EverQuest: Gates of Discord (GoD, GOD, Gates, or simply the Gates expansion) is the seventh expansion released for EverQuest, a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG). The expansion focused on high-level content, providing a number of zones meant to be used by large groups of players and many extremely powerful monsters to fight.
The introduction of this expansion in early 2004 was beset by numerous serious quality issues. John Smedley, President of Sony Online Entertainment (SOE) has described the release of this expansion as "SOE's worst mistake in five years".
The expansion features 20 new NPC models, and 18 new zones. There are 10 single-group instanced trials, 8 uninstanced exp zones, and 9 raid zones/instances. All of the zones in GoD are designed for higher level (50+) characters, and many of the raid zones require level 65 before they can zone in.
In GoD, the Berserker character class is also introduced. Berserkers are a melee class that use 2-handed weapons along with special class abilities to double attack and intimidate their opponents, as well as going into attack frenzies. Berserkers can both take and dish out a good amount of damage. They start off with the Corroded Axe combat skill for creating throwing axes and a 2-handed Axe, so new players can get right into combat at level 1 without delay. They also have spell-like conventional combat abilities, such as striking a target's leg to slow him down (like a snare spell), striking his head to stun him, or cutting him to make him bleed (like a Damage over Time spell).
An In-Game "Casino" was introduced in GoD as a money sink for the players. This was in response to a serious cash exploit in the game at that time that threatened the virtual economy of the game via economic mudflation. At the "casino", tokens are purchased from a bar maid in the Shadow Haven zone and turned in for prizes. Prizes are typically meager stat foods or gems. However, lucky players could win a golden ticket, which can be turned in for extremely rare magic items that have previously been removed from the game.
Also included was an updated tradeskill interface with numerous new recipes. Tradeskill combine containers have been upgraded to include recipe lists (which can be searched, by resulting item name or tradeskill difficulty range). The new interface also allow players to combine items without opening up inventory bags to find the components. This allows players to easily make several tradeskill combines in a short amount of time. The new tradeskill containers are available to all players, but items for the new recipes can only be found in GoD zones.
GoD introduced the tribute system, an alternate money sink the developers created to take cash out of the game system. Scattered throughout the home cities of all character races are Tribute Masters who act as vendors. Players can donate items or coin to the Tribute Masters and earn "tribute points". Tribute points can then be used to increase stats, increase resists, increase HP / mana pools or regen, or gain spell-like focus effects (water breathing, increased damage foci, improved healing foci, etc.). The abilities gained through Tribute Points are all on a timer; once activated points get deducted at a certain rate depending on what tribute effects were selected. A later expansion introduced guild Tribute points, which stack with personal Tribute Points.
Leadership Alternate Abilities (LAA) are also a new feature introduced in GoD. Similar to normal AA, Leadership AA is an Opt-In system. Once opted in, 20% of the group leaders XP will go to Leadership abilities that will enhance play when they are the leader of a group or raid. Leadership abilities include neat features like increased mana, increased hit points, increased HP regen, increased ATK, special targeting circles to help the group target the correct mob, marking a path to lost players, etc.
When released, some of the content was nearly unplayable for most of the player base. Numerous bugs were discovered in the game with the release of the expansion, which also updated the graphics and geometry engine. Old content seemingly unrelated to the new expansion "broke", requiring the immediate attention of the new developers or online guides and GMs. One explanation offered is that during expansion developments there was a "changing of the guard" in the staff at SOE, leading or contributing to these issues. It was also revealed that a management mistake had been made in which some of the content was meant for the next tier cap of player levels - level 70. A SOE game developer confirmed that SOE designed Gates of Discord with level 70 in mind, but SOE did not include the planned tier cap increase from 65. This management mistake ensured that several critical points of the expansion were unbeatable by most players at that time, both for single groups and raids. Whatever the cause, these issues were eventually addressed, but too late to prevent controversy.
Several "uberguilds" (highly powerful and influential groups of players), including Fires of Heaven, Afterlife, and Keepers of the Faith, departed from EverQuest around this time. Many of these players acted as beta testers for World of Warcraft, which was in development for release later in the year, although by spring of 2005 some returned.
In response to player criticism, SOE organized a summit in the summer of 2004 to hear the main concerns of the playerbase towards Gates of Discord and EverQuest in general. The summit's guests included influential players and gamers from guild leaderships and fan websites, notably among them Hearn (of GU Comics). SOE also delayed the release the next expansion Omens of War by several months to give time for the GoD quality issues to be addressed.