The Tattered Notebook: Dishing out memories for EverQuest II's ninth birthday

The Tattered Notebook  Dishing out memories for EverQuest II's ninth birthday
Like its older sibling before it, EverQuest II doesn't show any signs of slipping quietly into the night as it ages. Another year has come and gone for the middle child in the EverQuest franchise, and plenty has transpired in those 52 weeks. You'd think after all the goings on of the game's eighth year that things might slow down a bit; after all, how do you top monumental occasions like going free-to-play? But no, the content train just kept rolling in. If you thought that there was already too much to do in EverQuest II when the ninth year started, I'm sorry to say that it just got worse -- or better, depending on how you look at it.

That's not to say it was all rainbows and kittens and unicorns (although there were those, too!), but there were definitely plenty of positive happenings throughout the year. From demonstrations of great community spirit to updates galore, the past 12 months have been filled with things both big and small. Take a stroll with me down memory lane as we celebrate EQII's ninth anniversary.

EQII's Chains of Eternity expansion
The big things

Although originally slated for release during this ninth year, the 10th expansion, Tears of Veeshan, was delayed until the wee days of the 10th year. That would have seen two major expansions in one year! As it stands, Chains of Eternity started EQII's ninth year off on November 13, 2012. Like any expansion, CoE introduced lots of new stuff: a new story, new zones, new dungeons, tradeskill prestige, guild amenities, higher level cap, and more. But not all of the year's content came in this one package.

As the year progressed, the story arc that introduced in Skyshrine continued through two more mega-meaty updates. First was Scars of the Awakened in April, introducing the new zone of Cobalt Scar with a new dungeon, Sirens Grotto (which before the year was up became a prestige house as well). Darkness Dawns followed that up in August and brought with it a new raid arena, daily objectives (that reward you simply for playing) and refurbished older dungeons into fabled ones for the max-level crowd. This is also where CATs came into play. Although they aren't kittens, thanks to the new Character Achievement templates, no one has to feel completely overwhelmed by AAs again.

EQII race and class restrictions repealedAnd yet, even with all these updates infusing all this content into the game, these aren't what I would call the biggest news of the year. Last year's crown went to the move to free-to-play, and this year, the winner is... envelope please... oh, it looks like there might be a tie! First up is giving free-to-play more freedom! In March, SOE repealed numerous F2P restrictions, abolishing the race and class roadblocks and allowing players to choose anything they wanted, with the exception of the Beastlord class and the Freeblood race. Yet some players still claimed that wasn't enough. It may have taken some time, but SOE listened: Fast forward to September and the remaining gear, coin, and quest limit restrictions were also done away with.

The tie for biggest news goes to a late entrant to the contest: Heroic Characters! Although this isn't necessarily related, it is almost ironic that EQII offers instant high-level characters now after devs stepped in and nerfed the powerleveling situation back in January that took advantage of the crafting experimentation and Dungeon Maker systems. Part of this new Heroic Characters feature included bundling Destiny of Velious into the free core of the game, allowing every player to access all the content of the combine story arc played out through Withered lands and Cobalt Scar. Additionally, players got something else they have been seeking for a long time: Age of Discovery was split into components, so players could pick and choose what elements they wanted without paying for the whole kit and caboodle.

The little things

Not all of the news was huge throughout the year. In fact, it's often the little things that make the game better. Come February, players got improved bag functionality as well as a new two-group dungeon in Wurmbone Crag, guild achievements, and three more raids. Other updates added even more organizational tools, more flexibility, and just plain more stuff. One even stopped mercenaries from taking a cut of your looted profits!

In May, another small thing happened. For the first time ever, Moonlight Enchantments started getting new items, making that monthly event worth revisiting, even for those who'd been there, done that a hundred times over.

EQII Chanins of Eternity dungeons
Wondering where the unicorns come in? That would be in the Marketplace. For 1,950 Station Cash you can saddle up on a speckled, plain, or dressed-up unicorn. And variations on those mythical creatures aren't all that has been added over the year. In fact, there are just too many additions to name, including new prestige homes and tons of new decorating items. Thank heavens for the housing update in June that made accessing and managing homes significantly more convenient!

Also available in the Marketplace this past year were Player Studio's first player creations. Although announced at SOE Live 2012, the first items were offered up for public sale in time for Christmas (I mean Frostfell) shopping. Another perk of Player Studio, the bundling and selling of fully decorated houses, started up when GU 66 came out in April.

One nice little touch was the implementation of the rewards program for recruiting new players to the game. Although nothing Norrath-shattering, it offered a bonus gift to both the new recruit and to the recruiter.

The Tattered Notebook  Dishing out memories for EverQuest II's ninth birthday
The iffy things

As I mentioned, there were still rocky moments during the year. One big point of contention within the community arose when SOE announced the transfer of EU EQII services to ProSiebenSat.1. This worried a number of players, but assurances were given that existing SOE customers would remain with SOE. Unfortunately, within a short time there was a problem with the official website not allowing EU players to pay on their SOE accounts.

Some players would also point to the introduction of Heroic Characters as pretty iffy. (Love them or hate them, though, Heroic Characters appear to have revitalized Norrath, bringing back a number of vets and adding new players in.) Others still look at the near useless LFG finder and wonder why what could be a vital tool that helps retention and fun (because not getting groups for dungeons is definitely not fun!) is still ignored.

The rainbow at EQII's Ribbitribbit Day celebration
The awesome things

At the end of our reminiscing, we'll finish with a look at why the EQII community is such a great one. And this is where the rainbows come in! One touching moment during the year was when folks banded together to literally celebrate the community, memorializing the generosity of EQII players and remembering the ones who've been lost. Called Ribbitribbit Day, this new tradition builds on what was started in 2012 when strangers from many servers came together to fulfill the dreams of a sick child. Players can still tour those amazing houses and the T3 guild hall where the massive rainbow resides; just looking at everything that happened in only a single weekend takes your breath away and renews your faith in gamers.

As part of that celebration, and many other times besides, players also hosted and participated in Pay it Forward events on different servers during the year, sharing abundance with others and offering helping hands. In real life, the community showed its awesomeness by the camaraderie exhibited at SOE Live 2013. And who can forget that amazing EQ tribute by Orennex?

Yes, even though there is the requisite trolling that all games are afflicted with, there is still a great community at the heart of EverQuest II. Here's to another year (and many more) with you all!

EverQuest II is so big that sometimes MJ Guthrie gets lost in it all! Join her as she explores Norrathian nooks and crannies from the Overrealm to Timorous Deep. Running every other Saturday, The Tattered Notebook is your resource for all things EQII and EQNext -- and catch MJ every 'EverQuest Two-sday' on Massively TV!
This article was originally published on Massively.