The game is massive, a large open environment for you to explore, kill mysterious creatures, find random things such as quests (There are many kinds of quests), loot (Random loot system with tons of stuff to find), find out about the lore of the land. In a nutshell, Asheron's Call 2 leaves off after the first game where the world literally was wiped out, which is why the game is very barren in AC2.
First, you choose your race. One of the races you have to unlock via quest in-game. Each races has a primary skill tree and a secondary skill tree FOR EACH of the following: Melee, Missile, and Magic. Experience is used as a currency to level up skills and you need "skill credits" to unlock skills to start putting experience into them. It is very open ended and you can make a bunch of unique builds that fit your playstyle.
You can see the skill trees for all the classes/races in this calculator: http://ac2vault.ign.com/races/xpcalc.html?human-records.js
Quests don't hold your hand in this game. You need to talk to NPC's to see if they have a quest for you and then they either give you coordinates or they give you a direction or something neither. The thing is, questing is a bonus, you go out and explore and if you complete the quest in the time limit, you get a nice experience bonus.
Another type of quest is called an "Incursion Quest".... These are started by killing monsters with a green name. Once killed, you will get a quest to kill X amount of monsters. There are solo incursion quests and group incursion quests. One of the fastest ways to level up is grouping up with 9 players and doing group incursion quests on higher level monsters.
Loot and crafting:
Loot in this game is very random. Weapons have a damage range and a combat delay. Armor has an armor value and a combat delay. Combat delay determines your attack speed. Since all gear is randomized, you will want gear that has high damage or high armor with a low combat delay.
On top of this, items can spawn with random enchantments on them. As you level up, the loot system gets better and better because you will find some ridiculous enchantments.
On top of that, you can add a "harmonic" effect on your items later in the game which is like a 3rd enchantment effect.
The loot system in this game is very fun and being a fan of Diablo 2, I can really appreciate that in a MMO.
While loot can be obtained from monsters and treasure chests (Order Caches), crafted gear is better than gear that is found. There are no limitations to crafting but it isn't easy. It's time consuming, but you will be rewarded in the long run.
1.) Monsters have a chance to drop keys called "Emblems of Order" which are used to open "Order Caches" inside of dungeons. They contain powerful loot that scales to your level.
2.) Dungeons in this game are scattered around the world and can be located on your map. Dungeons aren't instanced and can be explored by anybody. They all contain an order cache deep inside.
3.) Vaults are similar to dungeons but are instanced and require a Glyph to enter them. They are the main storyline of the game which give you a nice cutscene at the end revealing what is going on in the world. It makes you really want to continue leveling.
4.) Everything in the game uses an examine system. If you wanna see the stats of an item or a monster, you must examine them.
5.) When examined there are color codes for monsters: Orange Monsters = Group Monsters (More HP, but tons of XP) Blue Monsters = Rare Spawn (Bonus loot) Green Monsters = Incursion Quest Starter White Monsters = Normal
6.) The game has a semi-steep learning curve. From figuring out how to customize controls, UI, chat, navigating the world, portal system, crafting.... It took me a few hours of really looking at everything to understand but it was well worth it. Helped me see how great this game is.
7.) There is PvP in this game but it depends on the server ruleset. 3 types: Normal, KvK, and Open PK. Currently the beta server is Normal but even on normal servers there are FFA arenas you can enter. People are requesting the server be changed to KvK (Kingdom vs Kingdom) which is probably the best system. You align yourself with one of three kingdoms and the other kingdoms will be KoS. You can also be neutral if you don't want to PvP.
8.) There is much loot in this game. Not just gear, but random potions, item enchantments, tokens for quests/items, dyes, musical instruments which each have a set of songs.... It makes killing monsters really fun because you never know what you could find next.
Overall, if you can get past the fact that it was made in 2002, slightly dated graphics, clunky UI but manageable, strange movement (The game has an acceleration system when you move), you will see that the game is really amazing. One vast open world where you are free to do what you want. Experience is a currency used to train skills so pretty much all monsters are valueable. ALL monsters have a static XP value. So if you are stuck and can't kill level 30 monsters at level 30, you can just kill stuff thats lower with no penalty.
For a game made in 2002 and re-released in 2012, I have to give this game an 8/10... B+ It is better than a lot of the current MMO's but everyone has there own taste in games.