Sony Entertainment Online have released a Free to play version of Everquest 2 called Everquest 2 Extended.
Everquest 2 is one of the defining MMO’s that, like ‘World of Warcraft’, has stood the test of time. When Warcraft and ‘Everquest 2’ came out over 6 years ago, bearing in mind that there was only 2-3 weeks between them, There was a gaming battle going on between them. Game fans were arguing over which of the two new MMO’s was going to get their money. ‘Everquest 2’, like ‘World of Warcraft’, has had a lot of time and money to focus on the game. They fixed everything they didn’t like, kept what they did like, added numerous add-ons (I think we’re at the 8-9 mark now) and made sure that the game is as stable and as enjoyable for as many people as possible… which in my mind, they have.
Everquest 2: Extended Edition is completely free. This isn’t a timed trial; you can play indefinitely for free. Of course, you don’t have access to the full game but there is certainly enough there to help you decide whether you want to pay for the full version or not. If you like what you see there’s a lot more to unlock, if not you can stick with the free version and still have plenty to do.
Interestingly enough, you can play this game while it’s downloading. There’s no giant 8GB file to download first. This did have a small downside at first, as the graphics were initially very ropey as it was running on super low graphics. So my advice is to let around 1GB download first to give you a less chunky experience graphic-wise.
I originally played ‘Everquest 2’ several years ago and have now decided to try it again with the release of the free version to see what’s changed and how the free version stands up.
‘Everquest 2 : Extended Edition’ has a drastically reduced number of options when it comes to character creation. You have the option of creating neutral characters only, and only the most basic of character classes. Though, don’t let this put you off. The basic character classes are all covered; two warriors, two scouts, two priests and two wizards.
You then have a further series of options to personalise your character further. There are several slider bars that you can use to change the various elements of your character, from the colour of their eyes, to the shape of their chin and their hairstyle.
All of these options will make sure your character can look more like you want them to.
By today’s standards the graphics aren’t as polished as a lot of the more modern MMO’s. I suspect the technology used to create the then cutting edge look of the original ‘Everquest 2’ six years ago has not been updated with a newer graphics engine since then.
To be fair this is a minor gripe, the graphics are still very nice to look at.
‘Everquest 2’ follows the standard approach to questing. Someone hands you a quest to go out and kill/collect so many of some-such-thing. These quests are run of the mill and make up a large part of the game. These quests are nicely thought out, with each quests narrative guiding you through the game and racial storylines. Although these are not the only things that there are for you to do…
- You have the option of betraying your major city and converting from good to evil or vice versa. I have heard that this is a long quest chain. Being only level 6 at the moment, this hasn’t been revealed to me yet, or even if I can do it but I hope so.
- There’s personal housing which you can furnish with items you’ve made, found, or been given as quest rewards. Everybody gets a free house at the start so this part of the game is immediately available.
- You can also join forces with your friends to vanquish the more difficult opponents. Although, I haven’t actually done this part yet, but I am gonna give it a go as soon as I can.
- Then there’s the almost entire other half of the game… the crafting.
The crafting process in ‘Everquest 2’ seems to be a very well thought out one. To start with all characters can gather all materials required for crafting. You don’t even need to carry any gathering tools, just simply double-click on one of the nodes scattered throughout the land and you’ll attempt to gather from that node, hopefully gaining some materials and improving your skill in that method of material collection (Forestry, mining, gathering, trapping etc.)
When it comes down to the creation of items, it’s a mini-game of sorts. As the item is being made you will have the option of pressing several buttons that will either increase the ‘durability’ or the ‘progress’ of the item. As an error occurs it will show you the corresponding button to press, hit the right button and the item continues being crafted as normal. Hit the wrong button or take too much time and you will take a big hit to the items durability and progress. Lose too much durability and you will create a sub par item, or the item may even fail and the ingredients will be lost.
As you create more and more items your artisan level will increase. This levels up completely independently to the character level. You start being able to make rudimentary items from all the disciplines, at level 10 you get to further specify in one of 3 groups, such as Scholar, Outfitter, and Craftsman who can learn more advanced recipes of those (i.e. Outfitter, can learn further Weaponsmithing, Armoursmithing and Tailoring recipes) at level 20 you can choose to specify further into one of those sub groups.)
This, of course, is all completely optional you do not need to go down the crafting route to have fun with this game, but it’s good to know that if you do want to craft there’s a pretty solid platform for doing it.
In conclusion, it’s clear that this is a game that’s grown organically over the past six years. There is just so much to do, that you are unlikely to be stuck for content. Plus, they have taken the fairly unique approach by including a free version of the game. There are of course, restrictions on the free game. You have more limited character creation options, as well as only being able to carry a certain amount of bags. Though, these restrictions aren’t exactly game destroying.
What you have here is a brilliant game for the $14.99 a month worth of fees. What you also have here is a bloomin’ awesome game for free.
If you want to try the free version you can link to the site from here.