How can a game based on endless miles of sand not turn out brown and dull? Somehow, the first EverQuest II expansion, Desert of Flames, mixes Ali Baba with ancient Egypt and shows how it's done. From desert oases (yeah, the plural of oasis ... look it up) to colorful djinn palaces to majestic pillars of stone abandoned in the wastelands, DoF demonstrates what a little imagination can do for a potentially bleak role-playing environment.
The desert is still predictably barren and inhospitable, but the golden vistas and outdoor bazaars are damned impressive, and they're balanced by rich foliage, palm trees, and even flowers in oasis areas. Rich, jewel-toned Arabian tents and bursts of gilded, domed palaces really stand out against all that bland, beige sand. It's not all just for looks, either. Climbable walls give some zones more of a 3-D, almost Prince of Persia feel, and the host city of Maj’Dul is a truly exciting environment, where warring labor unions, outlaws, and enforcers on flying carpets keep players on their toes.
Desert was built with level 45 characters in mind, and it raises the level cap from 50 to 60. If you're not at least level 40, the expansion won’t have much to offer you. But if you make the cut, you'll find this expansion builds on many of EQII’s strengths. New quests add to the lore of the land, while new monsters like the nasty Sand Goblins, winged Harpies and (of course) Mummies dot the landscape. There's still a good balance of opportunities for solo adventuring, group quests, and massive raid events, so those with different play styles can all find something worthwhile to do.
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