Blizzard just left the door wide open for SOE to retake the throne as the King of the MMO. Back in 2004, which now frankly feels like forever ago, SOE and Blizzard were locked deeply in the greatest pissing match of all time leading up to the launch of Everquest II and World of Warcraft. Back then, there still weren’t many marquee MMORPGs in the world, and these two titles were equally hyped up and anticipated by press, gamers, and developers alike. Everyone had their eyes on EQ2 and WoW. Theatres had trailers running on end for both. You couldn’t go see a movie and not be subjected to the CG trailer for either game. Only, back then, everyone expected that the industry veteran of SOE was going to be top dog, and that Blizzard’s game wouldn’t be able to match up. But then both launched, and well... we all know how that story ended.
By all accounts, we here at MMORPG.com were ready for SOE and Blizzard to go head-to-head again with Project Titan and EQ Next. Now, with Blizzard going back to the drawing board on their next big MMORPG, the time is absolutely right for EverQuest to step back into the limelight. What’s more is that this time around, SOE isn’t content on making this new version of Norrath another theme-park raiding extravaganza. In yet another sign that the days of simple quest hubs and gear grinds are coming to a close (or at least a tipping point), SOE’s John Smedley has gone on record stating that whatever EverQuest Next is it will be the be the biggest sandbox of all time.
This is the kind of thing that makes our hearts palpitate here at MMORPG.com. And if Dave Georgeson’s recent interview back at PAX East (embedded below) is any indication, it truly seems like SOE has its eyes on the prize to make an MMO that’s unlike anything we’ve seen before.
Then there’s also the recent announcement from Namaste that they and SOE have entered into a collaboration to utilize Storybricks in EQNext. For those unfamiliar with Namaste’s toolset, it’s essentially a way for players to make their own adventures of a very deep and complex nature. You can see some of the system’s potential in the below video.
This announcement, plus Smed’s own touting of what EQNext will be, and of course Dave’s own design philosophy behind the title have us all getting our expectations rather high. We know better, of course. There’s also the SOEmote technology that could allow players to truly bring their characters to life, and I’d be surprised if it wasn’t involved somehow in EQN. I know that we shouldn’t get too excited before seeing what the game actually looks and plays like. But if SOE is truly able to give us a fantasy world to live in, and not just “quest” in? Well, a new age of MMORPG could be right around the corner. It can be argued that EverQuest is the game to bring the MMO out of its proverbial closet. It would only be fitting if its next installment is the game to bring the MMO into a new era of player interaction, world building, and true immersion.
That’s enough of me spouting on what I’m hoping to see see from EverQuest Next. It’s true though that Blizzard just left the door wide open for SOE’s next game. And this summer, at SOE Live, we’ll all finally get to see what the team’s been building. Heck, we’re even going to get to play it. It’s a full-on reveal, not just some teaser of a game to come in three or four years. Smedley has even stated on several occasions that the game could be launched by the year’s end. So I guess all we have to do now is wait, and hope that Dave Georgeson and his team capitalize on this opportunity.
Bill Murphy / Bill Murphy is the Managing Editor of MMORPG.com, RTSGuru.com, and lover of all things gaming. He's been playing and writing about MMOs and geekery since 2002, and you can harass him and his views on Twitter @thebillmurphy.