EverQuesting is an EverQuest Next, EverQuest II, and Landmark column by MJ Guthrie. [Follow this column’s RSS feed]

EverQuesting: Remembering EverQuest II’s bumpy 11th year

In the 11th year of EverQuest II, what did SOE/Daybreak give to me? An emotional rollercoaster ride! This Sunday marks 11 years of Norrathian adventures in the fantasy game, and what an adventure it has been. This year, unlike any other before, has been marked by upheaval and uncertainty for the company behind the venerable franchise. Yet there have also been a fair share of high points. EQII fans have definitely weathered ups and downs throughout the last 12 months.

While normally an anniversary stroll down memory lane is centered more on what’s actually in the game, this look back is unique in that so many things outside the game itself influenced the year. Everything is intertwined. Development itself was obviously scaled back thanks to all the things happening to the studio, and in a genre that sees games come and go all the time, EQII players finally experienced the real dread that they might actually lose their favorite world. The good news is the year has ended as it began: on a high note. Hopefully, the lucky years 12 and 13 will be less of a seesaw and more like the dizzying fun of a merry-go-round!

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EverQuesting: Preparing for EQII’s Terrors of Thalumbra expansion

Time’s a-wasting! With just a month left to get ready for those terrors that await down in the subterranean world of Thalumbra, EverQuest II fans are running out of time to prepare themselves for this upcoming 12th expansion. If you find yourself in that predicament, never fear — that’s why EverQuesting is here! I know what it is like to just be moseying along, distracted by the plethora of activities in EQII, and then suddenly realize that you are not at all ready for Terrors of Thalumbra. Maybe you haven’t yet taken part in the prelude event. Maybe you aren’t quite of a level to enjoy the new content that will be coming. Or maybe you forgot to ask for the day off from work. I was just in that boat myself! The good news is that there is still time. I don’t want you to miss out on any of the hooplah, so I’ve assembled a list of to-dos to get you on the path to prepared.

Although the content in ToT is geared toward the level 100 adventurer or crafter, any level can participate in the activities leading up to the launch. And with double-XP for All-Access members going on until 3:00 p.m. EDT on Friday, October 16th, there’s an even better chance to bump your level higher.

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EverQuesting: EQ to release The Broken Mirror expansion November 18th

EverQuest fans excited for the game’s next expansion should mark Wednesday, November 19th down on their calendars — that’s the day The Broken Mirror launches. Announced during a special reveal livestream, this 22nd expansion revolves around the goddess Anashti Sul (who has been split into her two most dominant aspects of life and decay) and her hunger to return to power and rule. Unfortunately for Norrathians, she plans to unleash plenty of chaos and war throughout the planes in order to achieve her goal. Fortunately for players, this means all new zones, new dungeons, and plenty of new items!

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EverQuesting: EQII expansion Terrors of Thalumbra launches November 17th

It’s happening in less than two months: EverQuest II’s 12th expansion is releasing on Tuesday, November 17th. The dev team announced the date and title during a special reveal livestream, treating viewers to tours of the area and sneak peeks of items, and systems, races, and signature story line characters. Called Terrors of Thalumbra, this addition to Norrath adds a whole new area to Norrath for players to explore filled with new dungeons, new collections, and new gear and items. What there isn’t any of is new levels; the expansion does not increase the level cap. However, a lack of levels does not mean there aren’t new recipe books with items for crafters to ply their trade with. Thalumbra-themed building elements (they are fancier than the standard building blocks) and furniture are part of the new offerings available to make.

For players excited to move into a whole new land to explore, the news that the expansion’s standard edition is priced  cheaper than usual compared to previous one will be a pleasant surprise. On the other hand, those who want to collect all the special goodies involved in collectors editions might experience a bit of sticker shock. The standard edition is $34.99 and the collectors is $89.99. This time around, Daybreak is also including a third tier, dubbed the premium edition. This one, retailing for $139.99 adds even more trinkets and doodads to the pot for those who really must have it all. Here’s a quick look at what is included if you nab yourself a copy of ToT.

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EverQuesting: EverQuest franchise expansion announcements erode more trust

Is it just me, or is Daybreak actively trying to make me dislike it? To force me abandon all hope when I enter? Because I like the games (what’s left of them, anyway) and many of the people (well, ditto), so it takes some dedicated effort to make me wince and begin to question my support. But that is exactly what these latest expansion announcements for EverQuest and EverQuest II do.

Don’t get me wrong; it’s not that I don’t like expansions. I love them. And I am excited to get one! I am still pretty heavily invested in the EQ franchise; as with SWG, I’d always felt I would never fully leave EQII until that Norrath shuts down for good. The number of times Daybreak has announced one thing and then done the polar opposite is what’s causing the issue here. That is just not a good practice to be known for — and I am coming to expect it. Therein lies the problem.

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EverQuesting: A guide to EverQuest II’s city festivals

It’s that time of the month again — a glorious time that I look forward to and makes me cackle with glee just a little bit. Why? Because it’s when EverQuest II’s city festivals begin! Hey, what else would I be talking about? Starting the first and running through the seventh of every month, the denizens of Norrath have the chance to revel, race, and get rewards at one of the six main cities. This week-long party includes food and drink to celebrate with, a fortune teller to dispense words of wisdom (for the price of five gold!), and a chance to zip through the aerial race course. On top of that, there is really no better one-stop shop for housing decorations that players can take advantage of at any level.

Right now the Far Seas festival has stopped in Neriak, so folks have a limited time to get any of the Neriak-themed goodies they want for their homes or secure that zone’s aether racing title. Unsure on how to make most of your time so you don’t miss anything before the Far Seas packs up the fair and moves on? Here’s a guide that outlines the various city celebrations along with a few tips to maximize your efforts. (And for the more visually minded folks, here’s a video walkthrough we recently streamed.)

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EverQuesting: Can EQII’s paid prisons keep problem players in their place?

Huh. That sentiment pretty well sums up those days when despite thinking you’ve heard or seen it all, something pops up that takes you by surprise, something you never would have expected. EverQuest II just recently pulled that off with its latest announcement of a separate prison server for all the marauding miscreants. The news has actually been quite thought-provoking; I personally am still not quite sure what to think about this development. Upon first hearing about it, my opinion didn’t immediately polarize one way or the other. Instead, I’ve been pondering it from various angles. Is the idea the best thing since sliced bread or the heralding of the apocalypse? Is it even possible to pull off? Can paid prisons keep problem EQII players in their place and out of the hair of the rest of the population?

Producer Holly Longdale called this little endeavor an experiment, so time will tell what the actual results will be. But while we wait, we can analyze and attempt to prognosticate on this fascinating idea!

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EverQuesting: (Almost) everything we know about EverQuest Next

In a perfect world, we’d have the mana of EverQuest Next news raining down from the sky, enough to satiate our hunger for information about the game we’ve long looked forward to. Instead, to many of us, including me, it feels more like we’re wandering lost in the desert for 40 years while trying to squeeze water from a stone.

We know that Landmark news has always been EQN news, but I can certainly understand players wanting to see more concrete EQN-specific things; I want to see more concrete things! I’ve been asking for a little more show and tell for quite a while. Sadly, that just isn’t happening. I was momentarily excited when in June, devs announced that the Landmark team was shifting the bulk of its focus from Landmark to EverQuest Next. Oh that was music to fans’ ears! But what have we learned about the game since then? We’ve seen one screenshot of Qeynos and had a couple workshops, but there’s been very little concrete news. For now, we must assume that the previously revealed information is still valid. Here’s a recap of key points we know so far.

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EverQuesting: First impressions of EQII’s progression server

When it comes to a launch, rough winds are pretty much expected. But surprisingly, EverQuest II’s progression server launch on Tuesday was pretty much smooth sailing — especially compared to its older sibling’s run just a couple months prior. The server was up right when expected, players could actually log into said servers despite the load, and a lack of crippling lag made play possible. Even better than all that is the fact that folks landed on the infamous boat that started the original journey over 10 years ago. In many ways, it really is a blast from the past, albeit with a few changes.

So now that the opportunity to recreate those glory days of starting EQII for the first time is here, how does the experience measure up to personal hype?

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EverQuesting: Holly Longdale was right about casuals and raiding

How’s the weather over in EverQuest? Well there was a doozy of a storm that rolled through recently! I am going to admit that I was actually shocked at the response that Producer Holly Longdale’s comment about raid targets on EQ’s progression server stirred up. She originally told me,

“What we don’t want to do is instance raids, which is what casuals want us to do because they want to fight Nagafen. Casuals shouldn’t be allowed to fight Nagafen… that diminishes the achievement of others. That’s part of the challenge: You have to be better than the other guy; you have to be more strategic that the other guy.”

I honestly thought EQ players would celebrate that sentiment as it seemed to bespeak the heart and history of the game. Apparently I was wrong. There have been some heated discussions on the topic — and not a few raging rants. In some cases players brought valid points to the discourse; in others, there was only whining, complaining, and insults.

All in all, as a casual myself, I think Longdale is right. But that doesn’t mean everything is perfect in progression land, either.

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E3 2015: Holly Longdale on the EverQuest franchise’s progression servers

Progression servers are definitely a hot topic in the EverQuest franchise right now. EverQuest recently opened up a new one for those nostalgic for the original version of the original game (and then quickly had to open another to handle the load!), and now EverQuest II has announced that both PvE and PvP time-locked servers are in the works (beta starts July 7th). It’s definitely an exciting time for players who yearn for the simpler days, who want to travel back and experience the games before the years and years of expansions and flooded each Norrath with so much more content.

However, even positive news is not without its negatives. While there are some concrete benefits to these servers, there are also some downsides. I sat down with Producer Holly Longdale to discuss the status of the progression servers, from the things that make you go whoa to the woes that plague them.
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EverQuesting: Why I cheered when EQ’s progression server crashed

When EverQuest’s newest progression server Ragefire came online then took an immediate nosedive, I sprang from my chair cheering.

Hey now, don’t aim those eye daggers at me! Hear me out. My revelry was not because I wanted the server to fail and die. Quite the opposite, in fact: The reception it received, and the fact that so many were interested in this throw back to the olden days, was what was making me dance in the aisle and pump my fist with glee. It is a heartening blip on the radar of current game development, development that more often than not moves ever further down the instant-gratification road. It means people are not just paying lip service to the ideal of how things used to be; they are acting on it, even speaking with their wallets. More than anything it says old school is not dead.

And man, that is worth cheering about.

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EverQuesting: Learning about Landmark’s dungeons

I thought I saw a dev dungeon reference. I did! I did see a dev dungeon reference! And it’s about time.

I have to admit that as much as I have been looking forward to Landmark’s future features, dungeons totally slipped my mind. I’d like to think it was because the anticipation of utilizing gamemaster tools to control AI on my claims overshadowed them, but the truth is that devs let this feature fade into obscurity. It’s been a really long time since the original vision for the game was announced, and basically nothing has been said on the dungeon subject outside of claims since, which is a shame: Of all the various incoming features, dungeons are one that might finally be able to lay that lingering “It’s only a building game” misconception to rest once and for all.

So yes, dungeons are a thing! At least they will be. And they will be both player-made on claims and out in the wilds. If only it would all come sooner rather than later.

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