50 MMOs in 50 Days #17: EverQuest II

Last played: 2011
Experience: Very Minimal

After EverQuest II went free-to-play, I decided to give it a shot. It was – and still technically is, if Landmark doesn’t count – the only EverQuest game I’ve ever played.

That’s right, I’ve never played the original. But that’s a discussion for another time.

Still, when I logged in to EQ2 for the first time, there was a bit of a thrill in thinking that I was sampling the granddaddy of them all, or at least a part of it, for the first time. The questing and leveling experience wasn’t too surprising when you consider the source material and how SOE clearly wasn’t looking to mess too much with the good thing they had. They probably had high hopes for the game, too… until 19 days later, when World of Warcraft launched. Talk about bad timing.

EQ2 aerakyn raceAfter creating my character, I was given the choice of which area to start in – a novel concept that I wish more MMOs would employ, and not simply as a way to split up factions or races – and, being from Minnesota, braved the frozen north. After about 10 levels of the same old, same old, I logged out and haven’t been back.

So what if you’re like me and haven’t played enough of the “old” games to have nostalgia for them but have some interest in them, if only for historical purposes? Could you step away long enough from your shiny graphics and alternate leveling systems to play an old game that’s essentially the same as what you’ve been playing for years? That’s a tough sell, and I don’t know how older games like EQ2 manage to bring in new players these days.

More than likely, they’ve been whittled down to their core of players who have been playing forever and will never, ever leave. That’s understandable when you’ve devoted so much time and energy into your character and the world but can seem laughable to those of us who don’t have that investment. New Game is clearly and objectively better than Old Game, in every conceivable fashion, so why keep playing Old Game?

It reminds me of something I saw on ESPN once about baseball (hang with me, folks). Namely, baseball is very slow-paced and tedious to our modern sensibilities, and, if it had never existed and was trying to establish itself in America today… it wouldn’t. It’s a 19th century game, more fitting to the pace of that era, than it is to the 21st century. But, because it has been around for so long, and so many people have grown up with it – “invested” in it – it sticks around.

I won’t say that football or basketball is inherently “better” than baseball, but they do seem more attuned to the modern American, just as newer MMOs seem more in tune with the modern gamer. This is why old MMOs hardly ever fully “die”; no matter how primitive they seem, they’ll always be special to someone.

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