Kinda Minecrafty on crack
In a move nobody could have predicted, Sony Online Entertainment is showcasing not one but two new EverQuest properties today: EverQuest Next and EverQuest Next Landmark -- and the latter may be arriving as early as this winter.
EverQuest Next is a re-imagining of the original 1999 classic, while Landmark is essentially a free-to-play sandbox with rich voxel modeling tools that will usher some of the community's penis-free creations into the future world of EverQuest Next.
Crafting and digging deep into the earth's crust only scratch the surface of what's new. The new games are a radical departure in three other ways: multi-classed characters can mix and match abilities, there's an "Emergent AI" that does not rely on static spawn points, and permanent changes to the world are dictated by the outcomes of wars. These four pillars prop up what, if my eyes don't deceive me, is an otherwise gorgeous-looking next-gen game that absolutely deserves all the whispers and hype since its E3 stealth debut.
Kids, hold on to your hats. This is not your dad's Dungeons and Dragons.
An MMO that's in touch with the times
For lack of vernacular, and not without reason, the direction rationale is most easily explained by pointing at Minecraft's unmistakable impact on the MMO space and SOE's own Player Studio business direction where anyone can submit items and make real cash for their in-game creations. Playing it safe and making a prettier EQ II would have absolutely been a mistake: Let's not forget that half of Warcraft's audience has shriveled down from its once mighty 12 million populace. (I won't give FarmVille any credit).
SOE representatives are not shy to praise Minecraft as an influence, either -- in an upcoming interview we talk to them specifically about Notch's significant influence on EQN.
Will some old school EQ players hate it? Absolutely.
You can't please everyone. There will be people that this game will game will turn away -- all while their younger nephews are already contemplating a pre-order. Still, its too early to call the game a winner, but they're hitting all the right points: It has social. It has crafting. It has an approach to years of activity that is designed to entice a subscriber's longevity. The game looks like a moving painting with an art style that's neither too western nor anime. It has a celebrity musical composer.
Overall, there's enough of the core game in there to not turn its back on its established audience. According to the tech team, what we saw in the early build was running on a typical six-core gaming rig, so it may not break the bank, either.
Stop reading and watch this giant punch a castle in half. Videogames!
Ok, one more video -- here's what the Goliath looks like in combat:
As SOE Live continues in Las Vegas we're sure to learn more. Until then, the MMO-sized full press release follows:
SONY ONLINE ENTERTAINMENT REVEALS EVERQUEST NEXT
Sony Online Entertainment Presents a New Vision for the Collaborative Future of Massively Multiplayer Online Games
LAS VEGAS – August 2, 2013 – Fourteen years ago, Sony Online Entertainment (SOE) changed the way people play games together online with the introduction of the original EverQuest™. Today, SOE offers a new vision for the future of online games with the worldwide debut of EverQuest Next (EQN).
“With EverQuest Next, we’re going back to our roots – a space we defined with the EverQuest legacy – and ushering in a new era of MMOs: The Emergent Era,” said John Smedley, President, Sony Online Entertainment. “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.”
“EverQuest Next is not the continuation of a familiar story. It represents the fundamental reimagining of the characters, lore and environments of the EverQuest universe,” said Dave Georgeson, Director of Development for the EverQuest Franchise, Sony Online Entertainment. “Make no mistake; while great care has been taken to respect the extraordinary influence that EverQuest has had in this industry and with our player community over the years, this is a boldly different game unlike anything that has come before.”
EverQuest Next has been in development since 2009. Nearly two years ago, SOE made the decision to rethink core creative and technical aspects of the design and start from the ground up to build a new kind of game. As a result, EQN is different from all of the MMOs that have been made before in very important ways, including:
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.
“We believe that the bold choices the team is making with EQN will result in a product that provides players with an absolutely new kind of game experience,” said Laura Naviaux, Senior Vice President of Global Sales and Marketing, Sony Online Entertainment. “However, there is something even more important to us. As an organization, we are dedicated to partnering with our community to give them a voice in the games we create. With EQN, we are taking this idea even further and offering our players to the opportunity to actively build EQN with us.”
INTRODUCING EVERQUEST NEXT LANDMARK
This winter, SOE will introduce EverQuest Next Landmark (Landmark). Essentially, 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.
The game will feature huge persistent worlds that each support thousands of other players and varied terrain inspired by the environments of EQN. Most importantly, Landmark will provide anyone who wants to participate with the opportunity to actually build structures, and eventually create other types of content, to be considered for inclusion in EQN. Landmark will enable players to:
Create Amazing Things
(Pictured: smoothing your ugly bricky-looking creations is a snap with these tools. -Niero)
Share your Imagination with Friends
Build EQN with SOE -- Using the Same Tools
PRICING AND AVAILABILITY
Landmark will launch this winter as a “Free To Play. Your Way.®” offering and the first step in a multi-phase release strategy. It will serve as the gateway to EQN and as the collaborative building hub where SOE will guide the development of selected structures and environments for inclusion in EQN. No formal date is set for the launch of EQN. Additional information, assets and answers to frequently asked questions can be found at www.everquestnext.com.
About Sony Online Entertainment LLC
Sony Online Entertainment LLC (SOE) is a recognized worldwide leader in massively multiplayer online games. Best known for its blockbuster hits and franchises, including EverQuest®, EverQuest® II, Champions of Norrath®, PlanetSide®, Free Realms®, Star Wars®: Clone Wars Adventures™, DC Universe™ Online, and the recently launched PlanetSide®2, SOE creates, develops and provides compelling online entertainment for a variety of platforms. SOE is building on its proven legacy and pioneering the future of online worlds through creative development and inspired gameplay design for audiences of all ages. To learn more, visit www.soe.com.
SOE, the SOE logo, EverQuest, Champions of Norrath, PlanetSide, and Free Realms are registered trademarks of Sony Online Entertainment LLC. All other trademarks and trade names are properties of their respective owners.
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