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I had only gotten to play it for a short while before sunset, it was my first MMO and I was a lot younger then, but one thing I do remember is the community. On my first night, in my first few hours of playing, someone had invited me to a group full of people, he gave me and all the other group members a "tour" around one of the large systems, which gave me a ton of Exploration levels, and talking to him and all the other group members I had learned a lot about the game. After that I was invited to his guild, when another member spent a fair amount of time crafting me all the equipment I would need for my first 30-40 levels (player made gear was the best, because experienced crafters could get the item to work more efficiently, greatly increasing your abilities over NPC bought gear)....I guess the community was really nice in this game, this is something I still have not experienced again after playing well over a dozen MMO's in the time since, until now...
7 years later I'm playing the emulator, and on my first day someone invites me for a tour. It was basically the same thing as before, 5 newbies grouping up with 1 higher level to take us around a solar system. It was great to discuss the game, memories from back then, what we've learned over the years, how the emulator project is going and what's changed...It's also great for me to get all those nav points so I can do some trade runs later on . Later on in the night I'm killing some mobs while talking too much in chat, not paying attention before I target and fire at a mob way too high, he blows me up. I put on my distress beacon and ask for a Jumpstart (res). Within 2 minutes 3 ships appear, one starts blasting away mobs, the other Jumpstarts me, the third repairs my hull up, while they all give me some buffs. Within a minute I got several other tells from players asking if I still needed help...
Later on in the night I joined a guild and was doing my lvl 30 Hull Upgrade mission which required a lot of travel. When I needed to go a long distance, I asked in New Players/Guild chat if any JE's were nearby for a wormhole, I got several of them through the whole mission cutting the time down by at least 1/3, all from players going out of their way to give me a hand. At the end of the mission I had to fight a mob that was too hard for me, I ask if anyone in the sector will help, 10 seconds later I get a group invite and someone warps in beside me to blast away the mob.
Today I made a new character was blasting away mobs when someone came to do the same, he invited me to group so we could get the bonus experience (actually making grouping more worthwhile!), after blasting some mobs we went to sell our loot, he had some crafted items in his vault for me, gave them to me then asked if I would go to a station where one of his alts was, we go there and he spends the next hour or so crafting me all the equipment I'm going to need until level 50 or so (all lvl 2-3-4-5 gear), all for no charge, and when done he says "happy to help".
All of these are things I would never expect out of a community in any common MMO these days...Hell I'd even expect my guildmates to refuse doing things like this...why? Mainly because it doesn't help them and it slows them down from progressing towards whatever their goal may be.
That's what makes EnB special...tour a new player around to areas they've never been before and even the highest level character is going to get good exploration experience out of it. Craft some gear for a newbie? You'll get some great trade experience. The community is so incredibly friendly and generous, it's actually kind of scary coming from a game like WoW or any other popular MMO these days. These bonuses don't work for combat experience, so you can't powerlevel like that. Another thing that makes the system great is that a lot of your skills, upgrades (extra weapon/device slots) and equipment levels comes from your overall level...So for example blast at mobs and level up your combat, that will let you use faster engines for exploring and doing science missions (exploration exp), also same for trade runs...Or do exploring/trade jobs and that's going to give you more weapons and better skills to make blasting away at mobs easier, whichever you feel like doing at the time (exploration, trading or combat), it's going to benefit the others too.
How about some other aspects of the game? A storyline that everyone experiences, a world that actually changes? V'rix aliens show up, start invading space, even taking over systems, altering the balance of the game world (galaxy), turning what used to be friendly zones for trade routes now into hostile territory. Or how about a company opening up a gate into a new sector only to have vicious monsters flood through their end of the gate and take over the sector...with some special mobs that can trigger a flood server-wide raid of those monsters?...No Earth and Beyond doesn't have the same pirates building a ship in a cave that 10 million players have all defeated still there 10 years later, it has a real storyline that everyone experiences together.
Yes the game might be rough around the edges, and extremely old school - (classic Everquest style), but to anyone who's ever played and understood the game, it is special. There was nothing else like it and there will never be anything like it again. I would never in my lifetime have thought I'd be having so much fun playing a 10 year old game that has been dead/non-existent for the past 7 years...So I thank the devs of the emulator for bringing this amazing game back to us, I thank the Westwood devs for creating this special product...And finally I'd like to give another 1 fingered salute to Electronic Arts.