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In 2002, Asheron's Call 2 was released and was far ahead of it's time in terms of graphics, game mechanics, item system, crafting, pretty much everything about it. Not only that, it truly defines what an MMORPG is meant to be. A very large persistant world which you are a part of and mean something. The game doesn't offer linear quest lines like modern MMO's, no quest hubs, no set path, no classes. It is just a great game with great game mechanics.
Classes are open ended. You earn experience which is used as a currency to upgrade skills. Every race has a VERY unique playstyle. From a race that can be a "hivekeeper" which throws bee's and wasp's at enemies to a "Tactician" that can lay down turrets and walls to lay waste to there enemy. Or maybe the secret race that needs to be unlocked in the game called "Drudge" which is a jack-of-all-trades! Or maybe a race that throws axes, uses spells and summons pets, or a hunter that wields a bow and summons a pet lasher. A healer? A healer that nukes? A healer that tanks? A tank that buffs? Be whatever mix of skills you want.
Everything is based around exploration. EVERYTHING. If you like exploring, this game is for you. To find quests, you need to explore, to learn crafting, you need to explore, to learn how to get the best XP, you need to explore. There are so many things you can find while exploring too. Rare spawn monsters which give better loot, incursion quests which are activated by killing green colored monsters yielding tons of xp, or maybe a secret dungeon that turns out to be a daily quest which yields a ton of experience?
Add to this an in-depth and meaningful crafting system. A consignment shop system where you can sell your goods such as weapons, armor, or minerals from crafting!
Add to this random stats like Diablo where an item can have a ton of enchantments which increase as you level AND those enchants can be used on other items as you please with a crafting skill called "Spellbinding"
Add to this an epic story line which ties Asherons Call 1 and why Asherons Call 2 is so desolate. (Vaults)
Add to this infinite character progression. The level cap is 150, but getting there isn't needed. In fact, you will never get there. Crafting level cap on EACH tradeskill is 500, yet the highest level item is 150, you will probably NEVER hit level 500 but it isn't necessary. There is ALWAYS something to work toward, but it doesn't hold your hand.
You are put into the world of Dereth... and it reminds me so much of playing a game like Morrowind and having the freedom to do anything BUT also having thousands of players to interact with, trade with, group with... This is what an MMORPG should be.
Here are some helpful websites for crafting and overall gameplay:
http://ac2vault.ign.com/ (MIX OF EVERYTHING)