The Adaptability of EQ2

Everquest 2 is a great game. In fact, I think it’s one of the best MMOs currently available. I played it pretty much solid for 3.5 years, from the day it was released to about May this year. I took a few small breaks to try out other games but I always came back to EQ2 because it had everything I was looking for. Even now I don’t really play it but I still have an active subscription and a couple of low level alts to mess around with.

The reason I stopped playing was just because I’d literally ran out of new things to do – 3.5 years is a loooong time to play a game. I was also pretty disappointed at the latest expansion as it didn’t introduce a whole lot of new stuff. EoF and RoK in comparison were fantastic and added lots of content, high and low level, to keep existing players happy but also encourage new players to join the game.

Anyway, I digress. What I want to talk about is how Everquest 2 has adapted and evolved over the years, turning it from a pretty ropey and incomplete game to a fantastically balanced and polished one.

When EQ2 was first released, it didn’t get a whole lot of praise. Most critics gave it about 7/10 which, while not terrible, isn’t exactly a ringing endorsement. And they were pretty justified in the review. The game lacked content and polish and it was absolutely full of bugs. Not only that but WoW came out just 2 weeks after it and it completely overshadowed EQ2 and compounded it’s problems by being so well polished in comparison. I think the EQ2 development team realised this and spent the next few years working their asses off to refine and redevelop EQ2 into something amazing. I honestly believe that WoW was crippling towards EQ2 and if it hadn’t been for the strong Everquest lore and fan base, EQ2 wouldn’t have survived.

Let’s look at some of the more sweeping changes and larger additions to hit EQ2 over the past few years.

2005 – 2006

  • A lot of bug fixes and tweaks to try and make the game more playable and balanced.
  • New epic raid zones added.
  • Mentor system added (amazing feature – WoW seriously needs this).
  • Bloodline Chronicles booster added.
  • New level 50 zone, Nektropos, added.
  • Trade-skill and crafting improvements.
  • Guild management and writ improvements.
  • New instances added.
  • Frogloks released!
  • Splitpaw Saga booster released.
  • Travel made easier.
  • Desert of Flames expansion!
  • Halloween event.
  • Veteran rewards added.

2006 – 2007

  • Complete new character progression system added. One of the biggest and most successful changes.
  • Kingdom of Sky expansion.
  • PvP servers added.
  • City barbers added.
  • Fallen Dynasty booster.
  • Guild level and management changes.
  • Huge amount of PvP tweaks.
  • Echoes of Faydwer expansion.

2007 – 2008

  • Estate of Unrest opens.
  • Sword of Destiny quest line created.
  • New mounts added.
  • City of Neriak added!
  • Arasai added!
  • New Gods added.
  • Shard of Fear released.
  • Rise of Kunark expansion released.

2008 – 2009

  • Epic weapon quests added.
  • New loot methods added.
  • Shard of Hate released.
  • Station Voice added.
  • Guild system changes.
  • Guild Halls added.
  • Shadow Odyssey released.

Yep, that’s a lot of stuff and a lot of changes. I’ve got to take my hat off to the EQ2 team for not only adding a lot of new content, a lot of it free at the time and now all of it free when you buy the latest expansion, but also for continually adapting the gameplay system to make it more refined, user-friendly and balanced.

One of the biggest changes to Everquest 2 was the character progression change. In EQ2, everyone used to have to start with a generic class like a Fighter or Scout and then, after level 10, pick a sub-class like Warrior or Predator. Eventually after level 20 you would then be able to pick your final class like Guardian or Brigand. I absolutely hated this system and I was extremely happy when it was removed. It was like the developers breathed a breath of fresh air into the game and made it far more streamlined and enjoyable, removing unnecessary bulk.

EQ2 isn’t perfect but then no MMO is. However, it’s always been a very innovate and original game and I think SoE  learnt a lot from Everquest and Star Wars: Galaxies and used their experience to subtly adapt and enhance the game without changing the fundamentals that attracted people to it in the first place.

So what’s in stock for the future of EQ2? Well, they’ve just released news about some changes to the aggro system which will revamp the fighter classes. You can read about it here. Just another example of EQ2 adapting to make the game better – I have absolute faith in the developers.

Anyway, if you’re feeling burnt out with WoW I’d recommend giving EQ2 a shot. You won’t regret it.

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4 Comments

  1. kl says:

    Interesting, I always wanted a system like that for character progression for WoW; start with a blank sheet and figure out what you want your char to be as you discover the world around you.

    After having leveled 4 chars to lvl cap in WoW I yearn for the days when you had to manually assign stat points and proficiencies.

  2. Gordon says:

    I found it quite repetitive in EQ2 – if you want to play a Berserker or Guardian you had the exact same experience from levels 1 to 20. It also meant you had to play for 20hours or so before you actually got to experience the class.

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