as Gorowyn (I personally think it may be a good idea to put the city over off Antonica to counter Neriak in the Commonlands).

    The funk I’m really complaining doesn’t really have to do with Teren’s Grasp (which I like a lot) nor the cockatrices (which do more to add a primitive feel) but has more to do with the World of Warcraft feel of this expansion with I feel distasteful to say the least. That game is completely butt ugly and its almost complete reliance on quests that EQ2 70+ now shares is completely idiotic. I find it curious that SOE is chosing the end game to emulate WoW where WoW’s end game is in essence the ability to make a new char over and over again because there is none. They won’t be drawing in new players here because people won’t stick around till 70 to get the game that feels like WoW in the first place, and they alienate many players who do not like WoW and thus are choosing to play EQ2 instead.

    I do not know if the graphic feel of lameness was taken from EQ1 or not, I only played RoK there for about 8 levels before I quit. But form my limited experience it seemed much darker and moodier than this expansion’s cartoonishness.

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