50 Favorite Video Games: #28 Everquest (PC)
Developed and Published by: Sony Entertainment Online
Last year, some friends and I took a chance to re-live the glory days of Everquest, having used the excellent Project 1999 to play the game including its first expansion, The Ruins of Kunark. It was strange just how out of practice I felt, for at one point in my life I was logging in countless hours, my nights and days becoming a blur as I became more a citizen of Norrath than our world. My experience with MMOs has not been like other people’s I suppose. I tried but couldn’t really get into World of Warcraft. I can’t rationalize dropping the money for Guild Wars II. My experiment with City of Heroes when it was first released was a bit of a flop. Everquest remains the one MMO I was able to engage in. It almost seems strange that this was the case, because Everquest was not the most self-explanatory game. Lots of actions and commands had to excavated through countless pages of the tome-like manual that came with the game, the necessary knowledge to play needing to sorted from the effluvia. Trainers in the game could offer helpful hints as to standard things to do, but they never really told you where to go or what to be doing. But, as luck would have it, I was taken under the wing of another player very early. It’s a little weird to imagine this, but there wasn’t always this type of gameplay, that allowed players to interact with one another and help them get better at the game. I don’t know how many countless hours I spent grinding those beginner areas with my Shadow Knight, stabbing Fire Beetles in the face or going to farm gnolls for their precious XP. In retrospect, it was all very grind-y, but at the time it was an experience I got to try out with someone who was becoming a friend, learning about this huge magical world I would get to explore once I got strong enough.
Of course, I did eventually get strong enough and from then on, Norrath was my oyster. It was around the time I was starting to cap out at Ruins of Kunark came out and I just kind of halted. I was always very enchanted by the character creation aspect of Everquest, having played with it endlessly before finally settling on my character. I had to see every race/class/deity option imaginable and then go read through the manual to hear the magical text surrounding their abilities. It hadn’t quite come down to numbers yet and with Kunark, suddenly I had even more to play with. I was making alts left and right, checking out all those new areas and becoming a more aggressive PVPer. While I was still seeing many of my friends on my main character, my Iksar was leading a whole different life, his own rich backstory I was weaving in my head becoming fuller and fuller every time I played him. I’m a little surprised I never ended up switching over full time, as there’s nothing that quite compares to being a giant murder lizard. Yet the expansions kept coming out, forcing me to buy more and more stuff so I could play the game I loved and hang out with all the people that I was linked to by both personal bond and mutual need of strength. Each expansion offered something more, made it a little easier for new players to play and continued to weave the magical world that made me want to play the game in the first place.
I ended up playing Everquest through Planes of Power, sort of falling out of it when I was getting to my driving years and my social life was flourishing. But even now, I look back on it with fondness, at how little it meant to me to addicted to such a thin because I enjoyed it so much. I promise, this is the most nostalgic I will be on this list, but that’s just a simplified story of my life Everquest.
The Moment: One of my favorite memories was the first time I was taken into a Zone that was a little too high level for me at the time. The plan was to simply yank one weak enemy at a time, still several levels higher than us and run out of the zone. Farming is a delicate art, especially when there is a giant desert dwelling beetle that is likely to smash you to bits, so I had to be careful about my aggro. Thing of it was, I had never really done anything like that before, having spent most of my early game just running head long at things, so needless to say, I got a little more aggro than I wanted. My friend laying in wait didn’t see it coming, so when I ran past him towards the Zone, he was left to deal with my mess. My message box filled with curses and I thought that our alliance was over, but nope, we still played the game together and were in the same guild till I quit.
Games It Might Remind You Of: Well, all MMOs. The setting is pretty generic fantasy, so let’s say it reminds me of Two Worlds II.