Everquest: Ruins of Kunark
Publisher: Verant Interactive
Editor: Jarret Griffis
Last Updated: 2-24-2000
If you haven't heard of Everquest,
you're either not an avid gamer, don't have a computer,
or you've been living in a barn all of your life. Whatever
the case, Everquest, for the few who don't know, is
a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (mmorpg)
developed by Verant Interactive in conjunction with
It also happens to be one of the
most addicting games ever invented, garnering well deserved
monikers, such as Evercrack, Eversmack and, of course,
"that game that ruined my life." Hours of
sleep have been lost, food left uneaten, and families
inevitably torn apart because of this quaint, seemingly
unimposing title. If you enter the world of Everquest,
prepare to spend more than an hour or two immersing
yourself in the land of Norrath (honestly, it's that
addictive). The poor souls that have already experienced
the nature of the game know full well the consequences
of playing -- the complete and total destruction of
your health and social life.
But, since most people obviously
don't care about their health and social life, Verant
has seen an influx of users that was not expected. Almost
200,000 people have active accounts, which is quite
an amazing feat for a game that's just under a year
old. However, with such a huge fan base, Everquest,
at times, gets a bit crowded, causing the entertainment
value to be lost in a mire of irate customers unable
to do anything but twiddle their thumbs.
Fortunately, in celebration of
Everquest's birthday, the April 24th launch of the highly
anticipated expansion, Ruins of Kunark, draws invariably
closer. According to the company, Kunark is a land just
south of Faydwer that, through the centuries, had been
forgotten. But, due to the kidnapping of an important
High Elf, the continent is rediscovered.
Players will be able to reach
Kunark by means of either teleportation, via a druid
or wizard, or by one of the two boats. Once there,
you'll find 20+ new zones (roughly 30% more space) to
explore, including Cabilis, home of the newest inhabitants
of Everquest, the Iksar.
The Iksar are a race of lizard
men, an evil-neutral civilization. They're the
only race capable of starting on the new continent of
Kunark, and they have the capability to be monks, a
class once solely reserved for humans. Another interesting
aspect of the Iksar is in their ability to use their
tail in combat. Verant is keeping tight-lipped
about the potential of the tail attack, but we suspect
melee classes will be able to dish out plenty of damage
with it at higher levels.
One of the most needed additions
to the expansion will be the increase in level limit.
Now, players will be able to go beyond level 50,
which is currently the highest attainable level in the
game. When it comes to rumors about just how high
we'll be able to go, they abound. Many speculate
it will be either 60 or 75, but no one can say for sure.
Also, keep in mind that Verant has only upped
the maximum level for players who have purchased the
expansion. Those who choose not to upgrade will
still be able to use items from Kunark and interact
with the Iksar, however, but cannot access the new continent
or gain levels past 50.
Kunark appears to bring a lot
of variety to the table when it comes to what you can
hunt. Along with low and mid-level areas for players
just getting started, there will be dungeons filled
with vicious dragons and dastardly giants, all waiting
patiently for high level characters to rear their heads.
The experience will most certainly be one for all level
The graphics in Kunark, compared
with the rest of EQ, have undergone a serious overhaul.
Sporting over three-times the polygon count of
the other continents, Verant is aiming to not only please
with enthralling gameplay, but with plenty of eye-candy,
as well. For the less fortunate -- those who don't
have the hardware to enjoy the pretty new face-lift
-- there will be a plethora of 3D settings available,
allowing you to tweak the performance level to your
Along with your standard hack
and slash crowd, there are a few, more adventuresome,
explorers who enjoy questing as much as getting together
with a group of buddies and killing things. The
expansion will undoubtedly cater to these people by
offering literally tons of new quests (hence the name,
Everquest). In addition, new enemies and
friendly non-player characters have been included to
help -- and hinder -- you along the way.
If you're new to the game, the
boxed, retail version will be available April 24th at
a price of about $50. It will include both the
Ruins of Kunark expansion and the original Everquest.
And, on top of that, it'll have some fancy new
box-art, too. Current players will be able to
purchase the upgrade on-line at a special, undisclosed,
price. While Verant has not yet decided on what
that will be (or simply isn't telling us), expect it
to cost between $20 and $30.
Everquest has managed to form
a love/hate relationship among most of its players.
Most love it for the amazing fun that can be had,
yet, paradoxically, hate it because of the massive time-sink
involved in order to level a character. The Ruins
of Kunark could possibly tip the scales of this uneasy
equilibrium by offering loads of eye-candy, brilliant
gameplay, more monsters to kill, and an all new continent
to explore. Who knows, if the expansion is as
good as Verant is letting on, we may never see the light
of (the real) day again.
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