WELL, WE KNOW WHERE THIS IS GOING
Level 20. That’s as far as I got into EverQuest II before I called it a day, canceling my subscription and uninstalling the game before the ol’ credit card took a hit. It’s not that EQII is necessarily a bad game, it’s just that it couldn’t hold the attention of someone like myself, who has been dicking around with MMOG’s since Ultima Online launched in September of ’97. Hell, you could even say that it does everything right, with the term “everything” referring to the mind-numbing level-based design that the franchise made popular with the original EverQuest so many years ago: smack foozles repeatedly to gain experience, go up a level, use slightly better skills and equipment to smack slightly tougher foozles, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat…AD-FREAKING-NAUSEUM.
BEEN THERE, DONE THAT
I know it may sound as if I’m slamming EQII, but to be honest, I’m really not. The fact of the matter is, for what it aspires to be, EQII could quite possibly be the cream of the MMOG crop. If I’m ripping on anything, then it’s the game-design that EQII uses — a design that wore out its welcome a long, long time ago. Seriously, how many of these games must we suffer through before developers try to expand on the “virtual world” aspect that Ultima Online so brilliantly implemented? Being THE game that brought about the flood of MMOGs that we’ve seen in recent years, you’d think that someone would have at least tried to follow its direction and improve upon it. (Well, to be fair, Star Wars Galaxies did do a damn fine job of continuing on with what UO started. However, Sony has since destroyed the game in a futile attempt to capture some of the World of Warcraft audience.) But no, instead of pursuing the promise of a true virtual world with many possibilities, we get game after game of level-based swords & sorcery mediocrity, with there honestly not being much difference between any of them. It’s all been done to death, and it’s just tiring on a monumental scale. EQII just happens to do the typical song and dance with a few flashier moves, all the while sporting a feather in its cap which indicates that it introduced first, what other games are now copying.
As far as standard, fantasy-themed and level-based MMOGs go, EQII is certainly one of the best that’s out there now. From character customization to crafting skills (which, unlike WoW, seem to actually be worth pursuing), EQII contains a high level of quality in gameplay and presentation that many other MMOG’s can’t compete with. As for the answer to the standard question asked of all MMOG’s in today’s scene (“Is it better than World of Warcraft?”), I suspect that it is, even though I experienced only a small fraction of EQII‘s truly massive amount of content.
However, even though it’s a very solid MMOG experience, there’s ultimately nothing about it that makes it particularly compelling for the MMOG veteran. It offers the same ol’ crap that we’ve been getting in level-based MMOGs since the original EverQuest became so popular, and once the “shiny” wears off (as it does with all of these games), you’ll very quickly realize that you could have more fun and get a greater return on your game-time investment by playing something else.
THE BOTTOM LINE
If you’re new to the MMOG scene, EQII is definitely worth a look and you’ll probably have a blast with it. However, if you’re well-versed in this genre of game, don’t expect to have any desire for it once the honeymoon phase is over. Neither good or bad, it’s really just another pedestrian online RPG that does a good job at making you feel as though it’s worth your time and money. Which, if you’re a hamster who has a penchant for running on your exercise wheel for hours on end, then I suppose it is. Otherwise… meh.