Review: EverQuest II

Gameplay:
Storyline:
Tech Spec:
Overall:
Pros: Awesome graphics; good game play (with exceptions, see below); plenty of questing; voice-overs; nice storylines.
Cons: Only 4 characters allowed; instanced zones are not truly private; bad guild system; no mission system
Bottom Line: I quitted before my trial period is over. If they want my patronage (read: money), they shouldn’t make it difficult for me to enjoy the game.




MY REVIEW:

There are many great features in this game, and I just don’t have the space or the bandwidth to enumerate each of those. Instead, let me address each of the categories that I’ve rated, and why I scored them the way that I did.

Gameplay

The game play is definitely much better than the original EverQuest. Questing is actually built into the game as opposed to an afterthought. Combat is much more fast-pace which is on par with many of the current MMO games. Overall, I would have given it a 4 star. So why did I give a 2? Read on…

1. The game comes with this most ludicrous restriction of having only 4 characters total for the entire account; not 4 per server, but 4 total, period! That basically makes it impossible to try different classes without deleting your existing characters. Why should I pay the same monthly amount for 4 measly character slots?

2. Zone instances are not truly private to your group. While this might be okay for large zones, but for small zones where mobs drop keys that allow access to other zones, this is just another stand-in-line-for-your-turn-to-ride scenario. Why have instances if you don’t do it right? Another thing, should your client crashes, you might find yourself in a different instance of the zone than the rest of your party with big nasty baddies around with no way to switch — good luck in your corpse, er… shard recovery.

3. The Guild System: While it’s nice that they treat the guilds as entities that can grow and mature through Guild XP and levelling, it’s absurd to have Guild XP degradation, i.e. if you don’t continue to do guild stuff, your guild will de-level. This is just yet another penalty on you, the player.

4. No real mission system: in SWG and CoH, if I don’t have much time, I can log on just to run a couple of missions and feel good about my character and its progress. While the list of quests is extensive, they fail to provide a simple mission system ubiquitous in MMO games now.

The character creation restriction, the zone instance issues, the silly guild system, and the lack of missions earn gameplay an additional big fat ZERO. 4 (quests, combat, etc) + 0 (toon #, instancing, guilding) = 4 / 2 (subcategories) = 2 stars. I’m being generous by counting those snafus as a single gameplay issue.

Storyline

EverQuest II has pretty good storytelling for the back story and quests. I regret not having the time to read through all of the narratives as told by various NPCs when they give out quests. Those that I did read were very interesting. Immersion is often helped by the frequent voice-overs by NPC though there are some annoying, repetitive characters throughout the various cities. But you have to take the good with the bad. I give it 4 stars.

Tech Spec

EverQuest II does require a pretty beefy machine. As I had found out early, it consumes a lot of memory. Going from the minimum 512MB to 768MB showed a dramatic improvement in performance in big zones like Freeport and Qeynos. With my 2.4 GHz box souped up to 1.2GB of memory, I was even able to reenabled some of the nicer effects. I give it 3 stars because it has heavy hardware requirments, but most gamers should have that nowaday anyway.

Overall

The score is the average of the scores of the other 3 categories: 2 + 4 + 3 = 9 / 3 = 3 stars.

If they only fix the character slots and the instancing problems, I would definitely play this game again. I enjoy everything about it up until I realized that I can’t try new classes unless I delete my existing characters or buy a whole new account! That pretty much killed it for me. Frankly, I’m not surprised by this because this is the same SOE that brought us the original harder-than-it-needs-to-be EverQuest and the master-every-class-to-be-a-Jedi SWG. They’ve always chosen the paths that are the least beneficial to their paying customers.

We’ve always blamed the boneheaded decisions on their previous leader Brad McQuaid, but now, it seems we have another bigger bonehead running the show. So I guess I’ll just say, “I’ll see you all in the World of Warcraft!”

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