(P.S. /hugs and /dance to Cashue Wanderpaw)
Written By: Brian 'Morgur' Cipponeri
Game Over Online - http://www.game-over.com
Everquest: The Planes of Power (PoP) is the fourth expansion pack to be released for the online world of Everquest. This latest expansion pack unleashes a slew of exciting new features that continue to raise the bar for high level characters including over twenty new zones, quests, more than fifty new monsters, and powerful treasures waiting to be discovered. More importantly, the level limit has been raised from level sixty up to level sixty-five, providing the already experienced players with the ability to fine tune their characters even more by attaining additional levels, skills, and more powerful spells.
Since its release on October 22, 2002, PoP has mobilized players into action with a new game style and overall presentation. PoP brings back a stronger overall role-playing feeling that RPG fans will enjoy. The immersive storyline created within this expansion definitely brings Everquest back to its role-playing roots and draws players into increasingly harder planes as they follow along with it. As a fan of RPG’s in general, I’m definitely pleased with the new storyline and excited to see new adventures unfold daily.
While PoP is certainly geared toward the higher end players from level 46+ due to an imposed level limit, a central plane called the Plane of Knowledge is accessible to characters of all levels. The Plane of Knowledge features new quests as well as portals to other major zones within the Everquest world, which is extremely beneficial for players of any level.]
The planes are a mystical place of awe and inspiration for players to explore that range from exquisitely beautiful new landscapes to nightmarish deathly badlands. Playing style is no mystery and players who are used to flying solo will not find many spots in the planes where this is both possible and beneficial. For the most part, playing in the planes requires a balanced group of character classes in order to do well and continue moving along into the higher planes.
Initially there are only a handful of low-level planes that are accessible to players including the Plane of Knowledge, Tranquility, Justice, Disease, Nightmare, and Innovation. Only by completing quests can entry into higher tier planes become possible. Fortunately for players who aren’t part of a guild or solo most of the time, more than one way might exist to gain entry into these higher tier planes.
One thing to note early on is that the planes are no easy place to master. Even the most experienced players have found new challenges to overcome in the way of puzzles, creatures and storyline twists. The paths are not well treaded by many so expect to find yourself in situations that your character will not be able to avoid death in. I can honestly say that my character has died more times in PoP than he has during his entire career prior to PoP, yet the mystery and challenges of this expansion encourage me to get a resurrection and press on to overcome them.
The most notable feature in each of the new planes is the addition of the ‘graveyard effect’. Even when death gets the best of you, the playing downtime is greatly reduced with this new feature. Within approximately fifteen minutes from a character death, the corpse of the character will be teleported to the zone graveyard, which is near the zone in area for that zone. Therefore, if you died in some nasty hellish cave filled with monsters, you only need to run back to the zone in point and wait for your corpse to appear.
This is indeed an applauded feature since the alternative method would typically be to run back to the place of death and risk dying again from the monsters that brutally killed your character in the first place. While dying again might be an option for some who may risk it, several deaths in a row does tend to become frustrating and definitely puts a hamper on the playtime.
New spells, player abilities and trade skills encourage players to continue character development, but they are not without new challenges as well. The new spell system is easiest described as challenging and no less massive an undertaking than a tough quest would be. Even as a level 65 Beastlord, my character still hasn’t been able to get a single level 63+ spell. Level 61 and 62 spells are much easier to attain since more people have access to the first tier planes and will have spells for sale and for trade.
While some spells might be attainable from NPC merchants, most of them are only available through player trade or purchase, and from parchment quests. Certain creatures in the planes drop quest items called spell parchments that must be turned into specific quest NPCs who will hand the player a random spell of that particular spell parchment level for scribing into their spell book. Level 61 and 62 spell parchments can be found on creatures in the lower level planes, but 63+ spell parchments are typically only found on creatures in higher tier planes. Parchments are definitely rare to get and I’ve witnessed player disputes over who should get them when they drop, so remember that patience is a virtue. As always, be virtuous and you will get your spells in time.
If creating a demi-god character is your dream, then the two new alternate advancement tabs full of new abilities won’t be disappointing to see. These new skill enhancements allow for further character development and there is no doubt that these skills will be needed to face the challenges that are waiting in the higher tier planes. The new planar abilities can be activated using alternate advancement points starting at level 61 and include character skills to increase stats and stat limits, resists, trade skills, casting and combat skills. Be encouraged to know that in Planes of Power, you are only as good as your group and while these skills are good to have, they are not the most important part of this expansion.
For those players intent on keeping our Everquest economy going strong, your time is at hand. Whether you’re a master tailor, smithy, jeweler, alchemist or other master of a crafts, you’ll find simply amazing new things to create using your trade skills. Armor imbued with powerful magic, powerful rings and other extraordinary items can be fashioned by players skilled in a craft. Not only do they confirm your character status as a grandmaster in a craft and sell quickly to the highest bidder, the PoP player crafted items are certainly drooled upon by all.
Other notable recent additions to Everquest that aren’t PoP specific but contribute major improvements to game play include a new user interface. which is player customizable using XML scripts that you’ll see in my screenshots, an in game music player, a play timer (so you can get to bed on time!), and a new raid feature have also been added. The music player is nice and I definitely pump out some good hard trance while I play, but check out the new PoP soundtrack once you get it installed just to get yourself into that role-playing mood.
The raid feature currently allows up to 72 players in a single group, which is much appreciated. Using the raid feature, group leaders and looting rights can be set up by the raid leader and I’ve included a screenshot to show you how nice this is for coordinating large events. Another great update has been the addition of player shops to the ‘Bazaar’ zone. The ‘Bazaar’ zone is now the player supermarket extraordinaire and allows players to become NPC merchants to sell and trade their items with other players. This zone has been a blessing for players who haven’t the time or skills to get items that they need or want.
Friends move around in EQ from time to time, and in this expansive online universe it’s important to keep in touch with good friends even if they’ve changed servers. Recent updates have added a chat room feature within the game, which are player created, and also server wide chartrooms where players can chat even if they are playing on different servers. Lastly, for those who just want to chat with friends without logging into the game, Everquest Instant Messenger (EQIM) is now available and allows you to log into your account just to chat, maybe while you’re at work (on break of course!) or just hanging out.
The Planes of Power is a successful new addition to the Everquest world and has not only breathed new aspirations into the already high level characters, it has given the up and coming characters a place to look forward to. Come join me in my new playground; I’ll see you in Everquest: The Planes of Power!
My special thanks and greetings to all of my friends and acquaintances on the Luclin Server, you rock!!
Baron Digcat Wanderpaw
Vah Shir Feral Lord of the 65th Claw
The Celestial Hand of Faith
(P.S. /hugs and /dance to Cashue Wanderpaw)