The Original EverQuest Goes Free-to-Play for Its 13th BirthdayS

After more than a decade of dedicated fans paying a monthly fee to adventure in the lands of Norrath, the massively multiplayer online role-playing game that got the MMORPG ball rolling back in 1999 is going free-to-play come March.

While EverQuest wasn't the first MMORPG on the market, it was the game that put the genre on the map, its popularity during its peak earning it the colorful moniker EverCrack to those that couldn't understand how cool it was to sit around the Lake of Ill Omen talking about whatever the equivalent of Chuck Norris was back in 2001. For nearly 13 years the game has stayed the course, managing to outlast its own sequel in the race to become a free-to-play title.

In early March, somewhere around the game's March 16 birthday, SOE will flip the switch opening the game to free players everywhere.

It's a special sort of free, however. For instance, Elves? Not free. Death Knights? Paladins? Bards? Mages? Not free. That sucks a bit, doesn't it?

The game will be split into three tiers. The first two, Free and Silver (requires a $5 purchase) are extremely limited. They can only play Human, Erudite, Barbarian or Gnome Warriors, Clerics, Wizards, or Rogues. They are limited to Tier One spells, and cannot send in-game mails. It's rather...bad. See for yourself.

Of course you can always spend $14.99 a month for access to everything, but that's a rather steep price to place a 13-year-old game, just saying.

Severely restricted or not, free-to-play is still technically free-to-play. If you've yet to experience the joys of the original EverQuest, then March will probably be rather disappointing. It hasn't aged well. Oh well, at least you can tell people you played once.