EverQuest Next: Everything We Know and Why It Sounds Awesome
After breaking new ground with the launch of EverQuest in 1999, SOE set the standard for MMO game play, design and graphics. But five-and-a-half years later Blizzard improved on the best elements of EverQuest (and other MMOs), discarded many of the glaring annoyances and added its own lore to become the new undisputed king of the genre. Since then many new online titles have tried to unseat the juggernaut that is World of Warcraft and have failed. But today, SOE revealed details of their long awaited next-gen MMO EverQuest Next and may now be in the position to reclaim the throne.
What makes EverQuest Next so special?
Instead of making yet another class-driven, quest-chasing grindfest (we’re looking at you EverQuest 2), SOE has taken the route that worked so well for Blizzard eight years ago: they have taken the best features of current MMOs, added their own unique lore and topped it off with some never-before-seen-in-an-MMO features.
Four of the five key features of the title have been introduced in other recent MMOs:
- Mix-and-match class trees that skip the leveling grind in favor of weapon-based ability sets
- Player actions permanently change the landscape
- Advanced AI behavior from computer-controlled monsters
- Gameplay dynamically changing based on your characters choices throughout their career
All four of these are welcome elements that have worked well in other titles from Rift to Guild Wars 2 to the upcoming Elder Scrolls Online. But it’s the fifth feature that really caught our eye: the melding of a Minecraft-style environment into the adventure-driven, high-fantasy world of Norrath.
You’ve got your Minecraft in my MMO! You’ve got your MMO in my Minecraft!
While other MMOs have introduced some destructible elements into their game, a wall here, a cart there, in EQ Next everything in the world can be destroyed. Every stone, mountain, city, cart, lake, pebble and bush in the world of EQ Next, from the surface to the core of the world is made out of small individual blocks that can be blown apart, mined for resources or built upon. Yes, it’s creative mode in Minecraft in a fantasy MMO setting.
This opens up a whole world of tactical options for players. Unruly mob of ravenous creatures chasing you across a stone bridge? Get to the other side first, turn around and blow the bridge apart with a fireball. Giant creature swinging his enormous fist down on you? Watch out if he misses because the hole he makes in the ground may drop you into an undiscovered dungeon below. Village under attack by goblin raiders? Build a high wall from stone and protect it from sappers. The possibilities are…yeah.
The designers have built the world vertically and there is a great deal to discover underground in layer after layer of dungeons, caves and lava pits. And after those have been discovered and ransacked by adventurers, a developer-triggered earthquake will seal them off an create all new ones.
Kicking it off with Landmark
Though a launch date for EverQuest Next has not been announced, SOE did unveil the first phase of it. EverQuest Next Landmark will launch by the end of the year and will allow players to log into the servers, mine for resources and craft buildings and other structures. There will be no combat or monsters, but players can start customizing the world before the launch of the full game. Landmark will be free-to-play and eventually players can sell their designs to other players within the game. If it is anything like EverQuest 2, those sales can be made in exchange for a special microtransaction currency that the seller can use to pay for items in the cash shop when the full game goes live (or before!)
Now that SOE has laid out their plans for a next-gen MMO, it’s Blizzard’s turn to step up to the plate. Don’t be surprised if they release solid information about their upcoming Titan MMO this November at BlizzCon.
More details about EQ Next are coming out this weeked as SOE continues to hold panels at its SOE Live event in Vegas through Sunday. We’ll provide updates over the next few days. In the meantime, if this sounds like your next MMO, you can sign up for the beta starting today.