It's been a while since we've heard much from SOE on EverQuest Next. Much of the past year has been about Landmark, the building and creative cousin of EverQuest Next. For months, EQN fans have been asking "when are you going to work on EverQuest Next?" What Dave Georgeson told us on Wednesday was that they have been working on Next the whole time... and it's called Landmark.
Now before we get confused about whether or not these are two separate games, let's clear that up: Landmark and Next are still two completely separate games. But every thing that's been added and built for Landmark use, is part of what you'll find in Next. The building tools, cave systems, water, monsters, combat... it's all going to be used in Next. Every piece of the tools used for creation in Landmark, is being used to help make EQ Next. And yes, so are the creations of the players. But the big news from our presentation with Dave was the announcement of three new classes: the Cleric, the Elementalist, and the Tempest.
Yep, we've got your support right here. More info on the combat and enemy AI will be coming from the panels, but Dave made sure to let us all know that this doesn't mean you won't have heals, support, control, and other roles. The Cleric is proof of that. With a sword and board, we watched as the Cleric first rushed headlong into battle to save his warrior friend. Swarmed by two player enemies, the warrior fell, but the Cleric used a sweeping melee attack called Blessed Hammer that does damage to its enemies in a cone, but heals, rallies, and empowers his nearby allies.
Enemies defeated, the warrior and cleric moved on to the next group of foes. Of course, it must have been a PUG because the Warrior rushed ahead to take on two by himself. Thank God that the Cleric had Intercession: a rushing charge that slammed into the two enemies, knocked them down, and restored some of his friend's armor.
Finally, the two heroes came upon a group of enemies, and this is when the Cleric got to use a skill called Heaven's Vengeance. HV serves as a beacon of sorts, a giant glowing dome that damages foes within and heals, restores the allies. In this way, the Cleric commands the battlefield, and can dictate where fights take place. As you can see too, everything he does works towards supporting his allies as well as damaging his foes.
The Elementalist is going to bring back another role that seems forgotten in recent MMOs. Originally the Trinity didn't refer to DPS, Tank, and Healer... the DPS role wasn't a role at all. Control was key, and that's just what the Elementalist excels at doing. Ice shard sends out three shards of ice that spread out as they go, so if an enemy is closer to the Ele, they'll get hit by all three (thereby taking more damage). They also have access to Fire Pillar, which is exactly as it sounds: a massive pillar of fire that players and enemies must evade to not die swiftly. But let's say the Ele first snares the target with something called Flash Freeze? Then you can imagine Fire Pillar being far more damaging.
But what's important about the Elementalist isn't just its combat usefulness. As you might remember, the entire world of EQN is destructible. Rock might be hard to break, but ice is brittle. If there's a place you want to get to and can't? Bring an Elementalist, freeze the rock, and have the Warrior cut through it with Cyclone. Skills really do interact like that. If someone is set on fire, you might be able to use a skill to put them out. Warriors can break through rocks that might be put in their way, and that brings us to... the Tempest.
Described by Lead Systems Designer Michael Mann as a Druid Assassin, the Tempest is a highly mobile, lightning wielding badass. They are highly movement based, darting around the battlefield at the speed of light. In PVP, this means your best bet is to use movement impairing attacks. The Tempest can float down from high vantage points, turn himself into lightning and move all over the map damaging anything in his path. They're pretty damn wicked in action, and would be more about DPS than the other two listed above.
Finally, Dave showed off a work-in-progress of a Rallying Call, the main big events that drive the narrative forward. Players guide these, choose what to do, and when to do it all. But the objectives won't always be obvious. As players explore and uncover the world, objectives and triggers will be hidden, not blasted out in the UI. You won't see exclamation marks directing players in EQ Next. Each server will guide and direct their own stories based on their actions, so that the tale of Server 1 could be entirely different than the timeline and tale of Server 2 and so on.
Your character will have a book called the Rohsong that tracks everything you do, your server does, and helps guide you to areas that are actively being played, but Dave's hope is that they won't have to spend too much time guiding players to activities. The players will inform each other of what's going on in the world and where to go. As a level-free game, you won't need to worry about being "high enough" to tackle content, you'll just go where the fun is for you.
The Rally Call we saw took place in the player/dev created Dark Elf fortress from Landmark, and in this case the idea was that players had uncovered enough treasure and relics that they've alerted the local brigands to the existence of wealth within. So on come these brigands, in full force with catapults, slinging boulders at the fortress, breaking it completely, as you try to drive them off. In the end, the Fortress wound up in flames, so the players had failed. The question is, what would happen next? Dave couldn't quite comment yet, because they're trying hard to keep the full system under wraps until Next is ready to go. In short: they don't want someone else to take their ideas.