The story of PvP in EverQuest II is one of brief flashes of modest popularity interspersed amongst great stretches of general ennui. It is an object lesson in lack of focus.
Because SOE certainly spent a lot of developer time on PvP when it came to EQII in an attempt to find a way to make it work. But in what is almost completely a PvE oriented game, with classic level and gear progression, PvP never quite fit right. Over the years SOE tried a number of things, limiting levels at which you could engage other players, nerfing stats when used in PvP, and eventually just giving all gear both PvE AND PvP stats. They have had open world PvP, arenas, duels, and WoW-like battlegrounds.
And all of it was, in my opinion, a waste of development time.
PvP is not at all core to what made EverQuest II (or EverQuest) the game it is today. I won’t say nobody played EQII for PvP, because there is always a small group that likes it and shouts loudly for it in the forums, but you would be hard pressed to convince me that all the work done on PvP over the last 11 years was a sound investment based on how many players it attracted.
Back in June when the legacy Norrath team started talking about nostalgia servers for EQII, I was pretty quick to discount the PvP idea. Not core.
So it was a bit of a surprise to me when Daybreak announced not one, but two Time Locked Expansion servers, Stormhold for PvE, and Deathtoll for PvP.
I am not saying that people haven’t had fun with PvP in EQII, because clearly people have. But it has never been a serious draw relative to the PvE side of the game, a fact proven once again by yesterday’s forum announcement:
Deathtoll will be merged with the PvE Time-Locked Expansion server Stormhold. This is currently scheduled for Tuesday, April 5, 2016. If you haven’t chosen to transfer your character before this date, we’ll be moving characters that remain on Deathtoll to Stormhold on April 5.
Deathtoll is dead, gone before it made it to the Secrets of Faydwer expansion.
And, in keeping with how these things go, that forum announcement has responses complaining about how Daybreak isn’t supporting the PvP community, completely oblivious to the fact that there apparently isn’t a big enough PvP community to even keep one server going.
If you have a character on the Deathtoll server… and are still subscribed to Daybreak All Access… you should be getting a token via in-game mail for a free transfer to any other EQII server. If you are a PvP fan still on Deathtoll, I might have suggested transferring to that Russian PvP server… Harla Dar wasn’t it… but the Russian servers are being merged into the Splitpaw EU server.
Thus endeth PvP in EverQuest II… and good riddance to it.
Yes, I know a few people liked it. And there will still be battlegrounds. But in the end, non-core feature was non-core, and you cannot argue otherwise without creating castles in the sky built on magical clouds of “what if…” and “If only SOE had…” speculation.
This sort of “must cater to all play styles” idea should die, especially now in this era of the niche MMORPG. Like so many other unsustainable MMO industry trends, you can probably blame this is one on WoW as well. They managed to carry it off through sheer size. You can afford support a small part of your player base if the total numbers are big enough to staff up for it. More people probably play on PvP servers in WoW than ever played EQII at any given time.
But it still persists. Maybe Lord British has enough bandwidth to manage it with Shroud of the Avatar… color me skeptical though, no matter how much people love to talk about the good old days of Ultima Online… but when Brad McQuaid is talking about PvP as a feature for Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen, that is enough for me to write the whole project off. That is too big of an additional feature. But scope creep was his problem with Vanguard as well.
Addendum: EQ2Wire has a summary of EverQuest II PvP posted.