This summer should be nothing short of a revelation when SOE unveils their big plans for the EverQuest franchise's third major installment: EverQuest Next. We know it will be a sandbox as the images below tweeted by John Smedley imply, and we know that visually, it'll rival what we've seen with Planetside 2 because they use the same Lightforge Engine. We know that SOE has partnered up with Namaste Entertainment to use Storybricks in some way shape or form... And that's about it. I mean of course we know it'll take place in Norrath and have huge menacing armor, but that was probably a given. Really, there's very little we truly know so far about EverQuest Next. So what I'd like to do this week is shine a little light on three things we want to find out about the evolution of Norrath, whether it's before or after SOE Live's big reveal.
How Much Can We Shape the World?
Everyone has their own definition of a sandbox, so when Smed claims that EQN will the largest sandbox style MMO ever, it's easy to get excited about what that might mean. But will EQN be a sandbox like Ultima Online (building and shaping the actual world) or more like EVE where the politics are the focal point? Or will we see a combination of the two? What's more interesting about Smed's claim is that SOE is teaming up with Namaste to use Storybricks in EverQuest Next. Will the sandbox extend past building and crafting and politics and into creating actual stories to share with each other? After the robust features of Cryptic's Foundry, we really hope so. How much of the world and story will be crafted for us by Sony, and how much will they let us guide things ourselves?
What Will EverQuest Next's Combat Be Like?
There's no denying that combat is a core feature of every MMORPG (heck any game, really) and EverQuest Next will be no different. The Forgelight Engine is already fantastically used in Planetside 2 to capture the intense action, explosions, and craziness of a shooter. To say that it can probably easily handle the combat of an MMORPG is a no brainer. But the question is: how much will it resemble combat of traditional MMOs? Or will it be closer to the likes of TERA and Guild Wars 2 with its action-based combat? I know there are parties on both sides of the fence: those who prefer the traditional tab targeting that EverQuest practically invented, and those who want the more fast paced action. Personally, I hope it's more of the latter. I want to hunt down deer to make leather armor, I want to rely on my own aim to land a fireball, and hold up my shield to block an attack. And with the (almost certain) notion of EQN coming to the PS4, I'd expect the combat to be very dynamic. Perhaps even something like Elder Scrolls.
What Will EverQuest Next's Progression Be Like?
EverQuest is known for its leveling, amount of different classes, and of course the popular Alternate Advancement for level-capped characters. But we wonder if SOE will shy away from traditional levels with this edition of Norrath, and instead go with a non-traditional progression model that involves advancement through activity. As in, you swim a lot? Swimming levels up. You use a bow a lot? Your archery goes up. Cut down a lot of trees? Axe wielding and forestry level up. We could be way off base here, but it would be nice if Dave Georgeson and crew helped direct the genre away from traditional level-based treadmills where players focus too much on gaining that singular number and not enough on the adventure. We're also curious to see if EQN will have traditional classes, or allow a more freedom progression. The danger of course being balance for PVP's sake.
And What Else?
That's not all we want to know, of course. We want to know about the lore, the crafting, the dungeons (please be public!), how instancing will be used if at all, and so much more. But what about you? What do you hope EverQuest Next has in store for MMORPG fans? Can it live up to Smedley's recent tweets? Let us know your hopes and thoughts below!
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.