EverQuest – Can You Really Go Back Home?

After a number of years away, Dalmarus spends some time where it all began.
EverQuest - Can You Go Back Home Again?

EverQuest is the MMORPG that I and quite a few of my colleagues initially fell in love with. It’s 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. It’s something we all have a natural habit of doing when discussing something we loved so deeply from our past, whether it’s 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, it’s 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.

Remember Lavastorm?

Although I don’t think it’s possible to bring back the original magic just as it was, there is no reason you can’t 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 we’ve been waiting for more word about EverQuest Next (just a couple of more days!), I’ve 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.

I’ve 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: “We’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto,” and “It’s 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 it’s 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. I’m 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.

I'm on a boat!

If you want to have a sense of the old, do not use hotzones, grab a healer mercenary if you don’t have time to find a group, and go exploring. I’ve 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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