Mobhunter: Riddles in the Depths

The war of Antonica rages on. While the elves stay close to home after the orcish attacks three weeks ago, Barbarian mercenaries and the Frogloks of Gukta battle against Ykesha's armies in the southern rathe mountains. Armies of barbarians marched from Halas to rathe Mountains where they battled Ykesha's forces from the south. Many adventurers were chewed to pieces in the upper and lower jaws of this huge battle. Some, however, found a trinket or two within the piles of corpses.

The quality of these items and the dubious methods by which they were acquired made people angry. Some worried that items of such a high quality reduced the value of the items rewarded in higher-end raid content. The random rewards and the short duration of this event, however, won't build any threat against consistent raiding with known loot.

Warlord Ykesha himself faced adventurers on the battlefield. When it became clear that he was not meant to be destroyed by mortal hands, these adventurers found other ways. They brought armies of Frogloks against him for hours until the sustained damage became even too great for the warlord. These adventurers sadly discovered that Ykesha's shield was little more useful than a cloth cap; less useful, in fact. Still, the look of such a shield is no doubt a prize in itself.

Now we see the trolls looking south to Gukta and prophets of doom already call the city lost. Let us all pray for our little green friends.

I wrote two more Reports of the Wilds for a total of six including:

Last Thursday EQ Stratics hosted another excellent Developer's Chat. More often that we'd like, dev chats don't give us a lot of news that us nosy website writers can't dig up on our own. The dev team likes to stay tight lipped on future efforts until they are sure they will occur. When announced, these new efforts usually show up on the EQLive forums rather than in a developer chat.

However, in this week's chat we received a lot of juicy detail on Depths of Darkhollow. Lets take a look.

Many Anguish-level raiders complained that Dragons of Norrath offered few raids at their power. It appears that Depths will include a significant number of raids aimed at players who have already finished Anguish.

I feel it is important to understand that not all raiders are of nearly the same power. Often raiders refer to themselves, other raiders, and raid targets as though they were all right around their same power. I have heard Qvic+ raiders state that true raiding doesn't begin until Qvic. I've heard Time raiders say that raiding means Time and above. Much like there are players of all levels, there are also raiders of all levels. Four Anguish level guilds may seem like a lot for a server, but there are hundreds of guilds on every server and dozens below Anguish who also want newer content.

However, when a guild defeats Anguish, there is nothing else out there to challenge them. Everyone below this power still has something ahead of them to defeat. That is probably the best reason why it is important that Depths include targets post Anguish to keep Anguish raiders happy.

This chat gave us a few more details about the "Play as a Monster" feature or as I like to call it - the Monster Mash. As we have heard, this feature is actually split into two parts: Spirit Shrouds, and Monster Missions. The Monster Missions will allow a group to switch into the bodies of monsters in order to complete a mission. Some of these missions will be flashbacks into the history of Everquest.

We learned from this chat that the monster missions will not have restrictions on the levels of the players who want to join them. This means that a group with a level 20, 34, 36, 54, 60, and 70 characters can all group together and go on a mission. Loot will be distributed based on your level. This is a huge improvement in the social features of this game. Now players can group with their friends regardless of class or level for these missions.

During Sprit Shrouding, a player can switch to a monster with a pre-defined class template of their level or below. During their time in a spirit shroud, players will earn items and experience as normal which will switch back to their main character. Spirit shrouding adds a whole new variable to the existing game. I can't wait to do the new Crushbone missions with a level 18 werewolf.

There will be normal missions in Depths of Darkhollow as well. The rewards for these missions will not be a point-based loot system. With Dragons, players focused on the missions that offered the best point rewards for the least effort, such as Creator or Gimblax. Depths missions will offer rewards to those seeking a variety of progressive missions instead of the those completing the same mission over and over. It isn't yet clear exactly how this will work or whether it will compete well against a point-based loot system for pickup groups.

New "Intelligent Items" will have many different abilities and will earn experience as characters do. Intelligent items can be acquired through regular hunting, raiding, or tradeskilling. They will have many personalities including cowardly, heroic, persuasive, or mocking.

If you purchase the retail version of Depths of Darkhollow you will receive a free Clockwork Boar mount. This may be the best retail purchase in-game reward yet. Over the years I have continually missed out on the retail rewards because retailers cannot keep up with my desire to play the expansion the minute it goes live. It looks like this year I may have to wait a day if I want that crazy clockwork boar!

It was a great dev chat and I look forward to the next one. In the meantime, let us look to our froggy friends to the south and wish them well.

Loral Ciriclight
1 August 2005