Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A Decade of Everquest! An Up to Date Review.

I've been meaning to do a few reviews of some older games I've already played. Sure I know all about them, but I'm sure there are others out there who may be curious. Sometimes a friend will ask me how a certain game is that I played, and I think of how I should put a review up. So I am finally getting around to those games this week. First up is Everquest, my first MMORPG. I've played it for almost a decade now, on and off, I still play it.

Over the years Everquest has changed a lot. It's become less harsh and more so flexible. It once was a game where quests were few and far between but today you can find many quests and tasks to keep you busy. It was a hardcore game. It still can be to an extent but these days it is more accessible to the casual player.

While I have heard people complain about the graphics, I have always loved them. They are part of the charm of this game. I suppose for me it is nostalgia. Many old zones have had updates though and at one point the character models received an update. I like the character models, I don't think I would like it if they were updated to look more like the newest race, Drakkin. Yes, this game will run fine on older machines as it is an older game.

Norrath and beyond.
The world of Everquest is probably the largest in any MMORPG. That is one of the things I like about this game, tons of places to level, a variety of places to pick from. Also Hotzones, (These zones offer an experience bonus higher than that of regular zones. Some of the latest sets also have extra loot added; this loot is obtainable even after the zones are no longer "hot."), are a great place to get an xp boost and meet other people your level to group with.

While the world is massive travel is quite easy, getting around isn't as much of a pain as you would think. While only casters get a gate spell (much like the hearth in WoW but it has no cool down), melee do not. Melee can eventually get origin which is more like a Hearth with a CD. Plus there are gate potions one can take as often as they like. Also port stones in Plane of Knowledge, Magus from the Wayfarer camps, Guild Hall portals, and Druids or Wizards can also port players as well. Add very fast mounts into this list and it really gets even easier, no money for a mount? Grab a SoW from someone or a potion to boost run speed. Even bards can run at extreme run speeds.

On a side note here with mounts, combat is available upon them. This is great for casters, regen mana while sitting on the mount w/o having to sit or stand to cast and med up. Also to note you will get several mounts upon buying the game, you just have to make sure to award them to the right characters!

Experience and gear.. solo or group!
While there are quests in this game, you really have to quest or do tasks but sometimes they can be very good in certain zones. Although you may want to look into the Epic quests which require a lot of time, they reward a class specific Epic Weapon. One thing I like about this game is you can grab a group and find a spot to set up camp and xp. It's more laid back when you group with people, you make friends, and get good xp to boot. You can do monster missions or LDoNs (instance with quest objective).

More of a loner? Everquest at one time was very hard game to solo in. It is easier now to solo with thanks to the Defiant armor that drops for all level brackets, being cheap in most cases and a great boost to stats! Also the recent addition of Mercs you can hire. Tank or Healer, this changes things big time. You can have one merc out at a time. This also makes things easier when filling roles in groups, a merc can heal or tank if you can't find either of these. You can always use the tank Merc for an extra bit of DPS if needed. Soloing and acquiring gear in EQ are easier while leveling than ever!

Buying and Selling
This may be one of the more outdated areas in Everquest, although I have heard it mentioned they want to add in an Auction House system or maybe an offline trader mode. There was once a place people gathered to sell items, this was the EC tunnel. Back then you had to spam over and over to try to sell something in chat. Now there is a specific zone (The Bazzar), to set up a trader. You must stay logged in to keep the trader up so at times this can become annoying. There is also a world chat channel that you can link an item in if you like while xping.

Alternate Advancement
This is one of the things I like best about this game. While at max level, or even working towards, it gives you something to work on for extra stats, spells, abilities ect. You get an alternate advancement point pretty much as you do a level but at a faster rate. The more you have the more they slow down, but this takes awhile. This is a great thing to have in a game IMO, to keep working on even after the level cap is hit.

There are around twenty servers. Many of these were merged a few years ago so there were actually double the amount. Twenty is still quite a lot! More servers than most games. There are special servers such as the Zek server, which is PvP based. This is the only PvP server (you can PvP in the arena on any server though). The Mayong server is the newest server. This server you start at level 51 with 50 alternate experience points. There is the RP server the Firiona Vie server. Also the European Server Antonius Bayle. And then last but not least the regular servers. Once in awhile S.O.E. will add in a progression server which is always very popular.

Everquest is putting out it's 16th expansion this year! This game still updates and puts out new content with a yearly expansion. The current level cap will remain 85 this year, new alternate advancement skills and abilities however will be added.

Death Penalty
Gasp! Yes we still have this icky mechanic in the game. Keep in mind it's not as harsh to deal with these days. With the guild hall now, you can summon your corpse there by speaking to an NPC. So once you have the corpse summoned, you can ask a nice cleric (or one of the other rezzing classes), for a rez. A cleric provides the most experience back, 96%. Mercs can do this as well so if you have a cleric merc you really have no issues there. Keep in mind the basic cheap merc does only 90% while the step up from that does 96%. Death is more of a gate back to home annoyance these days. The amount lost is so minute that it is more of an annoyance than anything.

Classes and races.
This game offers so many choices of each. Classes have specific roles such as the normal tank, dps and heals, but everquest goes beyond just those. Here in Norrath we also have crowd control, (mezzing many mobs at once, rooting, memblur ect.), slowers (slowing the mobs attack speed), and pullers. So there are a variety of fun roles to fill.

If you have played some of the newer games like Aion and WoW there are opposing sides where certain factions dislike others, some these types of games you cannot play with the opposing side which can get annoying. Even if you cannot visit Kelethin as a Dark Elf, you can still group with Wood Elves from this city. You can group with anyone. This is how I like it. Some races have beneficial things to go along with them such as Ogres are resistant to frontal stuns.

Low to high end.. everything in between.
Unless you start out in the Mayong server you probably will not see as many players while leveling. It is best to stick to hot zones to group or just for faster xp in general. The first levels 1-60 fly by very quickly as the xp for these has had a major boost.
There is a wide range where players can group together at different levels. The best way to explain this is; Say your character is level 40. Divide the level in half, which is 20, now add this to the current level. 40+20= 60 That's the best way to figure it out. This gives you a wider range of people to group with. Also players can shroud down to a lower level to group with you.

The Mayong server has a healthy population to start off on or if you want to just try out classes to see how they will feel later on it is perfect. While you could try the test server for this, Mayong has plenty of people to talk to plenty of groups to jump in right off the bat.

So how about high end? Raiding! The raids in this game can be quite large. Some of the largest raids I've ever seen, at one point it was 72 people! Currently it is around 47. Recently I think the smallest objective has been toned down to 10 people.

Raids in Everquest have always been fun, boss fights in particular. However they can be quite long when compared to other boss fights. Also having a wider range of roles in this game requires a wider range of them in the raids. So it can take a lot of work but be very rewarding and fun to full these different roles. Multiple people doing multiple things. This was the game I learned raiding with, from a long time gamers perspective it was a great place to learn.

Aside from raiding there are groups to do progression lines with, farm gear and augs, aa points and so on. Lots to do!

Trade skills.
Everquest offers a wide range of trade skills. While more in depth than other games it can sometimes be hard work but mostly pays off in the end with nice rewards even titles. It is easier than it was years ago to pick one up and work on it. Nifty things come along with trade skills of course. Some of them being shaman get alchemy which can make potions! Many, many types potions. There are also nice things like making stat food, cultural armor, armor dyes and so on.

Things that make or break a game!

Everquest offers classes that have special abilities such as speed enhancements, invisibly, porting, and illusions. Potions that can make you invisible. Pet classes. Quests for pets that increase stats but look cute! Holiday events with unique items! Sometimes it's the little things that make a game fun!

Everquest also introduced the Station Cash not too long ago. There are mixed feelings upon this introduction. Basically it is a cash shop in game. You can buy random item bundles, fluff pets, cool auras, even titles. While they stated these items would never be game breaking some people still do not like it, while others love it.

There is also the LoN online card game. You can gain special loot cards for in-game items, (illusion items, mounts, pets, ect) trade for them, or just win them in special events. Again there is a bit of hostile reactions to this but at the same time you see many people with these all over in the game. This game is free, you get starter booster decks. Additional cards, decks, or event passes require purchase.

I am sure I missed a few things you may have wondered about such as "Mail system?" Yes and no. You can mail other players, text only, no items. Also there are weapon and spell skill ups you must work on. You can always post or email any questions I may not have covered or check the links I provided below.

Interested in checking out the game or the trial?
Everquest Offical Site
Everquest Forums
EQ Players
LoN online card game

I just wanted to give a basic look at the game since I often refer to it in my topics. I do have friends from other games or just friends who on occasion ask me about it and it makes me think, as widely known and old as the game is not everyone has tried it.

This game has one of the best gaming communities I have ever been involved in. I cannot express how much I miss this community at times, how kind some of the players can be. While all games have a few bad apples this game has it's fair share. However it also has a massive amount of good people. Smaller communities often pull closer together.

While I have had a few bad experiences with technical and billing support sadly.. overall this company does their best for the most part to help players. I have had exceptional support and help in the past no other company has offered me.

It is a wonderful game that offers a gaming experience unlike a lot of games. It is the game that started it all. Much nostalgia and many memories fill this game. While it has it's good points and bad, remember no game is perfect. If you are looking to try something with a different feel Everquest might be worth a look at.

There are different mechanics in the game such as the death penatly, mobs summon players while spamming each sumon with "You will not evade me _playername!" Kiting is an art in this game, tanking is something to respect, it even offers an in-game music player. There is even an in-game Volunteer Guide Program players can apply to be part of. I participated in this years ago and it was a rewarding experience.

Currently I am not playing it, I let my account lapse a couple of months ago. After playing a game almost a decade, breaks are needed, at least for me! I do have characters at high end, I have a guild that probably is wondering where I am again heh. I play on Bristlebane but Lanys T'Vyl is where my heart remains.

While this review will probably be the most drawn out, one cannot cram a decade of a game into one small post as a simple review ;) I hope you enjoyed reading about it.

"You will not Evade me!"

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