I am currently messing around with Everquest 2 Extended. I am not an EQ2 player nor an EQ2 vet--I skipped the game when it was new and played a week or two during the Play the Fae promotion a few years ago. I am also not really an EQ2 "fan" although I'm having fun with it right now. Increasingly, I'm not a "fan" of any MMO as they are really starting to seem all the same to us old codgers. Everything that needed to be done online you could do in Meridian59.
What EQ2 offers is a mostly odd, often crappy and sometimes creepy game that has had 6+ years of semi-talented development put into it.
It still has tons of old-school single group dungeon crawls and raids from low level to high level. It is also still actively being developed with new expansions on the way. Plus the free server is busy as hell, making it easy to group and do low level content.
I am primarily interested in this for old school dungeon crawls in the EQ style and trying to relive that "what's down that hole" feeling you could get from the original Everquest and bachelor parties.
Death penalities are now non-existant: all you get is a kill or two of xp debt and a warp back to the nearest safe spot with gear damage.
For those who never played EQ2 or played some at release and haven't visited in years it has changed quite a bit. Just as with it's 2004 cohort WoW, most access quests and travel requirements have been removed. However, unlike WoW, factions and content from the original release are still relevant and worthwhile to do.
Other than the usual level progression and dungeons/raids, it also has housing, guild halls, more intricate crafting, religions, raids at low levels, generally tougher 6-man content and a much wider variety of ways to progress your character than most games. Compared to the "other '04 game" it does lack the Blizzard touch. EQ2 has more of a "made in a garage" feel to it.
Combat is the old "whack-a-mole with reactives" style. Questing follows the "kill X Y times", "find the Z", "touch the Q" format. None of this is surprising and represents 2004.
A number of zones have recently been outfitted with "quest helpers"-- those "I didn't read any of that, just show me where to go" markers on the mini map that show you what to do--although there are only present in low level zones and at least the things you need to find don't sparkle.
With the free account (Bronze) you get to see content all the way to 90 using a limited set of races and classes. However, you are gimped in terms of chat, auction house use, storage space, and ability to equip rare or legendary gear. You cannot get raid geared on Bronze, but you can dungeon crawl to your heart's content.
As the sequel to what was previously the biggest MMO ever, and as a contemporary and competitior to WoW (which of course subsequently stomped it into the ground in terms of sheer subscriber numbers and widened the MMO audience considerably), EQ2 is still regarded by many as more of a "gamer's MMO" and continues to have an active end-game raiding community on the Live servers. It's worth checking out with it being free.
My character is named Oxalia on Freeport (This only EQ2X server at this time). The server is very packed across all levels as far as I have seen. PUGs are easy to find, I'm always up for dungeons or exploration, and/or you can solo yourself to 90.