Recently EverQuest2 released two new Time-Locked Expansion (TLE) servers called Stormhold (a PvE server) and Deathtoll (a PvP server). The premise behind these servers is that the game rolls back all the content to when it was originally released, and allows its players to experience the game as it was when it was fresh and new. Some “quality of life” changes are put in place like bug fixes and certain features that make the game easier to play, but weren’t implemented until after launch, but mostly players get to experience “maximum nostalgia”.
What does “maximum nostalgia” look like for an EQ2 player? It looks exactly like that small, slightly sheepish yet completely joyful, smile that creeps over your face when you’re cleaning out your childhood bedroom and you find a toy, or a stuffed animal that meant something really special to you. EverQuest (and EverQuest2) meant the same to its players. And still does.
Just like when you logged in that very first time (oh so many years ago), you make your character, you pick a server and a name, and you jump into the game, finding yourself on the exact boat as you did when the game released. You go through the tutorial quests, and get sent to the newbie isle (either the Outpost of the Overlord if you picked an evil character, or Queen’s Colony, if you went for the good guys). And it only gets better from there; the shinies to collect, the resource nodes to harvest, the quests and quests and QUESTS to complete…! It’s all there, waiting to be rediscovered.
I had the privilege to be an “original” returning player (meaning, I played the game at launch in 2004), and the warm fuzzy feeling when I logged in was still there. I smiled when I saw the first quest window pop up, and the “sparkly trail” light up, leading me to my first quest NPC. I remembered all the different shells and feathers I needed to find for my collection quest, I remembered (mostly) where to go, and what to click on, and how to unlock the easter eggs (like The Guurok!).
I also had the privilege to be playing with someone who had never played EQ2 before, and was going through the experience for the first time. I loved being able to show my knowledge when it was necessary, and also to sit back and watch as discoveries were made for the first time (like when your first Lore and Legend item drops). The game had all the magic it had before, and more, because I got to share it.
I delighted in flitting from one mob to another, as my brain remembered all the past triumphs and, yes, frustrations, too! It was like coming back after a long vacation, returning to things that are familiar. There was simply this content feeling of being… home.
And this is why I will wait as long as I need to for EverQuest Next to launch. Daybreak (formerly SOE) knows what they’re doing when they make games. You can tell, because so many people have flooded back into EverQuest and EverQuest 2’s TLE servers, thirsting to relive those “first moments” again. And when EQ:Next launches, we’ll have all new first moments to remember fondly.
Nostalgia is a good thing. It doesn’t have to mean that we pine for something old. It can bring hope for the future, too. We were reminded how much we loved the games back at release. We were reminded of how those games were groundbreaking and fun, not only at launch, but now, still. I believe that Daybreak will deliver again with EverQuest Next.
I’ll see you all on launch day. 🙂