EverQuest Next Revealed

I’m writing this just a couple minutes after watching the EverQuest
Next reveal video on Twitch. I couldn’t watch it live yesterday, but it
was totally worth the wait. For an hour and a half, I was on the edge of
my chair. The introduction was a beautiful piece of sand performance
art, which I otherwise won’t talk about. The rest of the video was an
introduction into what will probably be the single most revolutionary
MMORPG to come out since 2003.

Dave Georgeson, director of development for EverQuest Next, started
things off with a reveal of the art style. Let me tell you, this is a
gorgeous game. The whole thing is very painterly, and is rendered using
a modified version of the engine powering Planetside 2.

All of the races have been redone, and we were treated to concept art
for several: the High Elf, the Dark Elf, the Human, the Dwarf, and the
Kerran. The Dark Elf and the Kerran were probably the biggest departure
from previous EQ designs. Kerrans are distinctly more lionesque, with
pronounced lion’s heads instead of the old cat faces and huge builds.
Dark elves look like standard dark elves, except they have draconic eyes
and short horns. There’s a story behind that that I really want to
hear.

The art style for characters is exaggerated, even slightly cartoony.
I’m really OK with that, especially since they’re building SOEmote
into the game from the beginning. It’s easy to see the expressions of
the players themselves on their characters, and that’s marvelous for a
roleplayer, but also for immersion and socializing in general.

Movement is fantastic. Characters slide, leap, vault, grab, and
otherwise interact with the terrain in a very natural way. With EQN’s
“active movement system,” players are free to really enjoy moving
around in the world. There are items and spells that allow additional
ways to move, like the Boots of the Zephyr in the video that allowed the
players to float gently downward. Brilliant stuff.

Then, we got into the Four Grails, as Dave put it.

The Core Game

Grail 1 is the “Core Game.” This was the least impressive of the
Grails, but it was still nice to see. Character evolution from a
mechanical standpoint is based on collecting classes from around the
world and mixing and matching abilities from them. It sounds like a
hybrid of Guild Wars 2’s system and Rift’s system. Weapon choice
matters, like it does in GW2.

Destructibility

Grail 2 is “Destructibility,” and this was the first mind-blowing
revelation. The entire game world is built of voxels, despite looking
natural and perfectly designed. It’s fully destructible, even though it
heals over time. It’s like if SOE took a look at Minecraft and applied
that on a grand scale. The way it works, too, is gorgeous. You can
definitely see the aftermath of epic battles in the environment that it
occurred in.

A Life of Consequence

Grail 3 is “A Life of Consequence.” Besides the standard “every
action you take matters” spiel, we were introduced to the idea of
emergent AI in an MMO. SOE will create mob behavioral patterns – likes,
dislikes, etc. – and then release mobs of that type into the world. They
will live, react, and die according to how they’re programmed to
behave. This means it’s entirely possible to have roving bands of orcs
that actually decide to set up camp in a particular area – choose their
own spawn point, as it were. It’s also possible to drive them out.

Permanent Change

Grail 4 is “Permanent Change.” For the most part, Dave talked about
the Rallying Cry system, which is a little like a server-wide public
quest that lasts 2-3 months each… and has permanent effect on the
game world. These Rallying Cries are promised to be different on every
server, and that along with the Life of Consequence and Destructibility
Grails ensure that no two servers will have the same environment and
history, let alone community.

EverQuest Next Landmark

As if all this wasn’t enough, then they got into the EverQuest Next
Landmark game that’s coming out later in 2013. Landmark sounds
basically like Minecraft on an epic scale, except that one continent in
each Landmark server will have EverQuest Next art direction enforced…
and creations from those areas will make it into EverQuest Next as real,
lasting landmarks.

Player Studio

On top of that, SOE’s Player Studio will find a very interesting real
money economy implementation for people who enjoy building things in
Landmark; you’ll be able to sell not only finished works, but
components. The example that Dave gave was of a player creating a nice
crenelated tower. People could buy that tower, then make castles from it
and sell those castles, and the player who created the tower would get
royalties based on how many of that tower were used in the castle design
for every castle sold. It’s a fascinating system.

Basically, EverQuest Next sounds like the game I’ve been waiting for my
entire gaming life. I really want to hear about how the crafting system
works, and more about all the races, but… it sounds awe-inspiring.
EverQuest Next takes player involvement in the game to a level never
before seen.

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