EverQuest II

a game by Sony Computer Entertainment
Platform: PC
Editor Rating: 7/10, based on 2 reviews
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Last month, we went over the basics of setting up a character in 989 Studios' hot online game, Ever-Quest. This month, we get into the fun stuff: bloodshed. Here are some tidbits to keep in mind as you hack your way across Norrath's beautiful countryside.

Notable Notes

Two of the first possessions you'll notice are scrolls. The first scroll will get you into your class guild--be it bard, paladin, ranger, or whatever you choose. You'll also get five free practices with the guildmaster when joining the guild of your choice. We recommend that you pour all your training into one basic attack--IH piercing, slashing, or blunt You should also check your default weapon to learn which attack is your primary one. For instance, it won't do a ranger any good to practice archery skills right away, because you don't have a bow and you won't be able to afford one for some time. Keep in mind that when your character's experience level goes up, you'll get more time to practice your skills at the guild.

The second scroll is the PK scroll, which stands for "player killing"--a little bounty-hunter side culture that almost ruined games like Diablo and Ultima Online. Fortunately, EverQuest solves the problem neatly: If you want to engage in the dangerous, exciting world of slaying other players, deliver that scroll to the appropriate destination in order to be added to the pool of PKers. If you'd rather not worry about real-life assassins, destroy the PK note and they'll never touch you--it's that simple. But you should know what kind of game you want to play before you start tromping all over the place.

You Got Skillz?

It's important to understand that your skills are separate from your victories. Even if you lose a fight, you're building up basic skills like offense, defense, and proficiency in the weapon of your choice. There's glory in killing big monsters, but, early on, a handful of bats and rats will actually help you more because they're easy kills that boost your skills. By the same token, once you acquire more weapons, try switching evenly between them to work on your kicking, slashing, piercing, and blunt weapons. Other skills you can hone during a skirmish are sense-heading (crucial for navigating Norrath) and taunt Neither skill will interrupt your combat so you can build them up with a few-simple mouse clicks during any fight.

Thrill Kill

When you're fighting a monster, switch your camera angle to one of the chase views. Quite often, a second monster will come along and decide to double-team you--now you'll see who's hitting you and from where. Similarly, watch for two monsters to go at it (spiders and rats tend to get into scuffles), then sneak up and take out the weakened winner when their fight is over. It's a cheap victory, but who cares?

Keep in mind that different monsters yield different rewards. For instance, because skeletons were once human beings, they often carry money or weapons that you can take when you defeat them. Fire beetles' eyes are luminescent and can be used to light your way. All monsters can give you some sort of booty to use or sell--and "can" is the operative word, for you won't necessarily earn a material reward every time. You never know what you'll get until you've struck the killing blow.

Saving Others' Lives ... and Yuor Own

One of the biggest mistakes newbies make is jumping in on someone else's battle thinking they're being helpful, when, in feet, they're really interrupting that person's fight If you see someone fighting a monster and feel you should intervene, first check their health bar to see how they're faring, then ask if they need assistance before targeting or taunting their attacker. They might sit there for 10 minutes fighting the same baddie, but it's completely possible that they want a long, slow fight to build their skills. If you really want to lend a hand, nobody will say no to a healing spell from a spectator.

There's also another side to this etiquette equation. If someone comes to your rescue while you're getting hammered, don't be a jerk by yelling at them--be polite and thank them for saving your ass. It's not a bad idea to set up a macro with a simple "Help me!" comment on your six-squared sidebar.

Sometimes you'll find yourself outmatched and have to run for your life. Flee to the nearest guard station, but be careful who and what you pass along the way. Monsters will often latch on to the nearest live target, and its not cool to lead a giant mammoth past some unsuspecting first-level newbie. It's definitely funny, but it's just not right.

It's My Party and I'll Die If I Want To

This brings us to our next point partying. In short do it Banding together with your fellow adventurers benefits everyone. Plus, you won't have to worry about evenly splitting the loot and experience points--the game takes care of those details. Besides, it's just more fun to get a party together and take off for realms unknown. Make sure you set your corpse to lootable, however--that way, when you die, your friends can pick up your stuff and move on while you regenerate and catch up.

Next issue, the EverQuest guide wraps up with the third and final installment, covering the wonderful world of magic.. .and we ain't talkin' about pullin' rabbits from hats.

Game Reviews

Hi. My name is Kenny and I was an Everquest addict. I have spent more hours in the magical world of Norrath then I care to mention, doing adventurous tasks such as raiding, slaying, plundering, and baking pies in my off time. Not the most productive way to spend my free time, I'll admit, but I enjoyed almost every minute of it. However, I spent so much time in EQ, that after a while, I had seen all there was to be seen. With that realization, I hung up my daggers and called it quits, forgoing my virtual stomping grounds for all of eternity.

well, that is until EverQuest II came out. Now I find myself addicted all over again, with my feet planted in a world that feels so familiar, yet so estranged.

EverQuest II, unlike the first EverQuest, doesn't bring a whole lot of new features to the table. From the outset, you choose from the four standard classes: priest, caster, scout, or warrior. As you advance your character along the way (and bash in many a enemy's skull), you can then choose from a profession that specializes your ability set, and eventually, you can choose an even more defined sub-class.

Even if there weren't many revolutionary steps taken with EverQuest II, it does refine a lot of the core mechanics of the MMORPG genre. Combat, for example, is much more enjoyable than in most MMORPGS despite it still revolving around the stagnant auto-attack action. With a new combo system that's initiated through performing special abilities in a specified order, you can pull off a variety of powerful abilities. Better yet, the combo system flows over to the group setting, too, allowing you to pull off big combos with a coordinated effort from group mates.

Some things remain the same, however. Quests, by and large, are simplified fetch tasks, and aren't dynamic in any sense. The rewards are nice enough, sure, but you'll find yourself doing the quests with just the reward in mind ' not because they're actually any fun. PvP, likewise, is noticeably lacking in any shape or form, and if you delight in hearing your enemy's lament of agony after a hard-fought battle, you might want to steer clear of EverQuest II.

From a technical standpoint, EverQuest II looks amazing. Never before have I seen this much detail and care put into a MMORPG's visuals, and never before have I had to stop and just take in the sights of a virtual landscape. The textures, animation, and spell effects are all dazzling, but a lot of the wow factor comes from the smaller details, like the beautiful water or shadow effects. Some of the art direction might leave you a bit jaded ' a few of the character models especially - but in spite of that, EverQuest II is still a tremendous visual powerhouse.

Somewhere between sneaking into the cavernous lower levels of Blackburrow and trekking across the vast Commonlands, something clicked for me: I felt a fantastic feeling of adventure that I hadn't experienced since the first EverQuest. It was all propelled by the sense of interaction and community that only a MMORPG can offer up, and in the end, it helped setup a multitude of definitive MMORPG moments. However, that doesn't necessarily make EverQuest II the definitive MMORPG ' at least, not yet. There's still a lot to be seen (especially how the high end game will play out), but there's no denying that EverQuest II is doing most of the crucial things right. MMORPG veterans shouldn't be fearful to take a step into Norrath again, even if their trek through the first EverQuest left them unimpressed, and newcomers might find themselves dazzled by the new and improved Norrath, too.

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