EverQuest Next Landmark takes Sony Online Entertainment‘s long-running franchise in a wildly different direction and, as the name implies, it gives players the chance to leave their mark on the world when the full game releases. This beast from SOE can only be described as a Minecraft-inspired, player-fueled sandbox builder packed neatly inside of an MMO. How did they achieve this with Landmark? By placing developers and players in the same creative space and providing creation tools that are only limited by one’s imagination. More tools and features are on their way — plant harvesting, liquid gathering, DM tools, AI and combat are among the most notable upcoming additions — ensuring that players have everything they need to collect resources and further shape the land that countless players will find themselves roaming in EverQuest Next. However, this is the Alpha and things are a bit more limited at the moment, but that didn’t stop me from greatly enjoying Landmark in its current state.
Things kicked off with a fairly simplified character creation and then I was able to dive right into the meat of the game. Characters start off with a stone pick and a stone axe. That is, unless you’re an Explorer or Trailblazer Pack (it comes with the Settler pack, too, but that option doesn’t include Alpha access) buyer, in which case you’ll be given a Founder Pickaxe, a combination of the two tools. The axe harvests wood from trees and the pick is used for breaking apart the earth and its elements. You can imagine how convenient it was to have these tools unified into a single item. I wasn’t able to go running in an start digging up rare resources such as silver or cobalt, though. My ability to collect higher resources is dependent on the quality of my gear, which clearly needed a boost from a Crafting Station. With the tools I had readily available, I spent a lot of time knocking down massive trees and burrowing deep into the ground. Needless to say, I found myself carrying a massive haul of wood and stone.
With my materials in hand, and my claim flag waiting patiently in my inventory, I set out to find a plot of land to call my own. Given the amount of time players have had to run around the Alpha build, I wasn’t surprised to find nearly every square inch of the immediate area covered in claim flags, preventing me from starting my own home. Fortunately, these claimed plots take up a specified 3D space, so going over or under established settlements is usually an option. The journey to find open land led me through lush forests, barren deserts and past some memorable and impressive structures, one of which was a floating tie-fighter. Seeing these player-created landmarks left me wondering which ones I will end up running past again in EverQuest Next. In case you didn’t know, the best landmarks will be transitioned into the full game, giving players incentive to be ambitious in their building endeavors.
Even though I spent a good while traversing the varied terrain in search of “home”, I was kept entertained by the game’s fluid character movement. Diving off a high cliff and then sliding down the side of it helped inject some fun into searching for materials and land. EverQuest Next’s Heroic movement system breaks up the monotony of the standard running and jumping found in other MMOs while adding flair.
Having side-flipped and vaulted across the map, I finally came across a small, unclaimed plot. Once claimed, I was finally able to play around with the creation tools. These consist of Add, Delete and Heal. Objects can be scaled, copied, painted, smoothed, deleted and more once material is laid down. The selection tool makes building structures a breeze, allowing humble abodes to be erected quickly. Its an easy system to grasp, but it allows for experienced builders to craft truly awe-inspiring designs. I am by no means a master architect, so my constructions were fairly plain. But, hey, it didn’t look like a complete mess so I count that as a win.
SOE has acknowledged the success of games like Minecraft, Rust and Starbound. They know that the players love adding their own person touch to their games, and that’s exactly what they have aimed to provide with Landmark. The potential here is massive, as it extends into uncharted territory. We’re excited to see what players do with Landmark as more people flood into the servers. But for now, it’s back to building for me before even more land is claimed!