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EverQuest Next: Could It Be The Next Quest, Forever?

Sony Online Entertainment has officially announced their latest iteration of the popular EverQuest MMORPG series, and it looks like they’ve pulled out all the stops in an attempt to breathe new life into the MMO genre. Check out our exclusive preview of EverQuest Next right here.

Break Your World
My favorite factor, right out of the gate, is the promise of deformable terrain. That means one stray cast of a fire spell, or one over-eager swing of your sword, and you might just see the house across the playing field turn into a parking lot. Or if you’re about to be curb-stomped by a big baddie, boom. Instant crater.

In theory, this means you can hire an excavation team of extremely bored wizards and blast your way through the very surface of the game world of Norrath. Devs say this will in fact lead you to a complex underworld of procedurally generated caves. No word on what lies below THAT, though, but I’m putting my bets on something similar to Minecraft’s impenetrable bedrock layer.

This is great, because this allows you to feel like you have a real impact on your world, literally. Although it will begin to patch itself together over time, this still adds a real sense of player relevance in the in-game universe.

Not only can the world be destroyed, but it can be created, including mid-combat. Call me crazy, but casting an instant fortress between me and a swarm of PVP attackers sounds awesome. And really, really annoying for the other team.

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Stay Classy
There’s allegedly a multi-class system in place, which honestly is something that should just be expected at this point. There’s nothing more aggravating than pigeonholing yourself into playing a warrior when you find at level 60 that your true calling is casting magic missile into the darkness. Or maybe you want both. Or neither. The good news is that you have the freedom to make that choice.

Honestly, I’ve always wanted to play a true magic-casting thief, and with over 40 classes to be discovered with multiple interchangeable skills each, there seems like there could be a lot of variety to be played with in creating your perfect character. So, yes, now you can fulfill your dream of becoming a demon-summoning cabbage farmer.

Garden Fresh Content
We’ll also see the introduction of a system called “Rallying Calls,” which are massive expansions that happen due to player action in the game. In this, several players can come together and populate a remote corner of the world, clearing out the local mobs and constructing their little town of Buttsville. The inhabitants then have to not only maintain the farms and mines of Outer Buttsville, but deal with the baddies that inhabit that area, creating a sort of organic series of quests unique to Buttsvillians.

Now, I was a big fan of Guild Wars 2 when it launched. I’m that obnoxious explorer in open-world games, wanting to discover every secret it contains. And Guild Wars 2 actually had significant secrets to offer in the forms of loot and experience points.

I fell madly in love with its system of exploration and watching my Sylvari Ranger level at a breakneck pace as I traveled from vista to vista. But then I topped out at 80 and watched my motivation crumble into the ground. ANet has worked to combat this by adding a ridiculous amount of content to the game every two weeks, but now it’s just overwhelming to sign in and watch the game update for the next 72 hours when all I want to do is smash a few mobs.

Landmark!
Finally, I want to touch base on, to me, the most exciting thing that Sony Online managed to slip in to their announcement, and that’s the companion game of EverQuest Next: Landmark.

Modders! Designers! Fans of Minecraft, rejoice! Landmark is a standalone free-to-play MMO based around voxel creation tools of the EverQuest engine. This means that you can construct your dream tower. That also means we should prepare for castles littered with 200-foot phallic spires, although I’m sure SOE will find a way to keep a family-friendly curb on these things.

When I join an MMO, I want to live there. Seriously. The point of a virtual world for me is that it’s an alternate reality I can escape to for lengths of time and be someone else for a day. So the fact that using Landmark allows you to not only create your ideal fortress, but sell it for use in-game, this is thrilling. Overall it seems like this game could lead to a wealth of exploration and the prospect of a seemingly inhabited world with people that grow and design and develop. And, if they manage to tie this into the Steam Workshop somehow, you can bet the modding community will explode with joy.

The devs have made the same promise of every videogame of all time, ever. They’re going to “radically change the genre, forever.” The thing is though, this game looks like it actually might, or it’s at least a beautiful step in the right direction for persistent online worlds. I’m looking forward to this one.

EverQuest Next is in beta and is available for application at www.everquestnext.com.



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