EverQuesting: Checking EverQuest II’s pulse, from Pride bunnies to event delays

    
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It’s been quite a while since we’ve had an EverQuesting. That’s because it’s been quite a while since we’ve had much to write about EverQuest II. But it’s always good to check in on your old friends to see how they are doing, and the summer 2019 producer’s letter gives us the perfect opportunity. Producer Holly “Windstalker” Longdale shared her most recent letter on June 17th.

So what is going on with EQII nowadays? How is it doing? From Pride bunnies to pushed off fan event plans, we get some of those answers from what is written. And then there are others that we we can infer from what is not said. And some summer things just didn’t even make it into the letter.

What it says

There has been some activity this summer on the EQII front. There are some events, some gifts, and some expansion teases. You may not want to miss some of these! Unfortunately there was also the official announcement that the anticipated fan event that was announced at the beginning of this year is being delayed.

Procure your Pride bunnies

Daybreak wants to support and celebrate every gamer, and in honor of Pride month EQII released free Pride-themed bunny familiars for all players. No, this isn’t a “just for all-access members only” giveaway; it is for every single player! That’s pretty nice. There are three bunnies in total, and you can get all three on each and every character you have (and each account you have). You just have to log in and claim them from the marketplace store before the end of the month. The bunnies are only available until July 31st, 2019. The bunnies are under the NEW category when you open the store.

Loot and levels

One thing Longdale emphasized a few times was player leveling. This is alluding to the next expansion, which will increase the level cap by 10. Players can work on their leveling by hopping into the newly expert-level dungeons in Chaos Descending, as well as jumping into the new Chaos Descending Public Quests that started in mid-June. She also said there would be many level- up events coming (see below for the first!).

Loot-wise, Longdale also showed off a fabled item from the new level of dungeon, as well as Ethereal armor item drops. Then she teased that items from the Public Quests will be best in slot.

Expansion whispers

The year EQII does not put out an expansion is the year it will be declared dead. 2019 does not appear to be that year. Mention of the expansion goes clear back to the other producer’s letter for 2019 posted in January. We learned then that it “will take you to a whole new unexplored location of lore and legend.” The hints offered this time are that it’s a familiar place if you know big brother EverQuest. (I don’t know EQ as well, so I’d love to hear all your guesses!) We also learned that the expansion will involve another 10-level cap increase. Longdale also teased new features, which will be nice to learn about. Hopefully that will be sooner rather than later.

No event for you (this year)

One of the most disappointing parts of this letter to me was the note about the fan event being pushed off until likely next year. This was one thing I was so excited about; honestly, SOE Live was once the convention that other MMO cons tried to live up to. The event is still in the planning, and the delay is to give “fans and guilds time to prepare and plan.”

Burn it all with fire event

The final big blurb in the letter involves the Scorched Sky Celebration that is continuing until July 8th, 2019. The holiday returned with new items and a new quest. If you want to get in on this celebration, you better jump in now. You (and I) already missed the Othmir’s Oceansfull last month.

What it doesn’t say

Sometimes, what is communicated happens with what is not said. What is left out and how it is all presented can speak volumes. Two instances pop out from the producer’s letter.

One letter to communicate it all

At the beginning of the year, I took a hard look at how much communication devs were putting out, especially in the form of official news. It didn’t look great in 2018, with marketplace ads outweighing substance. There were only three producer’s letters — the vehicle for the company to share plans, direction, and big news — for all of 2018. This year isn’t looking better: This summer letter is only the second for 2019. Only one other bit of news was about new content in the main game. Everything else was a holiday event, an ad, or news about the progression servers.

While it isn’t said, I feel that changing the title to cover a season is admitting that monthly or even bi-monthly producer’s letters are gone. Not put something out if there is nothing to say makes sense, but that also means that there is nothing to say. What a disappointing place for an MMORPG to be in. Fewer producer’s letters — and new posts overall — say without actually saying it that there is less content coming.

On a positive note, once we hit September, the next couple months will likely be filled with bits about the upcoming expansion, so we do have more to look forward to. That’s been the way of news for many years.

The event that wasn’t — yet

Pushing back the event at this point, with six months still left in the year, tells me that not much was ever really planned. The idea was there (and it is a great idea from a fan’s perspective!), but execution was lacking. We were supposed to hear more about it near EQ’s anniversary, remember? No news for this long was obviously bad news. Now with the confirmed delay of the fan event, there are sure to be plenty of speculation as to why. And not much of it would really be favorable.

Was the fan event pushed back because they were pouring all their efforts into creating content for EQII? This would be the best scenario, but it doesn’t feel like that. Except for GU 109’s announcement, everything else post-worthy was a returned holiday event (with a little something new), a marketplace announcement, or about a progression server. (Hopefully progression servers aren’t the only places that matter.)

Folks could be wondering if the event announcement was mainly just a play on nostalgia to have players hang on a little longer. I sincerely hope not because attending SOE Live was always a highlight, and I want so much to go to this one. I have wanted to go to a Daybreak version ever since the company formed; I’ve been asking for one since February 2015! I can also see some folks questioning if the event was pushed off because the company doesn’t expect EQII to be around long enough so the expenditure wouldn’t be worth its while. Maybe the funds to create even a tiny event is too much for it to bear. And maybe by pushing it off long enough, there won’t be a need at all because there will be no game.

Will the big fan event happen? I really hope so. Long-time and dedicated fans are what is keeping the game going. And something that brings fans and devs together strengthens that fandom.

More to summer than said

Before you think that all there will be to summer was in the summer producer’s letter, let me direct you to the two newest announcements that weren’t included: The Summer Spectacular and TLE server news. (Hopefully getting more news is a trend that continues, but that doesn’t replace producer’s letters, which give us more a direction and sense of attention on the game and future.)

The big summer spectacular is all about bonus rewards to help folks level up, which is apparently a good thing to do before November’s expansion. Currency, XP and status are all increased, and of course subscribers get double that currency bonus. There’s also a free flaming flying carpet mount, but unlike the bunnies this is a members only deals. And of course, there are also marketplace sales.

As for for those time-locked expansion servers, Kaladim is moving on to the next expansion (Deserts of Flame) and Nagafen is prepping for its second PvP season with a number of adjustments.

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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Denice J. Cook

Concerning the SOE-Live-type fan event, the one possibility you failed to mention seems the one most likely to have occurred: that not nearly enough players could afford to go or wanted to attend.

Feldon, certainly one of the most well-known, well-respected EQ2 players amongst the player base (who runs/ran EQ2Wire for many years) started a thread about the get-together in EQ2’s General Forums right after Holly’s letter posted. Hardly anyone even replied. Even in the Announcements forum where Holly’s letter was pinned (where the general populace can reply directly to it), hardly anyone even mentioned that get-together, even though the thread is multiple pages long.

Personally, I’d like to go, but in between having to move unexpectedly and dealing with one of my child’s medical problems, it’s just not in the cards for me. I suspect real life just got in the way for a lot of people, for whatever reason.

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Bruno Brito

This is one game that would really benefit from megaservers.

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Castagere Shaikura

I have been saying for years if only they would update some of there core features. Instead, all they do is spit out expansions for money. The quest tracker and map need a real overhaul. It’s stupid to have to use that 3rd party map as every update for the game it becomes more bloated and out of date. They have done nothing to improve basic game features since launch. Even Wow updated their map and quest tracker years ago.

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Sarah Cushaway

This game was one of my favorite MMOs from about 2004 (played at launch) to around 2009-ish.

From there, the population just started dying quickly. Now, it’s a ghost town on most servers. Literally, you can play for hours and never see another person. It sucks, and it’s sad, but that’s what happens when both SOE and Daybreak don’t update that shit engine, let the bloat overtake the game, and do almost no advertising or spring-cleaning to entice new players (people still around are all at end game–not very fun for a new or returning player).

It’s just so sad considering the amount of (unused and abandoned) content, how cool housing was, how fun crafting was, how much stuff there was to do and explore, how the lore was… etc.

It might not be officially dead, but most MMO players know a dead MMO when they log into one. This one? Well, it’s dead. Or at least in a catatonic state it will never recover from :/

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Denice J. Cook

For one thing, Maj’Dul and Halls of Fate are still pretty hopping (although much like every other 15-year-old MMORPG, they are top-heavy with capped characters as you say).

However, guild halls (which Lead Dev Kander still calls one of the worst mistakes they ever put into the game) are so all-encompassing in what can be done in them that most everyone stays in their own, making the servers look much deader than they really are.

There’s a reason why no Time-Locked Progression server in EQ2 has ever had a single guild hall or their respective amenities available in it– even though the cash shop ones could be generating a lot of income for Daybreak there. That’s also the reason why the newest TL-Prog, Kaladim, in contrast, looks overrun with players everywhere you go day and night, just like Fallen Gate before it. Good luck even trying to click on a broker in town.

They’ve ditched guild halls completely on all the TL-PvP servers as they’ve gone up and come down as well (although EQ2’s open PvP has distinct problems that merit an entirely separate post, but I digress).

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Dug From The Earth

Ive tried EQ2 in beta, at launch and about 3 years after launch… each time I thought, “What a hot pile of janky garbage”.

Then, about a week ago, I saw a steam friend playing it, and I looked it up on steam to find that it was now Free 2 Play. I figured what the hell, its free… downloaded it, tried it, and found myself still playing it 4 hours later.

I have to say, with everything maxed visually, and all the other things they have added, its not a garbage… Yes, its still kinda janky.

My biggest gripes:

– Some flickering shadows
– Cast bar timers dont match cast animations (you will still be animating the cast even though the bar has finished.
– Returning to the SAME npc for the 50th time to pick up yet another quest. Would almost rather them say “kill 50” rather than “kill 10.. come back, go kill more but collect 10 things from them, etc”

Thats really the only thing that has irked me so far.. which isnt too bad for a dated game that I once thought was garbage.

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Greaterdivinity

EQ2 is such a weird game visually. You look around and so much of it screams “THIS WAS MADE IN THE MID 2000’s!” across the board, but at the same time they also have some crazy good looking assets alongside it. Sitting around in a barren area (no foliage to speak of, just flat, muddy textures) on a raptor mount that’s probably got 2-3x the polygons of my character with texture resolutions almost good enough for modern games is a weird experience.

It’s a game I keep around for whenever I feel the urge to dive in for a brief visit. Never been able to stick with it in all the years I’ve played due to feeling that the game is a bit too disjointed for my tastes (mixing oldschool and modern design in ways that IMO don’t always gel nicely).

I’ll always have Butcherblock Mountains, which is generally where I get to before I start to lose interest.

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Bruno Brito

Yeah, i feel you. I have several gripes with it as well, but the game itself is solid.

My biggest issues:

– This game is a unoptimized mess, and the video settings are completely complicated.

– I got into it after the patch that changed weapon damage. I’m going to be blunt: This game is easy. Not like extremely easy, but i still feel like my Legendary lvl 20 weapon should be better than Butcherblock weaponry, and it wasn’t. It’s pretty much what made me wish for a classic version, itemization. I heard SK’s used to use intellect in their gear and i thought “that sounds cool as hell”.

-This game has one of the worst rotation systems i’ve ever played. Who the hell is able to keep track of almost 40 buttons? By level 25, i had a rotation consisting of eight, minimum. It would benefit greatly of a pruning, or some ability merges.

To be fair, i think EQ2, in terms of content, is the best MMO in the market right now, just because of how much you can do. But i feel like you just stride through stuff easily, and the itemization is a bit messy. And not in the fun way. That being said, i may get back one day, but i will be honest and say that i would play the shit out of a EQ2 Classic Pserver.

Edit: Small addendum, the reason i was interested in a Classic EQ2 server would be to test the waters. But to be honest, the things i wanted to experience from Classic into Retail EQ2 would be Archetype progression, the change in itemization ( you dealt way less damage and items meant more ) and a bit more traveling without all the porting around.