EverQuest II is a second generation massive multiplayer online role-playing game that takes place in the medieval fantasy setting of Norrath. Developed by Sony Online Entertainment, the game shipped on November 8, 2004, roughly at the same time as his World of Warcraft arch nemesis. Compared to the original Everquest game, it features greatly improved graphics, gameplay and the much needed NPC voiceovers. Story
Everquest II takes us to an extended version of Norrath, in the Age of Destiny, 500 years after the events of the original title took place. The game world has been seriously affected by several cataclysms: the planes have closed, the Gods left, and the moon Luclin has been destroyed, raining down across the vast reaches of Norrath. Little remained of the old order, in places now accessible only by the Shattered Lands. Players initially join one of the two tutorial areas, The Queen's Colony or The Outpost of the Overlord, and subsequently move to Queynos (the good aligned city) or Freeport (the evil aligned city). The rest of the once majestic strongholds of civilization are either inaccessible or outright wiped off the face of the world, following the shattering. Gameplay
Generous character customization options are the key to swaying players into enjoying the game from the very first start. Sixteen races are waiting for you to fully unlock their capabilities within twenty four more classes to choose from. Some combinations are not allowed, with the seemingly natural limitation that some characters, like Dark Elves for instance, are always inclined to do evil deeds, therefore always start in the city of Freeport, The Heart of Darkness. Dark Elves can't be Paladins just as the good natured Frogloks can't be assassins. There are no essential gameplay differences between alignments, and the starting map areas are basically identical. Qeynos and Freeport are much larger than they were in the original Everquest and they play an important role in the gameplay. Each race has its own special section of the cities. Players from one city are not welcome in the other city, unless they choose to betray their citadel via the Betrayal Quest line. Needless to say, the character's physical aspect supports extensive customization options, guaranteed to keep satisfied even the most demanding players.
Characters can choose a normal Player Versus Environment server (PvE), Role Playing server (RP) or a Player Versus Player (PvP) realm to better suit their interests. Regardless of choice, the visited areas will always have the same consistency, the main difference being felt on a social level. It must be noted that the PvP rule set and subsequent servers are a fresh addition to Everquest 2, coming to fruition with the Kingdom of the Sky expansion. Most content in the world of Norrath was designed to be unveiled through team efforts, but developers recently balanced the game to better reward solo play. For the first part of the game solo play will be the basic way to discover the various game mechanics.
The dark forest of the isle will welcome you into its secrets. Following the main quest line there will be many foes to be slain, and rich rewards await the persistent gamer. Experience leads to level advancement which in turn provides the much needed skills. You don't have to buy skills in Everquest from trainers. You simply receive them upon leveling up. Eventually, you'll reach level 20, an important landmark in the game's evolution. From now on advancement points can be acquired and spent upon great new abilities. The system pretty much resembles the talent system, as a skill tree with four specialization branches is available for each of the classes in Everquest II. These advancement options truly make the difference regarding character build-up, since one can further enhance existing skills to greater effect and devise new fighting techniques. Should you want to try a different setup, you can always expect for an increasingly costly fee.
There are two mild consequences to dying: an experience debt and a hit in item durability. Although a player doesn't lose any experience earned, the debt must be paid back with experience earned going forward. The experience debt is reduced when a player gains new experience, as part of it goes toward repaying debt while the other part continues to advance a character's level. Speaking of levels, SOE introduced the concept of micro level ups, when a character gets partial level-ups, from combat advancement, in terms of health and power boost. Concept
Stats and dependencies will keep you busy for a long time wondering which path is best suited
for you current goals. Strength increases melee damage and how much you can carry, agility improves the chance to dodge a melee attack, stamina gives hit points, intelligence increases spell damage and maximum power (mana) and wisdom deal with spell resistance. Primary stats increase with levels, by a standard amount depending on class. Beside the governing attributes we have attack and run speed, melee attack power, avoidance, and mitigation - a damage resistance statistic. As well as spell resistances, they can be increased either by constantly using their appropriate skills or with new and more powerful items.
Although there are numerous statistics and other vibrant tidbits to make use of, you won't waste any time learning the interface while playing Everquest II. There are way too many menus around, but you can access them from the same option panel, making it very easy to handle. All you need to remember is to make use of your combat skills, in order to keep up the damage output. The rest just comes along.
Quests usually involve killing a particular number of certain monsters, yet there is some deeper continuity to the storyline. While helping NPCs quests will gradually reveal secondary objectives required in order to advance. Although they're usually self explanatory, it's a nice touch, immersion wise. Players can gather area specific items to complete collections throughout the game. While it sometimes takes a long time to get all the parts together, rewards fully worth it, consisting in gold, items and even advancement points.
Everquest II developers took great care in keeping elements that made the original game such a popular title and live events carry on that legacy. Beside the official expansions and adventure packs that require a purchase fee, Sony Online Entertainment often enough releases patches targeting game balancing issues and content updates. Each of these send the Everquest II story one step forward, heralding game events that forevermore change gameplay. Great threats arise, malicious masterminds bring their plots to fruition and it's up to every fighting soul of Norrath to stand up to them. Additional raid bosses are usually the target of new high end content updates, as well as of an ever increasing number of game items to further everyone's dreams for fat loot and glory.Video
The engine used with Everquest II appears to be exceedingly versatile, although the general look suffers from texture quality. I can't stress enough how good playing characters look, and by extension most humanoid NPCs. Armors and weapons are covered in great detail as well as model physics. I had the time of my life while browsing through the 99 different emotes. Incredibly accurate gestures and movement made me wonder on which side of the monitor reality lies. Overall the game looks good, but landscapes could have turned out better in terms of detail. This is the curse of most MMORPGs, to sacrifice part of the graphics for the game to efficiently work on older computer systems.Sound
The lack of character voice, that was a problem in the original Everquest title, is no longer an issue in this second installment. Professional voice acting beautifully complements orchestral music for a high quality sound experience. I only regret not having unique voice emotes for playing characters. The ambiance sounds are realistic enough. Calm and confidence lie therein and you'll often enough find something is missing after turning off the computer. Music has a certain degree of finesse, like a shady cove full of promise on a sunny day, mysterious and bewitching. It reminds me of the Morrowind soundtrack, fairly complex but relaxing.Multiplayer
Adventure areas are usually of medium size; therefore, problems often arise when several players are hunting for the same creature type. It usually happens while questing, since the respawn rates do not conveniently cover for three or more players. Some frustration is to be expected due to overcrowding. Unfortunately this kind of map layout is very vulnerable to farming bots and power leveling third party programs. Even in starter areas one can see on occasion three or four players being away from keyboard, automatically following the leader. They share group experience although only one player is doing the active fighting.
Mentoring is a concept native to the Everquest franchise and it concerns player team balance. To avoid power leveling by higher level, more powerful characters, the game restricts experience awards to certain differences between party members' and monster level. Mentoring partially breaks this rule as you can play along with your lower level friends and still be able to guide them through the game faster. Everquest 2 is an end-game oriented title, with great achievement value to be obtained precisely at top level. It is here guild team play and coordination shines, within the 24 man raids. Since a good deal of content is not instanced, massive PvP battles usually ensue tackling a raid boss. However, team challenges start even as low as level 22.Conclusion
Everquest had a great deal of dedicated fans to follow the title's new enterprise with Everquest II. Game mechanics and concept are not entirely different from what World of Warcraft brought to the gaming table, yet Everquest II saw moderate success. Sony Online Entertainment's experienced team sustained this heavy weight franchise, releasing a beautiful and detailed game to appeal first and foremost to the hardcore role player. Launched over a year and a half ago, there already are 2 major expansions and 2 Adventure Packs released with a third massive installment underway - Echoes of Faydwer, coming in November 2006. The expansion will feature a new playable race, The Fey, and a whole new continent to explore either with your existing character or with a brand new one to level up from 1 to 70 within the boundaries of fresh content.