Publisher: Sony Online Entertainment
Developer: Sony Online Entertainment
Release Date: July 27, 2004
Buy 'EVERQUEST: Platinum': PC
Originally released more than five years ago, EverQuest has become the premiere MMORPG experience, period. Of course, the steady stream of expansion packs released during that time probably has a lot to do with its continued success. Among the many enhancements EQ has sustained over the past half-decade are upgraded graphics, new territory/classes/quests/items/modes of transport/etc. The draw is obvious.
Sony Online Entertainment, not satisfied with seven chock-full expansions, has banded the gigs of additions released over the years together into one $29.99 Platinum edition box set which will sit alongside yet another new expansion on store shelves called Omens of War.
This mega EQ release is perfect for those that may have dabbled in the addictive, time-consuming art of leveling up but have, for whatever reason (and there are many), steadied or terminated their online gaming usage. Newcomers have the most reason to be excited, however, as EverQuest: Platinum is essentially their gateway to all things EQ, allowing them to experience all the series has to offer in one fell swoop. Peep this rundown of the included expansions and what they bring to the massively multiplayer table:
- EverQuest Classic: The one that set it off. Over 70 unique zones spread across three huge continents was the stage for this groundbreaking communal experience. Instant hit. Basically revolutionized the landscape of on-line gaming.
- EverQuest: The Ruins of Kunark: Lifting the restriction on the level 50 character cap and expanding the world of Norrath by 30% via an entirely new continent, The Ruins of Kunark kept the EQ train rolling on a steady, one-way course with notoriety and groundbreaking success on multiple levels. The Iksar race was also added.
- EverQuest: The Scars of Velious: Not looking to fix what isn’t broken, Scars added yet another new continent named Velious that tempted road-weary travelers with its icy surroundings and dozens of high-level challenges.
- EverQuest: The Shadows of Luclin: Knowing logical upgrades would only get them by for so long, Sony revamped things considerably with The Shadows of Luclin with a new hardware-hungry graphical overhaul, 27 new zones, horses, the captivating astral-themed city of Luclin, and a new playable race called the Vah Shir.
- EverQuest: The Planes of Power: Planes of Power introduced the Plane of Knowledge; 20 planes that any character could easily travel to and take on new challenges, use as a jumping pad to reach far strung areas in the game quickly, or simply interact with other player races you’d otherwise rarely, if ever, run into. The level cap was also bumped up to 65.
- EverQuest: The Legacy of Ykesha: This is where things started getting predictable. Ykesha brought with it new zones, a new amphibious race called the Frogloks, additional item storage space, and a customizable armor system that allowed players to personalize the look of their well-earned duds.
- EverQuest: Lost Dungeons of Norrath: Basically a compilation of 40 different dungeon crawls through instanced zones for those looking to get back to the good ol’ days of exploration and conquest.
- EverQuest: Gates of Discord: This one ties up a lot of the loose ends that were left after the deluge of previous expansions. Aside from the predictable new ‘lost’ continent of sorts called Taelosia and 20 new zones, the Berserker class was introduced as well as group raiding tools, new spells, items, and abilities.
Unlike EverQuest: Trilogy and EverQuest: Evolution, EverQuest: Platinum is an all-inclusive romp through the ravaged lands of Norrath and even features some new tricks all its own. (Though they are mostly subtle aesthetic enhancements.) I was amazed how far the game’s interface has come in the years since I managed to kick the habit. All action and information windows are now fully customizable, allowing you to resize, drag, and set their levels of transparency. New players benefit from an excellently executed tutorial system that allows them to frolic in relatively safe zones and learn the game’s many nuances while earning genuine experience points. It’s a bit daunting at first if, like me, you’ve been out of the game for a while, but after 2-3 days even newcomers should get the hang of finding groups to play with and consistently level up.
Of course, there are tons of other things to the world of Norrath outside of hacking and slashing alongside others. There is also a gaggle of crafting abilities to excel in, fishing, spells to acquire and learn, armor and weapons to buy and pillage, and hundreds of other things to do that threaten any semblance of attention to the outside world.
Visually, EverQuest: Platinum is a fine-looking game, despite its five year heritage. The graphics engine introduced with Shadows of Luclin holds up well today for the most part and the handful of graphical enhancements (revamped enemy models, environmental additions and refinements, etc) that come with Platinum set it apart somewhat from all other versions of EQ. Keep in mind however that no version of the original EQ comes close to the visual brilliance of potential heir to the throne Final Fantasy XI. The sound presentation is vast, appropriate, and mostly enjoyable though the times when certain musical tracks repeat often, or when the music completely cuts out for long stretches does instill a desire for something more.
Overall, EverQuest: Platinum is an amazingly extensive, time-consuming game for a more-than-reasonable initial price of $29.99, though considering that it costs $120 a year (roughly) to play, you might be better off going with a more technologically impressive MMORPG. Despite the fact that this series is decidedly long-in-the-tooth it still does retain all the wonderment and excitement of a AAA MMORPG, and if you’ve yet to try it out for yourself yet this is the perfect opportunity to do so.