Some of the new models aren't necessarily a definitive improvement over their predecessors--for instance, you might prefer the stocky, distinctive ogres and trolls of the original EverQuest to Luclin's more upright, more humanoid revisions. Most races look undeniably better now, though, as do some of the other newly enhanced character models, such as those for magicians' summoned elementals. Being able to get right up close, face-to-face, with another player character and see the whites of his or her eyes is quite remarkable. Also, while different types of armor in the original EverQuest merely changed the corresponding texture (or texture color) on the character, in Luclin, different types of armor are fully 3D modeled. It's great to see characters looking lean in lighter suits of armor or big and imposing in heavier types of protection.
Norrath shines brightly over the fortress town of Katta Castellum.
The new character graphics aren't the only visual enhancement featured in Shadows of Luclin. The expansion also provides enhanced, sharper textures and improved lighting effects for all of EverQuest's countless environments. As a result, most preexisting EverQuest zones end up looking cleaner and more colorful than before. However, don't expect to be wowed by EverQuest's scenery. The simple geometry found in most zones still remains intact, so if not for the enhanced character art, EverQuest wouldn't look much different after Luclin. Actually, the sight of the highly detailed characters standing amid the sometimes plain-looking environments can be jarring--all the more so because, depending on how much RAM you have, the game will actually encourage you to pick and choose which enhanced character models you want displayed. With 256MB of RAM, it's suggested you toggle on only half of the new models. Even if you comply, you'll still find that the game's loading times will seem considerably slower than before you installed Luclin. Fortunately, having the recommended amount of RAM improves this considerably, although you still might find the game pausing briefly at times when a wide variety of player races are onscreen simultaneously--this could be detrimental during large raids. At any rate, seeing a new character standing next to an old one can be rather bizarre, though you'll be thankful for the ability to custom-toggle the new graphics to suit either your system or your tastes.
While the new graphics and the new race and class may be the most obvious enhancements in Luclin, it's the addition of all the new zones that will likely provide the most longevity. All told, Luclin introduces about 30 new zones to the already-enormous world of EverQuest. In fact, if there were any question before, then by now it should be plainly apparent that EverQuest's world is by far the largest found in any game. Luclin's new zones are exciting, interesting, and fraught with new types of danger. Luclin itself is actually the moon of EverQuest's world of Norrath, so expect to see some decidedly unusual sights in these new lands, many of which are cast in the pale glow of Norrath shining down from the sky. Luclin's huge outdoor areas are colorful and diverse. Some are craggy, harsh lands speckled with organized enemy encampments. Other areas are filled with forests of giant mushrooms. The serenely beautiful twilight sea provides even more contrast to Luclin's settings, and civilized territories--including Shar Vahl, the Egyptian-style vah shir home city, and Katta Castellum, a human settlement filled with gothic cathedrals--are particularly impressive.
Needless to say, some of the challenges in these new zones are tremendous and should satisfy even the most seasoned EverQuest players. Many of Luclin's new zones also let you embark on involving new quests, which sometimes require complex interactions with nonplayer characters. You might have to follow them to different places or fight alongside them in battle, rather than simply talk to them and give them things. Luclin's other vaunted feature is the addition of horses that you can purchase and ride around. These range from very expensive to extremely expensive and essentially just let you move slightly faster than you normally could, besides just being a status symbol. The manual promises an enhanced interface, but this hasn't been implemented yet, except in the improved patching utility that launches the program. There are some new sound effects in The Shadows of Luclin, though the game could have benefited from an audio overhaul on the scale of what was done with the graphics.
Luclin should keep new and old players occupied for a long time.
Perhaps that's asking for too much--but when you get a lot, it's easy to want more. Fortunately, if it's more you want, then EverQuest is your game. Luclin has a huge amount of new content itself, but it's not the only thing that's happened to EverQuest since the release of Velious last year--new zones, new treasures, and other enhancements still continue to be added to EverQuest with regularity. By now, there are approximately 40 different game servers running, including a role-playing-preferred server that offers an unusual twist on some of EverQuest's basic rules, various player-vs.-player-focused servers, and a server localized for European players. EverQuest's gameplay has been carefully refined over the years. The game still fundamentally encourages you to form groups and hunker down and fight monsters for hours on end. But the way many of its zones balance risk and reward, the way that various character classes complement each other in battle, and the sheer variety found in the gameworld are all things that EverQuest does uniquely well. It's not hard to see why so many players still devote so much of their time and energy to the game.
The Shadows of Luclin is easily the biggest, most significant EverQuest expansion yet, and considering the massive size of the other expansions, that's no small feat. You could criticize it for its turbulent and perhaps premature launch, but that's already water under the bridge. You could also knock it for its steep system requirements, but in due time, that will be water under the bridge as well. The fact is this expansion ensures the livelihood of a majority of EverQuest players for yet another long stretch of time; that is, it ensures EverQuest will remain very competitive with any other games in its category for the foreseeable future--for at least another year. And though it will be a costly investment for players who aren't already playing EverQuest, Luclin is even impressive enough that it will likely bring a lot of new players to the game, most of whom will be genuinely surprised at how great EverQuest still is after all this time.