From Free-to-Play to the Ethernere, it's been a busy year in Norrath.
EverQuest II started the year fresh off of its eighth expansion, plus a Free-to-Play conversion, and ended it with its ninth expansion, Chains of Eternity.
Players began their year adjusting to the Free-to-Play model, first introduced as EQ2 Extended, which was introduced as the new subscription model December 2011. EverQuest II was the first of Sony Online Entertainment's games to introduce a Free-to-Play option since Free Realms, and most of SOE's other games quickly followed. Populations flourished as new and old players alike visited Norrath to give the seven year old game a spin.
Age of Discovery and Game Update 62 both launched in December 2011; the content and features of these updates added replayability that extended into the new year. The eighth expansion was regarded by players as a “feature pack”, which infused new life to the game. The highly anticipated Beastlord class, which is a scout-based pet class, was introduced. Players were able to reforge the stats on their armor—for a price—and create their own combat instances with the Dungeon Maker system. Tradeskillers were given Apprentices who research enhanced recipes that require rare reactants to create. The City of Freeport saw a revamp during this time, revitalizing the city and offering new quests that extended all the way through level 80.
February brought a change at the helm of EverQuest II, as Holly Longsdale was introduced as the new EverQuest II Producer. A little later that month Emily Taylor, the much beloved Associate Producer and former Tradeskill Developer, departed Sony Online Entertainment to work at Trion Worlds.
The month of March was a proud time to be a member of the EQII community. Players from all servers banded together on Guk, leveling a guild from 1 to 77 within four days and decorating a tier 3 hall and several houses for a young child. Going by the name of Ribbitribbitt, this six-year-old boy was given less than three months to live and his mother, Myranda, had contacted decorators asking simply if she could get some help with setting up a Tenebrous Isle home—and was overwhelmed by the response. When the hard work was unveiled to Ribbitribbitt it was a day many involved will never forget.
In April SOE added to the Destiny of Velious content with “Skyshrine”, Game Update 63, bringing the legendary EverQuest zones of Wakening Land and Skyshrine to life in EverQuest II. This update also raised the level cap to 92, a break from the traditional 10-level increases that left players scratching their heads. In a change from adding new Alternate Abilities (AAs), level 90+ players were given prestige abilities, which enhance or add to their combat prowess. Heroic and Epic Tradeskill Apprentices were introduced, adding rare and powerful recipes to crafters' repertoire.
Game Update 64 in July brought a much-anticipated revamp to the city of Qeynos, mirroring Freeport's revamp at the end of 2011. A new racial series and a core story line with content from level 20 to 80 draws back players to the city. Some facelifts were done to the zone textures, the castle soared higher into the sky, and Antonia Bayle herself played a hand in averting crisis for Qeynos.