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Everquest II: Echoes of Faydwer

Score: 90%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Sony Online Entertainment
Developer: Sony Online Entertainment
Media: DVD/1
Players: MMO
Genre: MMORPG

Graphics & Sound:

Everquest II: Echoes of Faydwer is the third major expansion for Everquest II. While the last expansion took players above the world, Echoes takes them back to familiar grounds, offering new zones, quests and a new playable race.

Echoes builds on the same graphical platform as the core game, so expect the same general performance. My PC wasnít stacked enough to run the game with everything turned on, but I was still pleased with what I saw.

Any upgrades are more about aesthetics rather than enhancing the technology. Faydwer, which was an area in the original Everquest, has received a visual upgrade. The sprawling city is vertical and built in massive trees. It is sort of like the Ewok village, minus the Ewoks. Instead you get an assortment of races like dwarves, elves and gnomes, as well as the Fae, a fairy-like winged race.


Gameplay:

Everquest II: Echoes of Faydwerís lore fills the time between the original game and Everquest II. The city of Kelethin has been rebuilt on the continent of Faydark. At the same time, an army of clockwork creatures has begun an attack in the underground city of AkíAnon.

A major focus with Echoes is on offering quest-centered leveling, which replaces the genre-old method of grinding. All of the new zones are built around quests and are pretty easy to find. It is rare that you'll have nothing to do.

The new city of Kelethin is smaller than other cities in the game, but offers the same services. If you decide to play as the Fae, you are forced to start in Kelethin. However, having to start in the city isnít a bad thing; the continent is full of things to do and it is possible to achieve a high level without ever leaving Faydark. Of course, you are cutting yourself out of a wealth of content, but there is certainly enough to do. By completing a quest, players can become citizens of Kelethin.

Although Echoes is very newbie friendly, it also adds loads of content for higher-level characters. New dungeons are available, as well as new raids. Some of the new dungeons are instanced while others are not. The challenge level has been tweaked a bit, so parties may need to adjust their make-up accordingly.

Another element introduced is Deity Quests, allowing your characters to get a little religion in their lives. After choosing a deity to align your character with, you can complete a series of quests in their name. Completing quests unlocks abilities called blessings and miracles. Both can be powerful, especially miracles. Because of this, you are limited to one of each at any time.

Finally, players can access a new achievement system, giving players additional customization options within their class.


Difficulty:

The new areas are laid out in a slightly different manner than other zones in the game. Each is set to specific level ranges, providing content for both low-level and high-level characters. Only certain races and non-evil aligned characters can begin in the new starting hub of Kelethin, so some will be cut out of the new leveling content.

Like all MMOs, ease is directly tied to staying within your level. The new quests offer a reasonable amount of experience as well as gear, so it isn't too hard to get decent equipment. At higher levels, you'll want to group up with other players to make things easier on yourself.


Game Mechanics:

Although they have wings, the Fae cannot fly. Instead they sort of just flutter and canít be damaged by falls. Their stats lend themselves towards magic classes. It may not be the manliest of races, but their racial abilities are neat, especially at later levels.

Two new trades have been added: transmuting and tinkering. By dabbling in the art of transmuting, you can turn items into raw elements, allowing you to then use these to enhance your equipment. Tinkering plays into the clockwork theme and allows you to build gadgets.

Everquest II: Echoes of Faydwer is more about loading the game down with content rather than moving the mechanics in any new directions. Better yet, thereís enough content here for both newcomers and older players Ė so it is worth a look either way.

If you are a new player, now is a good time to jump into the game since the new boxed offering includes the core game and all of the expansions for a reasonable price.


-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker

Minimum System Requirements:



Windows 2000/ME/XP; Pentium III 1 Ghz or greater; 512 MB RAM; Direct X 9 compatible video card with 64 MB of video memory; DirectSound compatible audio hardware; 56k Internet Connection; 4x DVD-ROM, 10 GB HDD Space; Everquest II
 

Test System:



Windows XP; Pentium 4 1.8 GHz Processor; Radeon 9250 256 MB; 40 GB HD; 640 MB RAM; DirectX 9.0c; Cable Internet Connection

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