EverQuest II... can it compare to World of Warcraft or other MMORPG's? Look inside the review to find out and see!

User Rating: 9 | EverQuest II (With Kingdom of the Sky Bundle) PC
EverQuest II (EQ2), based upon the popular EverQuest, is a fantasy massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG). It features cinema-quality 3D graphics engine that constantly improves. Within EverQuest II, each player creates a character to interact in the 3-D fictional world of Norrath. Within the game, the character can adventure (complete quests, explore the world, kill monsters and gain treasures and experience) and socialize with other players.

Basic membership in EQII Extended is free which includes access to a large portion of the game! However, there are also paid memberships that grant access to different content that are available for purchase.

Extended provides access to premium subscription-quality content through free and optional paid membership levels. Powered by an all-new web-based download application, new and veteran players alike can experience all the excitement and depth of EQII's content without a daunting installation or a massive download. Players can register within minutes, download the client to join other people in an epic journey, and launch into adventure in a fantastical online 3D world. The only problem is that with a free membership there are an abundance and ridiculous amounts of limitations. If your not willing to pay for the game, don't plan on having an easy time playing the game, but it is good for having players try the game.

EverQuest II is set on the fictional world of Norrath five hundred years after the The Planes of Power storyline of the original EverQuest game. The gods withdrew from the world in retaliation for mortal incursions into their planes. On Norrath itself, Dark Elves and the Orcs destroyed much of Faydwer; while the Ogres, Goblins, Orcs, and Giants ravaged Antonica. Transport and communication to the moon Luclin were cut off.

The storyline says that 100 years ago, the continent of Antonica was ripped apart into smaller islands, which are now called the Shattered Lands. The oceans became impassible, preventing contact between the continents of Norrath. Fifteen years ago, the moon Luclin exploded and parts of the Shattered moon remain in the sky.

EverQuest II takes place in what is called the Age of Destiny. In this setting, Queen Antonia Bayle of Qeynos is a benevolent sorceress who welcomes all goodly races to her city to help rebuild Norrath. The Overlord of Freeport, Lucan D'Lere, a centuries-old fallen paladin, rules the evil races in his plans of conquest.

The graphics of Everquest 2 were technically ahead of their time when it first launched years ago. The game was tough to run on even some of the newer PC's. They also fell into complaints about "plastic" looking characters and an odd-looking world they didn't fit in. However, it appears they did listen to those opinions, because they have made some considerable changes. In fact, they went so far as to create an entirely new set of models for each character race (including NPC's of that race) and players have the option to view those new, more artistic, models in stead of the standard ones. Personally, I had agreed about the old models, and was extatic about having these revamps characters to look at instead.

As time has moved forward, the engine of EQ2 has now fallen into line with the more average PC's, thus allowing more users the opportunity to play. Able to put the settings on high as I played, the detail and features of the environment were immediately apparent. The art of the environment, down to the objects strewn across the ground, is all very high-quality. Everything from the trees to the sky and the now-destroyed Moon look really amazing.

The graphics ran smoothly, with very little spring-back. I didn't have any problems with crashes. So, on the technical side there is very little to say.

The ambient music is very immersive. The different sounds in each zone fit very well to the overall theme of the area. The music changes during combat, to a more dramatic tune, then back to normal after the battle. It's a smooth transition. The sound effects used in Everquest II are varied and several. There are environmental noises, and of course battle sounds, casting of magic, and a number of other sounds that give depth to the game. And EQ2 supports 3D sound if your system has that capability. If so, I recommend using it. Surround sound can be particularly fun. They have also added a LOT of dialog voiceovers since release, and that adds quite a bit of depth to the immersiveness as well.

The character customization is also very detailed and allows players to make their characters exactly the way they want them to look, much better customization than WoW (World of Warcraft) and other MMORPG's.

Some of the games main features are listed below:

- Up to 90 levels of breathtaking environments filled with thousands of dangerous quests and hundreds of fearsome creatures.

- Five years of continuous advancements and game updates providing content from all three adventure packs and all six expansion packs.

- Colossal continents and zones with a variety of gameplay experiences: Dark underworld dungeons, treacherous sinking sands realm, dragon infested floating islands, enchanting forests and towns, volcanic tropical jungle islands.

- Diverse gameplay for all types: Engage in player vs. player combat, player vs. environment, role play or battle with a group or in a guild.

- Dynamic environments that let you break through barriers, fly, climb walls and puzzle through impediments.

- Master immersive combat, spell and skill systems with in-depth interactivity.

- Unparalleled character customization with incredibly detailed capabilities.

- Legends of Norrath strategic online trading card game.

- PVP and arena games where players can transform into monsters and play different games such as Deathmatch, Capture the Flag, etc.

- Crafting with thousands of recipes and over 10 different crafting classes.

Some of the game's community features are listed below:

Voice chat
Player interaction is encouraged by integrated Voice Chat, a built-in mail system, global chat channels, and a global marketplace. A looking-for-group tool is provided for adventurers, and looking-for-work for crafters. Players can view each others' statistics and leveling history on the EQ2Players web site, on which basic features are free, while advanced features require a monthly fee.

Mentoring system
A mentoring system allows a higher-level character to pretend to be a lower-level character, when grouped with another player of lower level, or by consulting a chronomage in the major cities. All equipment and abilities of the mentor are scaled down, and, where a lower-level character is being 'mentored,' a bonus is granted to that character's rate of advancement.

Guild support
Everquest II has strong support for guilds. Each guild has an experience bar and earns guild levels (up to 80). The guild gains experience when its members perform tasks that earn city status. Higher guild levels unlock new items, mounts, houses, guild halls, and other privileges for its members. Guilds get hosted website and forum, and a guild bank with officer controls. A guild recruitment tool is integrated into the game.

Player housing is accessible to players from level 1. Furniture is stackable and scalable, and in-house pets are available. House styles are unique to each of six cities, with various sizes and layouts available in each. Player houses can be shared and visited at the owner's discretion, are connected to the player market system. A recent expansion of the housing system provides guilds with guild halls.

Mounts and auction houses (brokers) are also included as well.

One of the main pros of EverQuest II is its extensive race and class selection, probably the largest selection in any MMORPG other than maybe Final Fantasy XI.

The Dwarves are a short, sturdy people created by Brell Serilis, renowned for their bravery and devotion but not so much their intellect.

Fae are the vivacious heart of the Greater Faydark. Friendly and light-hearted, they enjoy playing tricks on the unwary. Child-like in their superstitions and beliefs as well as highly adept at magical skills.

Mentally sharp and morally virtuous, the good-natured Frogloks strive to purge villainy and corruption from Norrath. Frogloks were touched by the hand of the god of valor, Mithaniel Marr.

The courageous Halflings are good-natured and friendly, amiable to anyone willing to share a warm meal and a grand tale. Known for their humor, they enjoy mischief and shenanigans.

The fair-skinned high elves embody nobility and wisdom. They are benevolent people who strive for order and discipline, though some consider their stoic nature a sign of arrogance.

Wood Elves are pleasant and friendly. Fierce protectors of the woodlands, they will do battle with any who dare to taint the purity of nature. Wood Elves love celebration and song, dedicating their lives to the praise of their creator, Tunare.

Hearty and strong, Barbarians never back away from a just conflict. Barbarians are loyal companions and unforgiving enemies. They are tall, powerful humanoids, often blessed with great muscle mass.

Though descended from humans, Erudites eschew all ties to their less intellectual ancestry. Their culture is centered upon the accumulation of arcane knowledge and mystical power.

Gnomes make up for their small stature with tenacity and ingenuity. Known for their inquisitive nature, they are constantly tinkering with devices both mystical and technological.

Caught between the cultures of the Elves and Humans, Half Elves have struggled to establish their own society. They are known for their fierce determination and independent spirit. The Half Elves are rebellious which seems to show through in their hair styles and garb.

Sometimes wise and sometimes foolish, humans are capable of both remarkable ingenuity and startling brutality. Humans are diverse in nearly every aspect of their abilities and culture. They possess a wide range of physical features, and their values and principles are equally varied.

Kerra worship the spirits of the land and those of their ancestors. Their often docile demeanor masks the fearsome and powerful predators that they are. Kerra are a large humanoid feline race, their bodies covered in fur with colors and patterns denoting their lineage.

The malicious children of hate and dark magic, Arasai honor their goddess through defiling and torturing the inferior races across Norrath, taking pure pleasure in their cruelty.

Dark Elves are the embodiment of evil and maliciousness. Sinister, cunning and dangerous, dark elves coolly prey upon the weak and the ignorant. Dark Elves look down upon all other races, but in the past have made use of trolls and ogres as evil pawns.

Calculating and cold, the Iksar are a powerful reptilian race whose history is defined by conflict. They are a harsh but disciplined people who delight in cruelty and conquest. The Iksar are a very strong race, well-suited for the physical combat styles of the fighter classes.

Ogres are aggressive brutes who show their opponents neither sympathy nor mercy. Strong and intelligent, their physical might is matched only by their hunger for power. Built for warfare, these hulks long-ago ruled an empire that encompassed most of Norrath.

The Ratonga are agile, crafty, and surprisingly charismatic. Little is known of their past. They have a keen perspective and are highly intelligent, but tend to be selfish and manipulative. They prefer to lurk in the shadows and remain unseen.

Trolls care only about satisfying their hunger for food and lust for battle. Their unpredictable behavior and formidable strength make them fearsome and deadly opponents.

Bred and magically altered to be the fiercest militia, the Sarnak of Gorowyn can be practical and approachable, but when placed in a combat situation, they are unflinchingly dedicated and vicious.

EQ2 classes are organized in a symmetrical fashion. There are four major archetypes of classes: Fighter, Mage, Priest, and Scout. Each archetype contains two neutral classes (available to anyone), two good classes, and two evil classes, equaling 24 different classes.

Fighters are the most straight-forward classes to play. They have terrific defense, so they can withstand a lot of abuse from enemies, but they also have decent damage output. They can switch between two stances at will, choosing between higher damage output or higher defense. Combat is interactive and (unlike some other games) each fighter class has several utility abilities. The available classes being a fighter are Berserker, Guardian, Monk, Paladin, Bruiser and Shadowknight.

Mages are challenging and dramatic classes to play. They are fragile, and can only wear cloth armor. Each mage gets a diverse set of spells, and a few new spells every level. High damage and powerful effects are characteristic of mage spells. Mages deal damage from a distance, while trying to avoid being damaged themselves, and each mage class gets different tools to accomplish this. The available classes being a mage are Warlock, Wizard, Conjurer, Illusionist, Coercer and Necromancer.

Priests are healers, and each priest class excels at a different style of healing. Some priest classes are more versatile, while others are more focussed on defense and preservation, but all priests seek to win combat by outlasting the enemy. While priests can deliver damage to their enemies, they have been balanced such that they must necessarily cast healing spells to win most fights. The available classes being a priest are Fury, Warden, Mystic, Templar, Defiler and Inquisitor.

Scouts are challenging in a different way from mages. They deal great amounts of damage, usually from close proximity to their enemy, but they can only withstand attacks for a moderate amount of time. Their fights are short and intense, and some of their attacks require repositioning around the enemy. Scouts perform at their best when a friend is available to hold the enemy's attention. The available classes being a scout are Dirge, Troubador, Ranger, Swashbuckler, Assassin and Brigand.

Now let us look at the games expansion packs:

Desert of Flames
Explore the mysteries of an exotic realm and ever-shifting adventure in the Desert of Flames. Travel to the Dervish city of Maj'Dul to challenge and fight other players in the first-ever PvP action for EverQuest II. Take the form of exotic creatures or fight as yourself for the title of Arena Champion.

Kingdom of Sky
High above the mightiest peaks of Norrath, a secret world exists. This Overrealm, made up of enormous islands of land suspended in the air, is home to aviaks and creatures never-before seen, but it is the splintered and warring dragons who rule it. Additional zones, creatures, inventory and quests added.

Echoes of Faydwer
Long isolated by the devastation that befell Norrath, great magic still flows through this mystical land even as powerful evil forces linger in the shadows. The enchanted race known as the Fae spread the influence of growth throughout the deep forests of Faydwer and the enchanted city of Kelethin.

Rise of Kunark
Buried beneath a war-ruined land ravaged by centuries of conflict, a forgotten enemy rises. Exiled from their homeland and banished from Norrath's history, an ancient race emerges to uncover artifacts long thought lost. Begin life as a Sarnak on the isles of Timorous Deep, and discover the adventure that awaits you in the fabled land of Kunark.

The Shadow Odyssey
It is time for a new generation of Ethernauts to retrace the steps of their honored predecessors through the ruined, rancorous and twisting regions of Norrath to rid the world of the invading scourge and destroy the renewed evil of the Shadowmen. The Shadow Odyssey stretches well beyond the fantasy realm and propels the EverQuest II world into a new era of excitement and adventure.

Sentinel's Fate
Roehn Theer's return is imminent and his retribution on the world that exiled him will be on a scale never before seen in Norrath. Fearless heroes must embark on a journey into uncharted lands, through treacherous dungeons and fierce creatures, to prevent the god's unearthly revival. The brave are Norrath's only salvation from Roehn Theer's vengeance and those who are victorious will become exalted warriors of Norrath's history.

As I stated above, if you really want to enjoy the game, you're gonna have to pay, so here are the fees:

1 month – $14.99
3 months – $41.99
6 months – $77.99
12 months – $143.99

If you are more of a hardcore and mature player, EverQuest II is for you as the game is a lot more realistic then Final Fantasy XI or World of Warcraft.

With a huge customization to players and their characters and a large and beautiful world to explore with over 5 different cities, well over 350 zones, over thousands of quests, a user friendly community and interface, great graphics and music EverQuest II could easily be a 10, but why isn't it. Well, because of some areas having to zone in and out with loading screens unlike in WoW and VSH (Vanguard Saga of Heroes), limitations on free players, graphics that can be improved (even though they are great), and other minor flaws and issues such as an overwhelming amount of skills and spells, and a lack of voice acting to some degree EverQuest II is rated as a 9.0 (Superb).

Senior Gamespot Member