It's been like a month since Age of Discovery got released. I could have done this sooner (reviewing it), due to the small amount of content, but with Christmas, New Years and the new Star Wars game, i guess time just flew.
But, Age of Discovery. Well for once, it doesn't boost any real discovery for the explorers out there. It doesn't bring any new outdoor zones or any new instances (unless you want to count the player dungeon zones as new instances). What it brings is (the highlights basically) , a new class - the overpowered Beastlord -, the dungeon maker, reforging, AA increase, tradeskill apprentices and mercenaries.
So let's start with a small view of the Beastlord. Players been asking for this class for a very long time now. Mostly Everquest 1 players that had found memories of the class. I guess after so much time SOE saying no to Beastlord, they found the perfect opportunity to release it. The class is considered scout archtype, but from what i know it offers many utilities, can work as tank (not as fighter but still), or heal a bit or be a beast on dps. I've played with a few and i can say they are putting some scouts or even other classes in their pockets when it comes to dps. I think the class at the moment is somewhat overpowered and i believe a nerf would be essencial to put it up the line with all the other class. Another funy thing, was when the expansion was released, my server would have like half the players creating beastlords. Heck one of my guilds, in the first week or two, only recruited basically beastlords. But it's always good to have a new class to play with. So i guess the Beastlord is a plus on this expansion.
The dungeon maker. Well the idea sounds good on paper, but the way it's done now doesn't feel that great. On paper the idea was to give players the ability to design their own dungeons, with enough challenges to keep one busy. But the way it's implemented leaves dungeon maker very short on actual interest for replayability or even for a player to create a dungeon. Basically creating a dungeon at the moment, feels more like a house decoration then actually anything else. First off, you pick up an existing layout (already a minus sign), place a few items, a set of mobs you want to and it's done. Playing it, it's even worse. All dungeons have the same objective, find the red portal to exit it. Only thing between it and you, is the distance and the amount of mobs the creator placed in. No other objective, no puzzles to solve, nothing. Also the only reward you get from doing these dungeons, is some tokens you can trade for some gear (not that great for level 90), some consumables, some items to use on dungeons and in my opinion the best you can get there, a flying mount (which is only good for the appearance). In my opinion they need to add some sort of incentive to make it actually interesting. Like maybe allow dynamic events, objectives in dungeons or even some sort of drop. At the moment it just feels too short.
Another feature, are the Mercenaries. Resuming it, they are hired npcs that will join you for adventuring. There are several types of mercenaries, one can get healer, tank, dps or buffer. I think this is the second best thing this expansion has. Maybe even the best. Mercenaries are just great for any soloer out there. They are that good. Or at least the evil healer mercenary, the inquisitor is. They work much like a second player with you, and they are very handy to have. With a mercenary inquisitor i'm able to easily solo most raid zones for plat, like Protector's Realm or the first 3 names of Shard of Hate. Heck, he even is better healing then some in-game friends! If you enjoy soloing stuff, mercenaries is for you!
The Tradeskill Apprentices, is for all you tradeskill fans out there. Boosting the best gear for the game (except raid) a player can get, the tradeskill apprentice are a house npc that will train any given type of gear (depending on the players tradeskill) for the player. The recipe for that gear takes 15 days in research, but a tradeskiller can reduce the time by every day do the crafting quest given by the npc or boost the progression of it a bit. But besides the research, when finally you get the recipe, you need to find a special component to be able to craft it. It can come either from doing dungeons (the level 90 component only drops of the hardest zones) or with luck for one of those crafting quests. At 90 that component is extremely rare and expensive at the moment. It's an ok feature i guess. Just a bit time consuming.
Finally, Reforging and AA increase. The idea of reforging is to, change some piece of gear, by reducing a given stat, to another one of your choice. You can't pick any stat you want, just a certain type of stat, but overall it proves to be a good feature for a min-maxer player. So for instance, if you feel you need casting speed on your character, and you have a stat that you don't need much, you can always go to the reforger and drop the one you don't need for something to suit your needs. It's good feature.
The AA increase, in my opinion is minimal. Only 20 more AAs to spend. And no new AA trees or anything. You get those 20 to spend on the old trees. So now you can spend 100 AAs on archtype tree, 100 on class tree, 70 on shadows tree and 50 on heroic tree. I feel the new AAs to be very short and don't bring anything really new to my characters. I just guess they did it to try to make more copy sells...
Overall i feel this feature expansion to be short for desired content. I only haven't tried a Beastlord myself but the rest is more then seen, and doesn't offer any lifespan to the game. So if SOE really hopes to keep Everquest 2 going, they need to come with content soon or else people will eventually get bored (for those who aren't by now), and start leaving. If i would give any score i would say, 59% (and that's a good one for what it brings).