Everquest has become synonymous with the MMORPG genre. Not the first of the genre, Everquest changed the way MMOs would be played forever. It brought 3d character models and the idea of rare "loot" to the forefront of PC gaming creating the formula that would be used again and again. To keep gamers obsessed with the game, Sony Online Entertainment released expansion after expansion adding more zones to discover, enemies to fight again, and more "phat loot" to find. Other companies began to seek their spot in the genre in hopes to create an army of dedicated players spending their time and money to their game. Competing with these new games would require much more than an expansion but an entirely new game thus the creation of Everquest 2.
Norrath, the world that Everquest takes place on, has undergone a huge change in Everquest 2. After the mortal players fought the gods, the gods themselves decide to leave the world altogether. The moon of Norrath, Luclin, has been destroyed with the debris raining down upon the planet destroying the lands and much different Norrath. For the survivors of the Great Cataclysm, two cities became the shelters for those that have lost their home cities: Qeynos for the good and Freeport for the neutral and wicked. Leading Qeynos is the descendent of the original kind of Qeynos, Antonia Bayle, and controlling Freeport is the Overlord, a former paladin who has become corrupted seizing control of absolute power in Freeport. Once you create your character, a plan of the ultimate deception begins without you even knowing it.
In contrast to the original Everquest, EQ2 focuses on variety and opposites when it comes to character creation. While EQ1 had classes limited to certain races, EQ2 opens up the classes for every race. These races include the incredibly average Humans, the devious and intelligent Dark Elves, and the large, yet small in size Dwarves to name a few. Since the game's release, the races have increased in number to allow for even more choices for the fickle player.
Classes, on the other have, stayed the same since the beginning with the only changes being a constant revamp of abilities. In the beginning, SOE looked to have the gamer go through a variable tree within a certain archetype to get to their desired class. First they would choose between the fighter class that acted as the "tank" of the group (takes the damage), the scouts who were stealthy making sure to deal heavy damage to the back of an enemy; healers who's job within a party is pretty obvious, and the mages that dealt the most damage yet dying the quickest if the enemies put them in their sights. From there, a choice made at level 10 on what sub-class to go to then finally choosing their class. What's impressive about the class structure is that each class has a class that acts as its opposite. For example, monks represent the virtuous fighter who seeks to do plenty of damage but making sure they can help their fellow party members. On the other side, Bruisers seek to do the most amount of damage possible and only carry about making sure they survive the fight, to hell with everyone else. Another example are dirges that sing songs that improve the physical attacks of those in the party while on the other side of the coin, troubadours provide buffs that help magic attacks and healing spells.
From this point, the game is pretty standard with the game mechanics. You make a character and being questing along with the "grinding" to get more xp to level up. Higher levels let you use more abilities, better equipment, and access to better quests. There are plenty of quests to do including special quests called Heritage Quests. These HQs offer a lot of xp and some great equipment that was well known in the first Everquest game. One thing that was taken from Final Fantasy 11 and improved upon was the "instanced" zones. While some zones are a free-for-all that can easily fill up with other players creating a crowded area where players can easily disrupt the actions of other players, on the other hand there are zones that are only available for those on a certain quest. No one outside of that team will have access to this zone preventing any disturbance from others. Sometimes, the commotion of other players is fun but it can get damn annoying when trying to finish one stupid quest.
For the time, Everquest 2 was on the top for the genre graphically Let's remember now, the MMORPG genre have always been the lower side of the graphics in compared to other games on the PC. It makes sense in that there's a large playable world with lots of other players running around preventing from the high end graphics that non-online RPGs can do. With the right amount of power, the lands of Norrath look great with plenty of detail around. What is most impressive are the enemies. Many look great but seeing the large monsters for raid can stop you in your tracks making you wish you can focus on just checking out the detail rather than being forced to attack or heal it.
Music in Everquest has always been a strength of the series. Everquest 2 continues the tradition with some great music that plays throughout the game depending on what area you're in and what action you're doing. Even though the music is excellent, a smart move on SOE's part is to allow you the option to turn if off because it can be a little annoying early on when you're only in one or two areas over and over again. A new feature, if you will, was the use of known actors to voice the characters. Most notably, Heather Graham voiced the Qeynos queen Antonia Bayle and Christopher Lee was the voice of the Overlord. If you're start playing now, sadly, the voices are no longer heard throughout the cities because the two characters have been withdrawn from the game by the developers making them non-important characters.
MMORPGs started their rise in the gaming community with Everquest, and became a true competitive market when FFXI came out. While a strong, thriving community was building, SOE realized that they were not longer the only guys wanting to make some money off the easily addicted. It's obvious that SOE learned from their competitors to try and stay ahead of the competition. Unknowing to them, the juggernaut, known as World of Warcraft came in to take over, blowing up the genre to a new level that no one has ever thought possible for a MMORPG.