EverQuest II

EverQuest II

Developer: Sony Online Entertainment
Publisher: Sony Online Entertainment

Release Date: 11/08/2004


Genre: MMO
Setting: fantasy

Let’s start with the basics. EverQuest is one of the original MMORPGs, along with Ultima Online, Asheron’s Call, and Meridian 59 (which you can find blogged regularly here at GamersInfo.net). Of the four, EverQuest was the largest.

EverQuest 2 is set some hundreds of years after EverQuest. The world has been shattered after the gods left the world. It’s basically a whole new game.

I never played EverQuest. I had a number of friends that played it, but I couldn’t get into it. My introduction to the world of MMORPGs was via Mythic Entertainment’s Dark Age of Camelot, followed by City of Heroes, Planetside, World of Warcraft, and EverQuest 2.

Planetside, like EverQuest 2, is published by Sony Online Entertainment. Therefore I was a bit familiar with SOE’s reputation for MMORPGs, both from experience and from the sheer number of horror stories I’d heard from veterans of EverQuest and Star Wars Galaxies.

Despite the controversy over the recently deployed combat changes to EverQuest 2, the worst I’ve seen from them is that they helped balance the classes more evenly. I also got a chance to see some of the expansion, Desert of Flames at E3 while there with GamersInfo.net and, while I’ve only just gotten a copy of it, I was impressed with what I saw in terms of new content, graphics, and changes.

For those of you completely new to the genre, I’ll go over how you start out in the game.

The first thing you’ll notice is the fine graphics in the game and the fact that it actually runs in widescreen. I’ve seen differing opinions on that, but I for one greatly enjoyed it – and that was before I bought my great new widescreen monitor! With it the game looks even better. A good thing once you enter the game is that you’ll find you can move many of the UI tools into the black areas formed by the bars, thus leaving your viewable area much less crowded.

The first thing you do is create a character. You select a race, though it may surprise you that, unlike many games, you do not select a class yet. You can then customize your character in a number of ways. After that, if you have a choice, you pick whether you want to be associated with Freeport or with Qeynos.

With the world shattered, the two bastions of sentient life in EverQuest 2 (given the sheer number of different races) are the cities of Freeport and Qeynos. To put it simply, Qeynos is “good” and Freeport is “evil”. Some races can choose who they’ll join, while others are forced to join one. For the sake of this review I created a Froglok named Idac on the Lucan D’Lere server, which is a “Roleplaying Preferred” server. All Frogloks are by nature good, which means I’ll go by default to Qeynos.

That doesn’t mean I’m forced to stay there; you can do a betrayal quest to your city. I haven’t decided to do that yet, though.

One quick note on servers – you’ll see that there are several different kinds. Roleplaying Preferred servers are ones that encourage roleplaying. One nice innovation EQ2 has is the “/role” flag. By typing “/role” your character is flagged with a purple name, and your class and level information are hidden by default. This means that you prefer to be roleplaying, and helps roleplayers find each other more easily.

Some servers are also “Station Exchange Enabled”. SOE has, controversially, decided instead of fighting against gold and item farmers, to integrate that functionality into the game on certain servers. Therefore, you can sell and buy items for real money on those servers.

Another side note on characters – as I’ve said, I chose to play a Froglok, a character race that is, well, a humanoid frog. While there are 15 character types available by default, Frogloks are only available after someone on the server completes a certain quest chain.

After you’ve customized your character and picked your allegiance, you’ll find yourself on a ship in the middle of the ocean. It seems that you’ve been rescued and are being transported to the Isle of Refuge. Along the way you’ll be asked to perform certain tasks that’ll teach you the interface to the game.

One of the little annoying “gotcha” things to look out for, is when it tells you how to move. If you’ve played a lot of other PC games, you may have immediately remapped some of the movement keys to feel more “natural” to you. If you’ve done that, look for what the captain is telling you to do, not what key to push – otherwise, you’ll be stuck.

After you finish the tutorial you’re dumped off on the Isle. From there you’ll talk to an NPC (or “Non-Player Character”) who’ll ask you what base archetype you want to follow – Fighter, Mage, Priest, Scout. At level 10 for each of those you’ll specialize a bit more. For example, I picked mage, which means I tend to wear light armor and zap things from a distance with my “BZZZAP!” spells (as I call them). At level 10, I’ll decide if I want to be a Sorcerer, Enchanter, or Summoner. I’ve already decided I want to be a sorcerer, and later I’ll have to decide between Wizard and Warlock.

Once on the Isle you’ll kill creatures for experience points in order to level up. A bar at the bottom of the screen keeps track of how many points you have, and how many you need. In order to accelerate this process, and to participate in a story while doing so, some NPCs will give you quests that ask you to do specific things, such as kill X number of creatures. These quests will also help you get extra coins in your pocket and gear to wear.

Speaking of coins and inventory, you’ll find very rapidly that you have a very small inventory. Tiny, in fact. Fortunately you can get bags that increase how much you can carry, and if you get one or two too many, they’ll simply go into an “overflow” area on your character picture until you can empty out some bag space. A banker provides additional space at the price of limited access to your items. You also have a weight limitation.

The weight limitation can get annoying as you pick up lots of copper coins. 100 copper coins equals one silver, but they do not automatically convert. Instead, the only way to convert them (that I’ve found so far) is to take them to the banker and have that NPC convert them.

You also get money from selling items that you find – either on enemies or via quests. Some of the items you get, though, you can use, such as weapons or food. You can also add certain items found on the ground (indicated by a point of light and a “?”) to “collections” of items that you carry (but fortunately these do not count towards your inventory).

One of the good things about EQ2’s inventory system is that quest items do not count towards your inventory spaces and are automatically taken from the creatures that you get them from (if that creature has one). That makes life a lot easier. You can have up to 75 quests at a time. They’re broken down by zone, and that changes as you complete them (for example, it’ll list them in The Down Below when you need to go there to kill creatures, then move it into South Qeynos if that’s where you turn it in after you’re done with it).

It’s more than just killing things, though. You’ll also find things around, such as creature traps, herb gardens and big rocks. You can trap, harvest, or mine these things, gaining skill and items used in crafting. Crafting works off a completely different XP system shown on a different XP bar.

There are crafting quests you can do as well. Crafting turns into a trade off between quality and durability. I haven’t done as much with the crafting, but you can make an artisan character that spends most of their time crafting if you so desire.

Once you leave the island you go to your city. There you’re given a free apartment with a small (5 silver a real life week) rent. You can put items into your apartment to make it look nicer. So far I have a book, a chandelier, a statue and a pet cage. It’s not a full room yet, but it’s getting there. I also put a message board up in there, so I can sell things on the “bazaar” to other players and more easily buy things from them. The room also comes with a small vault that you can keep things in.

Once in the city you’ll find that it’s rather large. Cities are made up of various zones – square areas broken up by the travel system between them (and the loading sequences). A lot of your beginning quests will involve running around between various NPCs in the city delivering items, and perhaps wandering out to some of the nearby wilderness zones to collect items. You’ll also have to follow a quest to become an official citizen of your city.

You’ll probably spend a lot of your time fighting creatures. Clicking on a creature will give you a lot of information on it. For example, it will tell you what level the creature is, and by that, how hard the fight will be for you. A creature of equal level to you or a bit higher will be an even, tough fight, while one too far lower than you will give you no experience points or loot.

Combat basically works by picking attacks to do against a creature. You can also use what is known as a “Heroic Opportunity.” Clicking that gives you a sequence of things to do. If you do them, you’ll do extra damage to the creature at the end.

Once you initiate an attack the creature is “locked” to you. No one else can get its loot or experience unless you “call for help” (if you’re losing), in which case it’s fair game – but you don’t get loot or XP for it. If you die, you’ll take some experience debt, which can be mostly mitigated by going near where you died at and recovering your “shard”.

Creatures can also be “aggressive,” in which case their name will be in red. Instead of waiting for you to attack, they will attack you first!

Other creatures work in packs. If you click on one, you’ll see the others that they are linked to, so you’ll know whether or not you can take the whole group.

Others are listed as “heroic” or “epic”. These mean they’ll take a number of people to take down. For example, for my level 10 mage class quest, I will have to kill a heroic mob (short for “mobile” – EQ developer’s slang for any enemy or creature). That usually takes 3 people.

(That means I can’t level up from 9 until I finish that quest. Fortunately for me, up to a point EQ2 still tracks my experience. So once I do that quest, not only will I automatically hit level 10, but I’ll already be 59% of the way through it!)

That’s the basic nature of the game. You do quests, you group with other people, you wander the countryside and figure out the mysteries of the world. You go see interesting, and exotic new people and creatures and, a lot of times, kill them. As you go up in level, raiding becomes more and more important - large groups of people, usually in guilds, getting together to kill the larger, tougher mobs that drop the really good loot.

The audio is very good in the game. The music fits well with the game and helps a lot with the immersion. When you talk with NPCs, they will often speak back to you, which also helps. As you walk through a bar, for example, you may hear an NPC yell at you, trying to get your attention to help him with a quest.

EQ2 doesn’t really have a PvP (or Player versus Player) element to it. You can’t fight the people from Freeport, for example. There is an arena that was added in with the Desert of Flames expansion to allow for some PvP, however.

As an MMORPG, EQ2 is definitely one of the better ones for showing an immersive atmosphere in a high fantasy genre. If you’re interested in it, mosey on over to the blogs section here at GamersInfo.net, where you can read what people do on a day by day basis in EQ2.

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About the Author, Sean Michael Whipkey (A.K.A SeanMike)

I'm a 29 year old senior network and systems engineer for a consulting firm in the DC area. I'm mostly into MMOs and FPSes (on the console), and I'm a big pro football fan. In my other spare time I like to write and tend to read copious amounts of history and military sci-fi. I'm also into cooking and bad action movies.