A patch due out next week offers a lot of good changes for players of all levels including safe augment removals, Lost Dungeon adventure point refunds for unused gear, changes to the tribute system, changes to the user interface, some new zones and zone revamps, and changes to pets.
For a price between 1 and 4000 platinum players can purchase solvents that remove augments from items without destroying them. There are eighteen such solvents with prices that increase depending on the power of the augment. Low-end augments cost one or two platinum; the 1500 point LDON augments cost 1000 platinum, and raid-level Gates of Discord augments cost around 4000 platinum.
Adventure merchants on test now buy back LDON purchased equipment at 50% of its original cost including the augments mentioned above.
While the changes above don't add more powerful items to the adventure merchants, it helps players replace and purchase more of the existing higher-end items. The ability to trade in unused equipment allows players to purchase more of the current high-end armor and augments.
New Lost Dungeon raiding zones make their way to Stormhammer and the Live servers next week. A 40 to 55 Lost Dungeon raid moves from Stormhammer to the regular servers while Stormhammer receives a 55 to 65 raid for sub-elemental equipped raiders. These additions may help improve the use and perception of Lost Dungeon raids which did not meet the expectations of either lower-power or higher-power raiding groups.
The test server also includes an excellent change to the tribute system. Players will soon activate tributes when needed with an “activate” button. Players are immediately charged the point cost for whatever tributes they selected from their tribute master in their home town. Activated tributes last ten minutes and can be reactivated when needed. This change drastically improves the tribute system.
Pets for all pet classes will soon zone along with their master. Like the current beastlord warders and the Wizard's Mr. Flappy Flap, pets for all pet classes will now travel across zones and last during short link-deaths. This is a huge improvement for pet classes..
Some new changes to the interface include visible buff timers and a numeric mana pool display. Players have asked to see an exact mana count for years and they will finally have it. The buff duration timer, though available for 15 leadership points, helps people manage their buffs a lot easier. Expect to see all new user interfaces with both of these features.
SOE will release a rebuild of Veeshan's Peaks, the first locked raiding zone in Everquest, next week. Those with a key to the old Veeshan's Peaks have to perform one last piece of the quest to gain access to the new VP while those without the old key must go through a new quest to gain access. The zone is tuned for Elemental-level raids.
I had more of an opportunity to hunt in the Gates of Discord over the past few weeks and I continue to find improvements since the recent Gates revamp.
A few nights ago I took a group between 60 and 65 into the explorers version of the Sewers. Players can spawn two different versions of the sewer expeditions; one that does not lead to a flag for Kodtaz and one that does. The non-flagging version seems a lot easier for a mid 60s group. Though we saw no rare beasts and received no treasure beyond some platinum, the beasts did not hit nearly as hard as they once did. We earned over 1% experience per kill, around the same experience as Valor, and did so in an instanced zone.
The last patch included changes to the spell drops in Gates. Instead of dropping a class specific spell, a rune dropped that could be traded in by any spell casting class for their own class specific spell. What wasn't mentioned is that the drop rates for these runes was decreased. Some players report killing over one dozen named mobs and not receiving a single spell. I know dozens of level 65s who spend a lot of time in Gates and still have not a single spell. While SOE considers spells to be loot; not everyone should have them all; spells are one of the selling points of a new expansion and when we cannot even get one of them we don't feel like we're getting our money's worth.
Every expansion should have at least one or two spells for sale on top of higher-end spell drops. Only ancient spells should be so exclusive.
I've had a lot of interesting comments and heated discussions with developers and players regarding equipment progression for single-group hunters. With the refunds and safe augment removal changes to Lost Dungeons and the items available in Riwwi, Ferubi, Barindu, the sewers, Vxed, and Tipt, it may be possible for a single group to progress into Kodtaz and the Ikkinz trials without requiring elemental and time gear. A few higher-end items in LDON would not unbalance the game and would help single-group hunters with limited time see more of what Gates has to offer.
Since the guild summit we've seen a lot of improvements to Everquest and next week's patch is no different. Most of these changes help players of all levels and most classes. Small improvements like the selective activation of the tribute system, the new user interface labels, the LDON safe augment removal and and point refunds, improve the game significantly.
3 July 2004