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!

Is EQII down on its luck?

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.

Lucky days

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.

The EverQuest franchise is a vast realm, and sometimes MJ Guthrie gets lost in it all! Join her as she explores all the nooks and crannies from Antonica to Zek. Running biweekly on Thursdays, EverQuesting is your resource for all things EverQuest, EverQuest II, and Daybreak. And keep an eye out for MJ’s OPTV adventures!
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Eric Schaeffer

I played original everquest, was amazing. Dunno much about how everquest currently is… although I sometimes play on project 99 , the free emulator. It’s a great nostalgic experience. Everquest will always have a special place in my heart.

Kickstarter Donor

Plane of Prophecy (PoP) needs to be very successful for them and expand the player base. I doubt that Kunark Ascending (KA) was as it seemed to polarize players. I am sure that KA bought in more money due to the additional micro transaction however I doubt that subscriptions increased.

GU103 convinced me that I was better off playing something else so my 2 subscriptions got cancelled. I doubt that I will be purchasing PoP as I don’t like being rounded up for more money beyond my subscription. Probably why I have given up on MMO’s in general.

Bhagpuss Bhagpuss

This endless, downbeat negativism is tedious in the extreme. As someone who’s played EQ2 continually, albeit not exclusively, since beta in 2004 I can say, unequivocally, that the game hasn’t felt in better shape for years. There seems to be some extreme rose-tinted nostalgia about the latter years of SOE’s operation. Have you forgotten the PSS1 debacle, the single worst decision in the lifetime of the game? Even if you give the Smedley team of the day a break and argue that it was a decision made by Sony at a higher level, the appallingly hamfisted way it was handled was 100% down to SOE.

And what about the endless slew of half-baked “big ideas”, the new launchers, SOEmote, the mobile apps and all the rest of the unfinished, unasked-for, unwanted nonsense? The regime of that period was very hot on starting things but severely lacking in follow-through.
As for Domino leaving, it’s a huge loss but you can blame Trump for that, as she explained on her blog.

By contrast, since the Columbus Nova takeover there has been a tightening-up and a scaling-down that’s resulted in more focused, more enjoyable, less sprawling development. Things have happened when they were supposed to happen and have been what they were advertised as being. While I agree that no-one can be complacent about the future of thirteen-year old MMO with an ever-shrinking playerbase and no chance of attracting the attention of any significant number of customers who didn’t grow old along with the game, if you feel more apprehensive about the current situation I can only suggest you weren’t paying attention a few years back, when it looked likely that the whole thing could fold any day.

I pre-ordered the new expansion on the day it was revealed and I’m looking forward to it more than I looked forward to the GW2 expansion – and GW2 is my main MMO. I really hope I’ll be able to come back here this time next year and say the same thing about 2018’s expansion. If not, well it’s been one hell of a run. I’ve loved every moment (except that time I went back to EQ1 in protest over the Rise of Kunark expansion…)

Kickstarter Donor

Yeah, I totally feel the happy/sad mixed feelings like MJ does. I will not be buying this next expansion out-of-the-shoot and will wait and see.

Oh yeah, who is that handsome and dapper looking Berserker with the Grape Ape purple armor on sitting on the red mount? *teehee wink wink* :P