For part 3 of my trial adventure, I went to a place I never thought I would go back to – Everquest. I have a bit of a history with Everquest, and swore I’d never give them another dime. After playing EQ2, that oath has not changed, but I did somewhat enjoy my visit to the parallel world of my former stomping grounds.
Now, in fairness, EQ2 is a dated game. It was released in 2004, so comparing it apples to apples to a game like STO is unfair at best. That said however, as the game continues to live in today’s date; my comparison will have to take into consideration that the other games exist. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, on to the review.
EQ2’s download was surprisingly quick, and I expected it was only a patch client. When I was given a login prompt I admit to being very surprised and happy. This would soon fade. Side note: I had to make a new account since my existing Sony account for some reason refused to allow me to play EQ2’s trial, despite the fact it clearly recognized I never had played it before. Back to the login though. After logging in, I went to create my character and began what would be a fairly frequent event – waiting for the data to download. It took a full 4 minutes for me to be able to see my character choices, and then several other times during the setup I would get sent back to the loading screen while it went to find whatever textures I had just asked for. Very annoying. I would have preferred AO’s model, where the startup client doesn’t have much beyond those character choices, because that is your first impression of the game. Loading in the game was also very slow, with another extended load/downtime.
I started the game in the game proper, which surprised me. I knew that EQ2 had “newbie areas”, but apparently these are gone (more on this later). The starting area was not difficult though, so I did not have an issue with it besides some surprise. I greatly enjoyed getting my new abilities the second I leveled. Abilities in EQ2 are tiered with you getting a lower-powered initial ability and then having to find drops to power it up. I’m not sure of what exactly the tiers are, but I personally found adept (apprentice is starting rank), journeyman, expert, and grandmaster.
EQ2 is very quest oriented, as it should be based on the name. EQ used to take a lot of slack for their eventual change of relying less on quests and more on adventuring, but EQ2 seems to have that under control. I played through level 20 and never wanted for quests. There were NPC hub given ones, dropped item quests, and pickup item quests. There’s also a “collection” series where you find glowing question marks on the ground and look to complete a set of items for a fairly nice item. I managed to complete one on my very last day (and started it on my first) and got a pretty solid wrist item. A great many items reference famous EQ1 items in their lore or story which I really enjoyed in a geeky kind of way.
Because I personally enjoy crafting, I made a point to play the crafting side. The statement often listed on guides is that you can become a master crafter without leaving town. This is only partially true. Like crafting in most games, doing this will require you to spend buckets of cash at the local auction hall, which you cannot access in the trial. Crafting itself is a game of whack-a-mole, requiring you to press certain buttons in response to visual cues to avoid damaging the item and yourself. While I didn’t have a problem with this, I had to continuously press other buttons to avoid failing to craft the item itself, and no visual cues to why I needed to press anything were given. After the cruelty that was EQ1’s crafting system, I guess this is better, but in today’s gaming world, it really cannot be considered to be good. I leveled my tailor to 20, hitting all three “crafting level” fork choices. The only useful thing I could make was big backpacks.
EQ2 itself has been given a major update as some point in the past, called “EQ2i” by sites I would visit. When I would run into a dead end, and the out of character channel was not helpful (which was fairly often – usually the chatter was basically a few friends talking to each other), I would make sure I was looking at a guide that had this in it. So much has changed since then, from adventuring to crafting, that looking at an outdated guide was worthless.
One thing I did truly enjoy about EQ2 was housing. Besides the wide amount of items I found to put in my house via loot and quests, I found out I was eligible for some reason for every veteran award they had, which gave me ~6 house pets and an enormous amount of housing items. The freedom to put anything anywhere reminded me how much I hate LoTRO’s housing limits. Also, the housing is much roomier and enjoyable, with many more choices, and a new revamp due out any day now with Halas that the playerbase is drooling over.
In closing, EQ2 is a dated game, but if you enjoy single player content in a multiplayer world on a slightly aged graphics engine, you could do worse. They offer a 14 day trial which is quite generous and should allow you to determine if it is a good fit. Based on what is available right now though, I can only give it a 2.5 Oz’s out of 5. The graphics were a bit too blocky, the crafting system annoying, and the loading of resources constantly bothered me too much to be forgiven easily.
At this point, I’m heading back to LoTRO, but I may give this a try again in the future.