Kunark Ascending Review

Everquest 2: Kunark Ascending Review

The latest expansion for Everquest 2 brings plenty of surprises, including the newfound accessibility to the northern areas of Kunark, previously closed off to would-be adventurers. It features a new overland zone along with quite a few dungeons to explore. As an added bonus, it brings a few of the old EQ zones back in case you want to pay a visit to the Crypt of Dalnir or the City of Mist. If you’re feeling nostalgic then you should definitely stop by. If you’re not feeling nostalgic, then you should still pop in because reasons.

As somebody who hadn’t finished every single pre-requisite for this expansion I found myself having a bit of trouble getting into it but what can I say, it was worth the trouble. If you’re thinking of giving the expansion a try, the first thing I want to say is that yes, you can get to the area and you can definitely fight some of the mobs, but you aren’t going to be incredibly successful. I was torn down like a paper doll in a woodchipper. Secondly, you won’t be able to access any of the quests which makes the entire excursion pretty useless. That being said, you’re going to need to meet the following requirements before you can jump into Rise of Kunark:

  • Finish the Greenmist Heritage Quest
  • Learn to Speak the Following Languages:
    • Goblish
    • Draconic
    • Sathirian
  • Finish Your Epic 1.0 Quest

Now, as a point of raw and sheer amusement, if you haven’t learned to speak the Draconic or Giantish languages, you’re going to have to kill giants until you get enough tomes to learn the giant language. No, they aren’t languages that you can buy from a vendor. I recommend visiting Everfrost and killing Kromise Hermits down near the spire; it’s the easiest way to go. Once you kill them, you’ll have to head down to Nagafen’s layer and start the quest to learn Draconic, etc. It only gets more fun from there.

Another side pre-requisite you might consider finishing is the completion of Terrors of Thalumbra. While you don’t have to, it’ll give you a better reward at the end of Kunark Ascending.

Embarking Into Kunark Ascending

You need to be level 100 to begin the quest in earnest, and you’ll start by entering the city of Maldura. After a minor accident, you end up in an uncharted area of Kunark, and what do you know, the adventure starts again. As you move forward through the expansion you will consort with the Iskar Cazic Thule fanatics and ultimately explore the Greenmist weapon.

 

The Obulus Frontier

Before I go any further I want to bring some recognition to the fact that this game is beautiful. They say it hasn’t aged well at all, but honestly, they’ve made it look amazing, especially in this new expansion. As you enter the Obulus Frontier, especially if you happen to have your graphics turned all the way up, you’ll see some amazing terrain and I love what they’ve done with the stone textures. Now as with every other EQ2 expansion, you’re going to need to earn some serious brownie points with the local factions before you can really get into the game, which can, of course, be done by following the signature questline. Also bear in mind that potency and resolve are now required stats, so look into the newer handcrafted gear that can give you a much-needed boost. It might seem like an inconsequential boost, but it’s going to give you the edge you need, especially if you don’t have a mercenary that can take the brunt of the hits as you’re maneuvering your way through the expansion. To put that in plain English: raise your potency or you’re going to be squished like a pancake.

Time to Ascend

What do you know, Daybreak finally gave us a real reason to play the game; who knew? They’ve been kind enough to introduce an Epic 2.0 weapon quest, but you can only access it if you make your way to one of the Ascension classes. These specialty classes can be obtained by any level 100 adventurer but you MUST complete the Kunark Ascending signature quest series to obtain it. There are currently four ascension classes which include:

  • Elementalist
  • Etherealist
  • Geomancer
  • Thaumaturgist

Once you get the class and the title, that’s just the start. To begin the Epic 2.0 quest you’re going to need to level up to 5 in at least one of the classes, and you’ll finally be well on your way to becoming the biggest badass in all of Kunark. Or at least a renowned crafter. Whatever floats your boat, really. You will be able to raise your Ascension class to 10 using ascension experience scrolls, giving you a brand new path to follow as you explore deeper into Kunark.

To the Dungeons!

I just want to say that when it comes to dungeon content, they really managed to raise the bar here. There are so many of them, and all so varied. There are actually 12 brand new Heroic dungeons to explore, and of course the Challenge Heroic Dungeon that we were promised. If dungeons aren’t really your speed, there are six new raid zones:

  • Crypt of Dalnir
  • Lost City of Torsis
  • Kaesora
  • Arcanna’se Spire
  • Vaedenmoor

I haven’t been to all of them, but I’m hoping they offer some kind of challenge, at least more so than the previous expansion did.

Exploring Other New Features

There are plenty of other things to like about Kunark Ascending, especially the mercenary features. There are new wardrobe slots for your mercenaries, though the number of slots available will depend on the version of the expansion that you purchased. I went all out and bought the highest tier, so I’m just sitting here laughing at you mortals with my 18 slots. Well okay, you can buy more slots through the in-game store with Daybreak cash, and if we know Daybreak, they’re going to eventually just release all of the slots as part of a future expansion. They do make everything easy eventually; I suspect that even the pre-requisites for Kunark Ascending will be completely waived at some point in the future.

 

Gameplay: 8/10

It’s hard to judge the gameplay as anything but stellar considering it’s Everquest 2. It hasn’t changed too much over the years and the new features definitely put it a step above the previous expansion. They might not have raised the level cap, but they did include the Ascension classes which give us a new way to progress; that’s pretty cool. Whether or not it will keep everyone busy is another question altogether.

Innovation: 8/10

Well like I said before, it has the Ascension classes and plenty of new content. I can already tell I’m going to be busy with this one for a while, so if you need me, I’ll be in Kunark. Again.

Community: 7/10

Well, it’s the Everquest 2 community; it’s the same as it’s always been and I really like it because it’s far less toxic when held in comparison to other MMO games. You can always find someone to talk to, and the best part is that you’re always going to be able to speak in world chat. This is where Everquest 2 will always have the advantage over games like WoW; chat isn’t restricted to specific zones, meaning you’re never going to be alone in-game.

Graphics/Sound: 7/10

Everquest 2 has always had great sound, and this expansion is no different, but I’m giving it a 7/10 because I really wish they’d get rid of the damn intro music. Seriously, I’ve been hearing it for seven years. It’s time for a change.

Value for Money: 9/10

Because of the mass of content that this one offers, I would have normally given the expansion a solid 10/10, but I have to give it a 9/10 because you can’t get to it immediately if you’re a new player. Seriously, what exactly is the point of being given a level 100 boost if you can’t immediately jump right into the new content? I’ll admit that it gives you a reason to go on an epic romp across Norrath, but it’s going to be a while before you get what you paid for. If you purchased the highest tier, terribly sorry about that.

Overall: 9/10

I want to make it clear that I’m giving this a 9/10 because it’s a solid expansion. This doesn’t detract from my problems with the graphics, the performance issues, or some of the other blatant issues that the developers seem to readily ignore. The expansion brings with it some of the best innovations that the game has seen in several years. Not to mention all of those dungeons. Yes, ALL of the dungeons. Let’s not even get into the gear. Bottom line, there’s a lot of fun to be had here and it’s going to keep you busy for a long time. If you play Everquest 2, get this expansion. Now.

 

Pros:

+Tons of New Content Including Dungeons

+Beautiful Graphics (For EQ2)

+Has that ‘New Expansion’ Smell

Cons:

-Pre-requisites for Playing the Expansion are Steep

 

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About Rissa Trent

Karissa Leanne was born a boy in Ohio, and she recently discovered the character creator IRL. She grew up on a farm, playing shareware games like Wolfenstein 3D, Doom, Operation Comat, Solar Winds, and Kingdom of Kroz. Later she would dabble in Real Time Strategy games, and eventually left home to go on a cross country adventure of self discovery where she found out absolutely nothing. Today she works as a copywriter and games journalist.