We sat in on a roundtable interview with EverQuest Producer Thom Terazza to talk about the game's 13th anniversary and its free-to-play shift.
EverQuest is celebrating its 13th anniversary and, as a birthday present to themselves, they're going free to play. Yesterday, a few members of the press and I jumped in on a roundtable interview with EverQuest Producer Thom Terazza to discuss the game's big shift after 13 years and 18 expansions.
To start with the smaller news (and only in the context of going free-to-play would a 13th anniversary be considered "smaller" news!), SOE plans to celebrate EverQuest's anniversary with a new quest line being added, through a young Halfling, Sam Napth, on the Plane of Knowledge. These quests will tied to a superstitious theme, with players investigating things like broken mirrors and black cats over the course of 13 main quests. Unfortunately, players on a time locked progression server that has not yet made it to the Plane of Knowledge will be unable to access this anniversary quest line. These quests will, however, be open to free-to-play players.
Speaking of free-to-play, EverQuest's move to F2P should come as no big surprise, as SOE has been slowly converting its titles over since late last year, starting with DC Universe Online in November, EverQuest II in December, and now EverQuest joining the family tomorrow. During our discussion, Thom stressed that EverQuest remains one of the MMO greats since its launch in '99, as players can still appreciate its immersive storytelling and incredible community.
While much of the F2P move has been covered in the lengthy official FAQ, it's worth mentioning the Hero's Journey feature that is being implemented to assist new players in their trek to 85. Given that many new players and returning players may be overwhelmed by how much there is to do, the Hero's Journey will keep track of quests and player accomplishments, while also guiding them toward more advanced content. There will also be rewards tied to the Hero's Path, making it an ideal "guide" for players to stick to when checking out Norrath.
In terms of any big changes for existing players, SOE is, once again, taking the "don't rock the boat" approach. Most current subscribers should be able to retain their original plans and not feel the effects, aside from a having a large group of newbies milling about in their starter zones (or perhaps some old faces will come back around!). In general, Thom simply hopes they can continue to iterate SOE's slogan of "Free to Play. Your Way" by giving players all the opportunities and choices they need to enjoy the game. While most MMOs tend to shift their development cycles when changing revenue models, EverQuest - and EverQuest II, to be fair - are unique in that they have a huge amount of content already created for the early to mid levels. Thus, Thom says that SOE can continue to cater to their EverQuest audience without changing too much of their ongoing vision.
All in all, it seems like there's never been a better time to jump into EverQuest. With the new Hero's Journey being introduced tomorrow, along with a brand new server, The Vox, opening tomorrow, Norrath is looking better than ever.
Chris "Pwyff" Tom, Editor-in-Chief