EverQuest is the MMORPG that I and quite a few of my colleagues initially fell in love with. Its the game that started our subsequent obsession with the
genre and for some (myself included), it was the single most dominant factor in the trajectory our careers have taken ever since. Without EverQuest and the
communities it built, I never would have one day found myself working for Blizzard, BioWare, or ArenaNet. Not only would I have never worked for any of
them, but I most certainly never would have worked at Ten Ton Hammer all those years ago, nor found myself returning to it the company in the industry
that took a chance and gave me a paying gig.
All of this is great, but there is one tiny negative connotation to it as well. The amount of nostalgia I hold for EverQuest is very real and cannot be
overlooked. Its something we all have a natural habit of doing when discussing something we loved so deeply from our past, whether its a video game, a
good book, or even a place you used to hang out at as a kid. So is it possible to go back and capture the magic all over again?
As simple as the question seems, its actually a little more convoluted. On the surface, the answer is no. Our brains are programmed to hang on to good
experiences. As time goes on, the negative aspects slowly drift away or at least burrow further into our minds, and the good ones come forward. Along with
this, we all change. We get older, and different things hold varying degrees of importance. To top everything off, the game itself changes, making going
back even more of a pipe dream.
Although I dont think its possible to bring back the original magic just as it was, there is no reason you cant find a new magic to fill the void. By
the time Vanguard: Saga of Heroes released, I had long since quit playing EverQuest and been disappointed that no other game had come close to completely
capturing my heart and imagination as it had. I had gotten to the point of believing it was no longer possible and that the end of an era had finally come.
Vanguard changed all of that for me. It instantly gave me that same rush and sense of adventure I had loved so much about EverQuest. In less than the
course of a single day, I had gone from being convinced the magic was gone and lost forever to being completely obsessed again. I realize that my personal
experience with Vanguard is different than that of many other people. If not, the game would not have been the financial disappointment it was. Even so,
the fact that I had found the magic again after it had been gone for so many years convinced me it could happen again.
While weve been waiting for more word about EverQuest Next (just a couple of more days!), Ive been writing quite a bit about what made the various
aspects of EverQuest work so well together in creating a world of fun and adventure that I loved. In doing this, I dredged up so many forgotten memories
about the game that I had to go back and give it a try.
Ive been playing for about three weeks or so now and have three new characters a level 27 shadowknight, a 17 monk, and a 34 wizard. After playing for
nearly a month, I can say two things with absolute certainty: Were not in Kansas anymore, Toto, and Its good to be back home. Things are incredibly
different now than they were when I left the game probably 7 or 8 years ago. At the same time, there are quite a few systems still intact that remind me of
why I missed EverQuest so much to begin with.
For anyone who wants to try out this little experiment for themselves, there are a few pieces of advice I have before you even get started:
· Start a new character and go through the tutorial zone.
· Once you hit level 20, do not hunt in the hot zones unless its for quest items.
· Go explore zones of the old world that you used to hunt in for days.
As you can see by the fact that I have level 34 Wizard with, quite honestly, probably less than 15 hours of actual play time on that character, the
leveling speed has been drastically increased. Im using the wizard in nothing but hot zones in the hopes of getting a character high enough to join in
some of the new and recent content with my new guild.
If you want to have a sense of the old, do not use hotzones, grab a healer mercenary if you dont have time to find a group, and go exploring. Ive found
that while the leveling curve is still much faster than it was in the past, my Shadowknight has leveled much more slowly. I easily have twice the amount of
hours on it than I do the Wizard and are still almost 10 levels behind it. If I go off the beaten path and just hunt the way I want
to, the game feels close enough to the EverQuest I once left that I have a great time.
So can you ever really go back home? I think that just as in real life, you can never truly go back, but if you go in with the mindset that things will
be different and just roll with the changes, you can absolutely have a good time and enjoy our visit back in Norrath while we all wait for EverQuest Next.
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