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Could EverQuest Next be the next big MMO?

On August 3, 2013 by Aaron Meehan

Yesterday, Sony Online Entertainment proudly unveiled EverQuest Next (EQN), an MMO they claim will offer a new vision for the future of online games. Let’s have a look at what EQN has to offer.

EverQuest Next Worldwide Debut Gameplay Footage

SOE seem to have some lofty goals for EverQuest Next, the third game in an MMO series which fourteen years ago changed the way people play online with the introduction of the original Everquest. SOE feel that this third instalment will create a new vision for the future of MMOs, a vision where players help create the world alongside the developers. A rather lofty goal, but a goal that if successful could really potentially change the MMO landscape. I think John Smedley, President, Sony Online Entertainment said it best with the following few words.

“Today, many MMOs fail because players consume content faster than developers can create it. With EverQuest Next, we’re creating a living world that players are part of and empowering them to produce new content alongside the development team. What does the future hold for EverQuest Next and Sony Online Entertainment? It’s in the players’ hands, and we like it that way.”

In all honesty his first sentence is correct, a lot MMOs do fail because players consume content to fast. I remember when I played World of Warcraft I would hear about players completing a dungeon or raid in a brand new content patch in just a few days or weeks, and of course when those people finish it as fast as they could they ask… no, they demand more content. Could the idea of players making content alongside the development team fix it? I don’t see why not. There could be issues with people making crazy content, but if EQN developers set a clear set of guidelines of what people can and cannot make than some issues can be resolved. I guess it is something we will have to wait and see about.

At the announcement, they explained how EQN is different from all of the MMOs made before. They pointed out five features which make the game stand out. These features are: multi-classing, destructible environments, permanent change, emergent AI and a Life of consequence. Below is what the official press release has to say about each feature.

  • Multi-Classing – EQN will offer players the ability to explore and interact with the world according to their individual style of play. There are no levels in EQN, but there will be more than 40 distinct classes (or professions) at launch, with multi-tiered abilities and specialized weapon skills to collect and master. Players will even mix and match abilities from each class, creating truly custom characters that feel distinct and powerful.
  • Destructible Environments – No modern MMO has successfully implemented destructible environments that stretch across an entire seamless game world — this changes forever with EQN. Every piece of the world is fully destructible and players will have the ability to manipulate almost all of it. They will interact with and explore the world in amazing ways; venturing down into the deep bedrock beneath the surface and using powerful combat abilities to blow gaping holes into the ground. The EQN world will extend far into the heavens and deep into the procedurally-generated earth through 10,000 years of known lore and history.
  • Permanent Change – Players will also have the ability to cause the world to change around them, permanently, in dramatic ways. Through the concerted effort of the world’s inhabitants, including players, creatures, and non-player characters (NPCs), city walls will be built and destroyed, large-scale wars will be fought and won, and epic stories will unfold over months and years.
  • Emergent AI – In EQN, NPCs will have specific motivations and preferences that direct behavior in nuanced and unpredictable ways. Players will find themselves in a world where NPC decisions are based on core values, not dictated by static spawn points. For example, Orcs may attack opportunistically because they want an adventurer’s gold, not simply because a careless hero wanders into an attack radius.
  • A Life of Consequence – Finally, each character in EQN will have a unique story; they will not follow a predetermined path. Instead, they will seek out adventure, fame and fortune in a constantly changing sandbox world. The game will remember every choice and action that players make and will organically deliver increasing opportunities to do more of the things players like to do … from crafting armor and exploring the wilderness to purging goblins from the forests.

I have to say nearly every feature mentioned there has me really interested in some way. Not one of them stands out for me, because well they all stand out. Having no levels and more than 40 classes at launch, with multi-tiered abilities and specialized weapons skill, and top it all off you can customise it all to fit your style is something that has me truly interested.

Destruction is another one that caught my eye, especially when SOE showed off a video of an iron Golem destroying part of a fortress.

But I am slightly worried about the idea of destructible environments. In a video they showed you can use it to get deep below the earth. But what happens when tons of players make holes in the ground? Does the damage and destruction only appear for you or is it for everyone to see and if that is true what is to stop other players fall down a hole you made? Maybe I’m over thinking it, but the idea of having destructible environments is still pretty cool.

Permanent change is also interesting because from the sound of it, it means that the game at launch will be very much different to the game 6 months or so after launch, and not because the developers added new content, but because areas inside the game grew thanks to real players helping create cities etc.

Emergent AI is another interesting feature. I like the example with the Orcs going where they feel they can get gold the easiest.

Finally there is the “A life of consequence”. Not much to say on it, since the press release explained everything about this part.

On slightly less EQN news, SOE announced EverQuest Next Landmark. Landmark will combine the powerful and intuitive building tools SOE is using to create the fully destructible world of EQN with all of the social functionality expected from a modern MMO.

SOE has laid out the following features for EQN Landmark.

Create Amazing Things

  • Build highly detailed structures with powerful and intuitive tools.
  • Quickly design complex projects or collaborate with friends to undertake massive shared builds.
  • Lay claim to and control specific areas of huge persistent worlds.

Share Your Imagination with Friends

  • Landmark’s persistent servers will enable players to interact with and experience the collective imagination of thousands of players in a unique shared world.
  • Players will have compelling reasons to explore and interact with others. They will congregate at crafting hubs, build design templates to share and trade, and journey across the world to collect the resources required to build and craft.

Build EQN with SOE — Using the Same Tools

  • Landmark players will gain increasing access to many of the same tools that SOE is using to construct the game world of EQN.
  • Not only will Landmark give players access to these world building tools, SOE will provide specific guidance on what we want help building.
  • Through this collaborative approach, EQN may eventually represent the largest overall collaborative development effort in the history of online games. For anyone who has ever thought about becoming a game developer, here is your chance. Together we will build extraordinary things

EverQuest Next Landmark will launch this winter as a free to play title.

There is currently no release date available for EverQuest Next, but you can keep up to date with all things EverQuest Next by visiting the official EverQuest Next website.

If you missed the EQN worldwide debut you can watch it in full via the official EverQuest Next YouTube page.

Author: Aaron Meehan

Hi, I’m the creator of SG Gaming Info. When I’m not working on my writing or creating content for this site’s YouTube channel, I like to relax and enjoy character driven story games.

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