The next major step for MMOs is on the horizon, or at least that’s what Sony Online Entertainment is aiming to achieve with EverQuest Next. It isn’t the EverQuest you may remember, but it isn’t completely different either. SOE is looking to shift EverQuest Next toward a full reimagining of the franchise while still keeping long-time fans feeling right at home in Norrath.
These changes were immediately apparent once SOE dived into the meat of the game. EverQuest Next is going to mix things up in a number of ways, one of which is the ever-changing environment in which players will roam. EQN will feature full-scale environmental destruction on a level which has never been seen in a MMO. Structures will crumble, trees will fall, holes can be punctured directly into the earth, land can be formed (more on this later) and permanent changes to the land will rise from the story arcs. The developers want the world to be as much your weapon as the sword you’re carrying. We don’t have all of the details yet and SOE is still working it out themselves, but this sounds very promising for MMO fans.
EQN plans on shaking things up at the character level, too. This is an MMO without levels. While that may worry some readers, it is worth noting that there will be 40 classes at launch with each one containing their own multi-tiered abilities and specialized weapon skills. SOE wants players to custom build their own character in whatever way they see fit. So, this might lead you to create a “teleporting rogue or a backstabbing barbarian”. The idea here being that players should not only be able to personalize their quest, but that they shouldn’t be locked into one style of play or role for the entirety of their time with one character.
This is a reason to rejoice because you’ll gain a deep bond with your character as you let every one of your choices mold the world around you. One aspect affected by your travels will be the type of missions you receive. Depending on your playstyle and typical mission options, EQN will throw you more similar quests in the future. For those who enjoy slaying goblins, there will be plenty more waiting for you in the near future. Those interested in gathering items for crafting will find their quest log filled with more of those quest types. It’s an interesting direction to take and one we hope pays off given that they’ve done away with the regular storylines we’ve come to know in this genre.
Shifting away from player characters, we have the NPCs which are said to be taking advantage of new “emergent AI”. NPCs now have their own “core values” that dictate what, how and when they’ll do something. For example, in current MMOs enemies attack once you pass an invisible threshold and venture too close to them. In EQN, enemies such as Orcs may decide to attack if they’re interested in the hefty amount of gold you’re carrying. Each NPCs motivations and preferences come into play for each encounter. What you’ll end up seeing are less scripted events and more organic outcomes.
Lastly, we must touch upon EverQuest Next Landmark. This one is huge. SOE wants players to players to develop the game alongside them later this year. Landmark will be a free-to-play segment of EQN that allows the community to get involved on a deeper level and help design the game that they’ll be playing in the future. The development team will provide access to the tools necessary for editing, but it’ll be up to the player to scour the land for resources to create and claim important structures. The best of the best “will become permanent fixtures in the EverQuest Next world.” Being given the ability to form the land thousands upon thousands of players will be running around on is exciting. It is even more fun to think about how everyone will most likely attempt to tear down your hard work shortly after launch. The community input doesn’t stop there, however. User-generated content is also a big focus. New missions and dungeons will be commonly updated without the need for purchasing an expansion.
That about wraps up all we know about EverQuest Next for now! Check back regularly for updates and info on this ambitious new MMO.