Developer: Sony Online Entertainment
At this year's Gamescom, I was invited to join a press session hosted by Terry Michaels, Senior Producer on EQN, to learn a bit more about the upcoming MMO EverQuest Next, which was announced last month during SOE Live. Admittedly, a lot of the information that was shown was already fairly common knowledge, and so if you have yet to learn about what EverQuest Next involves, or just fancy a recap, you can do so by taking a gander at our reveal round-up from last month. Or, for those of you in a hurry, here’s the short version: Everquest Next is a Free-to-play sandbox MMO where players can mix and match class abilities, rip apart the world with spells and abilities to explore four levels of world depth, with each server potentially being unique depending on how players react to its story arcs. Alongside this is EverQuest Next: Landmark – a stand-alone game where players can create their own buildings and landscapes using the same tools as the developers which can then be placed in the main game (or, alternatively, players can sell them as blueprints to others for real money.) There’s a lot more detail not covered in that brief summary (and it’s certainly worth reading up on) but those are the main points.
So with that in mind, we’re going to focus on the new tidbits of information about Landmark that were revealed at Gamescom.
During the reveal we got to see two classes – the Wizard and the Warrior – but up until now we had no idea what class players would be assuming during their time in Landmark at the end of the year. Well, Michaels announced during the press session that it will be the Adventurer class that will be playable in the creation sandbox, and that any progress earned whilst playing (or creating) will transfer over into EQN. This means that, because of the multiclass setup to mix and abilities from various classes, most players should have a strong line-up of actions to perform right off the bat when EQN does go live in the future. Michaels implied that although the main focus of Landmark will be creation and a way for the community to help build the world of Norrath with the developers, it would also be the entry point for the entire EQN experience when it launched later this year.
Speaking of entry points, Michaels details how players will begin their creative adventures, with all players beginning at a ‘landmark’ location that will feature crafting stations and vendors at which players can sell their wares. From there, players will need to go out into the world to gather resources with which to make better tools (for better creation results) or for building their constructions. While these stalls and crafting stations will be dotted around the map, the aim is for these entry locations to be the main social hubs of each server.
As was previously mentioned during the reveal, players will be able to stake their claim to areas of land in Landmark, or even join claims together with other players to forge a larger area, but Michaels made note of the fact players will be able to earn additional stakes by playing the game. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to go into detail on how this would be achieved, but this is surely good news for those wanting to create a citadel of their own without the intrusion of others. Michaels also motioned how travel within Landmark will come in several forms. The first is what was described as a ley line system to allow instant travel between various locations of the game world, but it was also confirmed for the first time that mounts will be included in both EQN and Landmark. Again, we didn’t get much information beyond that, but it’s good to know that there will be speedier means of crossing the environments beyond the parkour-esque traversal system for player characters.
It was at this point that we got to see some new footage of the impressive creation suite in action, with Michaels showing us two examples of a couple of players altering an area to look completely different with the editing tools at their disposal. SOE have put them online for all to see, so instead of writing about it, I figured it would be best to just embed them below instead.
We had already seen how powerful the toolset can be within the Forgelight engine, but I felt these new demonstations really hammer home the true scale of creation players will have at their disposal in Landmark.
We’ve made mention of the way players will be able to start progressing with the Adventurer class, but you’d be forgiven for thinking that for the main part Landmark was more of a creation toolset (an advanced Minecraft, if you will) than an MMO, but Michaels was keen to point out that the experience will be very much a social one. Friends lists and chat functionality (both text and VoIP) will be included, along with the impressive SOEMote system. Long with this, there will be online leaderboards which track the ratings of player-made creations, allowing players to see the most popular constructions. On top of this, Landmark will also include video capture functionality to allow players to record their progress or create time lapses.
The topic of SEO’s player studio was finally brought up, having previously been announced to feature quite heavily in Landmark. We already knew that players would be able to sell blueprints of their creations on a marketplace for real money, and that should the blueprints be included in another player’s creation (ie. using someone else’s tower within a castle blueprint) the original creator would receive royalties, but Michaels also confirmed that players will be able to sell their claims as real estate. So, if a player were to gain a number of land claims, create a gigantic fort, and then wish to place it on the online marketplace for real money, they absolutely can do. Considering the success of the Player Studio in other SOE products, I suspect this will prove to be very popular when Landmark goes live.
That was pretty much all of the new information we got from the press session, but it was clear that Michaels was incredibly passionate about the potential for Landmark and EQN going forward. Although we have yet to see any extended gameplay footage outside of what we’ve been shown, or gotten any hands-on time with it, it’s hard to not be somewhat excited for the return of the EverQuest franchise, and I for one cannot wait to see the creative possibilities in Landmark.
While EverQuest Next currently does not have a release date, the public beta for EverQuest Next: Landmark is expected to launch towards the end of the year.