EverQuest II

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EverQuest II
EverQuest II box art.

Developer(s) Sony Online Entertainment
Publisher(s) Sony Online Entertainment (US/EU/JP), Gamania (CN/TW/KR) (closed), Akella (RU), Square Enix (JP) (previous publisher), Ubisoft (EU)
Platform(s) Windows
Release date(s) 4 November 2004
Genre(s) MMORPG
Mode(s) Multiplayer
Distribution CD, DVD, Download

EverQuest II (EQ2) is a 3D fantasy massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) developed by Sony Online Entertainment (SOE), based on EverQuest, and shipped on 4 November 2004. It features updated graphics and different gameplay from its predecessor.

Story[edit]

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 (who, oddly enough, was a warrior trainer as well as leader of the city in EQ1), rules the evil races in his plans of conquest.

Gameplay[edit]

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. The game also has a 'tradeskill' system that allows players to create items for in-game use.

In the creation of a character, the player may choose the character's race and class. Various classes have specialized abilities that are complementary to their class. (Monks will get mainly melee combat abilities that use their fists or fist weapons, or a Warlock will get mainly spell abilities that do large amounts of spike damage but cost a lot of mana.) EverQuest II enables social interaction with other players through grouping and through the creation of guilds. Like players, guilds can gain experience and levels, partially from players completing special tasks called Heritage quests, but primarily from guild-oriented quests and tasks called "writs," and gaining guild experience by killing epic monsters. Higher guild levels open up special rewards unavailable to non-guilded characters, and cause certain other rewards to cost less. These rewards include housing options, mounts, house items, apparel, and special titles.

Although EverQuest II focuses on player versus environment (PvE), dedicated player versus player (PvP) servers were added in February 2006.

The EverQuest II feature set has expanded since its release in 2004.

Character development[edit]

EverQuest II is a class-based MMO. At character creation, players choose one of 20 races and 26 adventure classes. Any race can be any class (with some conditions). Four starting cities are provided, each with its own beginner experience. Hair and facial features are chosen during character creation, but can be changed later by visiting a Barber Shop in the game world.

Each character may advance through 95 levels of experience in the chosen adventure class, and 95 levels in a tradeskill class that is chosen after creation. Characters are customized by earning up to 340 Alternate Advancement Points during the course of gameplay, which are used to purchase achievement abilities. Each adventure class has four trees of achievement abilities to invest in.

With the addition of levels 91 to 95, Prestige points were introduced. These are earned each 20% of adventure level, with a total of 25 prestige points being earned. These are spent in a tree called the Prestige tab.

Each adventure class accumulates more than 20 distinct abilities. A common mechanic is used for physical combat (Combat Arts) and spellcasting (Spells) - all such abilities draw from the character's Power resource, which must be recharged between battles. Most spells and combat arts can be upgraded through eight tiers of improvement, with the lowest tier granted automatically upon gaining each adventure level. Spell upgrades are obtained just like equipment upgrades - as loot, quest rewards, researched or produced through crafting. An optional system called Heroic Opportunities grants bonus effects when players combine their abilities in specific ways.

Every character can have a Tradeskill Class in addition to their Adventuring Class. The player specializes in one of 9 Tradeskill Classes (excluding the 2 secondary tradeskilling skills, adorning and tinkering) as his character advances in tradeskill levels. When crafting an item, the player reacts to unanticipated crafting events by using crafting skills, such that the crafting process is superficially similar to combat. You may also do both Adorning and Tinkering on each character. These secondary tradeskills will level up to a skill level which relies on either your adventure level or your tradeskill level, whichever is higher.

Game content[edit]

EverQuest II has a heavy focus on quests. More than 6000 quests have been discovered by players as of January 2009.[1] Game rewards are biased toward quests. The Achievement Point system is mainly advanced by completing quests. Much of the game lore is presented through quests, using an interactive dialogue system.

Acquisition of equipment is a major focus of progression. Character inventory consists of 8 armor slots, 8 accessory slots, and 4 weapons-related slots. Most equipment has a minimum adventure level requirement to equip it, and must be permanently attuned to the character before using it. Equipment can be enhanced by applying "augmentations" on a per-item basis.

Equipment and treasure are classified into broad tiers such as "Fabled", "Legendary", and "Treasured". Each quest generally gives an item reward of a tier that reflects its difficulty. Almost all creatures have separate lists of potential loot for each tier, with reduced chances of winning the best (Fabled). Player-crafted items are also divided into tiers, based on the rarity of materials.

EverQuest II has no experience loss, corpse runs on death, or lost levels from dying. Upon death, characters respawn with their gear intact at specific revival locations, with a minor experience debt to be repaid. Gear is fully functional until its condition runs out after 10 consecutive deaths, and is repaired to 100% for a fee.

Players can wear any clothing, allowed by their class, in "appearance slots", overriding the appearance of their functional gear. A Dressing Room feature allows players to see what their character would look like wearing equipment that they do not possess.

Community features[edit]

Players can form groups of up to 6 players, or raids of up to 24 players (i.e. four groups). Monster encounters are classified into corresponding categories of difficulty, and tend to drop corresponding tiers of treasure. A monster of a given level may be normal (as strong as a single player), Heroic (as strong as a group of players), or Epic (as strong as a raid force). Each encounter may take the form of a single strong monster, or a group of lesser monsters that must be fought simultaneously.

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 other's statistics and leveling history on the EQ2Players web site, on which basic features are free, while advanced features require a monthly fee.

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.

EverQuest II has strong support for guilds. Each guild has an experience bar and earns guild levels (up to 95). 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 a hosted website and forum, as well as a guild bank with officer controls. Guild recruitment tools are 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 seven cities (as well as luxury houses typically unaffiliated with any city,) 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. As well, guilds can purchase halls which function similarly to houses (but often on a much larger scale) that can be decorated with useful amenities - such as bankers, broker agents, and travel portals.

A secure commission system allows players to sell their crafting skills to other players, or use the common market system to sell finished items.

Differences from the original[edit]

Perhaps the most significant differences are the high quality graphics, including detailed character graphics, very large and detailed world zones, and highly customizable user interface and graphics settings.

Many gameplay choices were made in order to stop old, sometimes undesirable, tactics that emerged in EQ; a major difference is the concept of "locked encounters". Currently a group or a solo player can set an option to lock encounters. When encounters are locked, only the player or group who becomes linked to that encounter is involved, which stops kill stealing. Other players cannot assist in the encounter unless the player who locked it uses a special "/yell" command for help, after which the encounter rewards neither loot nor experience.

Regeneration of power and hitpoints takes place very quickly when out of combat in EQ2. While locked in combat both regenerate very slowly. EQ required players to sit to regenerate hitpoints and mana, and this happened very slowly, also adding a level of danger from being in the sitting position.

"Trains" (encounters pursuing fleeing players to a zone line, and then attack uninvolved players), a problem in EverQuest, are no longer a problem in EQ2. Encounters will not aggro on (attack) uninvolved players until they first return to their original location. Encounters returning to their spawn point are also immune to attack until they return there.

To stop kiting, players in combat lose all their movement speed enhancements except the special "sprint" ability, which costs a considerable amount of power to use, although some classes have speed debuffs that slow the enemy, thus making kiting a viable option. Because certain player classes such as Rangers and Mages have limited effectiveness in close melee range, many of these players have discovered another method of pseudo-kiting by running backwards and firing a missile weapon at the enemy. The enemy lands fewer attacks, but can take significant damage depending on the type of ammunition or missile weapon used, and the skill level of the user.

The penalization of death has been heavily reduced, instead of a "corpse run" to regain your items and lessen the experience loss, in EQ2 you will only have slight damage on your equipped items which will require mending after 10 deaths, and a slight exp loss. There are player made items which you can carry with you to mend the items. Also of note, once you gain a level in EQ2, you never lose it.

Setting[edit]

EverQuest II is set in what is called the "Age of Destiny" on the world of Norrath, 500 years later than the setting of the original EverQuest. The game world has been drastically affected by several cataclysms (see Story, above) since the original EverQuest. The planes have closed, the gods temporarily left, and the moon Luclin has been destroyed (and partially rained onto the face of Norrath). Remnants from the original EQ's Norrath can be found throughout the Shattered Lands.

Players arrive in one of : New Halas, Hate's Envy in Darklight Woods, "The Nursery" in Greater Faydark and Timorous Deep in Kunark, and then move to one of Six cities, New Halas (Neutral) Qeynos or Kelethin (the 'good' cities) or Freeport, Neriak, or Gorowyn (the 'evil' cities). All of the other cities in the world were destroyed, taken over (Ak'anon, Kaladim, and a few others), rendered inaccessible (Halas), or have banished all outsiders (Felwithe and Rivervale) in The Shattering. The original player cities that were present at the game's launch (Qeynos and Freeport) are divided into multiple zones, with the playable races each having their own special section (Village) of these cities. The player cities introduced into the game at later dates (Kelethin and Neriak) are smaller than the original cities, and as such each 'newer' city is completely contained within one zone. Players from Qeynos or Kelethin are not welcome in Freeport or Neriak and vice versa unless they choose to betray their city via the Betrayal Questline. Players are allowed to begin the Betrayal Questline from level 10 onwards.

The game world features wide geographical and ecological variety.

In EQ2, players can ride trained griffons on predetermined routes over the Shattered Lands, or acquire a horse, flying carpet, warg, rhino or a floating disk so that they can travel more swiftly throughout much of the game world. "Mariner's Bells" are scattered across the land allowing instant transportation across various areas of the world. With the inception of the Kingdom of Sky expansion, the Ulteran wizard spires teleport you up into Kingdom of Sky, with spires in different zones taking you to different areas of the expansion. With the Echoes of Faydwer expansion, Wardens and Furies (the Druid classes) gained the ability to teleport individuals to one of five (now eight) druid rings. Likewise, Warlocks and Wizards (the Sorcerer classes) gained the ability to teleport themselves or their groups to one of three (now five) wizard spires.

EverQuest II also includes instanced zones—parallel copies of some zones where characters in one 'instance' of the zone cannot interact with the characters or MOBs of any other 'instance' of that zone.

Character races[edit]

Players must choose a 'race' when creating a character. The choice of races include human, barbarian, dwarf, erudite, ogre, iksar, troll, gnome, half elf, high elf, wood elf and dark elf (which were available in the original EQ) along with new options such as the Kerra (a cat-person similar to the Vah Shir of the original EQ), the Ratonga (a rat-like people), the Sarnak (a dragon-like people) and the Fae and Arasai (fairy-like people). The Froglok race was originally locked until a special server-wide quest was completed to make them playable. Some races are restricted to certain starting cities, based on their alignment, but can turn traitor and move to the opposing city.

Qeynos (good) and Freeport (evil) were the original starting cities, but new characters can no longer start in those locations.

Adventurer classes[edit]

There are four "archetypes" in EQ2 - Fighter, Scout, Priest and Mage. When EQ2 was launched, a player chose the character's archetype during the initial character creation and then chose a 'class' at level 10 and a 'sub-class' at level 20. This system was changed in 2006 so that a character's final class is chosen at creation. While archetype>class>sub-class system is no longer explicitly defined in the live game, it still defines the roles of classes. Broadly, in a group situation, any priest can be a healer, any fighter can be a suitable tank, any mage or scout can deal damage, with the mage classes typically being able to deal more damage than a scout class, but being more fragile. Evil classes, such as the Shadowknight, are only available in Freeport, Neriak, or Gorowyn, while good classes, such as the Paladin, are available in Qeynos, Kelethin or New Halas. Neutral classes, such as the Guardians, are available in all cities.

Betrayal[edit]

Betrayal is a process allowing the player to change from a good or evil alignment to the opposing one, and convert to the good or evil counterpart of their current class. In this manner, one can play a traditionally evil-only race, betray their city of origin in favor of a good-aligned city, and play a good-only class. Naturally, the reverse is also possible-betrayal of a good-aligned city in favor of an evil one in order to access an evil class with a good race.

Artisan classes[edit]

A character can also undertake a tradeskill profession, completely separate from his/her adventuring profession. The tradeskill professions branch at levels 10 and 20, just as adventuring classes used to.

The Echoes of Faydwer expansion introduced two secondary tradeskills. These go alongside the primary tradeskills. Characters do not gain separate experience points for these tradeskills; maximum skill level rises with the primary tradeskill or adventuring level.

Voices[edit]

A small number of NPCs use actual voices. The actors used for these parts included Hollywood stars such as Heather Graham (as Queen Antonia Bayle), Christopher Lee (as Overlord Lucan D'Lere) and Minnie Driver (as 'Dancer'). Wil Wheaton, Dwight Schultz, Richard Horvitz, Alan Dale and Danica McKellar are also part of the cast. According to SOE in October 2004, EverQuest II featured 130 hours of spoken dialog recorded by 1,700 voice actors.[citation needed] More dialog has been added since release as part of regular game updates. In September 2005, EverQuest II: Desert of Flames added player voice emotes. Also features voice actors Peter Renaday, Colleen O'Shaughnessey, and Nick Jameson.

Music[edit]

The music for the game, over ninety minutes' worth, was composed by Emmy-award winning composer Laura Karpman and recorded by the FILMharmonic Orchestra Prague under her direction. Karpman has said of the music in the game: "Every place has a theme, its own separate, unique feeling - from a quasi-African savanna to a Babylonian city. Every cue in EQ2, with the exception of the attack cues, is like a main title of a movie. A more cinematic experience for the player was one of our goals." Purchasers of the EverQuest II Collector's Edition received a soundtrack CD as part of the package.

The expansions, Echoes of Faydwer and Rise of Kunark, included many themes from the corresponding zones in the original EverQuest, arranged by Inon Zur.

With the Rise of Kunark expansion came a major update to the combat music. A new system was added with 14 contextual combat themes. The strength of the enemy or enemies and tide of the battle determine the tone of the combat music. The previous combat music consisted of just a few linear pieces.

Business[edit]

SOE is marketing EverQuest II not as a direct sequel, but as a "parallel universe" to the original EverQuest. It is set in an alternate future of the original game's setting, having diverged at the conclusion of the Planes of Power expansion (the lore is explained in an in-game book). This allows both development teams to pursue whatever direction they want to take without impacting the other, and allows players of the original EverQuest to continue receiving updates without forcing players down a specific path. In that sense, they are two completely separate games bound together by name only. Players of the old EQ will find many familiar places and characters, as well as "heritage items" that are similar in name and function to items known from EQ and can be gained via heritage quests.

In Europe, the game was published by Ubisoft, followed by Koch Media. As of 2010 it lacks any European publisher and is distributed in Europe only as a digital download.

In February 2005, EverQuest II began allowing players to place an order for pizza delivery from within the game, with a simple and easy command typed into the chat bar, "/pizza".[2] This promotion has since ended, but generated significant press for the game.

In June 2005, SOE introduced Station Exchange to EverQuest II. Station Exchange is an official auction system—only on designated servers—allowing real money to be transferred for in-game money, items or characters.

In March 2006, SOE announced that it would end its Chinese/Korean operations for EverQuest II, which were being supported in the region by Gamania. The beta period for the game in China/Korea ended on 29 March, and on 30 March, all Chinese/Korean accounts were moved to the US servers of the game.

In July 2007, SOE introduced magazine EQuinox, which is the official magazine of EverQuest II. The release date of this magazine was 9 August 2007.

In December 2008, SOE introduced Station Cash, a real-money trading (RMT) feature.[citation needed]

in January 2009, SOE together with Valve made EverQuest II available on Steam.[3]

In July 2010 SOE announced a separate version of EverQuest II called EverQuest II Extended. EverQuest II Extended is a free to play version of EverQuest II funded by micro-transactions or optional subscription play. The free to play version was run on a separate server from the subscription servers.[4]

In November 2011 SOE announced EQ2 was going free to play following a similar path as EverQuest II Extended. As of December 6, 2011, with the release of GU62 and Age of Discovery, EverQuest II updated from being a subscription based game to a Free to Play / Subscription game as proven to be successful with EverQuest II Extended.

At the end of October 2012, Krono was added as an experiment. Krono work like the Plex currency in EVE Online: it allows players to buy an in-game item for real money that adds 30 days of Gold subscription to the account. Krono can also be traded between players, sold via the Broker or gifted to another player's account. Krono is also a much safer way of purchasing game time than purchasing SC cards from players in the game, which may or may not sell you a valid code. [5]

Expansions and Adventure Packs[edit]

Title Type Released Date
The Bloodline Chronicles Adventure Pack 21 March 2005
The Splitpaw Saga Adventure Pack 28 June 2005
Desert of Flames Expansion 13 September 2005
Kingdom of Sky Expansion 21 February 2006
The Fallen Dynasty Adventure Pack 14 June 2006
Echoes of Faydwer Expansion 14 November 2006
Rise of Kunark Expansion 13 November 2007
The Shadow Odyssey[6] Expansion 18 November 2008
Sentinel's Fate[7] Expansion 16 February 2010
Destiny of Velious Expansion 22 February 2011
Age of Discovery Feature Expansion 6 December 2011
Chains of Eternity Expansion 13 November 2012
Tears of Veeshan Expansion 12 November 2013

With EverQuest II, Sony Online Entertainment introduced the concept of Adventure Packs. Adventure Packs are meant to be smaller "mini-expansions" to the game, adding a plot line with several zones, new creatures and items to the game via digital download. These smaller Adventure Packs come with a smaller fee ranging from US$4.99 to US$7.99. However, recently the development team has decided to release free zones and content instead of making adventure packs. Some recent releases include a new starting city, Neriak, with a new starting race, Arasai;[8] and new high level dungeons, The Throne of New Tunaria[9] and the Estate of Unrest.[10]

Similar to other games, expansions can be bought in stores or downloaded through a digital service. The retail versions often come packaged with a bonus feature such as a creature that the player can put in their in-game house. Expansions generally introduce many new zones with new plot lines, features, creatures, items, cities and often come with a boost in the level cap or a new player race.

Currently, all players have been given the expansions preceding Destiny of Velious as part of the base game. Access to levels above 92 and their respective zones require the purchase of the Tears of Veeshan expansion, which includes the previous Chains of Eternity expansion. Free to Play accounts have access to the same areas as subscription accounts, but have certain restrictions in place.

Over the past year, many of the free to play restrictions have been removed, including bag slot restrictions, coin restrictions, quest journal limits, race and class restrictions, and gear restrictions. However, other restrictions such as the inability to buy or sell items on the broker as a free player, having spell tier restrictions, and being unable to move the alternate advancement slider remain.

Academic study[edit]

EverQuest II has been used by academics to study a variety of phenomenon e.g., virtual economic behavior in EverQuest II follows real-world patterns in terms of production, consumption and money supply,[11] observations that less than one percent (0.43%) of all the players are Platinum Farmers and more than three quarters (77.66%) of all Platinum Farmers are Chinese.[12]

Alternate versions[edit]

  • EverQuest II: East was created for the East Asian market (mainland China, Taiwan, South Korea) but it was terminated as a separate edition on 29 March 2006. EverQuest II: East players were moved to standard servers. The special character models created for the game had already been included in the standard edition as a client-side option since 2005.
  • EverQuest II Extended - In early 2010, Sony Online Entertainment consulted the EQ2 player population to determine the extent of support for adding a free-to-play model to EQ2. The resulting product, EQ2X, was unveiled in the summer at FanFaire 2010. A significant Game Update coincided with the beta release of EQ2X, which revamped the game's user interface and newbie experience and revised many of the previous rules related to character creation.

In December of 2011, free-to-play access was added to the existing EQ2 servers and the former EQ2X Freeport server was added among them.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "EverQuest II Quest List - eq2.fluffy.dk". 
  2. ^ "EverQuest II - /pizza". [dead link]
  3. ^ As reported on eq2players.com eq2players.com news archive
  4. ^ "EverQuest II Extended FAQ". 
  5. ^ "Krono are Now Available!". 
  6. ^ "EverQuest II Players - The Shadow Odyssey". 
  7. ^ "Sentinels Fate -new expansion announced". 
  8. ^ "EverQuest II Players - Game Update #35". 
  9. ^ "EverQuest II : Game Update 36 Peek and Screenshots - igxe.com". 
  10. ^ "EverQuest II Players - Game Update #32". 
  11. ^ Castronova, E, Williams D, Shen C, Ratan R, Xiong L, Huang Y, Keegan B. 2009. As real as real? Macroeconomic behavior in a large-scale virtual world New Media & Society. 11:685-707.
  12. ^ Muhammad Aurangzeb Ahmad, Brain Keegan, Jaideep Srivastava, Dmitri Williams, Noshir Contractor, “Mining for Gold Farmers: Automatic Detection of Deviant Players in MMOGS” Proceedings of the 2009 IEEE Social Computing (SocialCom-09). Symposium on Social Intelligence and Networking (SIN-09). Vancouver, Canada, August 29–31, 2009.

External links[edit]

SOE websites[edit]