I’ve played Everquest II on and off for the last year or so but I’ve never fully committed to playing. My highest level character was a level 13 Kerra Brigand, with a smattering of lower level characters. Recently, though, Sony Online Entertainment has launched a new initiative: Everquest II Extended.
Everquest II Extended is SOE’s free to play model for EQ2, and to me at least it’s a triumph. For one thing, they’ve simplified the interface greatly so that anyone can dive in and play. The map includes highlighted areas that show where to go for the quests you have (highly reminiscent of the Carbonite add-on I use for World of Warcraft). The game also runs smoother for me then the full game. When I’ve played EQ2 in the past it would be a slow, stuttering affair. I’ve not had that with EQ2X.
Another boon to new players is that the different mechanics are explained plainly so anyone can understand them. For example, look at this early splash screen.
This can seem redundant for vets for for new players this is a huge bonus.
Of course, there are limits. If you play free, you can only use four of the races and eight of the classes. The other races are purchasable if you use the in-game store, but the remaining classes are locked unless you get the Gold subscriber package, which costs the same as regular EQ2. Personally I’d rather pay $15 a month for EQ2X over normal Everquest II, because I like the improvements they’ve made. Since I started playing a couple days ago I’ve already passed my old Brigand’s level on my new Human Berserker, and I don’t think I’m going to stop there. If you liked EQ2 in the past, or wanted to check it out but didn’t want to buy the game, this is what you want. Alphasim out.