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This is based on my own experience in game and is from a Qeynos (good side) perspective. This is really only about the original game and content.
In Everquest II you basically have several options on how to play. You can choose one purely or mix and match.
This might sound more like Oblivion then EQ2, but there IS a main quest progression from level's 1-50.
To be continued when I have more time...
PART I - The Island of Refuge (level's 1-9)
After you rolled your character you will be standing in front of Murrar Shar a Keran who offers you your first quest. This quest is actually a pretty interesting one. The old tutorial used to offer a free prima e-guide of the trial island, and honestly I think it completes the whole experience. I think for a new player trying out this game for the first time, they are really going to experience a fully immersive experience.
BTW if you hail Murrar Shar you can ask him about his sword. He tells you it's name and where he got it. This is a very long and hard 25-30 quest which let's you obtain the same sword.
The levels start out quick, in fact within quick brawl you level up. For those totally new to the EQ2 system there are NPC's who can guide and instruct. Also you can fully learn crafting on the island as well.
You find yourself on a quest to find the answers to a mysterious taint that is turning the local wildlife and the once peaceful goblin population into mindless zombies. Something or someone is behind this madness. As you do the quest you will find there are side quests, make sure you check out what they offer, besides more exp, they also give specific class items that some might not want/need. All the quests list the reward before you accept them.
Little known to new players is that quests are not the only way to get cool items. Creatures from goblins to even fish have something special for players. And not every quest starts out with a glowing feather, some are hidden...so search every nook and cranny!
So you think your getting pretty good, you beat the pants off all the goblins, solved the mystery and are thinking maybe it's time to go....HOLD UP! There is still more to do...in the water by a rock is a harmless looking slime called the Gurok. Well here is a spoiler, in the treehouse by the Soothsayer there is a book...read the book and it will tell you about this creature. The gurok drops the best loot off the island. And if your really lucky it drops a +3 haste earing called the Goey Ear Plug. Pretty nice item for a melee or scout.
PART II - Your new home (level's 6-15)
After the long journey (all about 30 seconds) you end up at the dock of your starting hamlet. This will be your home until you decide to upgrade your house.
Usually the first NPC you will see is a member of your race (two races share a hamlet) who introduces you to your race and basic history. That will give you a quest for a race specific item which is usually pretty nice. Sometimes the quests can be quite fun too!
Additionally you can do the quest to get your free house...simply speak to the Inn Keeper and then you get some free move in items and one free week of rent. After that for a basic inn room it's about 5 silver a week (real world week). Your room will be basic, but can be upgraded and customized through floor, wall and celling panels. Also there is loads of furniture to craft, get as quest rewards or buy. In your home you will have two interesting items: 1) The Welcome to Qeynos Citizenship Book which includes a quest. 2) Market Board. If your new to the game or if into roleplay DO the Welcome to Qeynos Citizenship quest. Firstly it will show you landmarks and places you will need to go to later, plus it really immerses you into the lore of the city as well.
The market board allows you to sell and see what is for sell from your house. It is a easy way to gain money by selling those adept 1 spells you got from adventuring.
After you have settled into your new home, maybe did the Welcome to Qeynos quest your ready for some action. Depending upon which race you picked, you will be directed to 1 of 3 zones.
1) The Oakmyst Forest
2) The Peat Bog
3) The Forest Ruins
You can follow the main quest closely and only do your zone, or branch off and do another one or all three. Each one will have a series of quests that are centered around some gnoll sightings. For those not familar with EQ lore, gnolls have been the main scourge to the people of qeynos since the original EQ.
If you continue along the main quest you will go to the Caves. This is basically a mini-Blackburrow. The thing that is interesting about the caves is the first real need to group. The saga of the gnolls continues as you uncover their plot to tunnel into Qeynos and invade with an army. However you are there to stop them.
Several interesting mobs are in this zone including some very powerful ones. One of the funnest things about the original EQ was the random trains that would come by and probably wiping the zone. Well EQ2's counterpart is to add a ridiculously high level monster to randomly enter the zone and begin a mass slaughter. For the Oakmyst Forest you have a giant bear. In the Forest Ruins there is the gargoyle thingy that "cleanses the castle". And in the Peat Bog a giant slime thing likes to appear and leave a trail of bodies. Well in the caves you have a giant mole rat who will crawl through and kill everyone (can't remember the name right now).
So higher level players will occasionally visit these zones for some payback or nice loot.
if you complete the caves, it's time to move on to the wide world of Antonica. Your first stop on the main quest is Sayers Farmhouse. Players of the original EQ will remember that Marton Sayer and his wife have a little house in Qeynos Hills. It was a good place to sell your loot between Surefall Glade and Qeynos or coming from Blackburrow. The new Sayer farm is quest central for the "lower level" part of Antonica. These quests will supply you basic needs such as upgraded food and weapons. After you have completed all this you will be directed up the road to a town not in the old EQ called Windstalker Village.
Holly Windstalker is a ranger NPC from EQ1 who felt it her duty to punish anyone who harmed the bears and wolves in Qeynos Hills. Unfortunately bears and wolf pelts were often the makings of the first armor players got. So holly killed allot of people! And if you weren't friendly with the forest critters, they would kill on sight and attack you without provocation. Oh yeah players hated Holly Windstalker! They also remembered her and later would kill her when high enough.
In EQ2 Holly is remembered by the citizens of Windstalker Village (who are killable) and her ghost roams about the land, you guessed it, killing everyone in sight. She is a ^^^ Heroic (which means very tough group only). Your quests from Windstalker Village will have you hunting and killing various wildlife...and helping out the poor farmers fight the scourge of Scarecrows that have come alive in the fields. If you played the original EQ you will remember West Karana had fields with scarecrows in them, and the laugh is the same in EQ2 as it is in EQ1. After you killed enough of em you get to the end of the quest and fight the scarecrow king. Another hard boss fight.
Antonica as a whole has several mini-instanced dungeons and can be either soloed or grouped. One such instance is Firemist Gully. This is a zone filled with undead and to complete it you get a VERY nice level 20 weapon. Plus there is quest instance (if you find the quest) and a raid instance. Imagine that Raids at level 20!
So I will head back a bit and talk about the different options around 15.
After you leave the Caves you can grab a group and head over to Blackburrow. Blackburrow is a famous, nay infamous dungeon from EQ1. The new one is less exciting I think, but still has many dangers. While the very top level is pretty much solo mobs (like the original), the lower levels are heroic and will overwhelm players very quickly with sheer numbers of bloodthirsty gnolls.
A little hint...in the original EQ there was a famous trap that made you fall all the way to the bottom level where there was loads of angry high level gnolls. The same trap exists in EQ2...so watch out!
Your next dungeon is Stormhold. This should be started by a group at least level 20. Stormhold is really where the group game starts in EQ2. Pick up groups aren't too hard to find once you hit 20. Stormhold has interesting lore about a group of knights where some misfortune befell them. In Stormhold you have three levels and as you travel down it gets more and more difficult. Finally there are some bosses at the end. There is dude named Moltar that very rarely appears in the dungeon. Unless your at least level 40 in a full and strong group..RUN!
After you have completed Stormhold you can head off to the Thundering Steps where you can solo for a bit or group up for a dungeon called Ruins of Varsoon. This is a creepy crawly skelle infested dungeon. I haven't done it all, but it should be done in your late 20's early 30's.
If dungeons aren't your thing or you want to solo, you can head into the Thundering Steps starting at level 20. here you can do loads of quests which eventually tell you about a besieged island called Zek.
Zek was once the mighty Jaggedpine Forest from EQ1. But the deathfist clan of orcs have claimed it as their own and have chopped down much of the forest to fuel their war machine. At the end of the zone is the Deathfist Citadel which adventurers around level 35+ can go.
Once you have bested the orcs in their own home it's time to head over to the frozen north called Everfrost. Here is a zone I haven't really done, but I believe it's a 40+ zone. It's here you can find permafrost a raid zone mostly where Lady Vox the famous dragon from EQ1's ghost roams about. Also the home of some very powerful ice giants.
After that it's off to Lavastorm and if you wish into the Temple of Solusk Ro. This was known as SOL A & B in EQ1 and is home to Lord Nagafen the red dragon. He lives in this game and loves to eat raid parties. As you venture further past Lava you can visit probably the hardest zone in EQ1 original the Temple of Cazic Thule. Appropriately it's the hardest zone in EQ2 original. And waiting for you is Venekor the ancient dragon. There is a nice little walkthrough video done by SOE to promote the original game and you can see Venekor there.