As someone who closely follows the news and updates around EverQuest Next and Landmark, it can seem a little odd that there is still a group of people out there who are simultaneously interested and unsure of the differences between the two games.
I'm still working on my shorthand answer; it seems difficult to do justice to the innovation and originality of thought behind these new titles in a concise manner. We don't have the vocabulary yet, and describing them in the context of games that have come before can lead to an existential crises.
In Landmark, you are playing an MMO in which you can gather, craft and build in order to create various types of content to be played within not only Landmark, but also potentially in EQNext. The toolset for Landmark is intended to be the toolset used to build EQNext, and SOE wants us to be able to make what they can make.
In EverQuest Next, you are playing an MMORPG in which, through various new technologies, you can interact with the world in unprecedented ways against a constantly and permanently shifting backdrop.
That's what I have so far; they just seem to leave so much unsaid. The first description usually leads to a response of 'so, like Minecraft?' and the second will be met with a healthily skeptical 'we've been sold that line before'.
As regular readers will know, I have a lot of love for Minecraft and I will always encourage skepticism when confronted with the hype train, but I wish it was easier to convey what these games have the potential to be. I'd settle for conveying even what they are intended to be.
I'm sure many of us have encountered this, and it was while pondering this unprecedented obstacle that I started to realize we have the opposite issue as well.
The 'I'm not interested in Landmark, give me EverQuest Next!' crowd.
A strange breed, and one that I'm sure is a smaller group than the amount of cage-rattling they generate would suggest.
Sometimes, a brave soul will approach with the intention of helping them understand the significance of Landmark. We all know how this interaction will end, but hope springs eternal (even online).
So how does one explain? We can point to the development of oceans in the game, explain how eventually liquid physics will mean flowing water. That means we might be changing the course of rivers in EQN, or flooding underground caverns, with lava. Isn't this the kind of information that should amaze and delight players? Imagine the repercussions of this ability—even as a technological feat, it's impressive enough to be noteworthy.
Speaking of underground caverns, how about those caves? We know there will be caves under Norrath as well, and now we can start see what they'll look like. Just imagine, procedural content in an MMO! Worthwhile exploration, moving through an unknown and hostile environment in search of treasure instead of farming the same scripted instance over and over. With the slightest effort of extrapolation we can see the planned purpose of these systems.
Soon we'll see AI systems, some combat and movement abilities, mounts, guilds, VoIP, SOEmote. All of these developments have a direct impact on EQNext, and I'm sure there will be more that we'll be hearing about soon (39 days, not that I'm counting...).
That's not to mention the workshop, where we can learn about the planned aesthetic for different races in Norrath (and not just the visual).