This year’s SOE Live has come and gone. Good riddance. Though largely due to unrealistic expectations, no other SOE Live has let me down this much. Even Blizzard’s announcement of the announcement of the announcement seemed more entertaining and more revealing of its next big release, despite being a pretty dull non-reveal in its own right.
Like so many of us, I wanted to know more about EverQuest Next. The long quiet since the initial hype drummed up by last year’s SOE Live has been hard to bear. For the most part, my interest has been rendered so passive as to ultimately be considered a non-interest. The interim has given me a chance to return to my senses, reconsider what SOE has actually put on the table with EQN and not the parts I have wishfully ignored, and mostly move on.
First things first. I am not looking to do a big recap since several others have done better others (and in a much more timely manner). For a very optimistic view that actually cares about EverQuests shown at SOE Live that don’t have Next as their last name, Bhagpuss has you covered. Scree had a day one response as well, and it echoed my sentiments almost exactly. Finally, Eri did a really good job of covering the EQN specifics of the conference in a fairly comprehensive post over at Healing the Masses. I recommend reading all three.
EverQuest Next isn’t for you. EverQuest Next is for a new generation.
I won’t pretend to speak for everyone, but I know in my own experience, I fully expected EverQuest II to be a sequel to EverQuest I in more than just name and setting/characters. It wasn’t. EverQuest II was a completely different beast that broke away from a lot of what I enjoyed about the original game for both better and for worse. The game has since gone through a lot of major changes to bring it more in like both with EverQuest but also all the other MMOs that helped deny EQII’s chance at maintaining the line of succession as Ruler of All MMOdom. Let’s remind ourselves that EQII and World of Warcraft both released in the latter half of 2004, separated by only a few months, with both being heavily featured in magazines ((relics of a bygone era where ink on paper was more important than fonts on screens)).
EverQuest Next will similarly be an attempt on SOE’s part to reboot their darling for a modern audience. It’ll be even further removed from both EverQuest and EverQuest II, and will prove without a doubt that the EverQuest franchise has no core elements outside its lore. That’ll be both for better and for worse, just like it was for EQII.
That new generation will actually be a NEW GENERATION.
EQN definitely has a ways to go before it is released. Maybe SOE Live’s tease last year was too soon or not open enough about how far along the game was or something easily misconstrued by hungry MMO fans like myself. Either way, it is not 100% obvious that they don’t have anything to show off. They also reiterated over and over the important of Landmark important beyond the “Here’s a chance for fans to build cool things and content that we might find uses for in our other game.” I won’t say that I felt let on intentionally by SOE, but I certainly allowed myself to be let on by the vagueries.
EverQuest Next may not be for me.
Guild Wars 2 proved to me that I love the Holy Trinity and I want more of it, not less, including the crazy-specific roles and off-roles of the original EverQuest (puller, anyone?). WildStar proved to me that very active combat is fun … for about thirty levels. EverQuest Next will feature a much more open system, role-wise, that won’t necessitate a trinity, plus it will most definitely be the active, aim and dodge, kind of gameplay.
And I don’t think I want that. I can always be proven wrong, but SOE’s track record post-Star Wars Galaxies hasn’t exactly been one that can prove me anything. Seeing EverQuest Next look even flashier than current MMORPGs bothers me a lot. Animations and fluidity matter more to me than having my entire screen light up. I won’t care that my Basic Mace Swing connects and explodes into a seizure-inducing light show after the fiftieth time I have pressed the button, but I will care if my animations look dated in two years, the spell effects make combat hard to follow, and having more emotive characters with armor/clothing gear styles gets cut to add another split second of visual flair to some random fire spell.
Furthermore, is anyone seriously excited for the destructive environment stuff? It’d be awesome tech for PvP content, at least for modeling better damage models for sieges, but the whole “ice the ground and spin through it” thing looks great but sounds terrible. There are too many questions to have a firm opinion on the matter, but I don’t see it working. At all.
EverQuest Next could still be something I play.
The hype has subsided, which is likely a good thing since it’ll mean that if the AI and Storybricks stuff works, then EverQuest Next will definitely exceed my expectations. Really, if this year’s SOE Live committed one sin too many it was not teasing us with some more tangible aspects to their intentions to make emergent gameplay their primary kind of gameplay. I think we are all pretty interested in that, as it’ll likely be the one thing EverQuest Next really does innovate for the entire genre.
Other areas that have my interest are the game’s focus more on horizontal progression and having an open class customization system. While I have concerns about roles, I am always happy to see Shadowknights, Paladins, and Bards running around in any place that looks vaguely like Norrath.
Forget EverQuest Next: I want EverQuest Again.
The more I think about it though, the more I do want a sequel to the original EverQuest. I want a Shovel Knight-equivalent game for classic MMORPGs. That perfect blend of old-school gameplay with modern, more friendly mechanics that makes Shovel Knight work would do wonders for an EverQuest game. I know, I know! It won’t sell like hotcakes, but I am tired of MMOs with marketing budgets more bloated than the cost to make many of my favorite games in the last five years.
I really want to camp and grind with strangers again. I can say that sort of thing because my mom doesn’t read this blog and she wouldn’t construe that as an intense cry for help pertaining to my sex life. Or something.
#EverQuestNext, #SOE, #WishfulThinking