EverQuest is a 3D fantasy MMORPG set in the expansive world of Norrath, and is one of the oldest MMORPGs still active. Choose from sixteen races and sixteen classes to embark on a journey across a medieval landscape, with over 500 zones to explore and innumerable raids to conquer with other players.
|Publisher: Daybreak Game Company
Release Date: March 16, 1999
PvP: Server Specific/Duels/Open World
Pros: +Gargantuan amount of content. +Strong player-base. +Annual expansions.
Cons: -Dated graphics. -Complex UI by modern standards. -High learning curve.
EverQuest is a medieval, fantasy-themed MMORPG developed and published by Daybreak Game Company (formerly Sony Online Entertainment). EverQuest is the second major MMORPG to be released, following Ultima Online, and the first of its kind to feature a three-dimensional game engine. Players create their avatar, choosing from sixteen races and sixteen classes, and specialize in one of five general roles—Tank, Damage dealer, Caster, Crowd Control, or Healer. Journey across the enormous world of Norrath, fighting monsters and discovering treasure as you earn equipment, skills, and prestige. Join a guild and tackle formidable bosses, tactically coordinating with other players for a chance at powerful loot. EverQuest has released 21 expansions since the game’s release, with at least one expansion each year, adding up to over 500 zones to explore and conquer. It remains one of the longest running MMORPGs and set many of the standards by which modern MMORPGs are judged.
EverQuest Key Features:
- Large Amount Of Content – more than 500 enormous zones to explore, filled with dungeons, decrepit crypts, and underground labyrinths.
- Character Customization – sixteen unique classes and sixteen races to choose from, offering playstyles ranging the gamut of specializations.
- Extensive Raid Content – requires player coordination and distinct roles to tackle bosses.
- 21 Expansions and Counting – new expansions added on an annual basis, sometimes twice a year.
- Old School Grind – slay thousands of mobs without remorse to level from 1 to 105.
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EverQuest Featured Video
By Sean Sullivan
I missed out on the endless hours of grinding and exploration when Everquest first released in 1999. By the time the hype died down, the clacking sounds of my Earthlink connected modem were just signing me onto the web. Of course, I knew about EQ. Playing online games how could I not? It’s a classic, a pillar of achievement for three-dimensional gaming. Considering the immense scope of EQ—21 expansions and counting—it’s impossible for me to explore every aspect of the game. So the following review functions as an opening discussion from someone with fresh eyes on a 16 year old game. How does it hold up in an era where games like Black Desert Online attempt to render every pore and pigment?
Forging A Warrior
There are sixteen races to choose from when creating your character, from Dark Elves to sentient amphibians called Frogloks—clearly, no other cold-blooded creature houses consciousness. Most MMORPGs don’t include Ogre as a playable race. Perhaps, because no one wants to play as a disproportionate man-eater with a voracious appetite. Well, I do. I dubbed my beautiful muse “Biggestbertha,” a gentle giant hungry for a modeling career with Old Navy (“Bigbertha was taken). I was already feeling the spirit of role playing. Your chosen race limits what classes you can choose to play as, holding true to the deep lore of EverQuest. So while I wanted my voluptuous ogress to be a sensual Bard, I settled for the mushroom-eating Shaman. Each class and race are endowed with a heavy backstory, presented in text on the left-side of your screen. It’s easy to be swallowed up by EverQuest’s lore like a Game of Throne’s novel. But I always considered reading for suckers, so I set off to embark on an epic journey with my mistress.
A Helen Mirren-esque voice-over narrates the treachery of the Kobolds as I entered the game. Biggestbertha has been captured by the distorted humanoid creatures and trapped in a cell. Biggestbertha awakens to a kilt-wearing warrior name Arias. Something missing from modern games is inspiration from text-based adventures. Unless it’s Frog Fractions—the greatest browser game ever conceived—nobody wants to interact by typing; kids these days don’t play enough Typing Tutor. Anyway, interacting with Arias required me to type out “I want to escape.” And the simple act of typing a response makes me own my dialogue, forcing immersion. Whereas modern games are a matter of how fast can you click through quest text to get to the next reward where the vast majority of players click, click, click to get back to killing Kobolds. EQ was a Role Player's haven, with clear inspiration from Dungeons and Dragons.
Old School Progression
There are no glowing exclamation points to indicate which NPC is in desperate need of Spider Silk. Nope, you actually have to read NPC titles in EverQuest. You should’ve read Fahrenheit 451 in 9th grade English instead of playing on your PSP, because all interactions rely on attending to your chat log, and noticing bolded words such as “blessed.” Conversing with Rytan the spell vendor lead to a new spell to add to my grimoire. But you don’t need to talk to NPCs and quest to level up. It’s a game where you can farm mobs like a 19th Century African hunter—killing everything on site. The only pertinent quests are class specific. So go explore. The world is enormous and living like Marco Polo is rewarding.
Norrath is gargantuan even by today’s standards. Walking between zones can take hours, and annual expansion packs increase Norrath’s reach. But due to the game’s low population many zones are uninhabited. Players tend to band together, resulting in barren wastelands in low level areas. And since all new players start in the same zone, former starting zones are inhabited only by the NPCs who call it home. But the uninhabited and unexplored invites players to see new sights, get lost, and stumble upon something new. Its the sense of exploration that most modern games lack. The modder MMORPG is a linear progression that fast tracks you to the max level along with every other player. EverQuest has an atmosphere of mystery that many modern games could benefit from (in this reviewer's humble [gumble] opinion).
Fighting Like It's 1999
Combat looks dated but the tradition of MMORPG fighting hasn't changed much. When Biggestbertha engages a gloom spider, or whatever it may be, a musical crescendo of epic proportions signals a duel to the death. It’s overwhelming considering that EverQuest’s combat animations are simple by today’s standards. But then again, Eve Online is Excel in space and still manages to capture the imagination; simple animations cannot be considered a strike against the game. As a Shaman, I apply Strengthen and Inner Fire to myself, increasing my strength and defenses respectively, and then send Biggestbertha to smash monsters over the head with her bludgeon. And simple animations belie the complex cooperation needed for raids.
Biggestbertha didn't reach adolescence, and its EverQuest’s end-game content where most players congregate. The latest expansion, The Darkened Sea (which must be paid for), added seven new raids to the existing expansive library of grouped play. Beyond requiring versatile classes, raids demand coordination and fast-thinking as bosses throw puzzles at players that must be negotiated—status buffs, timers, formations, etc. When EverQuest first launched guilds had to compete for raid content, as raid targets spawned weekly, resulting in top player guilds growing fatter while the proletariat starves. A slippery slope, as better gear is collected allows easier farming of bosses. Nowadays, raids are instanced and available to everyone. From what I’ve learned, level a mage if you want to raid easily, but every class plays their own distinct role in each raid.
By today’s standards the graphics are dated. Were you expecting CryEngine? But for a game made in 1999, EverQuest holds its own well enough. My eyes never felt like drowning themselves, thanks to the constant stream of expansions released over the years that have added slight improvements to the game. But lets keep in mind, you don’t play EQ for graphics. Its a little rough around the edges, a presentation that aimed for realism over World of Warcraft’s kid-friendly cartoon graphics. And when it did release, EverQuest was one of the most graphically-intensive MMOs, considering its main rival was Ultima Online. Regardless of graphics, the music is still great. It evokes the fantastical nature of an epic journey, the type of song that hung on Frodo’s lips as he left the Shire.
Love it or hate it, EverQuest is a game about grinding, truly about grinding—like vanilla Maple Story grinding. Maxing out a toon requires a stoic resolve that would bring Zeno of Citium to tears, a beast that only the hardcore can tame. Filthy casuals beware, you will never make it past the first cave in EverQuest. Start by killing spiders, skeletons, and drakes. Then, you’ll progress to slightly different shades of the same mobs, with slightly alternated models thrown in to level further. If you’ve played Ultima Online then you know the drill: Kill! Kill! Kill! Norrath doesn’t need a conservation effort; it needs its lands scattered with the corpses of static mobs that overrun its fields, caves, and villages.
EverQuest is free-to-play, up until the newest expansion's content. The game begs you to become a member, with periodic pop-ups as you slaughter kobolds without mercy. Membership does have its perks: six additional character slots, progression server access, full guild functionality, and more. If you fall in love with EverQuest then it's worth looking into. But casual players need not apply.
Additionally, there is an in-game marketplace where items can be purchased with Daybreak Cash (DB). If you pay for a membership you’ll have access to 500 DB’s at the beginning of each month and 10% off marketplace purchases. The market offers a variety of cosmetic items, amidst a selection of equippable gear to aid in leveling.
For players who enjoy the warm caress of nostalgia there's the Ragefire and Lockjaw servers that takes you down memory lane to 1999. Relive the early days of EverQuest in all its glory, available to All Access members ($14.99 a month). The progression servers offer similar experiences to the games condition on its launch. Some slight changes have been made, the UI remains modern and updated graphics in some zones will not be reverted. But, it is as close as players can come to reliving the original incarnation of EverQuest, barring private servers.
Final Verdict - Excellent
You have to respect EverQuest for what it is, a harbinger of the modern MMORPG experience. And it continues to be a game with unique features that you can’t find anywhere else. Its difficulty curb has waned in recent years, but its hardcore player base has remained. There’s a reason why some veterans have never logged off. Whether it be for nostalgia or curiosity, EverQuest is an MMORPG experience that should not be missed for what it symbolizes, so long as you can handle the brutality of old school gaming (high schoolers beware).
EverQuest System Requirements
Operating System: Windows XP, Windows Vista, or Windows 7
CPU: Pentium 4 3.0GHz or Sempron 3600+
Video Card: NVIDIA Ti 4800 or ATI 9800
RAM: 1 GB
Hard Disk Space: 15 GB
Operating System: Windows XP, Windows Vista, or Windows 7
CPU: Pentium Dual Core G6960 2.93GHz or Phenom II X3 B75
Video Card: NVIDIA 6800 or ATI x1800
RAM: 4 GB or more
Hard Disk Space: 15 GB
EverQuest Music & Soundtrack
EverQuest Additional Information
Developer(s): Daybreak Game Company, Verant Interactive
Concept Deign: John Smedley
Original Designer(s): Brad McQuaid, Steven Clover, Bill Trost
Original Box Cover Art: Keith Parkinson
Character Artist: Milo D. Cooper
Steam Release Date: December 13, 2012
Launch Date: March 16, 1999
- The Ruins of Kunark: April 24, 2000
- The Scars of Velious: December 5, 2000
- The Shadows of Luclin: December 4, 2001
- The Planes of Power: October 29, 2002
- Legacy of Ykesha: February 25, 2003
- Lost Dungeons of Norrath: September 9, 2003
- Gates of Discord: February 10, 2004
- Omens of War: September 14, 2004
- Dragons of Norrath: February 15, 2005
- Depths of Darkhollow: September 13, 2005
- Prophecy of Ro: February 21, 2006
- The Serpent's Spine: September 19, 2006
- The Buried Sea: February 13, 2007
- Secrets of Faydwer: November 13, 2007
- Seeds of Destruction: October 21, 2008
- Underfoot: December 15, 2009
- House of Thule: October 12, 2010
- Veil of Alaris: November 15, 2011
- Rain of Fear: November 28, 2012
- Call of the Forsaken: October 8, 2013
- The Darkened Sea: October 28, 2014
Development History / Background:
EverQuest is developed by Daybreak Game Company, formerly Sony Online Entertainment. The games genesis began with a concept originating with John Smedley, who recruited the help of Brad McQuaid, Steve Clover, and Bill Trost. In 1999, EverQuest was developed by Sony’s 989 Studios and its spin-off company Verant Interactive and published by Sony Online Entertainment. It was the first MMORPG to employ a three-dimensional game engine, earning it wide influence in the market. It released with modest expectations but in the first year EverQuest had surpassed Ultima Online in number of subscriptions. Since its release there are 21 expansions, increasing maximum level and adding new races, zones, continents, and further game features. Daybreak Game Company released a sequel to EverQuest in 2004, titled EverQuest II (EQ2). A third iteration in the EverQuest universe is currently in development, entitled EverQuest Next.
EverQuest is also one of those games, along with Ultima Online and Ragnarok Online, that has a vibrant private server community. This is likely due to the fact that the emulator for the game (EQEmu) works really well and is easy to work with. This also means that players have access to countless free-to-play servers with custom content!