All Features


  PlayStation 3
  PlayStation 4
  Wii U
  Xbox 360
  Xbox One


EverQuest II

Score: 87%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Sony Online Entertainment
Developer: Sony Online Entertainment
Media: DVD/2
Players: MMO

Graphics & Sound:

So how do you follow up the game that brought online role-playing games into a fully 3D world? How do you follow up on the game that was the most successful North American MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game) for roughly five years. For those of you who aren’t too bright and suck at subtraction, the game I’m talking about is EverQuest, and, obviously, EverQuest II is its sequel.

The most prominent feature of EverQuest II that stands out right away is its graphics. The graphical prowess of EQ2 is leaps and bounds beyond any other MMORPG out there. There is an interesting dichotomy to be found here, however. While the environments and structures are breathtaking beyond measure, the character models frequently have questionable artistry, something I’ll get into shortly.

I’ll start by talking about the environments first. Of special mention is the water. Sony Online Entertainment has made use of the water technology from the movie “Titanic” to render its water in the game. With the settings on full blast EverQuest II has the most realistic water of any popular video game. Not that your settings will ever be on full blast in the foreseeable future, but more on that later.

On the other side of the graphics’ coin are the character and creature models. This is most definitely a mixed bag. While most creature and player race models look great, some just don’t seem right. Races like Iksar, Ratonga, and Kerra look fine, while many of the others just seem decidedly off. It’s this humble reviewer’s opinion that this problem lies mainly in one facet: the lips. The lips all look extremely unnatural. It is no coincidence that the races with lips are the ones that look off while the others look decidedly better. There are, of course, other factors, such as bodies being out of proportion, and others just looking wrong. Many female races have huge breasts and thick hips and stand like, well, I’m too much of a gentleman to say what most of these hussies wear.

Another issue is the animations. Though SOE touts amazing motion capture animation, few motions in the game look very natural. Animation itself can be adjusted with several scalable options. Perhaps on full blast the animations look amazing. However, since I am unable to turn those up to full blast, and still have a frame-rate high enough to see the animations properly, I relegate myself to saying that the animation work in EverQuest II seems sub-par for now.

Character customization in EverQuest II is also surprisingly limited. While you can make extensive modifications to the heads and overall size of your characters, their bodies are unchangeable. Since only the heads are customizable, you may be concerned about a helmet covering all this up. Have no fear; there is a command in the game that allows you to wear helmets without having them show up on your character.

If there was one area the original EverQuest was sorely lacking in, it was sound and music. While they were passable, they didn’t quite scale up with the times as well as the other aspects of the game. In comparison, the sound and music of EverQuest II exceeds any other game in the genre except Final Fantasy XI and World of Warcraft, which are about on par. One odd omission from the game was any sort of weather effects. No rain, wind or snow to be found in this game. Perhaps they intend to add it later in a patch, perhaps not.

The most obvious distinction between EverQuest II and every other MMO are the voiceovers. Just about every NPC in the game not only displays a text bubble but also speaks their lines. Those that don’t at the moment will eventually; the task of voicing every NPC in an MMO is overwhelming to say the least. At this time, SOE boasts around 60 hours of spoken dialogue in the game. They pulled no punches with voice talent either, and while you’re always going to get some poorly delivered lines with this much dialogue, for the most part the voice acting is superb. The two most prominent actors are Christopher Lee and Heather Graham. They are the voices of Lucan D’lere and Antonia Bayle, the leaders of Freeport and Qeynos, respectively.


The background story of EverQuest II is carefully crafted so that players can visit familiar places that are completely different. As usual, however, SOE made the fatal mistake of overshadowing any attempt of telling an interesting story in favor of the far less exciting method of narration by uncovering historical events. This was a major problem I had with EverQuest, and it has resurfaced in EverQuest II. In the original, no attempt was made at a narrative story arch until Planes of Power, and even then it was executed quite poorly by the end. Instead, most of the “lore” of the game exists only by uncovering bits and pieces of things that happened long ago. While this is necessary to some degree for environmental context, it doesn’t need to be the primary method of storytelling. EverQuest II seems to be following suit. While it may make even more sense to do this in EverQuest II, given the historical context of the game’s premise, I do hope that at some point, an expansion or two down the line at least, the focus is shifted more to “what is happening now,” rather than “what happened 500 years ago.”

Even this isn’t my biggest problem with the game though. My biggest beef with the game is a total lack of artistry in presenting events and encounters. I’ll give you an example. There is an access quest in the game in which your boat is attacked by orcs. The method by which this is presented in the game is just by orcs spawning on the boat. The scripting in EverQuest II is clearly powerful and flexible enough to do something more interesting. Why not have the orc boat pull up alongside the player boat? Why must we spawn monsters in plain view during event sequences rather than have the player encounter them in a more natural way. Clearly, much work needs to be done in this area.

There is a zone in the game called Nektropos Castle which is supposed to be very entertaining with it’s method of storytelling, and is supposedly the most unique zone in the game. Unfortunately, two problems have prevented me from seeing this zone so far. The first is that every member of a party entering the zone must have completed a simple, though lengthy access quest to enter the zone. The second is that once you leave the zone, whether through your own volition or death, you are locked out of the zone for approximately six real days. As you can probably guess, it is not only exceedingly difficult to not only find five other people who have access to the zone, but it is even more difficult to find five other people with access who are not still locked out of the zone. C’est la vie.

At its core, EverQuest II’s gameplay is pretty close to EverQuest’s. Most of your time will be spent in groups of six players going out into the countryside and dungeons of Norrath fighting monsters. You gain experience, new spells/skills, and new equipment as you gain new levels. SOE claims they designed the game to go up to level 200, so we shouldn’t expect the gross imbalance that the original frequently saw when level caps were increased.

There is a large amount of solo content in the game, and more has been added with every major patch so far. You’ll gain experience and levels far slower than grouped players, but at least you can still log in for 40 minutes and make some headway.


All of these changes are clearly designed to make the game more accessible. Yes, EverQuest II is, in general, quite a bit easier than EverQuest. However, it’s still more difficult than World of Warcraft where you can level about three times as fast. It’s not all easier however. Since, at this point, you can only bring a maximum of 24 players into a fight, players will need to be more alert. The combat system is also far more complex than the original, especially for melee characters. In EQ2, it’s safe to call every character a “caster.” Everyone has a huge collection of skills to use. Mana has been replaced by power, and every skill and spell uses power. There will be no more 30 minute “away from keyboard” sessions while a melee character hits auto attack and walks away. Oh sure, you still have auto attack, but if you don’t compliment it with diligent skill use, you’re never going to accomplish much.

Similar to Final Fantasy XI’s skill chain combo system, EverQuest II has something called Heroic Opportunities. Every player has a skill which can start a Heroic Opportunity. If the group properly chains together certain skills they can unleash effects varying from massive group buffs, group heals, area effect spells, and huge amounts of extra damage.

Death is also far more forgiving in EverQuest II. When you die, you suffer slight damage to your equipment, which must be repaired or it will temporarily become unwearable if its condition reaches 0%. You also suffer some experience debt, which essentially slows down your experience gain until the debt is paid. Finally, you suffer some temporary losses to your statistics. If you are revived or walk back to your location of death you will remove most of the experience dept and all of the stat loss.

Game Mechanics:

The great graphical power of EQ2 comes at quite a price. The game requires a monster of a machine to run it with pretty settings. SOE designed the game so the graphics will improve over time for the next few years as better hardware enters the market. As of now, there is no machine on the home PC market that can run EverQuest II well with everything turned on. Thankfully, the game offers the most scalable graphics options I have ever seen in a video game. You can adjust just about everything to several degrees. For those of you who can’t tweak all their options, they also offer a generic “performance” option to quickly choose from five different default option settings. Even if your machine isn’t the greatest, you can likely still run EQ2 on one of the performance settings. The game won’t look very good, but you can play. Many people have chided SOE for this hardware-intensive decision. Their response is simple, “many people called us crazy back in 1999 when we required a 3D graphics accelerator to run EverQuest,” and look at how well that game did.

Like its predecessor, the world of EverQuest II is zone-based, meaning you have to deal with load times between areas. One good thing about this method is that almost all of EverQuest II’s areas are instanced. If an area gets too crowded, the game creates a second version of that zone for people to go to. Some areas, mainly smaller special zones you complete access quests for, are privately instanced so that only you and your friends are inside. This method helps deal with overcrowding issues while still letting people play in a community environment. A few zones still have some overcrowding issues however, since the new instances are not created soon enough.

There is a major aspect of EverQuest II I have not mentioned up until now, and that is the tradeskill system. No other MMORPG comes even close to offering the depth of the extensive artisan system found in EverQuest II. Tradeskilling exists as its own set of classes with 50 levels of their own. Leveling up an artisan class is just as hard, if not harder, than your normal adventuring class. Also, there will be no mastering of multiple trade skills professions like in EverQuest. You get one Artisan class, and that’s it. All the ones you can think of are there: weaponsmith, tailoring, alchemist, and even some you wouldn’t have thought of like carpenter and sage. There is a huge amount of interdependency built in. No matter which artisan path you choose, you’ll have to depend on manufactured goods from four to five other artisan classes to build good items.

The process of creating an item is also far more interesting now. Rather than just putting items into a container and clicking a button, the process is far more similar to combat, and even includes injury, death, and experience debt. There are two bars, time and quality. When either runs out, the process ends. If quality runs out and you have failed to make anything, fuel items are lost, while other components are returned. If time runs out, the quality of the item you have made is dependant on how much quality is left. Also, during the process, problems will arise and there is a huge list of various artisan skills you can use to deal with it. Fail to do so properly and you can get hurt or in extreme situations, even die.

EverQuest II is not EverQuest, nor is it intended to be. Some people will find the realistic graphics repulsive, and others will find the gameplay not to their liking. For everyone else, there’s MasterCard... as well as a game that will happily suck hours out of their life.

-Alucard, GameVortex Communications
AKA Stephen Triche

Minimum System Requirements:

Windows 98SE/2000/ME/XP, Pentium III 1Ghz or greater, 512 MB of RAM, DirectX 9 compatible video card, pixel shader and vertex shader compaible hardware with 64MB of texture memory

Test System:

Windows XP, Pentium IV 2.8 Ghz, 1024 MB of RAM, Radeon 9800 Pro with 256 MB of memory

Nintendo GameBoy Advance Yu Yu Hakusho: Ghost Files: Tournament Tactics Sony PlayStation 2 Rumble Roses

Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated