Perfect Ten: EverQuest’s EverExpanding franchise
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.
In 2003, SOE attempted to forge a path into Apple’s community with the release of EverQuest Macintosh Edition (or simply, EQMac). This version of the MMO was isolated on its own special server and contained the first four expansions. When it didn’t get any further expansions or updates but continued to run, EQMac turned into an unofficial “Classic EverQuest” server that offered players a way to return back to the old days. With only a few hundred players left, the server was closed in 2013.
Ahead of its time, EverQuest Online Adventures became one of the first MMORPGs to venture onto consoles (in this case, the PlayStation 2). The MMO was a prequel that featured a somewhat simpler, streamlined version of the core EverQuest game using a mandatory hard drive and optional keyboard attachment. The spin-off ran from 2003 to 2012 before being closed down.
3. The Pocket PC games
The popularity of EverQuest as not just an MMO but as a recognizable, marketable franchise led to the creation of many offline games. One of the first was a series of solo titles for Pocket PCs back in the early 2000s. These included games such as Hero’s Call, Hero’s Call 2, and War on Faydwer, all released between 2003 and 2004. These actually got good reviews, thanks to many hours’ worth of content and dungeon delving offered.
4. Lords of EverQuest
Taking EverQuest offline and retaining the name and IP alone wasn’t a guarantee of any sort for success. SOE hired Red Eye Games to create a real-time strategy (RTS) version of EQ, publishing Lords of EverQuest in 2003. It wasn’t particularly exciting, and without any sort of multiplayer, it quickly found itself relegated to the bargain bins in stores.
5. Champions of Norrath
Faring better was this 2004 PlayStation 2 entry, which took the Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance hack-and-slash engine and reworked it for Norrath. Featuring five set classes and the option to hook up with a handful of other friends online, Champions of Norrath performed decently and kept the franchise flag flying high.
6. Champions: Return to Arms
Champions of Norrath’s modest success led to a PS2 sequel called Return to Arms, which came out in 2005 and was developed by the same studio (Snowblind Games). There were more classes this time around (seven) and a new arena mode for solo and multiplayer battling.
7. EverQuest II East
Another attempt to grow the franchise and potentially send it to Asian countries resulted in a special version of EverQuest II informally called EverQuest II East that was operated with the help of Gamania. In addition to specific localization, EQ2 East featured a few exclusive quests, a “click to move” control scheme, and new “SOGA” head models that were larger to appeal to eastern players. EQ2 East bombed in China, Taiwan, and Korea, lasting only from 2005 to 2006. In an interesting post-script, the SOGA models did make their way into the western EverQuest II as a graphic option.
8. EverQuest Role-Playing Game
There were several non-video game EverQuest projects, but perhaps the most intriguing is the 2002 pen-and-paper role-playing game that attempted to translate the world of an MMORPG into the language of Dungeons and Dragons. The player handbook and game itself received high marks from those who were willing to give it a try, although it didn’t gain much traction following its initial debut. You can still pick up used copies of it if so inclined.
SOE was pretty heavily into virtual card games for a while there, with Star Wars Galaxies boasting its own game and EverQuest another with Legends of Norrath. Legends allowed players to collect cards and build decks to play online, similar to Magic: The Gathering. In an interesting twist, there was a lot of integration with both EverQuest MMOs, offering rewards that ran both ways. The game ran from 2007 to 2016, at which time it became part of the EQ massacre that was happening in the company.
10. EverQuest Worlds
Hey yeah! Remember that? The mobile app that was supposed to let players earn all sorts of in-game rewards and lead up to EverQuest Next? And was pretty annoying to use? And ended up getting canned last year too? Good times, that. Good times.