The next EverQuest II game update isn't all about Sentinel's Fate and level 80+ content. In SOE Podcast #77 Adam "Zaphax" Stevens, EQII game designer, mentioned “the Golden Path.” The development team has been revisiting old zones, cleaning them up and making them better. “We want to make a path for new players or players that are making new characters where they can level up a new character quickly and effectively through a bunch of zones that we've gone through and really made sure are just top-notch content,” Zaphax said. This Golden Path seems to involve a new Hallmark quest series that starts in Butcherblock Mountains and, as players level, prompts them to move to progressively higher zones until it ends in Kylong Plains. Older players can easily complete this series if they'd just like to grab the fun rewards and some AA. If you'd like to be spoiled and take a peek, see our Legend of Roger Goldie Quest Series page. Some of these zones like Sinking Sands and Lavastorm are already available on Live servers, while others have gotten a lot of attention for Game Update 55 and are scheduled to go live with Sentinel's Fate on February 16.
Butcherblock Mountains has received a good dusting off. The best part of the work in this zone is the creation of new quest hubs, which should streamline the progression through the zone. For example, you no longer have to hike up the beach to get to the Gorowyn griffon, and the Gorowynian NPC's have moved to the dock. A large majority of the introductory NPCs in the zone are now at a new quest hub at the Highlands in Butcherblock proper, saving players that long run down to the docks and back. There's a couple other goodies, like the addition of a zone to Steamfont, which will enhance the questing experience. Kaladim has been level adjusted for characters in their 30's with solo and heroic content, and there is a new quest prompting them to use the zone.
Now, I have to say that I learned to hate Kingdom of Sky. If you were not the raiding type the whole storyline was lost. There really wasn't enough content for solo players, making the entire expansion a tiresome grind. The group content wasn't bad, and I heard pretty good things about the raids, but us soloers were left out there with a bunch of disjointed quests, city tasks, and a laborious grind to 70 that was only marginally alleviated by the release of Echoes of Faydwer. I was so miserable with the content that I didn't bother hitting 70 until Rise of Kunark was released, and I did that on brainless city tasks in Bonemire. Over and over and over and over again.
I am tremendously pleased to say this will completely change with Game Update 55.
There has been some mob level-tweaking, notably in Barren Sky. Many NPC's with small quests have been added in Tenebrous Tangle and Barren Sky. But most prominent is the introduction of a solo/group quest series with a cohesive story that moves the player naturally and nicely through all the major Kingdom of Sky zones.
The series starts at level 57, right about the level one might head up to Tenebrous Tangle anyway for the infamous “basket quests.” In the yard past the first gate you'll find a couple of new NPCs, one of whom sends you looking for the missing gnomes from the Drednever expedition. If you've played the content before you know that the Drednever was a gnomish rocket ship that crashed in Bonemire, but we never got much more information on it than that. This quest series brings the whole story together as you search for the missing gnomes, their bots, and shreds of journal pages to discover their fate.
Oh, did I mention that there's a new mount available in Kingdom of Sky? Attentive players can acquire a very cool Cloud Mount, which has the appearance of the clouds that take you from island to island in KoS. At 45% runspeed it's in line with other mounts from similar series, and doesn't unbalance the game by its existence. And it looks really neat!
I've seen a lot of zone revamps in EQII; from the complete overhaul of the new player experience to Commonlands, Everfrost and Lavastorm, all have improved the gameplay and flow, and enriched the EverQuest II experience. But the KoS revamp is by far my favorite, as it utilizes existing content without massive revamps, adds story, and brings the expansion together as a cohesive whole for the player. I highly recommend you take your next almost-level-60 character there; I intend to bother a Chronomage, self-mentor, and take my main through it just for the fun. (If you'd really like to spoil the fun and have a sneak peak, here's our Cloud Mount Quest Series guide. This is a spoiler-free page; you'll have to click through to the quests to get spoiled.)
So while the max-level toons are stampeding to the Spires for a ride to Odus, be sure to take your younger characters to old zones and explore the new content!