The Tattered Notebook: Down but not out!

EQII Coldain
I was closely watching our Choose My Adventure poll last week and had a flashback to 1986, when I was torn between rooting for my two favorite teams, the Red Sox and the Mets. There I sat, staring at my Cabbage Patch Red Sox doll and my Cabbage Patch Mets doll, trying to decide which one I would embrace as I tuned in for the first pitch. Whom would I root for? Hurst or Darling? Dewey or Nails? Mookie or Billy Bucks? Carter or Geddy? Boggs or Ho-Jo?

I chose the Red Sox, and I'm still trying to get over that memorable World Series. The CMA poll had me right back in that seat, as I found myself rooting for both frontrunners, RIFT and EverQuest II. For EQII fans, the vote tally ended up somewhere under Bill Buckner's cleat, and RIFT ended up winning.

Take heart, EverQuest II fans: We have a great game, and like an aged wine, it's getting more buttery with a hint of raspberries and a taste of oak. So raise your glasses because it's time to toast the reasons EverQuest II is a great game!

Housing. EQII's housing is incredible, and it's come such a long way since the game was first launched. What's even more amazing is the talented community of house decorators who showcase their homes and even offer their services for a commission. Over the years, I've seen people make pools out of bar stools, elaborate staircases out of bookshelves, gigantic waterfalls and grottoes out of stone benches and fountains, and even entire homes out of ordinary furniture. It's almost like MacGyver meets HGTV! Today, you can get house items from questing, plundering dungeons, killing bosses and collecting trophies, crafting, and even special live events and festivals, and the decorating community has used all of those pieces to create amazing homes. The new housing system and leaderboards finally give them their comeuppance, and it's great that their work will gain more exposure and appreciation.

Content. When it comes to content, the most common complaint you hear from players is that they tend to outlevel it before they can complete it all. Unless you level lock, you really can't finish everything in game. The layers and layers of content over the years have made for a very deep world, and even though there's the "Golden Path," it's amazing to think of all the choices out there for players of all levels. Even early on, players have a choice of questing, solo-instances, group dungeons, and even special guild raids that were intended to help instruct raid forces in basic techniques for the later levels. While the guild raids and solo instances don't get much use anymore, those who like to take their time leveling and exploring have an endless number of options.

EverQuest II Gold Dragon
Mentoring. Mentoring is, simply put, a system that every single level-based MMO should have at launch. The ability for high-level players to mentor down to lower-level players is a game-changer because it allows new players and old players to group together and still have both parties walk away with something in the end. It also means that if you hit the level cap, you can still mentor down and play all of the content that you might have outleveled along the way. The addition of the Chronomage system gave mentoring even more importance in game and gives veteran gamers a little more incentive to take advantage of the system. It would be nice to see some tweaks, such as making mentored-down players a bit less powerful than they are now and more in-line with what they'd actually be if they were of that level. Luckily, it sounds like the team is planning on improving the system, which is exciting news indeed.

Appearance items. I've mentioned before that vanity items are a lot more important than they seem because they represent a quality of life improvement that makes a big difference to players. What's nice is that there are many ways to get unique appearance gear, whether it's through crafting, questing, live events, the Marketplace, or even special guide events. You don't have to be hardcore or high-level to look unique, and there is so much out there that everyone is bound to find an outfit that looks good.

Lore. How cool is it when s game kicks off an expansion with a lore puzzle that was sent out to several game sites and community blogs? That was actually the case when Sentinel's Fate was due to launch, and the EQII community jumped right on the challenge to track down and translate all of the pieces to the puzzle. EverQuest II's lore is deep, and through the years, it's also embraced the history and lore from EverQuest, so there's always several active threads going on in the lore forum. Those who are well-versed in EQII lore are on par with hardcore raiders when it comes to devotion to their craft. The sheer volume of lore in game is staggering -- NPCs tell tales, in-game collectible books offer small glimpses of history, questlines help drive over-arching storylines, and lately, there are even visual representations through world changes and cutscenes.

Betrayal. What a transformation this system has undergone over the years! It used to have a level cap, so if you were above level 17, you could not even opt to betray at all. And betraying was a much more painful process than it is today. While the stint in Exile is not as scarring as it once was, the ability to switch alliances and classes gives EQII players a lot more freedom when it comes to finding their role in groups and raids. It's not nearly as easy as pushing a button and basking in Telara's warm glow of soul-switching, but it still provides much more flexibility to players, and that's a good thing.

Fluff pets. Seriously, who doesn't love a little pet that always follows your lead and looks cool as heck? Fluff pets are great because they're yet another way that EQII players can express who they are. The hopeless romantics can shower themselves in floating hearts. Those who want to show off their bizarre love of harvesting can summon the pet rock from the insane harvesting quest. Tough guys can have a mini-Rallos Zek march along behind them. From cute wolf cubs to jumping monkeys to slimy slugs, EverQuest II pretty much has every fluff pet you can imagine.

Community. From the entertaining creations of Jethal Silverwing to the lightning-fast reporting skills of Morgan Feldon, EverQuest II has one of the most solid player communities around. Got housing questions? Check out EQ2Decorators. Need crafting information? Head to EQII Traders and read Naimi Denmother's delightful tales of a Halfling crafter in Norrath. Eager for a good podcast? Check out Dellmon's EQ2Talk. Feel the need to mix it up a bit? EQ2Flames is your answer. And no self-respecting EQII player can go without a visit to EQ2i, a thorough wiki on everything related to EverQuest II.

So in the words of a certain ale-swigging Dwarf, "Oi would like ta toast EverQuest II, because any chance ta have an ale is a good'un!"

From the snow-capped mountains of New Halas to the mysterious waters of the Vasty Deep, Karen Bryan explores the lands of Norrath to share her tales of adventure. Armed with just a scimitar, a quill, and a dented iron stein, she reports on all the latest news from EverQuest II in her weekly column, The Tattered Notebook. You can send feedback or elven spirits to karen@massively.com.

This article was originally published on Massively.