If you’ve thought about getting into EverQuest II, or maybe even tried it, you may have been bewildered by the staggering array of 24 (soon to be 25!) available classes. How they break down isn’t all that clear from the descriptions on the character creation screen, and there’s a lack of really good resources online unless you’re prepared to do some digging and question-asking. Luckily, Uncle Ardwulf is here to break down how it all works and briefly explain every class.
How Classes Work in EQ2
EQ2 classes fall into four broad Archetypes: Fighter, Scout, Mage and Priest. These roughly fill the gameplay roles of tank, melee DPS, ranged DPS and healing/support respectively. Within each Archetype there are three classes, and within each class there are two subclasses, which thus come in pairs; these are the actual “classes” that you select during character creation. This is an artifact of the way the class system worked at the game’s launch (something I won’t go into right now,) but it still has important ramifications today. For one, it means that by changing your alignment, you can change your class to the opposite class in your pairing. So if you start play as a Wizard, and decide at some point that you’d really like more DoTs and AoE, you can swap to Warlock. This is not trivial to do; there’s a questline to betray your home city and then you’ll have to build up faction with a different one, but it normally doesn’t take all that much time to do.
Also, to a varying extent, the two classes in each pair are “two sides of the same coin.” The Guardian, for example, is defense-focused, while its counterpart the Berserker is more offensive-minded. They’re different but not that different. On the other hand, the Illusionist and its counterpart the Coercer play very differently, although both fill the same role as crowd control specialists. So the degree of difference between the two sides can vary quite a bit from pair to pair.
Although all characters in the Fighter archetype can tank, certain classes will be preferred for certain types of content over others; Guardians, for example, are typically the most desired raiding tanks, while Monks and Bruisers can only do light off-tanking in raids.
The two Warrior classes are the Guardian and the Berserker. Both are heavy combatants who wear plate armor. The Guardian is more defense-focused, will generally fight with a weapon and shield and has great single-target threat generation tools and desperation defense abilities, and the best damage mitigation in the game. The Berserker has better AoE threat generation and will mostly build threat via DPS, generally fighting with two weapons. Of the two, the Berserker is the better solo class because Guardians can take a while to beat an enemy down, but remember that you could level as one and then switch to the other in endgame if you plan on concentrating on dungeons or raids.
The Brawler classes are the Monk and Bruiser. Both are avoidance tanks; they wear leather armor and thus have weak mitigation but focus on not getting hit in the first place. Monks have better sustained DPS but Bruisers do better burst damage. Bruisers have more stuns and knockdowns but have longer cooldowns. Both have a feign death of dubious reliability and a small self-heal. One caveat is that, because avoidance works differently in raid content, Brawlers are essentially disqualified from being main tanks in a raid scenario.
The Crusader classes, the Paladin and Shadowknight, wear heavy armor and have excellent mitigation. The Paladin has some healing and warding ability, but not to the extent of being able to serve as a main healer in dungeon content, although they can off-heal and may suffice for a lot of open-world group content. Shadowknights have solid debuffs and damage buffs and do better DPS but lack the Paladin’s ability to heal others, although they have the ability to self-heal through vampiric abilities.
Mages do damage, primarily at range, but all also offer some level of support, buffing/debuffing, and crowd control. All are considered strong soloing classes either due to pets, CC or sheer damaging ability, even though all are ultimately cloth-wearing glass cannons.
The Sorcerer classes are straight-up, root-and-blast classes. Of the two, the Wizard offers more single-tick, single-target damage, while the Warlock offers more DoTs and AoE DPS. Both have similar roots, but the Warlock’s tend to break more often because they tend to do damage on more ticks. Both also have a variety of utility spells as well as a selection of pets that offer minor buffs.
Both Enchanters are pet classes and crowd control specialists, but they play very differently. The Illusionist’s pet is an illusionary duplicate of the caster, and can cast all the spells the caster can. Nobody can lock down an opposing mob like an Illusionist; they’re tricky to play but unmatched soloists in the hands of a skilled player, and they have excellent group buffs. The Coercer, in contrast, doesn’t get a regular pet. Instead, he or she charms a mob and controls it. This offers great versatility, as you can pick from brute mobs, caster mobs, healer mobs, or whatever depending on the zone you’re in, but the trick to playing them is that their control over their pet will break – sometimes at the worst possible time. Instead of buffs they have reactive debuffs and damaging spells. The two classes considered together are among the most unique in EQ2, and indeed in any MMO.
Summoners are also pet classes. Both types have a variety of pets to choose from; the Conjuror’s tend to be tougher and tankier, while the Necromancer has a number of tools to keep his pet up and fighting, and can push health and power around between the caster, the pet and the enemy. Conjurors do more AoE damage, while Necros have more DoTs; overall DPS is fairly respectable in either case.
Clerics are plate-wearing healers somewhat reminiscent of D&D Clerics. Templars have a variety of healing tools including reactive heals that proc when the target takes damage. Their DPS output in considered poor, and while they can be competent soloers in the right hands, you’ll likely need to do a lot of self-healing to make them effective. Inquisitors also have a variety of healing tools, with an emphasis on reactive heals and debuffs, and can spec into a very desirable soloing configuration with good DPS.
The Shaman classes, the chain-wearing Mystic and Defiler, “heal” not so much by healing but by using wards to prevent damage from being taken in the first place. Both have strong debuffs and decent melee DPS, with the Mystic having higher burst but the Defiler having more DoTs. Both also have a spirit pet which can be used in a variety of different ways depending on spec but which is very frail, so it can’t be used as a tank.
Druids wear leather armor and focus on healing with HoTs. The Warden is melee-oriented and a somewhat stronger healer, while the Fury is more of a ranged caster and has an edge in DPS. Both also boast root and nuke abilities and are considered strong solo classes.
The six Scout classes are all chain-wearing DPS classes. Most are more reliant on positioning than, say, a Fighter would be, and all have Stealth. They’re all fairly fragile, so be wary of any sustained beatings.
Bards are considered very desirable for group content of all kinds. They do the weakest DPS of any of the Scouts but offer an array of powerful buffs and debuffs. Troubadors have better caster buffs and have some mez and charm abilities that can be used to take control of opposing mobs. The Dirge is better at buffing melee classes and can do lifetaps to siphon away enemy health.
Predators are often considered the top DPS classes in the game, with the Ranger doing damage primarily at range, and the Assassin in melee. Both are fairly brittle. The Assassin is the most dependent of all the Scouts on proper positioning and has some excellent aggro management abilities, while the Ranger is quite good at kiting where there’s room. Note that the Ranger is not a pet class (but see the note below.)
The Rogues are both melee DPS classes, slightly less good at dealing damage than Predators but with more utility and less dependent on either kiting or position. The Swashbuckler can debuff enemies’ offensive abilities, has some token AoE ability and is less dependent on positional damage than most Scouts, while the Brigand debuffs enemy defenses and has a lot of stun and show-your-back ability. Both can also do some light tanking, especially in open-world group content.
A Note on Pet Classes
Folks coming over from World of Warcraft should be careful about assuming that EQ2’s pet classes offer some kind of EZ-mode. Roughly speaking, the Conjuror is sort of similar to WoW’s Hunter and the Necro is similar to the WoW Warlock, but even here the gameplay offers a lot of nuance, and the Illusionist and Coercer are radically different from anything you may be familiar with from other games. Sorcerers and Shamans also have pets that you either can’t or shouldn’t rely upon to either tank or do significant stand-alone damage, but they’re useful nonetheless.
Also be aware that any EQ2 characters can have a “combat pet.” By following one of the Deity questlines you can get a deity pet for yourself that will help you out in various ways – potentially a lot, if you pick the right one.
There’s also the Beast Lord, scheduled to launch with the Age of Discovery expansion. This will be lightly-armored characters roughly similar to Scouts with very powerful pets that can be customized with their own spec trees and controlled with their own special hotbars. Many details have not yet been revealed, but it looks like they will be heavily pet-dependent.
So Which Class Should I Play?
Here I will cheat and say that it’s up to you; you should pick something that suits your own playstyle. Hopefully the thumbnail descriptions I’ve provided here will help you make a choice, or at least point you in a general direction. EverQuest II is extremely alt-friendly, so don’t be around to experiment until you find something you like.