#1 Everquest played on PC, released 1999
The best game of all time? For me it is. It is the game I have played the most and the game that has had the biggest impact on my life. The short story: I met my beautiful wife while playing Everquest.
I had been playing everquest for a couple months already, not really getting anywhere. Life past lvl 10 was hard and unforgiving in Norrath back in 2000. I was on my fourth character, an enchanter named Gazzook, this time carefully planned out from the beginning. At lvl 10 I decided to move to Freeport, a dangerous 40 minute journey on foot from Qeynos. In west commons I met up with a high elf wizard, recently moved to Freeport from the greater Feydark. From there I started to see her more often in groups in east and west commons killing orcs and bears trying to get a grip on the early teens.
Christmas time was there and I didn't see her for a while. In the new year we met up again in North Ro desert and Oasis of Marr while dodging deadly giants. From there we occasionaly took the boat to set foot on the continents of Velious and Kunark. Although the tower of frozen shadow looked very intriguing Velious was still out of our league. Kunark quickly became our favorite place to spend the early 20's. Lake of ill omen was the perfect zone with plenty of places to explore and hang out.
There was lots of downtime in Everquest, plenty of time for good conversation. Often we would simply sit around chatting instead of actively looking for a group. After mastering the Saenak fort in Lake of Ill Omen we moved on to the giant fort in Frontier mountains and after that to the Overthere.
As we got on in levels our relationship began to grow and before long we had our first phone call and started exchanging pictures. Quite exciting after only talking in text for months. Luckily she exceeded all my expectations.
By the time we got to the 40's and moved on to the dreadlands I decided to come over to visit for a week. After a 7 hour plane ride I arrived at 1 in the morning in a rental car in a foreign country in the middle of a snow storm, having never driven in snow before. Nerves aside it was one of the best weeks of my life and gutwrenching to have to go back. A couple of months later she visited me in Amsterdam and from there we kept going back and forth every couple of months.
Obviously this was not an ideal situation, so by summer I was looking into immigration. The whole immigation process from Holland to Canada took about a year requiring tons of paperwork, physical tests, and documents going through 3 countries. In july of 2002 all planning came to fruition and we were finally united forever. My life changed completely, it was the best decision I have ever made.
Not long after we got settled in we started playing Everquest again, this time side by side. This allowed for some interesting tactics, closely timing spells together. Our enchanter wizard duo became an unstoppable force, lag permitting. Shadows of Luclin had come out by then with some interesting zones, a hub to make it a lot faster to get around and a new graphical make over of the game. Yet Lower guk in old Norrath and Sebilis in Kunark became our favorite zones. Sebilis was the best. There we could round up and defeat up to 30 targets at the time by keeping them stunned with 2 enchanters while wizards blast them with area effect spells. A risky business but great fun.
Planes of power was another good expansion, however Lost dungeons of norrath turned out to be our best. The random generated instanced 45-60 min dungeons were great for a few rounds each night to earn points for weapon and armor augments. After the next expansion, Gates of discord, we finally got married. We wanted to do it sooner but getting family together from a different continent takes a while. In good tradition we decided to visit some of our other long time Everquest friends during our honeymoon on the west coast.
Omens of war was to be our last expansion. We were in the upper 60's by then and the game kept getting harder without raid equipment. We never did many raids since they tend to take anywhere from 6 to 12 hours at a time. Friends started leaving to Star Wars Galaxies and World of Warcraft and by lvl 68, after 4 years and 8 expansions, we also made the switch to WoW.
WoW was great but never reached the same heights (and lows) that Everquest has. We met many great friends on Everquest, the forced grouping to get forward makes it a real social game. Everquest also has way more spells, alternate advancement abilies, augments, all allowing for a wide variety of tactics. With plenty of odd spells and items to have fun too. My wife still hasn't forgiven me for dispelling her floatation spell causing her to drop out of the sky after jumping off the spiral tower in greater Faydark.
Everquest is still going with its 18th expansion just released. It will be a while before we have raised our 2 gold farmers to high enough age to get back to it.