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EverQuest Next. I saw a little around on Twitter and the blogosphere over the weekend but aside from checking the key features on the website, I didn’t really look. I saw it had some gimmicks and it’d be free-to-play and the original games were obviously pretty popular to be able to influence an entire generation of MMO gaming.. but that’s it. I wasn’t exactly excited. Until I sat down and watched their Worldwide Debut from SOE Live. Just incase you missed it, stop reading and head over here now. It’s in 2 parts, it’s quite long, but it’s well worth your time and I’m about to share my opinions on this video so it would help.

The Video Starts

The first thing we get is a little rambling about EverQuest, which is fair enough. It’s a game with quite a legacy, I just never experienced it, personally, because I came to MMOs through World of Warcraft. Saying that, I really liked the EverQuest stories montage they put together. All the positive stories from people who have played EverQuest. One or two even put a little tear in my eye, they were lovely.

Then they went on to a sand art segment which was a nice idea for introducing a sandbox MMO but.. the artist wasn’t that great. Half of the time I was thinking, “what’s that supposed to be?” The other half I was applauding because I could actually see what it was supposed to be so… moving on.

Graphics

From what we have been shown so far, the graphic style maintains the cartoony look of previous EverQuest games, but takes it to a beautiful new level. With the exaggerated facial expressions reminding me of Disney (think Tangled) and something as simple as cloth armour and hair billowing in the breeze, this looks set to be a game in which the characters don’t feel quite as static as MMO avatars often do. And the lighting and the way they’ve stylised the time of day feature, right down to an actually dark night time, looks amazing. Truly.

Gameplay

When we look at the ‘Heroic Movement System’ in which characters glide down mountain sides, vault over obstacles and all sorts, ability animations, and of course Destructibility, which allows you to destroy the world around you (don’t worry, it respawns), a lot of the gameplay we saw looks like a promo-video rather than just snippets of actual gameplay. I was a little bit in awe of the way it all looked. I mean.. it’s all so.. fluid. In most MMOs, you press your buttons, you run, you jump up and down, and sure you might have different animations but it’s reasonably static. This is not.

Exploration & Fun Stuff

One of the biggest things in an MMO for me is exploration. If a world feels vast and epic and full of different things to discover, achieve, and do, then it’s caught my attention. I love being able to wander off and discover Easter Eggs and fun things. EverQuest Next looks to be absolutely full of this stuff. The first of which mentioned is subterranean areas. As the world is made up of levels and teeny tiny little blocks that make Destructibility possible, there are of course underground levels which you can fall into or go searching for and uncover quests and new classes – yes, that’s right, new classes which you can collect and customise to your preferred playstyle – and it sounds like so much fun. Potentially frustrating with the idea of tunnel collapses and potentially getting lost, but that’s surely only going to add to things.

Landmark

EverQuest Next: Landmark is such an innovative idea to attempt to draw in a different kind of crowd. Not only are they appealing to the kind of gamer who perhaps like a more challenging MMO (this is what EQ is renowned for, after all) but they’re trying to draw in the Minecraft crowd. And not only that, but they will have regular contests for people’s buildings to actually become a part of the world on launch. How cool is that? I’m not usually big on games based on building but I’m really excited to play around with Landmark in the Winter.

Guys, I have so much excitement for this game now that I’ve actually taken a look at this stuff. And the fact that it’s free-to-play solidifies the fact that I will be playing this. And I didn’t even manage to mention choices or Rallying Calls because the post was getting too long! And I have a plenty long post for you later in the week. EverQuest Next and Landmark will be my first proper foray into an EverQuest game (though I have gone forth and started installing EQ2 but how much time I’ll dedicate to it is another matter) and I am very intrigued to see how well the developers can deliver what they’ve offered us.

What are your thoughts? I’ve seen an awful lot of interest for EverQuest Next. Anybody out there who just isn’t interested?