20 Years of ‘Everquest’: Memorable Moments in MMO History

Jeremy Ray
Games PC Gaming
Games PC Gaming

The grandfather of MMOs has turned 20, and in hindsight, all we can think is how young that is to be a grandfather. Everquest‘s 20th anniversary falls on the 16th of March, 2019. That’s 20 years of genre-building stories that we’ll be exploring over the next week.

Despite its own sequel being released years later, as well as the dominant World of Warcraft, and countless other games in the space, Everquest is still going.

Everquest was made free-to-play in March of 2012. It’s received 25 expansions in the course of its lifetime, and it’s about to get another one for its 20th anniversary. That gives Everquest the unique claim of having the most content of any MMO.

With the expansion The Burning Lands coming up, players still have a lot to look forward to. But given Everquest was among the first MMOs, that means this is the start of a new period — we’ve never talked about a “20th anniversary” for an MMO before. So for this Everquest milestone, we’re looking back at some of its more memorable moments. Because big moments in the history of Everquest are synonymous with big moments in the history of MMOs. We’ll be putting a new story live each day, and we’ll update this page as we do.

Much of what we’ll talk about deals with the frustration and love that came from playing MMOs at the time. Those are the feelings that come up with Everquest players remember their time with the game. The two go hand-in-hand — the brutal difficulty and at times brokenness, coupled with the sense of achievement from defeating the genre’s hardest challenge to date.

And there’s probably no better example of that then some of the earlier raid instances…

The Longest Dungeon

Before MMOs had a reputation for being unhealthy, there was an arms race to see how brutally hard the raid challenges could be. Some of the difficulty was down to technical issues, and some of it was downright unfair — but this led to interesting problem-solving, and the elation of beating one of these raids was unparalleled.

We focus on one of the earlier raid challenges, the Plane of Hate, which should conjure a cringe in anyone who attempted it 20 years ago.

The Unbeatable Boss

Kerafyrm the Sleeper was meant to do just that – sleep – throughout the entirety of Everquest. It was designed to be unbeatable, with a mathematically insurmountable numbers of hitpoints and damage output. It could, in fact, one-hit kill a group at range.

There are reports that Kerafyrm was to play a role in Everquest‘s lore later on, but the players had different plans.

An alliance of three guilds banded together to take on the four dragons required to wake Kerafyrm, and then finally the Sleeper itself. But intervention from the developers made sure things didn’t go as planned. Stay tuned for our full story of what happened.

Fansy the Famous Bard

One of the first MMO trolls to gain infamy, Fansy found a way to turn the Everquest rules against itself — an impressive feat for someone playing on a “no rules” server. But it was Fansy’s personality and humour that made his exploits so shareable, and indeed likable — unless you were the one being trolled, of course.

Fansy was in fact the reason that Everquest‘s “no rules” experiment ended, with rules being introduced to put and end to this particular brand of delightful trolling. We spoke to some of the developers at the studio about what it was like to be behind the curtain for it.

The Weird and Wonderful History of Everquest

It’s been a long road over the course of 20 years and 25 expansions. The developers told us all about the earlier stages of Everquest, as well as the steady train of content updates throughout the years, the move to free-to-play, and watching it become the inspiration for games like World of Warcraft.

The Player-Created Lore of Everquest

Much like the Kerafyrm event and the adventures of Fansy mentioned above, it’s common for players to play a large part in the lore of the land. One developer we spoke to went as far as to say that players will experience and use 80% of the content in a way that the developers didn’t intend.

Sometimes, this player-created experience and lore becomes the best out of the whole experience. There’s something special about it being genuinely yours. And after Kerafyrm, the Everquest developers started designing encounters and landmarks with that discoverability and ownership in mind.

Favourite Behind-the-Scenes Moments

With the opportunity to speak to developers who came in and out of Daybreak to contribute to Everquest, how could we not include some of their favourite anecdotes?

A lot’s happened in the last 20 years, and this was what they remembered most fondly.

Everquest is continuing its content updates with the upcoming The Burning Lands expansion, elegantly timed for the Everquest 20th anniversary.

Jeremy Ray
Managing Editor at FANDOM. Decade-long games critic and esports aficionado. Started in competitive Counter-Strike, then moved into broadcast, online, print and interpretative pantomime. You merely adopted the lag. I was born in it.
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