Playing at the same time every day meant I gained a few friends, all of the same level range as me. As we gradually worked our way through the levels, we kept hearing from more experienced players that, once we hit level 15, we should go to the Overthere – a place that required a boat ride to get to and would then be perfect for exploring for a great number of levels. It even offered a whole new town, notably a much bigger town than any we’d ever seen before. It sounded like some form of EverQuest utopia. The friend who had introduced me to the game told me it would get boring eventually, and that I’d learn to despise the Overthere. I didn’t believe him.
The eventual day I ‘dinged’ level 15 (oh, what a beautiful noise that ding was), I quickly went to catch the boat to the Overthere. It was a perilous journey taking 20 minutes or so. The boat stopped off at an island full of Spirocs, fearsome oversized parrots which brought about almost instant death. I managed to get around them, though, and caught the second boat to my destination.
The Overthere was a fearsome sight. A huge sprawling hive of activity. It was home to races of all types, and I finally witnessed the Iksar, a reptilian race that looked so much more impressive than my clumsy Troll. It was amazing – a sight that’s difficult to explain now, in a genre that’s so cluttered with MMOs which all try to be that little bit more impressive than the last.
I truly felt as if I’d accomplished something, even if I was just a measly level 15 surrounded by mightier players. I spent countless hours and weekends in the Overthere, mostly sitting against a hillside as part of a group, gaining precious shards of experience. I was a Shaman class, meaning I mostly provided debuffs and some healing spells. I had my class down to an art form, priding myself on my ability to cast slowing spells more quickly than anyone else. Slowing an enemy was vital if you wanted to live for long, as even enemies of the same level as you were highly dangerous.
Much like in the Oasis, I gained many friends that played at the same time as me, and became involved in many guilds and the politics they begat. As time progressed, the areas I explored changed, and inevitably so did my opinions and the server’s attitude to progress. EverQuest was broken to an extent when it came to PvP and PvE progression. It eventually became so much easier for the enemy sides to join together. Perhaps it wasn’t true to the spirit of a PvP server, but it worked well – and the sights I saw in my later levels were wondrous, and perhaps best left for another day.
The amount of content that has been released is tremendous, with the game’s 16th expansion pack emerging just a few months ago. EverQuest has staying power, and rightfully so. Despite devoting hundreds and hundreds of hours of my life to this gargantuan game, spread over my entire time at college and some of university, I don’t regret a second of it.
EverQuest might never be as accessible as World of Warcraft, but for me it is still the ultimate MMORPG – punishing, but never unforgiving. There was a true sense of adventure contained within it, one that I’ve yet feel with any other MMO. I still have such an urge to go back to it.
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