The Tattered Notebook: What's free and what's not?

Freeport
Tuesday, December 6th is going to be a very busy day for the EverQuest II team. The devs are launching an expansion, patching a game update, and performing the transition to make all servers free-to-play, simultaneously. And just as the dust settles from all of that, Frostfell is due to begin shortly after.

With the stream of news announcements over the past month, there's bound to be confusion over what's free and what you'll need to pay for. Even veteran players have had questions about the game update versus the expansion, so in this week's Tattered Notebook, we'll give a rundown of what's what and even add in some handy links for more details.

I'm trying free-to-play, but what do I get for free?

First off, if you've been away from the game for a while and are thinking of coming back, or if you're someone who is interested in giving the game a try, you'll be able to do so for free on all servers starting Tuesday. The good news is that you can play all the way up to level 90 for free, and you'll be able to play all of the expansion content through Sentinel's Fate. If you want to play the Velious content or access the features of the Age of Discovery, you'll have to pay for them through a membership or buying them individually.

If you have subscribed in the past and are coming back for free, you might find that some of your characters and items will be locked to you, so you'll need to decide whether to resubscribe or not. Also, if things are tight and you don't feel you can plunk down the cash for a full subscription, you have a couple of choices. One is to make a one-time payment of $5 (or 500 SC), which will raise the limit on things like quests and bag space as well as give you access to chat and a higher tier of usable spells. The other is to wait for a Station Cash promotion and buy it up when its double or triple its value, then use that to purchase a subscription. With the holiday approaching, it might be worth keeping an eye out for something like that.

We've looked at free accounts in the past, and while it's definitely possible to level all the way to 90 without paying a cent, it is difficult. You will have limitations on pretty much everything you can think of, including inventory, quest journal, bank space, broker access, and even the type of gear and spells you're allowed to use. But if you're someone who dabbles in multiple games, or if you aren't interested in immersing yourself in the game, the free-to-play option is actually not bad. For a look at exactly what you get for each level of membership, EverQuest II has a handy chart.

What new stuff do I get for free on Tuesday?

Everything in the Freeport Reborn Game Update (GU62) is free to all players. That includes the consolidation of the Freeport zones, the new racial and class quests, and the redesigned instances involving the old racial hamlets. On top of that, there's a new public quest in the Commonlands, which is aimed at players around level 20, so there's quite a bit of new content for new players and high-level players alike. The newly revamped city of Freeport is impressive and definitely worth a look. I've always felt that Freeport was a much "emptier" set of zones compared to Qeynos -- I know it's supposed to feel evil, but it just felt desolate to me. The new Freeport has a Wild West feel to it. It's dangerous, nasty, and brutal, but it's also full of activity. Make sure to stop by Execution Plaza to see Lucan "keep order" in his city (but don't jump in the pit; it'll kill you now!) And if you're a fan of Boomba, you'll be happy to know that he's still there, selling his pickles.

Beastlord
What exactly is in the expansion?

We've looked at the fact that this expansion is more focused on features rather than content, but besides the Beastlord, many players wonder what those features are. Mercenaries should become pretty popular, and although the common ones aren't that powerful, they'll be helpful in a pinch. You can hire some right away in town, and they're fairly reasonably priced. The dungeon maker offers some interesting possibilities for those who want to dabble in game design and user-generated content. There's also an increase in the total number of AAs you can train, although there aren't any new skills or trees with this expansion -- just the option to train additional skills in your current trees.

Reforging and tradeskill apprentices are two features that haven't been discussed as much. Reforging is the ability to take certain stats and particle effects from one item and place it on another. All classes will have this ability, and you can access the reforging window by visiting an NPC in town (you can get directions by doing a search for "reforging" from any nearby guard). There are limits on which stats you can swap and a cap on how much of a particular stat will end up on the item, so players will need to play around a bit to see what's available.

Tradeskill apprentices allow you to research unique recipes that provide you with new gear and reforging decorations. You have to be at least level 10 in tradeskilling, and you can find the tradeskill apprentices in town (just search for "tradeskill apprentice" from a guard). Once you hire one, you get a contact that you place in your home and a mannequin that allows you to customize the appearance of the apprentice. Some of the recipes for more powerful items require special materials, which are obtained in contested and instanced heroic zones.

To get these features, you need to purchase the expansion. You can't purchase them individually through the Marketplace -- it's an all or nothing deal. There's a listing of what's available with the standard vs. the collector's edition on the EQII site. But even if you decide to wait it out on the expansion, there's enough new content coming for free on Tuesday that it's worth a look. And with all servers soon to be free-to-play, you can do that without needing to fork over cash upfront. I'll be rolling up a Beastlord and doing a preview next week on the Massively Twitch.tv channel, so make sure to tune in if you want a closer look at the class and have any questions about EQII!

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.