Everquest II has come a long way. Now in its second year, it has continued to wow the MMO world with amazing expansions such as Desert of Flames, Kingdom of the Sky, and most recently the well-accepted Echoes of Faydwer, which brought us the beautiful race of the fae. With so many wonderful changes there is need to review the game again.
A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words
Simply amazing is what comes to mind. At release, the graphics were somewhat shadowed by its competitor World of Warcraft, but with the latest expansion the graphics were given a boost, and are now up to par with its counterpart. Regardless if you are playing a fae or an elf, whether you are in Kelethin or Thundering Steppes beauty is not hard to find. If you are lucky enough to be able to play the game on high quality the sights are a wonder to behold. The world of Norrath is a beautiful place indeed, and if you take the time to stop and look around you might find yourself noticing things that you have never noticed before. Everquest II is very easily the best looking game currently on the market even beating out next generation mmo's like Vanguard.
An MMO is Fun or it's Dead
To my mind, the average MMO player sticks with a game for one and a half years. That's about the point that the game becomes old. It begins to lose its fun factor. After two years, the world of Norrath remains strong in the gaming world because it remains fun. While there are many quests that take little time and like many other games consist of killing x mob x many times and bringing those items back to quest giver, there are also many quests in Everquest II that require a bit of thinking on the player's part. These quests not only require thought, but they require skill, and often times, teamwork. Completing a quest that rewards you with not only a very nice item but also a sense of accomplishment adds a huge element to the game. It makes the player feel like they are part of the world and that what they do matters. When you see the same quest givers appear in game that you saw at level ten and they remember you, it makes you feel good. It makes the game fun and drives you to keep on playing. The only problem I might see for newcomers to the game would be grouping. A lot of the quests do require a group and in the lower levels this is something that isn't easy to find. It could be that a majority of players in the lower stages like to solo or just grind through solo mobs to level, or perhaps there aren't enough lower levels playing. Soloing is fine, but the problems appear when you need to finish a quest that requires a group. Perhaps they might add an option to do a solo version of some of the quests? A solution to this will not come easily. The only suggestion would be that lower level characters try to find a guild that also has lots of lower levels in its ranks.
Did You Hear That?
Just like the sound and music in a movie can change the way a viewer is feeling or help to create a scene, it can dramatically change the feeling of the mmo world. Everquest II does an excellent job of setting the mood for each of their zones. As you fight your way through places of the undead such as Stormhold or The Living Tomb, you can feel your skin crawl as the cackling of the undead echo through the air. While standing in Qeynos Harbor you fill with pride as the sound of Antonia's voice encourages you to be strong and fight the evil that has fallen upon Norrath. The quest givers each have their own voice, and even leveling has a sound. Emotes add sound as well enhancing the role-playing aspect of the game. The sounds of Everquest II easily immerse players into the world of Norrath adding a unique depth to the game.
The MM in MMO
The community can make or break a game. A good community will welcome players old and new and keep them coming back, and often keep them subscribed long after the game has become old. A horrid community will send players running to their account menu to cancel. The Everquest II community is very friendly and welcoming. New players to the game will not have a problem getting help with their questions, and will likely not find it hard to find someone that will even mentor down and group with them, or perhaps escort them to their location if they are lost. Players who have been around awhile have made many friends who they will continue to play with for years to come. You will very rarely in Everquest II find the general chat filled with profanity or players insulting one another. It will be rare to find someone with an offensive name as when these are created they are quickly reported and forced to change. You won't find guilds with childish names either. Everquest II is the game for the serious and mature mmo player. It has found what World of Warcraft is lacking: Adults.
Worry Not Fair Lady
Role-player or not, at some point in the mmo world you will most likely find yourself acting in character. It may be in the form of a simple emote to respond to someone else who obviously is into role-playing, or it may be that you are trying to impress that cute wood elf. If you are new to role-playing or a pro Everquest II makes it easy to become your character. They have an endless amount of emotes, some of which do the talking and acting for you! They also have something they call the guide program. Guides are players who volunteer their time to run around the world of Norrath in character to hand out quests, live events, or just to entertain the population. It is a lot of fun to participate in a quest where you can actually speak to the quest giver and they can answer! They will also reward you with treats for role-playing with them. This is a great way for a game to encourage role-playing in the community, and it also adds to the fun element. If you are a developer take note on this because it will really propel the RPG part of your mmorpg.
Help! I'm Rooted
The lag in this game has to be its biggest downfall. I have yet to meet anyone who can run the game on the highest settings, and even people with high-end systems have trouble running Everquest II smoothly. I am currently running the game with a Geforce 8800GTX, 5200+ X2 CPU, 4gb of ram and still have to run the game on balanced in certain zones even if those zones are empty. In crowded zones like Qeynos Harbor trying to get to the docks or to your inn room is equal to being rooted by a mob or being overburdened. There are also zones I can run the game on high quality and go through the fight with magic flying everywhere and not have an ounce of lag. Obviously there is still some tweaking to be done here.
Has anyone seen a GM?
The customer service department for Everquest II is very lacking. It used to be readily available and quite easy to get in touch with a customer service rep, but this is one area of the game where SOE has downgraded. The new ticket system is horrible. I am talking about the one that they just implemented after they removed the old new once because it was horrid. I have many times attempted to use this new in-game petition system that will load the site in a built-in game browser, and I have not yet been able to get it to load. I have waited approximately ten minutes with each try and still nothing. It sits there with the message at the bottom that it is connecting, but it never will. If you have an issue you are best to wait until your game time is over (if you can remember what the issue was) so that you can go to the site on your own, and even then it rarely works. It makes one wonder if they just do not want to be bothered so they made it as difficult as possible to submit a ticket. I also have to ask, "What was wrong with the original petition system?" It worked and it worked every time. If it's not broke don't fix it.
Value is What You Get
Overall, Everquest II is a well-rounded enjoyable mmorpg. It has a lot to offer players old and new. One can hardly tell that the game is in its second year, and with the low pricing of expansions that include the original game, the option of digital download, or the option for the station access if you play multiple SOE games you cannot beat the value for the price. If it has been awhile since you have tried Everquest II, I suggest that you give it another go. You will most likely be pleasantly surprised. Considering the games currently out on the market, those just released, and those about to be released Everquest II is arguably the best mmo out there.