Remember back when this answer was lobbed at you as the definitive answer (often by moms tired of incessant "why"s or as a precursor to "I said so!")? But since I am not your mom -- and more importantly, the boss isn't about to pay me for a one word article -- let me elaborate, though, I warn you, you may regret it; once I get going I may not be able to stop! Seriously, they had to restrain me from taking over Why I Play. Obviously I broke free mwuahahahaha!
Simply put, I love EverQuest II. I log into it daily. Sometimes I don't leave for more hours than I am willing to admit. I can hum the guild hall music from memory. I have a list of things I want to do so long I can't possibly get it all done. All this after taking a multi-year break. Yes folks, I left the game for a long time -- a move I am still kicking myself for. But certain features pulled me back, and let me just say, I am so glad I came back.
So why do I play EQII? Where to begin...
There's no place like home
If there was ever one feature that could instantly draw me to a game, it's housing. Give me a place to call home and I will plop my money on the counter almost without hesitation. Big surprise, huh? Just look at how giddy I am about the introduction of housing in Aion. Add an in-depth housing system that allows me to decorate and personalize the place and I may never leave (or wish I never did). EQII is proof of that.
What's so great about the housing? Quite frankly, your imagination is the limit. If you want to create a seedy bar, an upscale brothel, a castle in the sky, a maze populated by a Minotaur, an underground dock with ships, a prison (complete with medieval torture chambers), a ranch, a temple, a life-sized chess set, or even your own Jurassic Park, you can. I have seen countless interesting expressions of creativity. I have so many ideas and projects of my own in the works, I almost have to call the game "spreadsheets in walls."
How addicted am I to decorating? I have literally logged out hours later than I intended because I had an idea and wanted to get it just right. I lose track of time when decorating. I leveled a Carpenter to max to have my own personal supplier. Heck, I even run dungeons just to get the housing loot! Sometimes I actually wonder why I didn't go into interior decorating as a profession, but then again, who would ever have the money to hire me to build the castles, aquariums, and more that I can come up with here?
Given the dungeon maker system and guild halls and the fact that players can now actually own 10 houses per toon (with oodles of various housing deeds that can be purchased for new abodes), you could spend years in here just decorating. New prestige houses are added regularly; recently, a dungeon I just visited and feel in love with just became available. And it has sharks! Oh, curse you, SOE, for finding my cash shop weakness: housing!
See, I told you I could go on forever. But before I spend all my available time ruminating on the housing system, let me point out that housing is only one reason I play EQII. There's also the customization of characters -- more specifically, appearance items. See, for me to really get into a world, I usually have a story or theme in my mind. And the way to immerse myself is to transfer that theme from my mind to the game visually. With EQII's appearance slots, I can customize my character in so many ways. Honestly I'd be happier if items could be equipped for appearance without any regard to level or class, but there is still a vast selection that can account for almost any taste. Ironically, I couldn't care less about clothes in real life, but my toons always have a large assortment of outfits. Hmm, maybe my next building project will be closets...
Easily my second most favorite thing in game after housing is shinies: those little glowing balls of collectible goodness scattered about Norrath! I would go so far as to say that I am seriously addicted to them; I just can't pass them up. If I see one under the feet of some giant death-in-an-instant mob, I immediately plot and plan how to manage getting it before said death. I can be talking to friends and guildmates when suddenly the stream of conversation is broken with "Shiny!" as I veer off and run over to collect it. Those who group with me will actually stand and wait if they notice one before I do, knowing my attention will be stolen the minute I see it. Sometimes, they even clear the mobs out for me. (I adore my friends.) Of course, for them it is all about the entertainment value of hearing and watching my reactions to shinies, especially when I am forced to pass one up because of a race against time. Yes, I pout. And even whimper. At least I don't cry.
I think what attracts me so much is the treasure hunter aspect of it -- unexpectedly finding some random treasure. What will it be? Will it be valuable? Useful? Although I enjoy completing the collections and getting the rewards (wooo housing items!), honestly the true excitement is just finding and picking it up. I have looked for shinies in every single game I played after EQII, sadly, to no avail. I could shiny-hunt forever.
Still with me? I have not yet begun to rave! For me, being in games is all about being with friends. I play for the people (even while holed up in my houses decorating, I am chatting away and running my empire, trust me), so any game that prohibits me from interacting with others in some way will have less of a life-span on my machine. So another reason I love to play EQII is the mentoring system. With it, I can join any friend of any level and experience the game with him/her. I also love meeting new people and helping others out. I'm not one to throw money at folks to get them started; I prefer to actually run along with them on their adventures. Mentoring allows me to do that without being a detriment to their gameplay. Not to mention I get the chance to go back and see content I missed. No low-level friends around, right at the moment? I can always Chronomentor.
I can't help it -- wings make me melt. Flying is truly one of the greatest things ever invented. I don't care if it's just in a virtual world; being able to soar high above the ground and dive bomb is downright thrilling. OK, maybe I don't like adding random wings onto any old race, but put me in the air on a mount or as a Fae or Arasi and I am in heaven. It may have taken me a long while to get to my flying mount, but it was worth it! Getting wings in this game actually gave a certain other game I devote my attention to a run for its money.
The never-ending story
You might say that I feel this way because I took such a long break from EverQuest II, but the fact remains that there are so many things to do that I cannot foresee completing my "to do" list. There are still areas I haven't explored, dungeons I have never run, places still to decorate, businesses to grow, and people to hang out with. There are whole zones I want to hear the stories of by running their quest lines. Even dungeons have stories in them, and I want to hear them all.
And then there are my own stories; I have so many ideas and stories still pent up in my mind that want a canvas to splash on. Right now, EQII is that canvas. As much as I want a sandbox, if it can't deliver on the depth of housing I enjoy here, you still won't see me giving EQII up. I am enjoying it so much that I have even shed my aversion to alts and made a character to run through along with you while I'm livestreaming! Wonders never cease, eh?
There's an MMO born every day, and every game is someone's favorite. Why I Play is a column in which the Massively staff members kick back and reminisce about all their favorite MMOs. Whether it's the new hotness or an old fan favorite loaded with nostalgia, each title we cover here tugs at our heartstrings and keeps us coming back for more.