I was briefly part of the Everquest 2 beta just prior to launch. I was between MMO's at the time while waiting for World of Warcraft to be released when I bought the game. Had World of Warcraft released first I might never have taken the time to try EQ2 at all.
Everquest 2 was much like I remembered the original Everquest. It had familiar place names, races and although the class structure had changed it still seemed relatively similar. Each race had a small starting area as part of either the good or evil aligned city rather than the large area dedicated to each race of the earlier game. Each area still managed to establish a feeling of cultural identity for it's respective race.
I was very interested in some of the features I saw being implemented. Things like monster lairs on the landscape that could be defeated to remove the lair from the game for a while and zone wide events like beating the monster leaders entrenched outside the good aligned city which would cause the entire army to retreat temporarily.
The crafting system was a bit tedious but it also had more latitude and depth than most other games. Depending somewhat on player skill you could craft an item of mediocre or exceptional quality from the same recipe and ingredients.
What I was able to see of the dungeons was very impressive. They were large well developed areas that had an organic feel to them. It was not hard to believe that these tunnels or ruins had been around for ages and that the monster populations had carved out their territories within in a perfectly natural manner. Unfortunately EQ2's style of play, just like EQ1, favored finding one spot and camping there over progressing through the dungeons and exploring them. Most of my explorations had to be done either by stealth or after I had leveled up enough that the creatures inside were no longer any threat (or worth killing).
Everquest 2 also had a new quest concept I rather liked. You could purchase books at one of the towers in the city which would guide you through the local dungeons or adventure areas. These would provide you with a quest that gave you directions to, or hints where to find, a certain location. Finding the spot would create another page in the book which told you something about the place and gave you directions to the next locale. This seemed like a great way to let players with interest in on the lore that was the foundation for the zones. Unfortunately these were not popular quests and, like most other things in the game, virtually impossible to do solo at a level appropriate for the quest.
I never reached a level where I might have tried raiding so I can't comment on that aspect of the game at all and during the short time I played very few, if any, players reached max level so I have no comment to offer on what the end game is like either. There was some evidence in the early game to suggest that crafting would be an important part of the later game particularly the need for players to create skill books which gave access to more advanced versions of class abilities.