EverQuest II

a game by Sony Computer Entertainment
Platform: PC
Editor Rating: 7/10, based on 2 reviews, 7 reviews are shown
User Rating: 8.0/10 - 2 votes
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See also: EverQuest

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.

Download EverQuest II

PC

System requirements:

  • PC compatible
  • Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP

Game Reviews

Size Isn't everything, it's what you do with it that counts, is the forlorn cry of the under-endowed male. It also happens to be the guiding principle behind Sony's return visit to the hallowed, some might say sacred, world of Norrath - a land that needs no introduction to the half a million EverQuest players who have been happily killing rats, orcs and goblins for the past five years.

"EverQuest II is getting back to basics. Small, intimate, meaningful play." So says Bill Trost, senior game designer and the man whom the aforementioned halfmillion gamers would happily fellate at the drop of a helmet, such is the pleasure he's given them over the years. Luckily, Trost's interests lie firmly with the sequel he and his team are busy attempting to create for early next year. "We're looking at small groups, four to six players getting together, having adventures and making a real impact on the world. The experience of EverQuest, as it has developed over the last five years, has been to expand into a more broad, more epic type of experience."

This involving experience means deep storylines and the kind of private encounter technology that's starting to make appearances in games like Mythica and Final Fantasy XI: Online. Except that Trost sees more uses for the tech than simple dungeon hacks.

"We're using that technology in quests, sure, but also in specific instances. Like for player housing," he explains, while taking us on a guided tour of the reworked city of Freeport. "We have free-standing structures that contain secure, private interiors. These are going to be highly sought after because they're limited in number. Buying them isn't just based on money though. You have to earn and maintain enough social status within the city to get one."

This is the other main area of change EverQuest II is introducing - social experience. Players can rise in rank and ability as much through contributing to the world and the betterment of their race, city and factions as they can by hitting things with magic sticks. "We're reinforcing to the player that they're part of this world, part of their society and, like any society, there are responsibilities associated that have to be maintained if they want to reap the benefits."

Jerusalem

With the new graphics engine now firmly in place, these benefits look better than ever. Trost concludes the tour of Freeport with a jaunt around a stunning-looking guild house. (Player guilds can also own property - the bigger and more flamboyant demonstrating the guild's standing within the city's structure.) Then he loads up the new Norrath's other major city, Qeynos.

"We wanted Freeport to feel very urban, with a definite Mediterranean style," says Trost, as the progress bar zips across the screen.

"Meanwhile Qeynos is more open, with a more pastoral, English countryside sort of feel to it." Although with all the ogres, trolls and gnomes potentially running about it's probably more akin to Leeds than Lincolnshire. A breathtaking Leeds though. The new Qeynos is like Simon Scharma's wet dream. Tudor buildings, village squares, ornate marble statues and bloody great castles and towers, reaching into the sky like the giant phallic symbols they are.

"We have a realistically modelled spatial sphere," says Trost, as he pans up along a particularly tall turret. "The sun moves through the sky and casts light on to the moon. The moon goes through phases, the constellations drift through the night sky." He's a proud man and it shows.

This kind of detail also helps out when adding content to the game world. "On certain days of the year there's a celestial event that happens in Qeynos," Trost says, coming to rest at the base of a marble figure. "If you stand in a way that the top of a statue's sword lines up with the central tower of the main castle, a I solar eclipse happens right at the tip. We'll be having a festival take place on these occasions in the city, and anyone who's here at that time will be able to earn social experience for participating."

Country Fayre

Time starts running out for our tour and Trost stops short at conjuring up a gang of zombies to show off the battle engine, partly because the combat system isn't fully in place yet and mostly because he knows he'll get mullered. "Encounters are made up from logical groupings of NPCs which can function and operate tactically as a unit," he explains by way of absence. "When a group of players engages them, that encounter locks down to that group exclusively. That lets us set up really tactical battle situations. We know what the capabilities of four to six players are and with the option of having others joining in at will no longer there, it enables us to explore lots of interesting tactics, along with making the abilities of the players much more tactical in their nature."

Tactics like this also depend a lot on the types of skills in which players choose to specialise. "You can combine skills and 'knowledges' to customise your characters," he says. "Combining long sword knowledge with high slashing techniques opens up an advanced fighting move that stuns your opponents along with damaging them."

Trost is hoping this more concentrated style of gameplay is what will draw those players who found EverQuest too daunting towards this sequel. Both games will still run side by side (more EQ expansions are on the way), but EQII is definitely emphasising content over sheer size. Women in general may not respond to such boasts, but gamers? That's another matter.

IT'S news to no one that EverQuest took the online world by storm. The first fully 3D online role-playing game, complete with goblins, orcs and all the other ne'er do wells that frequent games of this type, it knocked Ultima Online off its pedestal and has been growing ever since. The market is more crowded now, and everyone wants to take a swing at the champ, but things look unlikely to change when EQ2 is released at the end of next year. The disbeliefinspiring graphics already have the EQ community drooling, and thousands more converts are sure to follow.

Key features include a revamped character development system, whereby you can choose different paths of development as you advance, rather than being stuck with the specialised class you chose when you first joined the game and had no idea what you were doing. You'll also be able to own your own real estate and even lead a thoroughly peaceful life, as you can now advance your character through trades instead of combat, which is sure to prove popular given the number of keen tradesmen in the current game. Verant is also promising the opportunity to affect the development of the gameworld through your actions, but of , course all persistent-world k games promise this and none deliver. But who knows...

We'll be getting our hands on early code for EverQuest 2 in the very near future, but for now, rest assured this game is guing tu be biyyei than yuui mum's pants.

IT'S news to no one that EverQuest took the online world by storm. The first fully 3D online role-playing game, complete with goblins, orcs and all the other ne'er do wells that frequent games of this type, it knocked Ultima Online off its pedestal and has been growing ever since. The market is more crowded now, and everyone wants to take a swing at the champ, but things look unlikely to change when EQ2 is released at the end of next year. The disbeliefinspiring graphics already have the EQ community drooling, and thousands more converts are sure to follow.

Key features include a revamped character development system, whereby you can choose different paths of development as you advance, rather than being stuck with the specialised class you chose when you first joined the game and had no idea what you were doing. You'll also be able to own your own real estate and even lead a thoroughly peaceful life, as you can now advance your character through trades instead of combat, which is sure to prove popular given the number of keen tradesmen in the current game. Verant is also promising the opportunity to affect the development of the gameworld through your actions, but of , course all persistent-world k games promise this and none deliver. But who knows...

We'll be getting our hands on early code for EverQuest 2 in the very near future, but for now, rest assured this game is guing tu be biyyei than yuui mum's pants.

If It Was Ultima Online that started the MMOG ball rolling, EverQuest was the game that picked it up, scored several touchdowns, slammed a handful of dunks and bagged a hatful of goals. For the past five years, nothing has been able to touch it - and the original doesn't look like stopping any time soon. Even with this sequel nearly done, threatening to steal its audience. That's not the plan, though. EQ 2 has been designed primarily to capture the attention of those who've already eschewed the original. It's focussed on short, sharp, immediate thrills - the epic adventure rather than the career as a melon farmer.

The two main cities in the new world of Norrath - Qeynos and Freeport - are at polar opposites when it comes to morals and ethics, and every race in the game is allied to one side or another. They're huge cities too, two of the largest fantasy cities ever made in a game, no less. Each has been designed along the game's D.I.M.E. system -standing for Deep, Intimate, Meaningful and Entertaining - a set of guiding principles for everything in the game.

Accordingly, the developers are at pains to stress that everything in the game has meaning, from the architecture to the kinds of creatures you'll encounter. Even when I attempt to catch them out by asking about some elephants seen in one area, their commitment to the cause doesn't waver and we learn they hunt in packs, are temtorial and interact with other creatures regardless of player interaction.

That's when you begin to realise why EverQuest has had the astonishing hold over its audience all this time. The developers genuinely believe in what they're doing and are straining every fibre in their being to make EverQuest II the ultimate massively multiplayer experience it can be.

Times Have Changed in Norrath. The land that houses fantasy epic EverQuest II isn't what it used to be. A visit to Sony Online's San Diego offices reveals sinister forces are at work... most notably the development team.

Adventuring in the new time period, which is known as the Age Of Destiny is the stuff of legend, but it's fraught with peril. Zones like the Fallen Gate, former home to a thriving Dark Elf community, is now a dungeon complex crawling with restless undead. Foreboding temple Cazic-Thule looks especially evil in its newly bedecked malevolence, and features giant eyeballs that track your every movement. And we reckon the new areas might even be scary enough to frighten the pants off bosses like the mighty dragon, Darathar the Deceiver. Castle Nektropos, for one, looks particularly twisted; scarred by wicked wizardry, its winding corridors feature the most disturbing geometry this side of a HP Lovecraft yarn. The Bixie beehive isn't so inviting either, with mysterious, glowing honeycombs host to a halfhuman menagerie.

Pretty though the newly created 3D engine is, it's been put to horrific use. For every lovely vista you'll spot, there's an equally creepy temple or tomb in store. EverQuest II is dreadful news for perpetually cheerful faeries, but deliciously tempting for the rest of us evil necromancers...

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.

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