The 90 Minute Challenge
While EverQuest Next: Landmark’s Alpha doesn’t lend itself too easily to going in without a lot of information beforehand (In fact, I’d essentially given up going in completely blind 10 minutes after building my character), I thought the Landmark Alpha could afford one of my 90 minute challenges.
The 90-minute challenge was something I started in my family, beginning with Fallout: New Vegas. I’d see what could be accomplished (or destroyed) in 90 minutes without a lot of foreknowledge of a game. While I eventually had to resort to checking the forums for some help with the building controls, gathering and claim-staking was relatively easy once you found some free land to go nuts on.
Within 90 minutes, I was able to stake a claim on the landmass I was on, harvest quite a bit of copper and wood, pierce a sizable and deep hole into a mountain, and craft a stat-enhancing ring, a stone brazier, and a stone forge. I may have to explain how I got to that point though.
Getting into Alpha
Before anything else, I want to be clear about something: the dropping of the non-disclosure agreement cemented my resolve to drop more money in the game. With the NDA dropped, I could basically tell MMORPG.com’s readers about how the game feels and plays without too much trouble.
Before I could do that, however, I consulted my editor and he handed me a alpha key for press use and trusted me to deliver some thoughtful coverage. While I already paid for closed beta access, I decided to accept and earn my keep by taking a different route and explaining how my first 90 minutes went.
The first 20 minutes
I knew enough about Sony Online Entertainment’s game systems and MMO systems in general to learn how to move, but some of the actual controls drove me insane till I discovered how to use them properly.
After starting the launcher and getting into the game, Dave Georgeson actually explains how the alpha works and sets users’ expectations for the game in this state. It’s a smart bit of introduction, though some may try to skip it. Trust me, the video and the tips are worth watching.
The above screenshot is some 5 minutes into the game after I’d walked a few meters away from the hub, basically a giant staging area with a crafting station to build the basic items you’d need to get moving. I did not learn how to zoom the camera outwards till I Googled it (It’s Shift+Mousewheel).
I checked my inventory and dragged some items into my hotbar, most notably a pickaxe (two-in-one!) that had better stats than the starting pick and axe. I then pressed M to check my map to survey my surroundings, and realized there was no free space to claim land on where I’d ended up. I logged out, logged back in (the game apparently exited instead of logging out) and chose the Serenity Server to move to, which I’d heard on Twitter was the newest server in the game, with more on the way.
A Flag, a Torch, and a Mountain Hole
Sure enough, there was available claimable space there, so I made a run (Shift to sprint!) for the location I wanted in the northwest side of the map. Along the way, I decided to see if I could use my pickaxe on the mountain side, and it managed to work well enough, earning me some copper ore, dirt, and stone.
I kept whacking the mountain with the tools I had, until I could basically build a little home in the mountain. I also dug too deeply from the top, so I had to bash through the mountain to get out, even though there was a method to forcibly be transported to ground level. When you have a pick at your disposal, you’re inclined to use it, don’t you think?
I kept running for the space I planned to use and managed to get there without too much trouble. I clicked on my claim flag to claim the area I was in, and that worked out well enough. It also allowed me to place items on the claimable area. So I threw up a flag and, later on, a torch because it was getting quite dark.