EverQuest II Review
EverQuest II can be a fun and addictive online role-playing experience that has a lot to offer new and experienced players alike.
- Impressive presentation
- Wide assortment of character races and classes
- Lots of quests; an initially significant amount of content to explore.
- Resource hog; some poor performance even on fast machines
- No player vs player component
- Fairly conventional; get ready for the online RPG grind.
EverQuest wasn't the first game of its kind when it was released in 1999, but it was the best, and remained the best for a long time. Along with Ultima Online, it deserves credit for popularizing the massively multiplayer online role-playing genre, and it's still widely played to this day. As a result, the inevitable EverQuest II has some seriously big shoes to fill. And it almost does. In many ways, this new game embodies almost all the numerous refinements and evolutions that the genre has undergone in the past five years, so it's one of the most instantly gratifying and accessible online RPGs yet. It also sports a rather impressive presentation, thanks largely to an ambitious effort to make almost all the game's non-player characters communicate using full speech. Yet when you get right down to it, EverQuest II really isn't that different from the numerous other games of its type, and its mostly great visuals are offset by subpar technical performance. So while EverQuest II isn't the massive step for the genre that its predecessor was, it can still be a fun and addictive online role-playing experience that has a lot to offer new and experienced players alike.
It's worth noting right up front that EverQuest II launched in a solid state. It offered a wide breadth of content and some obvious depth from the day of release, which really should be nothing to boast about, but then again, we're talking about a genre that's historically taken a "ship it now and fix it later" approach. As such, unlike a lot of other, lesser online RPGs, EverQuest II clearly has a good amount of original content for you to spend many hours exploring. At least for the first several dozen hours, it always gives you something to do, generally doing a good job of keeping you engaged, if not addicted. The game picks its battles, though. Unlike many other online RPGs, EverQuest II is purely focused on player vs. environment gameplay, so there's no player vs. player combat in the game whatsoever. This is a surprising omission, especially considering that the structure of the game seems like an obvious setup for some PvP action, since all players are forced to swear allegiance to the forces of good or the forces of evil. For comparison's sake, the original EverQuest did include player vs. player combat, as well as the ability to harmlessly duel with other players (that much, at least, would have been nice here), but EverQuest's focus has always been on cooperative instead of competitive play.
In exchange, EverQuest II offers a fairly complex and entertaining combat system, a similarly interesting system of "tradeskills," the ability to sublet and furnish your own dwelling in the gameworld (complete with the pleasures of having to pay rent), and a pretty impressive guild system that lets player guilds indirectly compete for prominence. Like the original, EverQuest II's world consists of numerous discrete adventure zones that, also like the original, are separated by some lengthy loading times. The game does a fairly good job of letting you get your bearings in each new area, thanks to an onscreen compass, a pop-up map of your surroundings, and a journal that automatically keeps track of the quests you've undertaken. EverQuest II also alleviates the tedious downtimes that were a notorious part of the original game, so even if you're fighting solo, it's possible to recover your health and power (used for spells and special abilities) fairly quickly in between fights. As a result of all this, EverQuest II is more conducive to relatively short play sessions than a lot of other online RPGs, but it's still a game that will happily swallow up all your spare hours, and really demands to be played for at least several hours at a time for satisfying results.
The world of EverQuest II is the very same Norrath featured in the original game, but it's a Norrath that's been stricken by a cataclysmic event that caused most of the world's civilization to collapse. As a result, only two main metropolises remain: Qeynos, home of the forces of good, and Freeport, bastion of the forces of evil. When creating your character, you must choose your alignment--good or evil--although some character races are limited to just one or the other. At any rate, this choice determines your starting city (you can change allegiances later by undertaking a special "betrayal quest"), and in turn, the locations in which you'll inevitably be spending most of your first several dozen hours of play. The two main cities are superficially quite different: The polite citizens of Qeynos traipse along streets lined with Victorian-style buildings, while Freeport's surly population fits right in with its cruel, inhospitable architecture. However, each city is equally large and equally diverse, and offers similar amenities and analogous quests. It's interesting to see how things are on both sides of the fence, but don't expect the good and evil experiences in EverQuest II to be drastically different from a gameplay standpoint.
All of EverQuest's numerous character races are once again present here, including the smaller ones like dwarves and gnomes; the boring old medium-size ones like humans and half-elves; and the bigger, brawnier ones like barbarians and ogres. The reptilian iksar and feline kerran are also present, along with a new race of bipedal rodents called the ratonga. EverQuest's frogloks are still hopping around in Norrath, too, but are initially not selectable as a player race, for whatever reason. Still, there's a broad, colorful selection of different possibilities here, and for each different race, you can play as a male or female version and also customize your character's hairstyle and facial features. The character-creation process doesn't give you too much freedom to significantly differentiate your appearance from that of other characters of the same race and gender, but it's still fun to mess around with. While you're limited to a maximum of four characters per account, you'll inevitably want to try out a variety of different character types to find the one whose style best suits you. But don't expect anything drastic here, either, even when switching from a tiny halfling to a hulking troll. Like in the original EverQuest, the differences between races seem mostly superficial, notwithstanding some minor race-specific abilities and ability-score distributions.
- Player Reviews: 147
- Game Universe:
- EverQuest II: Destiny of Velious (PC),
- EverQuest Underfoot (PC),
- EverQuest II: The Shadow Odyssey (PC),
- EverQuest II: Rise of Kunark (PC),
- EverQuest Secrets of Faydwer (PC),
- EverQuest The Anniversary Edition (PC),
- EverQuest II: Echoes of Faydwer (PC),
- EverQuest II: The Fallen Dynasty (PC),
- EverQuest: Prophecy of Ro (PC),
- EverQuest II: Kingdom of Sky (PC)
- Offline Modes:
- Online Modes:
- Number of Players: