Few games maintain such an avid fan following as Verant’s online role-playing game EverQuest. That’s partly because Verant created an impressive game to begin with and also because Verant has consistently appealed to its many dedicated subscribers, both by adding new gameplay features and also by adding entire new regions to the game’s already enormous world. As such, it’s understandable why some of EverQuest’s more skeptical players felt as if the new expansion, The Ruins of Kunark, was a ploy to milk its customers for more money for the same sort of additions they’d already been getting as part of the package. But as you explore the new continent of Kunark, it’ll become increasingly clear to you that the expansion’s value is as immense as that of the original game.
In addition to the huge continent, the expansion also introduces an interesting playable race and scores of new monsters to fight and items to find. Furthermore, many of the new graphics in The Ruins of Kunark looks noticeably better than in the original EverQuest, which isn’t surprising given that the expansion was published more than a year after EverQuest’s early-1999 release. Kunark’s many indigenous life-forms look outstanding by EverQuest’s own high standards, or by any others: From conventional creatures like rhinos and scorpions, to stranger beings like the draconian Sarnak and the ravenous nibblers, the sheer variety of Kunark’s dozens of new monsters is certainly the best thing about them.
Unfortunately, the improved graphics do have consequences: You’re likely to experience a significantly lower frame rate in Kunark’s more densely populated zones than anywhere else in Norrath. Although the expansion has higher system requirements than the rest of EverQuest does, and although the frame rate can be improved by reducing the clipping plane so that you won’t see as far into the horizon, you’ll still find that some parts of Kunark run slower than you’d like. Nevertheless, the general improvement in the expansion’s visual quality makes the frame-rate sacrifice worthwhile, just as the new regions in Kunark help make the great-looking game look even better. Unfortunately, there’s little new sound in the game and no new music.
The expansion’s new playable race, the Iksar, also look good. Newcomers to EverQuest may like the Iksar because they look so unusual: They’re snarling, hunched lizardmen with long, whipping tails. The Iksar are inherently easier to start out with than most EverQuest races, not only because they naturally regenerate their hit points faster than other races except trolls, but also because they’re inherently able to see in the dark, to run and swim quickly, and to forage food and drink. In addition, the four zones outlying the Iksar’s huge home city Cabilis are filled with many different types of monsters to fight. These zones themselves are huge, varied, densely populated, and interconnected. They look good and they’re fun and dangerous to explore.