I've had a choppy relationship with EQ2 over the years, which hasn't been helped by SOEs sometimes poor handling of the title. When I came back to the game after a three year hiatus however I was impressed at the progress that had been made in offering a much more streamlined and, dare I say it, fun experience.
Now almost a year later I find myself looking at the game with fondness and a little sadness, as I know I will soon be leaving Norrath, probably for good this time. So, what have I achieved in my year on Norrath. Well I've managed to get my warden up to level 82, along with over 200 AA points. That's not particularly impressive when you consider old hands can get to level 90 in a few short weeks nowadays, but I took my time and enjoyed exploring all the new content. I even spent a good couple of months level locked to ensure I didn't miss out on anything.
I've also made a whole host of new friends (sadly, many of my friends from launch have since moved on), and can honestly say that my time spent with Acolytes of Valor has been a lot of fun. I've actually enjoyed raiding with them more than with any other group due to their laid-back attitude and sense of humour. Some of the new friends I've made will be moving onto Star Wars The Old Republic with me, so it will be nice to continue to play alongside them.
My time in Norrath isn't quite up yet however. I still have a couple more months to achieve what I want in the game before I camp for the last time. I'm going to try and continue to level through new content and finish off my heritage and signature quests in that time, and possibly even obtain my mythical weapon, which I would consider a great accomplishment. Most of all though I just intend to keep on having fun.
It will be a sad day when I close my EQ2 account down, but the fact is that I can't afford to play two subscription MMOs right now (I have neither enough money or time to do so), and when The Old Republic hits I will be transferring there. I really do think EQ2 is a great game, certainly one of the best MMOs I've played. It got a lot of bad press over the years, but SOE have been quietly working to improve it as time passes. It offers an unparalleled amount of content and things to do, and leads the genre in many aspects, such as the housing and crafting systems.
I do fear for the future of the game however. Whilst a decent money-spinner for SOE, Everquest 2 has never come close to reaching the success of World of Warcraft, and with the release of several big new MMOs in the next twelve months, all of which offer something new and innovative, I can only see the population of Norrath continuing to dwindle. That will start with the release of The Old Republic in December, but I think that Guild Wars 2 and The Secret World, both set to launch next year, will also take their toll on the game's subscriber base. SOE have already displayed a willingness to close games that are losing subscribers (such as The Matrix Online and Star Wars Galaxies). I hope the same fate does not await EQ2 and that they can find a way to keep the game running even if the subscriber numbers drop considerably.
In the meantime I shall wield the Bite of the Wolf with renewed vigour until my time on Norrath comes to an end, and enjoy every moment. I'll see you there.