Sony Online Entertainment has lifted the lid on EverQuest Next, the properly-titled next entry in its popular EverQuest MMO series.
EverQuest Next‘s development began in 2009, but the team decided in 2011 to “rethink core creative and technical aspects of the design and start from the ground up.”
Described as a “boldly different game” by the game’s director of development Dave Georgeson, he claims EverQuest Next “represents the fundamental re-imagining of the characters, lore and environments of the EverQuest universe.”
“With EverQuest Next, we’re creating a living world that players are part of and empowering them to produce new content alongside the development team,” said Sony Online president John Smedley. “What does the future hold for EverQuest Next and Sony Online Entertainment? It’s in the players’ hands, and we like it that way.”
This “new type of game” will have a number of features that differentiate it from other MMOs. Courtesy of Sony Online, these include:
- Multi-Classing – EverQuest Next will offer players the ability to explore and interact with the world according to their individual style of play. There are no levels in EverQuest Next, but there will be more than 40 distinct classes (or professions) at launch, with multi-tiered abilities and specialized weapon skills to collect and master. Players will even mix and match abilities from each class, creating truly custom characters that feel distinct and powerful.
- Destructible Environments – No modern MMO has successfully implemented destructible environments that stretch across an entire seamless game world – this changes forever with EverQuest Next. Every piece of the world is fully destructible and players will have the ability to manipulate almost all of it. They will interact with and explore the world in amazing ways; venturing down into the deep bedrock beneath the surface and using powerful combat abilities to blow gaping holes into the ground. The EverQuest Next world will extend far into the heavens and deep into the procedurally-generated earth through 10,000 years of known lore and history.
- Permanent Change – Players will also have the ability to cause the world to change around them, permanently, in dramatic ways. Through the concerted effort of the world’s inhabitants, including players, creatures, and non-player characters (NPCs), city walls will be built and destroyed, large-scale wars will be fought and won, and epic stories will unfold over months and years.
- Emergent AI – In EverQuest Next, NPCs will have specific motivations and preferences that direct behavior in nuanced and unpredictable ways. Players will find themselves in a world where NPC decisions are based on core values, not dictated by static spawn points. For example, Orcs may attack opportunistically because they want an adventurer’s gold, not simply because a careless hero wanders into an attack radius.
- A Life of Consequence – Finally, each character in EverQuest Next will have a unique story; they will not follow a predetermined path. Instead, they will seek out adventure, fame and fortune in a constantly changing sandbox world. The game will remember every choice and action that players make and will organically deliver increasing opportunities to do more of the things players like to do … from crafting armor and exploring the wilderness to purging goblins from the forests.
Sony Online also announced EverQuest Landmark as part of a multi-phase release. A free-to-play game, Landmark will also give players access to the game’s building tools in order to “build structures, and eventually create other types of content,” which will be considered for inclusion in EverQuest Next.
Its features, as described by Sony Online, include:
- Create Amazing Things
- Build highly detailed structures with powerful and intuitive tools.
- Quickly design complex projects or collaborate with friends to undertake massive shared builds.
- Lay claim to and control specific areas of huge persistent worlds.
- Share your Imagination with Friends
- Landmark’s persistent servers will enable players to interact with and experience the collective imagination of thousands of players in a unique shared world.
- Players will have compelling reasons to explore and interact with others. They will congregate at crafting hubs, build design templates to share and trade, and journey across the world to collect the resources required to build and craft.
- Build EverQuest Next with SOE — Using the Same Tools
- Landmark players will gain increasing access to many of the same tools that SOE is using to construct the game world of EQN.
- Not only will Landmark give players access to these world building tools, SOE will provide specific guidance on what we want help building.
- Through this collaborative approach, EverQuest Next may eventually represent the largest overall collaborative development effort in the history of online games. For anyone who has ever thought about becoming a game developer, here is your chance. Together we will build extraordinary things!
EverQuest Next Landmark will launch first this winter and “serve as the gateway” to EverQuest Next‘s eventual release and “as the collaborative building hub where SOE will guide the development of selected structures and environments” for use in the final game. A release date for EverQuest Next was not announced.
For those wondering about a PlayStation 4 release, EverQuest franchise director Dave Georgeson told Shacknews, “We need to make sure that it’s a kickass game on PC before we do anything else. We’re going to nail down all our questions and design and everything like that so that it’s a really good game. Then we’ll talk about other platforms.”
View the first screenshots of at the gallery. Watch a number of videos below.