Norrath is the fictional world of the EverQuest franchise.
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!
I may be disappointed with the lack of caring I feel is being shown to EverQuest II players by Daybreak/Columbus Nova, but that doesn’t mean I have stopped caring. I still do, even if I’m saddened. Thankfully, there are still EQII happy thoughts. And those happy thoughts are strong now! What better way to lift my spirits than with the festival celebrating my favorite holiday ever? Nights of the Dead has returned to Norrath, and I am going to revel in the glorious spookiness and collect all the goodies to adorn myself and my homes. I am celebrating Halloween in true Norrathian style, and you can too.
After years of growing, there’s so much to do and so much to get in this festival that it’s a good thing we have until Friday, November 3rd, at 2:59 a.m EDT to mummy-wrap everything up! With so much, where do you start? An awesome part about the Nights of the Dead event is that you don’t have to start at any one particular place; you can participate from pretty much anywhere (collecting candies), and even better, at any level (most quests scale). A reminder mail sent to everyone in-game points out where major event activities are transpiring, but it’s still easy to miss something. To help ensure you don’t miss out on any old or new content, here’s a guide to 2017’s Nights of the Dead.
You’d think that for really old holiday events, most MMOs would just schedule and forget them. It’s kind of impressive, then, that the EverQuest II team continues to add new touches to its Halloween event even in its 12th year of operation.
Nights of the Dead is back in Norrath, running from now until November 2nd. While the event is active, players can participate in all of the classic content as well as a few fresh touches. And by “fresh” we mean “unearthed one shovelful at a time from a moldering grave of the damned.”
The new activities include digging for treats, the “Broken Mirrors” quest, a spooky book of recipes, more achievements, a frosted cupcake collection, and some store additions. Players on the Fallen Gate progression server can buy items from a special holiday vendor, while the Stormhold server should have pretty much the same Nights of the Dead as the regular shards.
Are we witnessing the death throes of EverQuest II? Of the whole EverQuest franchise? These questions have been at the forefront of my mind lately. Today’s EverQuesting started as a guide to EQII’s expansion prelude event, but I kept coming back to these questions. (The guide will come next week!)
Yes, I know that there are folks who have cried that EQ and EQII have been dying or all-but dead for years — and Next and Online Adventures are already deceased and buried. Yet during those years we’ve still seen some life in the first two games. They have persevered!
But now, I feel like I am witnessing the franchise’s final breaths. Me, the eternal optimist; me, who subsists on hope. And I started losing that hope because Daybreak’s actions lately appear to indicate that there’s no love left for one of my all-time favorite games, EQII. Between less dev interaction, less content, less communication, and just less enthusiasm for these two titles — yet a preponderance of attention on others — it’s hard to hold onto hope. At no other time has it felt as if Daybreak was turning its back on and all but abandoning the IP that gave it life more than it does right now. The IP that still has many fervent fans. My final two straws? The lack of any exposure at PAX West and the lack of enthusiasm for this year’s expansions.
Did you hear about EverQuest II multi-month Days of Summer reward event? If so, lucky you! Here is an event that was launched with so little fanfare that even though I am playing every week. it completely slipped out of my mind — even after I learned about it the first week! It’s also an event that rewards players with some pretty snazzy rewards if they complete each of the weekly quests, so missing out entirely will make you lose out on a familiar, level 100 gear, housing decorations, a prestige house, and more. So many goodies! That may be because this summer event is akin to prelude events before expansions as it is aimed at helping people gear up for the upcoming expansion. Now don’t you wish you knew more about it? Well here you go.
The good news is that even if you hadn’t heard a word about it until now, it’s not too late to start;
the event runs from August 2nd, 3:01 a.m. EDT, all the way until October 3rd at 2:59 a.m. EDT. [Edit: On September 28th, the devs announced that the event would now be permanent content!] The even better news is that players need not have completed the quest in the week it was first offered. You just have to complete them in order. I proved this by starting the event during this week’s week five quest. The bad news is that not only do you have to be level 100 to be able to see all of the rewards on the event vendor, you also need to own Kunark Ascending to complete some of the quests. The even worse news is that only those who have paid for membership can access the quests at all.
If you’ve been one of the brave adventurers who rolled up a new character on EverQuest’s Agnarr server a while back and stuck with it, then good for you! Your reward today is the unlocking of the Ruins of Kunark expansion and all that it offers.
Agnarr launched this past May, aimed at subscribers looking to recapture the old glory days of EQ. It differs from EverQuest’s other progression servers in that it will stop unlocking expansions once it hits the sixth expansion, Lost Dungeons of Norrath. In so doing, the server will remain permanently stuck in the Planes of Power era, which apparently some people much prefer to what came after.
The next expansion for the server, The Scars of Velious, will unlock after 12 more weeks.
In the pantheon of SOE’s (now Daybreak) flagship EverQuest franchise, there used to be a whole family of MMOs gathered around the table every evening. There was Papa EverQuest, looking a little wrinkled and worn but also radiating fame and authority. Next to him was Mama EverQuest II, a powerful matron of entertainment. And EverQuest Next used to be a twinkle in their eyes before it was extinguished.
Then, in the next room over was a cabinet. The cabinet was locked. Inside that cabinet used to be a weird abnormality that certainly looks like a member of the family, but one that hadn’t seen the light of day in quite some time. This member subsisted on the scraps of an aging console and the fading loyalty of fans, hoping against odds that one day he’d be allowed out for a stroll or something. His name was EverQuest Online Adventures, the EverQuest MMO nobody mentions.
EQOA was a strange abnormality in SOE’s lineup. While it was one of the very first console MMOs and heir to the EverQuest name, it was quickly eclipsed in both areas by other games and left alone. Yet, against all odds, it continued to operate on the PlayStation 2 for the better part of a decade before its lights were turned off. Today, let’s look at this interesting experiment and the small cult following it created.
After a few years, it can be difficult for long-time EverQuest II players to get excited over the return of a festival; not only are there many festivals to keep track of, but most have been going on for numerous years. You can feel like you’ve seen and done all there is to one and might give little more than a cursory glance to check for a new item or two. And if little to nothing is done for a festival some year, it only exacerbates the problem. To spark interest and enthusiasm, Daybreak needs to tinker with the event formula each year to add something fresh beyond just a new reward or two. And tinker it did: Tinkerfest 2017 adds a whole new experience atop the regular fare, so even the oldest of veterans have reason to jump in and participate.
So what is new for Tinkerfest? (And what is Tinkerfest if you are new to it?) Here’s a guide to get on on the gnomish goodness before it leaves for another year; departure is set for early Thursday morning, August 3rd, at 2:59 a.m. EDT.
When Daybreak announced last year that it was cancelling the highly anticipated EverQuest Next project, the series’ forward momentum lurched to a halt. This wasn’t helped by other EverQuest entities that have been retired over the past few years, leaving only the two aging flagship MMOs to carry on the legacy of the franchise.
For franchise it is. It might be fuzzy in people’s memories (or simply absent from them), but there was an era where EverQuest was the MMORPG at the top of everything, and Sony Online Entertainment wasted no time in capitalizing on its popularity. Spin-offs, sequels, and alternative versions spawned into being, creating a library of EverQuest games.
In fact, there are more than enough to fill up a full list of 10 titles — and then some! So today let’s look at some of the lesser-known entries in EverQuest’s ever-expanding franchise and muse about what might come to this series in the future.
Ahh… smell that? Smells like a new batch of EverQuest nostalgia, served up to us as a fresh progression server. For some of the faithful, the chance to get a hit of that nostalgia is absolutely irresistible.
“I love EverQuest,” blogger Stargrace writes. “I love the excitement that comes with playing on a progression server. I love how busy they are, and watching chat channels fly by. I love the community and the fuzzy feelings I get when I think about that time in my life.”
Kaozz explained why this server was in such high demand: “My son was baffled how many people want to play on this type of server. I’ve been waiting on one for years and keep up with the requests in the forums I have seen for so many years.”
And The Ancient Gaming Noob finds it baffling that Blizzard isn’t cashing in on these kinds of servers with World of Warcraft. “Nostalgia sells, these servers are popular, they offer something people want and, more importantly, something people are willing to pay for,” he said.
One of EverQuest’s progression servers stands at the threshold of a major step into a larger world. The population of the Lockjaw shard is currently voting on whether or not to unlock the Planes of Power expansion for the entire server. If a majority votes yea, then this content will open up next Monday, June 12th. If not, voting will recommence every two weeks until it passes.
This past May, EverQuest opened up a new type of legacy server named Agnarr that will only feature content up through the Lost Dungeons of Norrath expansion. Agnarr had a rough launch but has settled down since then. The game is currently holding a sweepstakes for players on this server to win a time-locked server adventure pack.
When it comes to EverQuest, it turns out you can go back again — over and over again, in fact. This fantasy MMO has earned a reputation for launching and operating progression servers, and a new one is unlocking for the populace today: Agnarr.
So why a new progression server? What sets Agnarr apart from EQ’s other time-locked shards is that Agnarr will only progress through content to a certain point and then stop then and forevermore, giving the community a “classic” server that is forever arrested at 2003. This means that by the middle of next year, the core game through Lost Dungeons of Norrath will be released and then nothing more. This is obviously aimed at players who want a more old-school experience without all of the later additions.
As we all well know, MMORPGs are a Serious Business indeed. We must treat them reverently and with our utmost due diligence as we perform tasks vital to saving the world. No frivolity and mirth-making is allowed within these virtual worlds; we toil, we strive, we forge the future in sharp lines of progress.
Oh what am I kidding: We’re totally goofballs. If you can’t cut loose in an MMO and have fun with your friends, what’s the point? I feel that Kenji Takeda has it right with this week’s headlining picture from Final Fantasy XIV, as you can sense the high spirits and laughter that were driving this moment.
Next week, we’ll get totally serious again. Probably. Maybe. Possibly. Well, there’s an outside chance, you never know.