Meanwhile… A Tour Of Revamped Everquest II

By Alec Meer on December 20th, 2011 at 5:23 pm.

Fungal boogie

If you can’t or won’t afford The Old Republic but are grumpily hanging around comments threads wishing you too were off on online adventures, it’s worth remembering that exactly 312,129 MMOs have now gone free to play. No lightsabers, but also no queues. One of the more recent of these is Everquest II, the at-the-time ambitious fantasy world that’s probably slightly annoyed that its precusor still co-exists alongside it. Below is a narrated video tour of some of the new stuff in the free to play to play update, the Age of Discovery expansion, the new class Beastlords, a dungeon designer tool and a major overhaul of key city Freeport. This is actually my first peek at the game in quite some time – it’s really quite pretty, in a slightly austere way.

Forgive the stuttering – that’s something my PC did while I was re-encoding it, not some horrific problem with the game. Bad PC! Bad! [Thump] Oh dear, that laptop was quite expensive.

Anyone tempted to return to EQ2? Anyone still playing, in fact? It does seem to be the quiet of man of the (once) big MMOs, which makes me wonder if its community is silently up to very clever things that can’t be achieved in the huge crowds of the bigger games.

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37 Comments »

  1. Unaco says:

    The alt-text has made my day. Thank you Alec.

  2. Maxheadroom says:

    I played it for about a year upon release (after many a year in EQ1) before migrating to WoW with the rest of the sheep.

    Gave it another go earlier this year in that EQ2 Extended semi-but-not-really free to play thing they did and was shocked at just how much it had aged.

    Pottered round the newbie zone for about an hour before quitting and uninstalling. Quite sad really

  3. Hisui says:

    [citation needed] on the number 312,129. If that’s actually a real number relevant to F2P MMOs, color me impressed!

  4. Serge says:

    You might want to read about this before spending your time in this game:

    http://forums.steampowered.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2280046

    • Maxheadroom says:

      I believe thats talking about EQ2 Extended, the watered down version of EQ2 they released a while ago to run alongside EQ2 main. This upcoming expansion makes the main game F2P. Thats how I understand it anyway

    • Whither says:

      Even if all that remains accurate with this release, to be honest if you’re going to be putting the dozens if not hundreds of hours it takes to get to the top levels, you might as well go ahead and pay the subscription at that point. If you can’t be bothered to drop $15 per month for 10 hours of entertainment a week, you’re either really cheap, or poorer than anyone I’ve ever met in the developed world. MMO subscriptions are a killer deal. Free to play just gives you more options with less commitment.

      I’ve never understood the free aspects of hardcore MMOs to be replacements for the subscription model for dedicated players — it’s just a way to get people started without forcing them to commit to anything, like a trial but without the time pressure, or a demo but with a better ability to give you a sense of what the game is about.

    • Maxheadroom says:

      I take your point but for me it’s more like a gym membership. Once you’re paying a subscription it’s like you ‘have’ to play to get your moneys worth.

      Back when I played WoW (been on the wagon for about 2 years now ) I’d regularly burn out and quit for months at a time. eventually I jacked it in altogether but if it was F2P then I’d probably still be popping in for an hour or 2 here and there, and it’s for that reason that I’m most looking forward to Guild Wars 2.

      Even though, as you say, the monthly sub is next to nothing, barely a couple of pints when you think about it

    • Paul2724 says:

      LOL @ the freetards in that Steam thread :D

    • db1331 says:

      LOL @ the name freetards. I’m so using that.

  5. Italia says:

    This game has been out how long and they just came out with a hunter? I mean..’Beast lord’ ….

    • Nick says:

      FYI, EQ1 had a Beastlord about 4 years before WoW was released, its not like they are copying the generic ranger (sorry, hunter) character class from WoW.

    • Grygus says:

      Sometimes I post things before I think about them.

    • iniudan says:

      In Everquest 1, Ranger were all but generic, since their duty was mostly to catch aggro and become compost, make change from the nature uber archer. =p (Ok, that not really true but that how you identified a noob ranger in EQ1, they are the one that couldn’t resist to press their taunt skill)

    • edrick says:

      EQ had Beastlords before WoW was even an idea. Always amusing when people think EQ is stealing from WoW.

    • Nick says:

      Rangers were fine at tanking till kunark, when their defence skill didn’t get a cap raise unlike the other classes and thus they didn’t do quite as well (tbh before the mitigated slow anyone could tank pretty much), hence the ranger feign jokes and the introduction of jolt etc. But they got the cap raised again after a bit and were fine again for a long time, the jokes just stuck.

    • iniudan says:

      But the reason I used it for still apply, saw my share of ranger who taunt and just die because cleric was in middle of a complete heal on the actual tank.

      I know very well lot of class could tank outside the usual class, in PoP era I had fun tanking for Plane of Earth group with my wizard and was actually doing better then with a monk tanking, since with me the rogue could go all out and while the monk do get hit much less, for less and had more hp was still easier to heal due to good old rune and my unusual amount of melee (cause at some point it the only thing left to do for a wizard to squeeze extra damage on a target, is trying to hit it, could actually do decent increase along the appropriate proc weapon) and defensive orientation for a wizard (had great pride in my CC and OT ability in group, so better defense was actually helpful in my case in beyond surviving raid AE)

      Sorry for the wall of text, kind of nostalgic, since never found an MMO, that I liked the gameplay, that had equipment with nice and possibly unique effect like in Pre-PoP EQ. Through would also most likely never play an MMO with the dedication I had back in EQ again anyway.

  6. Keymonk says:

    The game was very fun when i tried it – but that was before they begun kicking their playerbase with the F2P crap they pulled that was absolutely ridiculously gougingly stupidly made.

    This coming from someone who happily paid the subscription, yet was still gouged by the marketplace they had in the game. They offered a new race as a ‘premium’ race through the store, which you could purchase. And then offered extra race-specific abilities(!) and accessories for the same race that you could only get if you had the race to begin with. Ridiculous.

    • malkav11 says:

      And, horror upon horror, gave that race to anyone who was subscribed during the leadup to the Kunark expansion and then bought that expansion within the following year.

  7. Nick says:

    Sadly they rendered half the stats meaningless depending on your character and used some scripting to go through the old loot tables and make every item a boring formula following piece of dross. The game is a mess and the people in charge of its dsign don’t know what they are doing besides incremental formula following % based upgrades every expansion and flashy cash shop mountts/pets.

    The latter is also true for EQ1 and has been for a while. Its a shame, but I wouldn’t touch an SOE MMO with a shitty stick anymore, though I’ll probably poke around EQnext out of curiosity more than anything.

  8. Jesse L says:

    EQ 2 gameplay, or amateur CGI mock-up of Fellini’s unpublished screenplay of the Chronicles of Narnia?

    • iniudan says:

      The graphic were actually pretty good when the game was release back in 2004, but will admit they didn’t age well. =p

  9. e82 says:

    The game does feel like more of a ‘free to trial’. The game does feel severely gimped if you don’t pay for it. I decided to login and give it a try – I haven’t spent any serious time in an MMO in ages, and was curious to give EQ2 a try (I sunk many years into EQ1).

    While I’m fine with starting classes / races being limited, some of the other limitations are a bit of an annoyance – Inventory space is very limited, banking space is limited – was finding myself running out before I even hit level 10.

    I can understand the need/desire to give a reason to pay, but hitting this type of limitation so soon was bordering more on the ‘I need pay to resolve this annoyance’ than ‘I’d pay to enjoy the game more’ – the line between the two is kind of blurry and hard to define, but I’m more inclined to move-along and not play when it’s a matter of ‘removing annoyance’.

    When you are hitting pay-wall annoyances within the first few levels, something just feels ‘off’, and then looking into what you can pay for – things seem a bit steep. Instead of ‘nickle and dime’ micro-transactions that I could see my self mindlessly saying ‘yep yep’ a few times over the course of the week if I was really into the game, it’s more like “do I want to spend $8 bucks on a potion that lasts 4 hours? Not really”

    One thing I do wish though, is if more MMO’s had a ‘free to play until level X’ or something. Whenever I try a time-limited trial, what usually happens is I install it, then my real-life gets busy, I hardly get a chance to play it during those 7/14/whatever days – and when my trial expires I’m not sold on paying for it. But say, if it was “Free until level 30″ – its giving the game a much better chance on getting hits hooks into me and wanting to pay a subscription fee.

    • iniudan says:

      I think LotRO has one of the best model, you can earn “everything” for free if your willing to spend time on it, will just take a lot of time, but this lot of time also tend to give perk to your character anyway. Such model also help keeping some player in lower level area, so is favorable in keeping the community more spread instead of just focusing on wanting high level stuff.

      For EQ2 I cannot speak of current situation, stopped for was getting too repetitive, due to max leveling so many character while my friend who I always partnered with was offline (couldn’t get him to play anything else back then else might have done it much earlier)

  10. tstapp1026 says:

    “medding” = no thanks, I’ll just be over here performing my preferential activity of stabbing myself in the ear with an icepick.

    • iniudan says:

      There is no medding in EQ2, your thinking EQ1. If you got to med in eq2 is because you went without level appropriate food and drink or taking on mob at the edge of your capacity.

    • Nick says:

      you barely med in eq1 anymore either, certainly not like you used to.

  11. Wulf says:

    I never did fall out of love with Everquest II, really.

    To be honest, it’s got one of the best and most uniquely portrayed worlds I’ve seen in an MMO, and it’s put most fantasy MMOs before it and since to shame. When it comes to a world that wins purely because of its own diversity, then the only other MMO that has a chance of beating it is GW2. Where it really fell short was its gameplay, I suppose. Everquest II was terribly long-winded.

    Another thing I really enjoyed about EQ II is that it’s alive. I have this particularly unique memory of standing in a shop, chatting with a vendor, when the doors of the shop open behind me and someone walks in. I’d thought it was a player. It was actually an NPC. The vendor excuses himself and chats with the NPC for a bit about her shopping list, and then she leaves to go back to whatever it was she was doing. Intrigued, as I tend to get when these sorts of things happen, I followed.

    As I found out – Everquest II has completely scripted NPCs. No, I don’t mean like those silly guards in more popular fantasy MMORPGs that stand there, or walk left a bit then right a bit, but fully scripted NPCs that do stuff on a day/night schedule. I became a stalker for a little while, just following people around to see what it was that they did, and it was an amazing accomplishment for an MMO. This is exactly the sort of thing that GW2 has promised, and I want to see this again.

    I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of dead worlds. I am so tired of them. Even in the MMOs I like the best, the worlds tend to feel dead. But EQ II’s was alive in a way that was so unique and singular that it deserves an award for that alone. If you haven’t, then when it goes F2P I would implore you to create a character and wander around. Don’t concentrate on playing so much, just get into the environment, and watch what people and animals do. It’s an astounding accomplishment.

    That’s the best ovation I can give EQ II. In this respect (and perhaps many others) it was far, far ahead of its time. There are things EQ II can say that they did first, and there are things that it can claim that they’ve done that no one has done since. And it’s a great world, to boot. I mean, it’s one of the those rare few fantasy worlds where I haven’t experienced cloying xenophobia. EQ II’s world is vibrant with different forms of life, and it’s unafraid to be weird and strange in beautiful ways.

    It has singing paladin frogs. Singing. Paladin. Frogs.

    Perhaps the subscription was the only reason I fell out with it, or perhaps it was the time investment it required, I don’t know. But when this thing launches I think I need to give it another go. I need to experience for myself again why I was quite so in love with this game. And if nothing else, I want to go and say hi again to Fippy Darkpaw the 4th.

    • DodgyG33za says:

      “it was an amazing accomplishment for an MMO”

      Why? NPCs following preset routes and activities is hardly AI. I would have thought it would have been relatively straightforward (and yes, I am a programmer and have tried programming real reactive and adaptive AI).

      It never ceases to amaze me the effort that studios put into making a world look realistic but then not bother to populate it with realistic people.

      Even in the most popular game at the moment. If I had a GP for every time I got told “So you are an alchemist then.” when I have just been told by that character that they couldn’t train me any further, or after spending 10 minutes at their bloody alchemy table.

    • malkav11 says:

      I find the setting itself largely kind of uninspired and blandly fantasy-standard, but they’ve done a lot to make the world feel alive, and tons of stuff hidden away in nooks and crannies. Dungeons that feel like real, sensibly laid out places. Epic level bosses that turn up all over the place instead of just in raid dungeons. And while I’ve known people to complain about the ability bar being overstuffed (around level 70-something, I was maintaining four active ability bars and still had a few things that wouldn’t fit), I felt like they had done an excellent job of giving me not only a large toolkit for combat purposes, but also plenty of buffs and utility spells for varying situations, rather than the laser-focused but ultimately almost entirely combat oriented ability sets I had in WoW.

  12. DodgyG33za says:

    Why is it that so many MMO’s seem to have the same over-sized and strangely empty architecture (I am thinking Anarchy Online, the Old Republic and this to name a few)? Just moving about them takes ages, and it gives a very soulless air to places that should be teeming with activity. Sure, have the odd wide open plaza, but really…

  13. Berzee says:

    “the at-the-time ambitious fantasy world that’s probably slightly annoyed that its precusor still co-exists alongside it”

    Imagine how personified-version-of-Asheron’s-Call-2 feels!

  14. age says:

    My problem with EQ2 has always been the performance. To get the game to run even close to playable I have to tone down the graphics to something that looks like it’s from the Dark Ages. Even then it runs pretty poorly. I’m no graphics whore generally but EQ2 takes it to a new level.

    Vanguard is a better game anyway in spite of (or perhaps due to) the fact that there is no FTP option.

  15. Grey_Ghost says:

    Look like some nice improvements. Too bad that last stat/skill revamp really put me off the game. Plus EQ2 never liked my computer, crashed like crazy. Could never figure out why, guess it’s just a terribly unoptimized game engine.

  16. luckystriker says:

    omg the narrator sounds like the wicked witch of the west. If only she cackled…

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