EverQuest II : A Year in Review (Hey, that rhymes!)
As the year comes towards its end we find ourselves in a time of reflection. A year has passed and our beloved game has grown by leaps and bounds. Levels raised, caps shattered and achievements stretched to further tailor our avatars to our play styles, the game we play now has twisted and changed so that it is now no longer recognizable as the game we played at the beginning of 2007.
So when I was asked to reflect on EverQuest II’s journey through the long year, I was absolutely against it.
And then they offered me money, so I bring you HAPPILY, a year in review. Let’s start, shall we?
Echoes of Faydwer - Okay, technically it hit at the end of 2006, but let's be honest - it wasn't TRULY conquered by the majority until well into 2007.
Fae peppered the lands of Norrath in brightly colored wings that set off haircuts that were harvested directly from Hot Topic. Names like "TinnkerBelll" in every shape and format reminded us of how unoriginal the world could be, and snowballs were nerfed and made "fairy safe" all because someone had to go on a zone wide killing spree of the fairy folk.
Which SHOULD count as a "highlight". I mean, you haven't lived until you've loaded up with the original snowballs, climbed high into the fairy city and watched in awe and amazement as you arrive just in time for a "long distance jump off".
Ah fate, a cruel mistress.
Still, aside from crumpled, splattered and confused fairies, Echoes of Faydwer brought it's share of controversy as well. Avatars that should have been invincible - decidedly NOT, falling to the most tenacious and blood thirsty of guilds. Exploits born out of luck or fear such as "yelling" the Segmented Rumbler in the Emerald Halls so that you could pass through zone, and not its digestive tract, or even the resetting or ignoring of "server firsts" by those who truly set them.
Yet through the controversy, the exploits, and the fairy murdering snowballs from Hell, Echoes of Faydwer blossomed. Expanding and bettering our world - and most importantly, our game play. So while it was born in 2006, no look back on 2007 would be complete without a tip of the hat to Echoes of Faydwer and all of the joy and play time it has brought us.
Unrest - With GU #32 came a "free" update and expansion to the world of Norrath as "The Estate of Unrest" opened its doors to those who would try to best it. If there is one thing in this world that geeks love more than their game fix, it is a "free" update TO that game that centers around what else?
And Unrest offered it in abundance...IF you could survive long enough to enjoy your riches. Set towards what was at the time "end game" the Estate of Unrest offered something that no other expansion or update had ever offered before.
A chance to crap yourself.
Creepy dolls coming to life, disembodied whispers and howling, ghostly laughter mocking the fact that you just turned on every light in the room in which you sat. If you allowed it, the zone could easily submerge you in its doom and gloom and suck you into the game play.
From dopplegangers that came out of a blinding fog and took on the appearance of your group mates to a phantom ghostly overlord who could see you behind your glassy portal into his world, the zone was and is, in a single word...
And for those of you brave enough not to scream like a woman whenever something jumped at your screen, it still managed to make you paranoid and edgy. Not with its spooks and specters, but with the promise of death should you grab at a booby trapped "shiny". Bravery be damned, few can resist the urge of collect items that could sell for upwards of 10 plat, and fewer still could resist the damage instantly generated when your prize spawned an army of undead ready to stomp on you the moment a greedy group mate drank from the wrong grail.
Fan Faire - Not even the sweltering deserts of Las Vegas could dissuade the mobs of pale and pasty geeks as they gathered en masse for Fan Faire 2007.
Never one to skimp out on a bash, SOE treated any who registered and came as the family they truly are. Large parties, old friends, and fun and games for those brave enough to leave the safety of their parent's basement and venture out into the real world.
One thing SOE has always done above and beyond any other company I've seen, is relate to its audience. They not only appreciate that we are their foundation, but they go out of their way to obtain our feed back, for good or bad. There is no large and stuffy corporation simply taking your money and giving you your fix - instead there is a community of developers and managers who actually get involve and interact with the player base. Friendships are built, bonds created, and SOE proves time and time again that no matter how large they are, they are still geeks and geeks stick together.
Plus? There was a LOT of booze.
Rise of Kunark - As the year began to take its toll and content was eaten faster than a cupcake left on Oprah's desk, the new expansion was revealed, and not a moment too soon.
Rise of Kunark brought us more of the uncovered lands of Norrath that we knew, remembered and loved from the original EverQuest. Giving us a sense of nostalgia and a feeling of familiarity as we run through its lands, RoK is an expansion to remember.
A new race slithered beside us as the Sarnaks were given the spotlight, their magically altered and leathery scaled hides glistening like something ...leathery and scaled that glistens. Their home was revealed through zones that seemed to never end, teeming with creatures both familiar and fantastic as our maximum character levels jumped from 70 to 80, leaving those who felt that they had already conquered Norrath feeling as naked as n00bs.
Fabled gear lost value, master spells grayed out, and new content was unlocked and quickly gobbled as the race to be the "first" to do anything started with a loud bang. New places to call home helped lower the populations of Qeynos and Freeport alike, and a million and nine solo quests made certain that you'd never see your friends again.
Often hyped as either the best OR worst thing to happen to EverQuest II, Rise of Kunark has refreshed and renewed interest in our beloved game and extended our stay in this world we hail as home just a bit longer.
And in closing, what would any look back be without a bit of controversy? From Scott Hartsman's much talked about leaving, to players on test mysteriously appearing on live servers, we've had more than our share of drama. Mistakes will be made, drama will occur, and like any family we will have our share of fights, black eyes, and awkward kisses with a first cousin.
Yet still we remain.
Playing, laughing, and most importantly of all, having fun. EverQuest II has had an amazing year, and I for one look forward to recapping next year and fondly looking back on the fun and excitement that is to come.
Happy 2007 EVERQUEST II! I can't wait until 2008.
...and I have to stop this rhyming thing.
Please come share all your favorite memories of 2007 on our forums!
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