The first night of Fan Faire was a big one for the team at Sony Online Entertainment and came with more than one major announcement. For the most part, John Smedley took the stage to talk to the audience gathered for the Community Address. Smedley himself made a few announcements, most notably about the Security Keys that have been talked about for some time now going live today and the milestone of Star Wars: Clone Wars Adventures being the first MMO to have its own Happy Meal at McDonalds, but from there we were greeted by Dave Georgeson.
Dave took to the stage and started first with Everquest and its new expansion, Veil of Alaris. The new expansion will be bringing Everquest players 12 new zones, raids, quests and more. New guild halls will be incorporated into the game as well as exteriors for guild halls, the hotbar will be getting a makeover and the level cap will be raising from 90, to 95. Find out what really happened to Cazic-Thule in this one.
Dave continued by bringing us round to Everquest II and its new expansion pack, Age of Discovery. Age of Discovery will be bringing players Tradeskill Apprenticing, Reforging (or respec-ing for pieces of weaponry to make them more suitable to your needs), Mercenaries (an AI for hire sort of thing) and the game will also be introducing Everquest II's 25th class, The Beastlord. Additionally, Design your own Dungeon is being incorporated into the game, allowing for that extra layer of immersion from hardcore players to include their own designs in the game. Both Everquest and Everquest II's new expansion are due to drop November of this year.
Smedley then got on stage to introduce us to Forge Light: their new, next-gen MMO engine that will be used in Everquest Next and Planetside 2. The goal is to present these games in massive, seamless worlds, eliminating the need for zones. I could list all of the different visual components of the engine, but it's really all just going to end up sounding like jargon and buzzwords, so what it boils down to is that SOE is no longer satisfied with producing games that don't look the way they want them to. They want to be able to see a lamp casting a shadow on another lamp, or the sun breaking through the moving dark clouds in the sky, characters who emote with their faces and not just their /emote, and of course, the real-time physics system (with NVIDIA's PhysX).
Finally, we were given the official introduction to the newest member of the SOE team, Planetside 2. Matt Higby, Creative Director, took to the stage to tell us bits and pieces of what we can expect for the futuristic(ish) combat and combat-planning MMOFPS. There will be truly massive warfare, placing thousands of players in the open world without any instancing. There will be territory control that ensures a constantly changing topography with every inch of the map contestable between the three factions and serving a purpose for gathering and earning resources for your faction. Those resources can then be used to upgrade weapons, skills and so much more – the emphasis being placed on resources will lead to a persistent economy system no doubt. The game will introduce classes, but not in a traditional MMO sort of way. Think along the lines of Battlefield or Brink, wherein you have several different classes to choose from and can change between them on the fly and you’ve got a pretty good grasp of it.
That's a brief look at what happened yesterday in SOE's Opening Address. Exciting times ahead, no?