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Everquest II: Kingdom of Sky

Score: 85%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Sony Online Entertainment
Developer: Sony Online Entertainment
Media: CD/9
Players: 1000\'s

Graphics & Sound:

For the traditional MMORPG, the second expansion is very often a game-defining experience that will shape the way the game will proceed for years to come. The original release and initial expansion tend to be more focused on adding new content to make the world larger, while the second expansion generally starts the process of pushing larger story arcs forward and really sees the beginning of truly engaging high-end content on a larger scale. The original EverQuest had Scars of Velious, Final Fantasy XI had Chains of Promathia and EverQuest II has Kingdom of Sky.

Visually, EverQuest II has never looked better. While Desert of Flames certainly did a lot to brighten up the world of Norrath, the nature of its setting often limited the nature of the graphics to sand, and lots of it.

In contrast to the arid Desert of Ro, Kingdom of Sky takes place in a far more dynamic area known as the Overrealm. A realm composed of floating islands in the sky, fans of the original EverQuest will immediately recall the floating islands from the old Plane of Sky. This is no mere coincidence. It seems there have been some problems in the greater planes, and many areas and denizens from the Plane of Sky have bled into Norrath and sought refuge there. Suffice it to say, an expansion that takes place among floating islands can lend to some very exciting visuals.

The environment isn’t the only thing getting a face lift. Players have long complained of the overly conservative and somber nature of even the most powerful armor. They wanted something a little more colorful and distinct. They get their wish in Kingdom of Sky. Not only will each class eventually get their own distinct class hat (sadly, not all the hats were available for launch time, so several classes must share for a time), but there are many new unique looking sets of armor that make an appearance in special armor quests reminiscent of those found in Scars of Velious.

One unfortunate element that has returned in Kingdom of Sky is the reuse of zone layouts. Like the previous expansion, there are a few raid zones that simply reuse the same zone layout as normal dungeons. Thankfully this isn’t done quite to the degree it was in Desert of Flames, but so far there’s at least two, and there may be more hiding further into the expansion. While there may be very good reasons for this, zones with graphics this detailed likely take a long time to construct, the fact still remains, and I doubt many players enjoy walking through the same zone over and over again.

While there seems to be nothing but good news in the graphics department, audio is decidedly more hum drum. Once again, we see a disheartening lack of NPC voice-over. Thankfully things are a little better than they were in Desert of Flames, at least the major dragons have voices. The music is also extremely forgettable in most areas. While the original EverQuest II had very distinct and well-developed scores, and Desert of Flames had very flavorful Arabic melodies, Kingdom of Sky is merely littered with a sprinkling of moderately good musical cues. They aren’t necessarily bad, per se, but definitely a step down from what we have seen previously.


No fantasy expansion is complete without its share of new creatures to fight, and in this area, Kingdom of Sky delivers in spades. No matter where you go and what you fight, you’ll be taking on some very impressive looking beasts. Some of the more noteworthy include the draconic Droag, insectoid Ravasect, and avian Hooluks, Vultaks, and Aviaks.

The portion of the Overrealm that Kingdom of Sky takes place in is also known as the Dragon Isles, so there is a heavy draconic presence in the expansion. Suffice it to say, any expansion that has you fighting a dragon or two in a normal six man group is going to please many people looking for something more exciting than the old rats and spiders. One byproduct of this dangerous terrain is an increased risk while harvesting. While the highest of high level player will still find areas where they may harvest resources unmolested, the vast majority of resource nodes in Kingdom of Sky are surrounded by dangerous foes. This requires players to fight if they want to harvest.

Many of the characters and locales in Kingdom of Sky will look familiar to players from the original EverQuest. Draconic celebrities such as Harla’Dar, Talendor, Gorenaire, and Lord Vyemm all return. Many of these are, of course, raid encounters. Some of the new raids offer some new unique twists and require well thought out strategies to take down. Players familiar with the Djinn Master encounter from Desert of Flames know the kind of unique encounters I’m talking about. Some examples are mobs that can only be tanked by specific classes and others that split into two mobs when killed, and split, and split, and split.

Unfortunately, while some specific boss encounters are very engaging, there are at least two large raid zones that are extremely mundane. Ascent of the Awakened, in particular, is little more than farming trash creatures for rare drops to spawn dragons. It would have made sense to let the trash drop something useful, perhaps pieces for the class armor quests, but as it stands, it remains a zone that serves only to bore.


While many have characterized EverQuest II as the MMORPG for dummies, make no mistake about it, Kingdom of Sky is far more difficult than its predecessors. The monsters hit harder, use more dirty tricks, and the raid encounters will require some truly impressive teamwork to take down. Gone are the days where someone with a sneak potion could make their way anywhere they please in a dungeon. This time around, players will, for the most part, need to fight their way through zones like Sanctum of the Scale Born and Palace of the Awakened. Some of the adventure zones are downright brutal. As an example, Halls of Fate will take several hours for even the most well-equipped players to fully complete. As far as appropriate level ranges, you may be able to start killing some of the lowest content in the expansion in your low 50’s.

Game Mechanics:

One of the more controversial issues surrounding Kingdom of Sky was the associated increase of the level cap from 60 to 70. While expansions will quite often raise a game's level cap, ten levels after only a period of approximately six months is pretty extreme. Many players have become upset that their hard-won skills and armor from Desert of Flames were too quickly rendered obsolete by a new tier of equipment.

According to producer Scott Hartsman, the increase was implemented primarily due to the nature of the encounters in the expansion. They felt it would make little sense for these extremely old dragons to be the same level as content seen in Desert of Flames. In any event, word on the street is that this will be the last level increase for quite some time.

While not strictly an element of Kingdom of Sky, its release coincides with the arrival of EQII’s first PvP servers. Taking the conflict between Qeynos and Freeport to the next level, the cold war has gone hot and active conflict between the cities has begun. There are, of course, some specific rule sets for the PvP servers. No player can communicate with anyone from the other city. It seems the team has thought of most of the clever ways around this as well, so opposing players are pretty well cut off from communicating. Additionally, players can only engage with opponents within 8 levels of themselves. Any exploits to work around that limitation have also been actively fixed.

The cities themselves have also undergone some fundamental changes. In the past, players could sneak through the opposing city by avoiding guards, who would boot the player out of the city if caught. Now, players can actively engage and kill guards in the opposing city. Conversely, the guards will no longer simply boot players out of the city, but will kill them on sight. These changes have also taken place on the normal servers.

The game does have one serious problem I feel the need to address here. SOE has a long history of rigorous memory demands to play their games. These requirements have always been honestly listed on their boxes. Unfortunately, over the past few months, EverQuest II has become riddled with various memory leaks. Rather than being addressed, these leaks have only appeared to compound as time progresses. While the listed requirements do proclaim the adage “requirements subject to change as game progresses”, the listed memory requirement is still 512MB of RAM, which is, quite frankly, categorically absurd. Even on the lowest settings, EverQuest II has not been playable in a stable way with that much RAM for quite a bit of time. Even the cleanest and most immaculate PC will run into “out of memory” errors after a few hours of play. This can sometimes occur even on PCs with up to 1 – 1.5 Gigs of RAM.

While the expansion still has it hiccups, Kingdom of Sky looks to be a saving grace for EverQuest II. If you have a character in your 50’s and/or quit the game during Desert of Flames, you might want to come back and see if Kingdom of Sky isn’t more your style.

-Alucard, GameVortex Communications
AKA Stephen Triche

Minimum System Requirements:

Windows 98SE/2000/ME/XP, Pentium III 1Ghz or greater, 512 MB RAM, DirectX 9 compatible video card. Pixel shader and vertex shader compatible hardware with 64MB of texture memory, DirectSound compatible audio hardware, 56k Internet Connection

Test System:

Windows XP Professional, Pentium IV 2.8 Ghz, 1GB (1.5 GB) RAM, Radeon 9800 Pro with 256MB of texture memory, Sound Blaster Audigy 2, DSL connection

Sony PlayStation 2 24: The Game Microsoft Xbox 360 Fight Night: Round 3

Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated