Ten Reasons You Should Buy Everquest II

Posted: November 9, 2007 by Kendricke in Everquest 2, Rise of Kunark

For those of you unaware, Everquest II released on November 9, 2004.  It was three years ago today when Everquest II launched and at least a quarter of a million gamers began to anxiously patch the new incarnation of SOE’s flagship product.

Now, we can rehash the mistakes and missteps that SOE’s development team took in those early, heady days of yesteryear, but I’d rather concentrate on the present.  Quite frankly, the Everquest II of 2007 is very different from the game it was at launch.  And that’s a good thing in my opinion. 

Now, maybe you’ve never touched the game before, but you’ve heard some things which intrigued you. Maybe you’ve long hold a grudge against SOE, but lately you’ve heard that with this game things aren’t quite the same. Maybe you’ve been playing World of Warcraft for a long time and you just want something similar, but different. Maybe you played the game a while ago, but you just aren’t sure if you should come back. Maybe you played Everquest and you’re curious about the new Kunark expansion coming out.

Whatever the reason, you’ve thought about playing Everquest II, but you haven’t quite committed to the idea. If you’re still sitting on the fence about whether or not you should play Everquest II, I humbly submit these ten reasons I think you should consider visiting the Shattered Lands.

1. It’s never been easier.

There’s this myth that continues to persist that Everquest II takes too much time to play. Maybe you’ve heard there’s no solo content, or perhaps you remember how long it used to take to level up a character a few years back. Maybe you’re so used to the idea of fast levelling in the World of Warcraft that it seems impossible to level up in EQII.

The truth is that it’s not hard to level up or to adventure within Everquest II.

If you are one of those long-ago players who still remembers archetypes and the Isle of Refuge, you need to realize that those days are long gone as well. Whether you start in one of the old cities of Qeynos or Freeport, or choose to pick up in one of the newer cities which have been released in the last year, I can assure you that levelling today is nothing like levelling was in 2004 or 2005. Many of the lower level zones have been revamped since release, and the newer starting areas are designed in such a way as to put the original Isle of Refuge to shame.

Dedicated veteran players can probably hit level 20 in a matter of a few hours of play at this point. Less experienced or more casual gamers might find it taking a few nights to a week. Getting to level 20 is relatively painless solo even with some of the more group oriented classes.

In fact, pretty much every class can be soloed all the way to level 70 these days. There are quest lines every step of the way. If you really want to get the most of out your experience without having to worry about groups, you’ll probably want to pick up a class that has an easier/quicker time soloing through content. Even if you wanted to play a class that’s stronger in groups (but not necessarily as strong in soloing), I think you’ll be surprised how relatively easy it is to make your way through the ranks. You might find a few dry patches in the upper 40’s or upper 50’s, but generally speaking, it’s not terribly difficult at all.

2. Eight for the price of one.

If you’re thinking about getting into Everquest II, but you’re not sure about the cost, you have nothing to worry about. Pick up Rise of Kunark next week. It comes with every Everquest II release (even the three Adventure Packs) all for one price. Count it. Eight releases. One box. That’s an even better deal than The Orange Box from Valve (and there’s even cake in Everquest II – lots of it!).

3. A Solid Community.

For players who leave and eventually return, one of the most frequently cited reasons is that the community within Everquest II just tends to be better. I strongly agree.

Though far from perfect, the Everquest II community is one of the better ones I’ve found online. Obviously this is a subjective subject and I certainly have my biases firmly in place on this, but generallly speaking, I’ve found that there’s far less hostility and childishness on EQII’s servers than pretty much any other game out there. The community tends to be pretty helpful and friendly – especially at the lower levels. Community channels are automatic and typically serverwide (as opposed to some games where chat channels only pick up nearby participants).

There’s an established and committed fansite community, with everyone from the big networks (TenTonHammer, Warcry, Zam, Vault, Stratics) down to a myriad collection of smaller, more specialized sites. For example, check out Eq2wikia.com or (if you’re into crafting) Eq2.Eqtraders.com. Even the official forums have a fairly dedicated collection of posters who spend a great deal of time just helping out newer players.

4. There’s Never Been More Appearance Options.

One of the biggest complaints in days past from old Everquest II players was in regards to the “patchwork” feel of much of the armor. You’d spend hours at the broker engaging in trial andd error buying just to find something that had halfway decent stats that could also match up with the rest of your gear – or at least not clash so badly.

Welcome to the new Everquest II. In addition to the Dressing Room feature (which allows you to control-click on any link to see how those shoulders, this breastplate, or that shield might look on you right now) there’s also the new Appearance slot. I’ll admit that I had some fears about the Apperance slot when it was first explained to me, but I’ve since come to accept that my trepidation was ill founded. The Appearance slots have been a great addition to the game.

The short explanation for the uninitiated is that any gear you could wear normally can be worn in a special “appearance” slot which provides no additional stats, but which changes how you’re seen. Don’t want to look like a lime green/hot pink/deep purple patchwork nightmare? No problem – just cover up your armor with that nice jet black ornate armor you used to just sell to the NPC vendors. Even though that black armor didn’t really have any stats you cared for, it at least looked great, right? So get the best of both worlds. Pick up whatever gear you want for the stats and effects, and then cover it up with whatever armor you want to be seen in.

The bottom line? You choose how you want to be seen. And now it’s easy to figure out how you’ll be seen before you hand over your coin.

5. Customization Options.

An old guildmate of mine recently came back to the game after a year away. I asked him to list some of the things he found to be better now than before, and one of the things he mentioned was that you really had more customization options available to you to build the exact character you wanted. He’s right, too.

If you want to put together a hammer wielding battle priest who wades into combat alongside warriors, you can most certainly do that now. If you wanted to put together a scout who can tank for your group, you can absolutely do that. You can put together any number of combinations of race/class/gear/adornments/achievements to build the exact character you’re looking for.

If you wanted to play as a halfling berserker who’s able to keep up with the damage put out by most mages, you can probably do that.

6. The Emotional Factor.

It’s hard not to speak to the nostalgia currently in-game. If you ever played the original Everquest, you probably still have emotional ties to some of the places and music from the original continents. You probably remember finding a good bargain in the East Commons Tunnel or the Greater Faydark spires. You probably recall that first time you fell from a platform in Kelethin, or the first time you were killed by brownies in the Lesser Fay. Maybe you remember fighting through Crushbone or blasting through the Minotaur Caves of Steamfont.

Whatever you thought of Everquest II at release, I can tell you it’s a different EQII these days. With the latest expansion, the developers have moved away from the idea of showing you a different type of world than the one we all virtually grew up in. Now, they’re out to show how the world is different…and yet similar all at once. The first time I heard the Kelethin theme kick in during the beta for Echoes of Faydwer, I felt a bittersweet pang of rememberance right in my chest. Though the music had been re-orchestrated into a richer format, it was most certainly the same haunting melody I remembered from nearly a decade ago. It was just one of those small touches that make all the difference for an old Everquest salt such as myself.

And yet, even if you never played in old Everquest, it’s hard not to find yourself drawn in by the emotive design which the development team is using these days. No longer are the developers concentrating on building different, yet similar paths of advancement for characters from different cities. Now, it seems they’re first and foremost creating a world for players to interact within and with, and the advancement comes more natuarally – more organically.

7. Look at the size of it!

If you never played Everquest II, or if you only played during it’s first year, then you may have heard how small the game is and feels. You may have heard that there’s not a lot of places to see or explore. Truth is, the game is huge…and it’s getting bigger all the time.

Since release, there have been six expansions or add-ons to the game. The seventh additional expansion to the game releases next Wednesday. In addition to all of this pay content, the team has been increasing their focus on free content. In 2007 alone, we’ve seen the addition of two high level instanced group dungeons, a high end raid zone, a brand new starting city, a new low level open zone, several new solo and group quest lines, a new epic quest line (released in three stages), and a completely new race. And that’s just the free stuff!

And of course, none of this touches on Rise of Kunark…

8. In and out.

Everquest has taken a fairly tough rap for being an involved game requiring hours upon hours to get anything accomplished.  Lately, I’ve been running the game for just 20-40 minutes in the mornings to get a few more kills in toward another quest, or perhaps to collect a few more harvests for the broker, or even to pick up another round of writs to build up some faction with the priests in Qeynos. 

Truth is, you don’t need to have 2 hours and a coordinated group backing you up to accomplish something in Everquest II anymore.  If you have just a half-hour and a desire to work toward a quick goal, you can do just that. 

This doesn’t mean that every quest or dungeon is built that way, but there’s more content now than ever that lets you just log in and log out. The idea of “forever-to-quest” is just a myth.

9.  Guilds Mean Something.

In most MMO’s, you join a guild because that’s what you do.  Maybe you get to wear an interesting tabard.  Perhaps you get to use a guildbank.  You may or may not even get to use a guildhall. 

But there’s no MMO where guilds are used to help advance your character in the same way Everquest II allows.  In EQII, guild advancement is yet another path open to your character.  Sure you can get access to guild cloaks and guildbanks like other games.  Guild halls are coming, too (and probably one of the most interesting ideas for the concept yet). 

But beyond all of that, you get to pitch in and help your guild level together.  Through quests, raids, and items, you help your guildmates in a way that other MMO’s can’t emulate.  And you get rewards for that team effort, from paintings and special titles to unique potions and guild-specific mounts. 

As a guildmaster who has lead his guild through a half dozen games over the course of nine years, I can tell you that the guild tools are some of the best around anywhere, and they get better all the time.  That’s less time I have to spend fiddling with the administration tasks and more time I have to actually spend being with my guildmates.  That, to me, is money in the bank.

10.  Pick a god, any god.

Most MMO’s have a pantheon of religions.  But in Everquest II, your choice of diety actually creates new abilities which you then have access to.  You gain special cloaks, pets, blessings, and miracles when you quest for a particular god or goddess in Everquest II.  Those art tangible rewards you can use to really pull out all the stops in raids or even just while grouping. 
11.  And here’s a bonus reason:  It’s fun

No, really.  It is.  Play a fae or arasai and you’ll find yourself jumping around just because you can once you pick up the glide racial ability.  Though I’ve been through most of the dungeons a couple dozen times on my Templar, Kendricke, I’m still having a blast building up newer characters just to run through some of the lower level dungeons like Crushbone or Courts of Innovation. That first run through Unrest.  That first trip to Shard of Fear.  That first chance encounter with the Pumpkin Headed Horseman.  These are all moments that will stick with you. 

With Kunark coming out, we’re going to see a whole EQII.  If you’re not already in the game, now’s a great time to think about getting in.  You don’t have to worry about being so far “behind” since so many players are about to start up Sarnaks for the first time.  There’s a brand new starting city coming in, and you still have all the content from 7 previous releases to explore through while working your way up the ladder.

Many MMO’s might be feeling their age after three years, but I have to tell you that it feels as though SOE is just hitting their stride with Everquest II. 

Give it a go.  When you do, feel free to send me a tell over on Guk server.  For you EQII newbies, just type “/t guk.kendricke Hello”.  I’m looking forward to seeing all sorts of new and returning faces over the next week or two.  I really don’t think you’ll regret the choice.

  1. Max Cool says:

    this was fantastic. You really hit hard and gave me plenty of reasons to return to the game. I am a player from 2004/5 and it looks like there is a lot to return to.

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