EverQuesting: Reflecting on EverQuest II’s 13th year
I am particularly fond of the number 13. And I am particularly fond of EverQuest II. So it is a happy convergence of favorites as EQII celebrates its 13th year this week. That’s thirteen years of adventures from Antonica to Zek. Will 13 be a lucky number for this MMORPG? I sure hope so! Norrath could use a little luck going forward after this past year. It’s not that things have been especially tumultuous (do you remember the heartaches and fears from 2015?); in fact, they have been a bit quiet. Too quiet.
The past 12 months have worried me more for the future of my beloved game than even the restructuring to Daybreak did. Will EQII make it through the next year? Maybe we’ll have a stroke of luck and the game will blossom again in 2018. Luckily, I still have some hope left that it will make it through, and I know I am not alone in wanting those adventures to continue quite a while longer.
All hope is not lost because despite the worrying parts, the year wasn’t all bad. There were still bright spots and positive things. As is customary this time of year, I take some time to reflect back on all that has transpired since the last anniversary retrospective. Join me for a look back to see how the game has grown and how it has changed. Then hop in and enjoy the Heroes’ Festival anniversary celebration before it disappears next week!
As we’ve come to expect, EQII started its 13th year with a corresponding expansion. Kunark Ascending launched on Nov 15th, allowing players to explore and adventure in a new part of Kunark. New quests, a new ascension class system, and new raids accompanied the new zones. Sadly, shortly after the launch, a bug started eating expansion rewards, which caused a bit of trouble. That wasn’t the only bug that affected folks. There was the accidental nerf to auto attack on the TLE servers as well as the issues of balance and bugs in the GU103’s Proving Grounds on the regular ones. It didn’t help that the Proving Ground content was also exclusive not just to max levels but to seriously geared end-game max level characters. The studio even marketed it that newly minted or boosted level 100s could enjoy the content, and that was definitely not the case. The same would be true for other content; rewards from various events and such can’t be earned by characters under level 100. Why can’t folks earn it and save it for later? This is a point of contention.
Another negative was the announcement that Daybreak would no longer roll old expansions into the free base game. This was big news as players before could count on getting access to the expansion two behind the new one every year. No longer will folks with patience be able to access “new” content. Although it wasn’t said at the time, we now know that at least for this next expansion, Planes of Prophesy, all previous expansions are included with its purchase, so people won’t be forced to buy multiple expansions at once to catch up.
Perhaps the biggest blow to the future as players saw it was the loss of Emily “Domino” Taylor, the crafting guru. She was responsible for many of the crafting signature line quests. Beyond that, she was someone who communicated regularly with the community, a commodity that Daybreak is in extremely short supply of now. Silence followed — a silence that makes fans uneasy. A silence that is still continuing (although I have been told that it will get better; we shall see). Another blow to the community was the shuttering of the fan news site EQ2Wire. Losing major voices of support for the game definitely ranks up there as a negative.
EQII suffered a different loss when a member of the development team passed away: John Tessin lost his battle with cancer in May.
Even with the negatives, things were not bleak all year for the game. There were positive points as well. And what’s more positive than new content? Besides the expansion, EQII saw a good-sized content drop with The Menagerie, aka GU103. This brought the Proving Grounds, familiars, and a free level 100 boost. A new solo Proving Ground joined the scene shortly after, making up for some of the concerns brought up with the original. Even before GU103, 14 expert level raids were activated in Kunark Ascending. GU104, Sol’s Summer, added more familiars, more Proving Ground challenges, and two more expert mode raids.
Additional content also surfaced at a number of holidays. Frostfell, Beast’r… I mean Easter, Tinkerfest, Brewday, and Nights of the Dead all received new quests and content. Something new to do during holidays is a big deal! There was even a brand-new event that started off as a summer fling but turned permanent. Even better, more of the holiday celebrations were available on the TLE server Stormhold.
Speaking of TLE servers, June’s addition of the Fallen Gate progression server added more for All-access members. This was a return to when things were harder! Completing HQs there rewarded players on their regular servers. There was also a special mount that players could obtain via achievement on Fallen Gate.
2017 anniversary celebration
Sadly, there are no new quests for this year’s annual anniversary celebration, the Heroes’ Festival. On a good note, some old quests have a few improvements. Decorating Qeynos and Freeport became even easier because both killing the gnolls and placing the lanterns now update for the whole group.
Although there are no new quests, there are some new goodies to purchase with festival tokens. There are two wagons, a painting, candles, and (my favorite) a beautiful red patchwork lion mount! Called the Bloodmane Clothwork Steed, it is a recolored version of the 12th anniversary reward mount from 2016. Speaking of that mount, if you missed getting it last year you have the chance again! All you need to do is earn the 12th Anniversary Celebration achievement by completing six of the repeatable quests. While some can only be done once a year, both decorating quests and passing out the fliers can be done every two hours (decorations has a max of 20 times, advertising has a max of 25). Note: This mount is no longer a flying mount for all levels. However, instead of locking it back up at level 85 where other flying mounts are, the flight will unlock at level 35. So you can still fly at level 35, which really helps get to the patchwork bosses.
Yes, those five patchwork bosses have returned, this time as part of the public quest system, making the whole experience better. It’s much easier to complete the achievements and earn Mischeva’s Tribute coins to buy items at the vendor. Tip: Do the achievement and first kills on every alt to earn more tokens than you can farming on one character! Killing each boss for the first time will net 15 tokens, but only five after. Completing the achievement gets you another 20, and be sure to talk to Mischeva at the event for the quest — even if you don’t see a quest feather — to get 10 more tokens. In total, just killing each boss once and doing the quest will give you 190 tokens (for members; non all-access members will get half). That’s almost two whole plushies at 100 a pop! You’ve got some time to earn more tokens if you want: The Heroes’ Festival runs for another week. The tents pack up and leave on Friday, November 16th, at 2:59 a.m. EST.