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EverQuest II: The Shadow Odyssey (PC)

EverQuest II: The Shadow Odyssey (PC)

The Shadow Odyssey is EverQuest II’s fifth expansion and it introduces a new storyline as well as bringing back instanced group Dungeons and areas derived from the original EverQuest.

The game revolves around Guk, the home of the amphibian Frogloks and it is a cave system housing both live and undead frogs. Najena is a sorceress who has inhabited a stronghold brimming with undead since her world was annihilated a while ago. She returns in the Shadow Odyssey to spread her evil taint across the lands from her hideout in the volcanic fields, Befallen.

EverQuest has always had a strong vampire facet to the game play and the new expansion builds upon the storyline of powerful elven vampires who want to rule the world from a vicious looking castle set in the vampire and werewolf cursed village of Somborne. Gamers can follow the quest for a cursed sword and revisit the horrific adventures in a haunted castle, reliving when heroic soldiers were killed by an insane knight.

Shadow Odyssey is somewhat different to past offerings because the game play has been expanded to allow for a new race of Shadowmen who have came from The Void, a dimension just beyond the lands of Norrath. The initiation of the Shadowmen infiltration started with a series of live events that occurred months before this expansion was released with special quests, server events and rewards which introduced players to this new threat in Norrath.  To be fair, the EverQuest storyline is rather good for the contexts of the genre and the storyline has been suitably advanced with the release of this expansion pack. Norath is a complex world which influences the reality world today and allows each gamer to progress through the storyline by giving them an active role in current events as the new plot twists are revealed. The reason why people play MMORPG’s is because of this open ended and interactive world with cunning twists and plot developments and TSO certainly does not fail to deliver.

TSO now brings Ethernauts into the mix, a group of ancient heroes who in times long forgotten harnessed the power of flying machines to fight the horrible Shadow menace. It is a very complex story which would take considerable time to cover, but needless to say that all the great fantasy pieces such as treasures, heroes and dragons make their mark. The history of the Shadowmen is expanded upon gradually as the players progress and it is quite fascinating to experience.

Thankfully there have been some tweaks to the mechanics under the hood, such as the class balance. Instead of increasing the level cap, character progression continues by providing new additional alternate advancement points (called Shadow achievements), as well as the current class and subclass achievements. The SOE team has also included new quests and monsters as well as better armour sets obtainable through group instances.  Much like the recent WOW expansion there is little here for sub level 50 characters but for the masses who have reached the current limit then there is a plethora of cool options available.

Those who have yet to play EverQuest II will be pleased to hear that this expansion pack comes with all the previous content supplied. Additionally those dreading months of playing old content to get to the new goodies will be thankful to hear that there is speeded up progression to level 70.

The last expansion Rise of Kunark was actually set from level 70 to 80 with little incentive to group. TSO however is clearly focused on making sure cooperative play is rewarded by featuring six player instanced group dungeons with goal based rewards (18 to choose from at various difficulty settings).  These instanced dungeons are suitable for level 50 to level 80 players and do create a nice environment to test the strength of a particular group.

So far I have only mentioned the more cooperative side of the game there is still a strong solo amount of content available with over 100 new quests, once again aimed at the highest end players. The game now has active level channels and sophisticated tools to help find a group which means that experiencing the new content is easier for non guilded players.

While the history and storytelling in TSO is solid and elaborate, players don’t really need to be focused on that aspect to enjoy the overall experience. As the game begins you are transported by Airship to the new Moors of Ykesha where you see the engineering race, the Gnomes constructing robots and other technology. Long standing veterans of the EverQuest series will remember Gnomes as somewhat dark and sinister but they have been changed now to play a minor part and their personality is more mysterious than evil.

TSO has great variety in the design with magnificent vistas to compliment the diversity of races and environmental settings. It is an epic piece of design really when you wander into the various zones and experience the buildings, magic and centrepieces on display. The newest overland section is called "Moors Of Ykesha" and it is set in dull surroundings, mostly coloured dark greys or browns. The only issue worth mentioning is more to do with how the players travel the lands as they are subjected to slow paced balloon and airship rides which really could do with being faster. I am all for teleportation booths !

So far I have mentioned some of the new races, however what is interesting is that now, due to the new incursion of the Shadow race that many of the old hostile races have now teamed together. Worshipping Deities is an important part of character progression (and development) and TSO has built on the previous foundation with two more helpful and supportive deities. NPC’s are seen roaming around and interacting with each other which certainly helps to create the feeling of an alive and interactive world.

Tradeskilling is a great facet to TSO and it lets players make objects out of raw materials. There are a lot of missions in the new expansion to help make tradeskilling character advancement just as fun as the other abilities. This gives players more choices as to how they want to spend their in game time if they aren’t entirely focused on just adventuring or roaming the lands.

Instanced Dungeons are one of the biggest changes in the new expansion because they are goal based and rely on more puzzle solving. Every dungeon has a win path which players have to follow to succeed or they get destroyed by traps, enemy critical hits, area of effect spells and hordes of creatures. The dungeons are hives to groups of monsters who band together requiring all the individuals in the player party to be at the top of their game to stay alive.

Another aspect which will annoy a certain portion of the public will be the fact that not many dungeons are set for less than six players, meaning if you like playing with one or two friends that getting instanced content is more difficult in TSO. As the game matures however I am sure the developers will address this.

TSO has also introduced a new mapping system which incorporates larger maps with significantly more detail. There is also a minimap feature and the map zooms in and out to make it easy to use and as all the points of interest are listed this proves to be beneficial in the long term. It is still not a perfect design to be honest though as there are some legibility and contrast issues from time to time.
EverQuest II: The Shadow Odyssey is a great expansion pack for the MMORPG masses and introduces many fun and entertaining aspects to this game series with scripted instanced dungeons and missions focused on equipment levels and team play.

If you are already a high level character and want some challenges then this will be a good addition to your library especially as this time around there are more rewards for social, interactive game play. Recommended.



For experienced players. A great deal of fun with a bunch of friends.

Nicely handled but looking a little dated in today’s environment, even with some new additions to the engine.
Very little to mention. You don’t even know if it’s there.
The Instances are the core of the new expansion and provide a lot of play time.
(not an average)

Recommended to fans of the series and high level players.

About Author

Stuart Davidson

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