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|Developer(s)||Sony Online Entertainment|
|Producer(s)||John R. Blakely|
Richard A. Baker
Jon L. Davis
William B. Yeatt
EverQuest II is a 3D fantasy massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) originally developed and published by Sony Online Entertainment for Microsoft Windows PCs and released in November 2004. It is the sequel to the original EverQuest, released five years earlier, and features updated graphics and more streamlined gameplay compared to the previous entry, as well as an abundance of voice acting with contributions from actors such as Christopher Lee and Heather Graham. In February 2015, Sony Online Entertainment's parent corporation Sony Computer Entertainment sold it to investment company Inception Acquisitions, where it continues to develop and publish the game under its new name, Daybreak Game Company.
The game is set in an alternate future 500 years after the events of the first EverQuest, and is meant to run alongside its predecessor without interfering with the original story. It features characters and locations from the original that have been altered by centuries of war and cataclysmic destruction. While the title did receive favorable reviews upon release, it was notably less influential to the genre than the previous installment, and it faced heavy competition from other MMORPGs, such as World of Warcraft, which was released two weeks after EverQuest II. While originally subscription-based since launch, a free-to-play version with its own dedicated server was released in July 2010 called EverQuest II Extended. In November 2011, the subscription service was cancelled in favor of making all remaining servers free-to-play with microtransactions as the revenue stream.
Within EverQuest II, each player creates a character to interact in the 3D, fictional world of Norrath. 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. The player chooses their character's race and type, which affects their abilities. Characters collect experience to advance in level. EverQuest II enables social interaction with other players through grouping and 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. EverQuest II has a heavy focus on quests—more than 6,000 exist. The EverQuest II feature set has expanded since its release in 2004.
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, halfling, wood elf and dark elf (which were available in the original EverQuest) along with new options such as the Kerra (a cat-person similar to the Vah Shir of the original EverQuest), 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. There are four "archetypes" in EverQuest II - Fighter, Scout, Priest and Mage. When EverQuest 2 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.
Acquisition of equipment is a major focus of character progression. EverQuest II has no experience loss 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 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. 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. EverQuest II has strong support for guilds. Each guild has an experience bar and earns guild levels (up to 150). 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. Players can also maintain houses. A secure commission system allows players to sell their crafting skills to other players, or use the common market system to sell finished items.
According to The book of Zebuxoruk during the events The Planes of Power many gods were killed. In an effort to undo this, Druzzil Ro cast a spell to reverse time to stop their deaths and prevent the freeing of Zebuxoruk. What happened instead was a new universe was created. In one universe Druzzil Ro succeeded and the events of plane of time never happened. In the Everquest 2 universe, the spell failed. This meant the death of many of the gods along with the freeing of Zebuxoruk remained. Zebuxoruk himself, although free in this universe was not fully separated from his counterpart in the other universe and was left in a confused and dazed state as he was aware of both universes and in both at the same time.
The gods withdrew from the world due to the deaths of too many gods at the end of the plane of time left all of them weak. The gods would need time to recover at the cost of their much of planes. (Some ceased to exist such as the Plane of Sky, while others were just shards of their former existence) The gods also needed to stop the organized mortal incursions into their planes. To do this, the gods chose npcs to be their avatars and then retreated to their planes removing their direct influence on Norrath after setting in motion several events.
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 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 EverQuest's Norrath can be found throughout the Shattered Lands. 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.
SOE markets 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 original EverQuest will find many familiar places and characters, as well as "heritage items" that are similar in name and function to items known from EverQuest and can be gained via heritage quests.
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". 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 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.
In November 2011 SOE announced EverQuest II 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 title with subscription optional.
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. 
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 266 voice actors. 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.
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 EverQuest II, 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.
|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||Expansion||18 November 2008|
|Sentinel's Fate||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|
|Altar of Malice||Expansion||11 November 2014|
|Rum Cellar||Adventure Pack||28 April 2015|
|Terrors of Thalumbra||Expansion||17 November 2015|
|Kunark Ascending||Expansion||15 November 2016|
|Planes of Prophecy||Expansion||28 November 2017|
|Chaos Descending||Expansion||13 November 2018|
|Blood of Luclin||Expansion||17 December 2019|
With EverQuest II, Sony Online Entertainment introduced the concept of Adventure Packs (an innovation created by Sean Kauppinen, who was the head of international Product PR at the time). 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; and new high level dungeons, The Throne of New Tunaria and the Estate of Unrest.
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. 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.
- 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 EverQuest II player population to determine the extent of support for adding a free-to-play model to EverQuest II. The resulting product, EverQuest II Extended, was unveiled in the summer at FanFaire 2010. A significant Game Update coincided with the beta release of EverQuest II Extended, which revamped the game's user interface and newbie experience and revised many of the previous rules related to character creation. In December 2011, free-to-play access was added to the existing EverQuest II Extended servers and the former EverQuest II Extended Freeport server was added among them.
EverQuest II has been used by academics to study a variety of phenomena; for example, that virtual economic behavior in EverQuest II follows real-world patterns in terms of production, consumption and money supply; and 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.
EverQuest II had mostly positive reception from critics, earning an 83 out of 100 average score from aggregate review website Metacritic. Many reviewers compared the title to the original EverQuest, which was viewed as one of the best and most influential examples of the genre. Greg Kasavin of GameSpot remarked that "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." Mario Lopez of GameSpy commented that it was "much more inviting, convenient, and forgiving" relative to the first game, but that it was less groundbreaking. The reviewer would find that the breadth of voice acting, however, was its biggest advancement, saying "the only aspect of it that borders on revolutionary is related to its presentation--specifically, its audio." Lopez would ultimately declare that EverQuest II was "extremely fun to play, frequently rewarding, and designed with just the right amount of user convenience in mind."
The game's presentation and photorealistic graphics were often praised, with Computer and Video Games declaring "There are off-line games equally or even more spectacular in immediate scenery or character models, but what game can offer such outrageous landscapes on such a grandiose scale?" Computer Games Magazine similarly felt that the game's setting was "A brilliantly reworked world with technology to die for." According to GameSpot, however, the high system requirements of the title meant that performance issues were common, and that a player would need a "monster system" in order to experience the game in its highest quality. Kasavin would additionally comment that "Presumably, the developers of this engine were thinking ahead toward the computers of the future when they built EverQuest II's technology, but this game's visuals aren't so incredibly impressive that they seem to justify the extreme system requirements." Steve Butts of IGN likewise found that attempting to play the game on high graphic settings resulted in "terrible performance," but that a consistent frame-rate with good graphics was possible with an appropriate gaming computer. While the editor was "not as huge a fan" of the title's visual style, he commended its high level of detail, adding "If you like the photorealistic style, you simply can't do better than EverQuest 2 in terms of graphics."
EverQuest II was nominated for "Best Massively Multiplayer Online Game" in GameSpot's Best and Worst of 2004 awards, and was runner-up for "Best Persistent World Game" in IGN's Best of 2004 awards, losing both to World of Warcraft. Computer Games Magazine named it the seventh-best computer game of 2004, with its editors declaring it an improvement "upon not only its own predecessor, but just about every predecessor out there". GameSpy granted EQII the title of "Most Improved Game" during its 2006 annual PC awards due to the addition of PvP servers and the release of the Echoes of Faydwer expansion that same year. After adopting a free-to-play model in 2011, the title was named "Best Bang for the Buck" in Massively's annual awards that same year.
Sales and subscriptions
EverQuest II reached 100,000 active accounts within 24 hours of release, which grew to over 300,000 two months later in January 2005. As of 2012, the game had an estimated subscriber peak of 325,000 achieved sometime in 2005.
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