I arrived just in time to get a spot to set my camera stand up and record the half hour Everquest Next demo. I’ll keep this write-up brief because they didn’t reveal too much info already showcased as SOE Live and written about by JamesBl0nde on MMOHuts already. I will say that hearing these features described in person and seeing the visuals that accompany them is worth checking out.
Now I’m a huge fanboy for Mark Jacobs and Camelot Unchained. I think the game is going to revolutionize the PvP experience of MMORPGs. So it comes as a pretty heavy statement when I say that EQ Next is bringing the same level of innovation to PvE gameplay. It’s just absurd that the world has multiple layers beneath the surface randomly generated for the off-chance that some golem smashes the ground and sends you plummeting downwards. Well random isn’t quite right. Each crust is designed based on a time period of Everquest historical lore. The level of detail and care of crafting such a system just for players to dig down and discover seems unreal. SOE must be pushing their engineers pretty damn hard is all I have to say.
Beyond that, they have a dedicated focus on fun factor. In a lot of MMORPGs it’s not uncommon for a few bored players to run around in circles randomly jumping. It’s not that interesting to do… but it passes the time while waiting for your friends to get on or a group to form. In EQ Next you can pretty much go wild with parkour running skills as your character jumps and flips over rocks, dashes through the air, rolling down hills, and does just about anything to make your character’s physics in the world make sense. Think Blade & Soul running physics in a cartoonier Everquest world and you’ve about figured it out. I can’t wait to see player hosted races in-game.
Just because the game has an animated cartoon theme though, doesn’t mean the visuals are watered down. Just seeing two players fight some devil spawn in the underworld is a particle bonanza. Imagine a raid of dozens of players fighting multiple devil spawns and I imagine you might need a pretty beefy PC to handle the ensuing chaos. Either that or lower down your graphics to minimum… and no one wants to do that.
Finally the announcement of the true purpose of the EQ Next Landmark and Player Studio caught the audience by surprise. See SOE didn’t just see an opportunity to make the dev tools available to the players for the fun of letting the players go wild building and destroying each other’s designs (and yes you can open up PvP on your own design plots if you prefer; your land, your rules!). No the deeper reasoning behind it is to speed up the production of new content into the game by getting the best minds in EQ Next Landmark to start brainstorming and designing the maps of future content!
See how it works is the devs will go to the community and release concept art of a region of the world intended to be in an upcoming patch. Then players will have a set time to design and submit their best rendition of it utilizing these powerful design tools. And when I say powerful I mean you can make masterpieces of gaming landscapes in around 55 minutes! With a team working on it, you can design an entire region in probably a few hours. After the stated competition time comes to an end, SOE is going to select the best of the best and push it live in the real world of EQ Next. I’m sure the players that did Sony’s job for them are going to be greatly rewarded as well.