They weren’t kid­ding when they called it EverQuest.


Iwas never much of an EverQuest player. Teenage me made the jump from Ul­tima On­line to Asheron’s Call and then to Dark Age of Camelot, seem­ingly pos­sessed by what­ever gam­ing hip­ster streak also made me want a Dream­cast rather than a PlayS­ta­tion. I re­mem­ber EverQuest fondly even so: a gi­ant of those strange, for­ma­tive years of MMOs be­fore World of War­craft came along and dom­i­nated the genre.

EverQuest will be 20 years old next year, and it’s get­ting its 25th ex­pan­sion. It has sur­vived the death of al­most all of its Sony On­line En­ter­tain­ment sta­ble­mates, in­clud­ing Star Wars Gal­ax­ies and Van­guard: Saga of Heroes. EverQuest Next

promised much but never came to be, and – hell – even SOE it­self is no more, re­branded a few years ago as Day­break. And yet EverQuest per­sists. It’s a game you can down­load and play right now.

Should you, though? I can think of two rea­sons why you might, and they’re both nos­tal­gia. In the first case you’re look­ing at nos­tal­gia for the kind of sys­tems-heavy, granular, al­most sim­u­la­tion­ist MMO that they just don’t make any more. EverQuest

formed the tem­plate for World of War­craft but it’s more like its table­top

con­tem­po­raries – that orig­i­nal cover art even has the feel of a D&D hand­book. Its in­ter­face is an­cient and there’s loads to learn, unin­spir­ingly served through a bolted-on dun­geon that serves as an ex­ten­sive tu­to­rial. Even so, there’s some­thing ap­peal­ing to me about EverQuest’s loftier ideas, like hav­ing to in­di­vid­u­ally say hello to ev­ery NPC you meet. Post- WoW ad­di­tions like a quest tracker feel like an out­sider’s im­po­si­tion – a blow against the orig­i­nal’s en­thu­si­asm for pure role­play­ing.

It is also pos­si­ble that you’re nos­tal­gic for this kind of world. EverQuest is a mas­sive fan­tasy world unto it­self, span­ning mul­ti­ple con­ti­nents across sev­eral planes. It’s gen­uinely ex­cit­ing to con­sider, and a lit­tle fright­en­ing to think that it’s all locked away in this ag­ing game. It feels mas­sive, too, in part thanks to an en­thu­si­asm – par­tic­u­lar to early ’00s MMOs – for ren­der­ing val­leys and hill­sides as vast mono­tex­tured bergs that emerge in yawn­ing fash­ion from an ag­gres­sively trun­cated hori­zon. It feels im­pos­si­ble to fully re­turn to EverQuest now, but there’s some­thing to be said for tak­ing a wan­der through these land­scapes. I made a level one bard that looked a bit like David Bowie, es­caped the tu­to­rial into the wilder­ness, took off across a moor and was stung to death by level 20-some­thing bees. It was great.

It feels im­pos­si­ble to fully re­turn to EverQuest



EverQuest is free-to-play nowa­days, and one of the ear­li­est things you’re asked to kick in for is a level 85 char­ac­ter with a ve­loci­rap­tor to ride around on. The rea­son you’d do so is, os­ten­si­bly, in or­der to get ac­cess to the new stuff. I’m tempted, but not for that rea­son: at this point, I don’t re­ally mind pay­ing in or­der to take a tour of the old stuff.

The tin says ‘dragon peo­ple’, but I’m just see­ing David Bowies.

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