EverQuest 2 goes spelunking in its 19th expansion in 18 years

A merchant in Everquest 2
(Image credit: Daybreak Game Company)

EverQuest 2 was first released in November 2004, and that was a little unlucky. A more polished and streamlined version of one of the pioneering Western MMOs, EverQuest 2 had it all: gorgeous visuals, lavish audio production, a metric tonne of quests (it is now estimated to contain over 6000), and all the quality-of-life tools a fantasy player could ask for. The problem? It launched at almost exactly the same time as a competitor called World of Warcraft.

WoW swept all before it and, although EverQuest 2 was one of the few able to survive such a high quality entrant in the fantasy MMO genre, inevitably overshadowed its contemporaries. Nevertheless, EverQuest 2 attracted and retained a considerable playerbase, first under original developer Sony Online Entertainment, before later being sold to the Daybreak Game Company in 2015, which continues to maintain and expand the game. It has received an astonishing 18 expansions in this time, and this Christmas brings another.

Head of studio Jenn Chan has written a producer's letter for the game's fans, setting out a timeline for the rest of the year and revealing the new expansion's name: Renewal of Ro.

"We’ve braved Myths and Monoliths," writes Chan, "wrapped up our first ever Summer Jubilee with Oceansfull Festival, maxed our Golden F'Aestival Bracers, raked in some great bonuses, and adventured in The Fractured Cache in the hopes of bringing the aerakyn home."

I don't know what an aerakyn is either, but I'm kinda hyped. Here are the highlights of the year's roadmap.

Everquest 2022 roadmap

  • September: Desert of Flames Unlocked on Varsoon, 'Secrets of the Sands' expansion prelude, Panda, Panda, Panda!
  • October: 2022's Expansion Beta + Preorders go live
  • November: Heroes' Festival for 18th Anniversary, Extra Life fundraising event
  • December: Expansion launch, Heroic Opportunity System Update

Yes, 'Panda, Panda, Panda!' is a bunch of quests where you help out friendly pandas.
There's also a note on the Swag Store, much-anticipated by its playerbase, which was due in September "but due to production delays we couldn't get the stars aligned to launch this. We're still making progress, so be on the lookout for updates for when this will open."

The new expansion, Renewal of Ro, launches in December with new zones and quests, and an overhaul of the Heroic Opportunity system. Then there's this line to end the producer's letter (emphasis theirs): "Get ready to Tack on your best gear and establish yourself as one of the greatest of spelunkers in hiztory."

Renewal of Ro is going to take place in the desert biomes and, thanks to the official EverQuest 2 forum, I can tell you that Takish Hiz was once the Elddar Empire's capital, and that what is now desert was once a lush forest. Whether this means players will be uncovering the ruins (which spelunking would suggest) or Everquest 2's going to do another timey-wimey multiverse thing (which it has done in the past) remains to be seen.

EverQuest 2 has also for many years now partnered with Extra Life to raise money for various childrens' hospitals, with this year's beneficiary being the Rady Children's Hospital in San Diego. Gaming at large appears to have woken up to the good it can sometimes do out in the real world, but Everquest 2's been ploughing this furrow for many years and raised a tonne of money for good causes, through things like communal in-game drives and rewarding players who make a donation with in-game titles.

"Children's hospitals perform such an important role in our communities," writes Chan. "They literally are the difference between life and death for some children. On a very personal note, my family would look very different today if not for the lifesaving services that Rady Children's Hospital provided. The official Extra Life Game Day is November 5, 2022 and we have some plans to make this year bigger than before."

EverQuest 2 is free-to-play, with paid-for expansions, and you can try it out here. The series has a rich old history: here you can read about how a cheater and designer waged a secret war from a San Diego gaming store or, alternatively, how a bunch of players broke a scared MMO code by waking up a 20 year-old dragon.

Rich Stanton

Rich is a games journalist with 15 years' experience, beginning his career on Edge magazine before working for a wide range of outlets, including Ars Technica, Eurogamer, GamesRadar+, Gamespot, the Guardian, IGN, the New Statesman, Polygon, and Vice. He was the editor of Kotaku UK, the UK arm of Kotaku, for three years before joining PC Gamer. He is the author of a Brief History of Video Games, a full history of the medium, which the Midwest Book Review described as "[a] must-read for serious minded game historians and curious video game connoisseurs alike."