Introducing EverQuest Next

Scott Hawkes takes us through SOE's incredible new MMO

As you read this, EverQuest Next is being unveiled to the world at large. Surprisingly, it’s not the only EverQuest game that fans are being introduced to.

Not only will EverQuest Next be a huge departure for SOE but EverQuest Next Landmark will be part of a completely new phase of MMO development that will make community input more important than in any other MMO.

More on EverQuest Next Landmark later; first, let’s take a look at EQ Next.

John Smedley introduced the presentation and explained that SOE wants EverQuest Next to be “the next defining thing in online gaming.”

To explain what that means, Dave Georgeson, director of development for the EverQuest franchise explained that MMO gamers have been playing “a lot of Dungeons & Dragons for the last 35 years,” and EQ Next is SOE’s answer to that paradigm.

The world of Norrath will look very different to fans of the franchise. We were shown a map of the world and were told that the team has taken a “JJ Abrams’ Star Trek” approach; Norrath will have familiar elements, “touch-points’ as Dave called them, but will branch out into new stories, including new areas.

I say new areas as EverQuest Next is an open world game—which means no loading screens between zones. We saw some previews of the new takes on classic zones, such as Lavastorm which is a molten landscape that will be familiar, but with a more dramatic art style.

The image of the Feerrott that was shown included a large central, towering mesa, which exemplified the verticality that is a big part of new Norrath’s design.

(Hi-def available here)

A video fly through of part of the Feerrott showed a lot of different tiers in the landscape, stone steps leading to different platforms within a humid forest, deep ravines cut through verdant planes, next to a classic wizard spire.

It looked very clean and the graphics are up to the expected quality of a modern MMO, with immersion enhancing lighting effects, such as the crepuscular rays teeming through forest canopies. Shadows moved across the landscape as the sun passed over in a demonstration of the day/night cycle.

Georgeson said that night time will be a true night, though still playable. From the brief glimpse that I saw, it didn’t look like the kind of darkness that would necessarily require a player to carry a light source to navigate.

What will be most interesting to see will be fans’ reaction to the art style of the character design.

The human female character has a clean, expressive face that is reminiscent of Pixar-style animated characters. The slight, playful exaggeration around the eyes and mouth lend themselves to the SOEmote, which will be incorporated in the game.

As EverQuest Next will be the first game designed with SOEmote in mind, the range of expressions that were demonstrated looked fun and fitting in a way that seems more natural than in EverQuest II.

The Kerran model is quite surprising and is a big departure from the original noble, panther influence of the race first introduced in EverQuest’s Shadows of Luclin expansion.

EQ Next’s Kerrans are based on lions, making them noticeably daunting in their silhouette—the Kerran we saw was a warrior—and the choice is quite probably influenced by the longer, more expressive snout that lends itself to SOEmote more naturally.

Georgeson stated that the SOE team thinks that SOEmote, as realized in EQ Next, will be a real boon to role-players and machinima producers. I can certainly see how that could be true from the brief demo I watched.

The style of the character models is a radical departure from the classic idea of an EverQuest character and seem to be focused on a more broadly appealing style, perhaps a more varied, younger-skewed demographic than the first two EQ incarnations.

The style works very well, particularly when in motion, and is abundant in personality. I do wonder how the core EQ fan base will react to this departure, but the alternative—perhaps a standard but high definition Dungeons & Dragons direction—would probably not have the same degree of distinctiveness, fun and personality.

The movement of each character was very fluid; their travel abilities were visually striking and promise a lot of options for involving gameplay. The wizard ability, Flash, involved a swiftly generated, coalescing portal that rippled with energy before a fiery eruption, moving the wizard instantly.

The furry warrior showed off a leap ability, powerfully propelling himself forward through the air before hitting the ground with force.

Items will also play a part in altering your character’s movement. The wizard was shown gracefully gliding across a chasm due to her Boots of the Zephyr which granted the movement power. Having items that grant powers of movement in such a dramatic way is a very cool idea.

What I really want to know is the way in which those boots will be obtained. What kind of crafting can we expect? I’ll be asking that question in my interview with the dev team, coming soon.

To give an idea of just how different EQ Next is—and trust me, it is most assuredly different than any other MMO on the market—we were introduced to the four “Holy Grails” of the development team.

Grail 1: Change the Core Game

Multiclassing was held up as one of the ways that EQ Next will change the core farm/quest/level advancement in MMOs. Every player will begin the game with a choice from eight classes.

Each class will have two weapons and four associated abilities to those weapons--something that seemed reminiscent at first glance to Guild Wars 2.

As players adventure and quest—I think the first mention of the word other than in the game title—they will have the opportunity to unlock the total of 40 classes that will be available.

Not only will you be able to switch between classes, but you will be able to mix and match abilities—something that points toward a deck-build style of hotbar, but we didn’t see the UI to get confirmation.

Some of the weapons which were shown in a concept art slide included: spellbooks, fist weapons, flails, foci, spellblades, swords and shields.

A few combat abilities were demonstrated at this point in-game. The warrior Shield Bash attack hit a poor, unsuspecting kobold rather forcefully knocking it back. The follow up demonstration of the animation seemed to indicate a lack of need to tab-target, in missing the kobold corpse initially, then clipping it and sending it flying down some nearby steps.

The wizard ability, Chronosphere, generated a massive ball of radiant energy which, when unleashed, had a devastating effect, leaving a trail of destruction along the ground. A vortex spell granted the wizard a teleport, but with the added twist that a large explosion is generated at the point of origin.

The wake of destruction left by the spells—as well as the eye-searing particle effects—was impressive. One would expect that the small crater in the ground that had been wrought would soon disappear, as in every other MMO this would be an overlay effect on the terrain.

Not so in EverQuest Next.

Grail 2: Destructibility

EQ Next’s game world is completely built from voxels—think of them as building blocks that form all structures. This allows the developers and, more importantly, players to wreak havoc not just on NPCs but the environment around them.

The warrior ability, Whirlwind, acted as you would expect: the Kerran spinning furiously and knocking the tar out of a crowd of kobolds. This would be where a normal MMO ends, but EQ Next goes a step further as the warrior destroyed nearby walls at the same time.

We’ve seen walls knocked down in MMOs before, but usually through a transitional animation between before and after states, pre-designed models showing the wall as it stands then after it has fallen. Instead, Whirlwind left small, individual piles of rubble strewn across the ground—the joy of voxels.

That’s all well and good, it looks cool but what does this destructibility do for gameplay? As it turns out, the answer is quite mind-bending.

The wizard let rip with Upheaval, a power that destroyed NPCs and objects with a more magical flourish. The wizard then ran across a small stone bridge and used the ability again, this time hammering the stones apart, causing the kobolds to fall to their untimely deaths.

Being able to destroy the surrounding objects of an area has a huge amount of potential for turning combat into something more than a slash-fest. Instead players can truly start to use the surrounding terrain to their advantage in tactical ways.

But, in terms of how destructibility would affect the world, there was much more to come—more on that later.

Next Up: Permanence, Consequences and Landmark on Page 2 ->

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shaping and using the lore
# Aug 27 2013 at 9:19 AM Rating: Decent
25 posts
Well if you are going in to build a city called New Halas, wouldn't it stand to reason the the timeline of this is pre EQ and EQ2? As an EQ and EQ2 player, the ability to flesh out the lore of both games really excites me, toss in all the new game-play features, I'm stoked. In order to build the lore leaves a lot of room open for the player events to build and shape the world using already released expansion story-lines from both previous franchises to build this mmo world.
Being Able to Dig and Explore
# Aug 05 2013 at 7:36 PM Rating: Decent
87 posts
Smiley: nodAside from the cartoonish looking characters, I like most of the rest of the concepts:
1. Being able to dig, mine, and explore *down.* Very cool. Halflings could eventually, I hope, dig their own hobbitholes, er, halfling holes, dwellings. You know what I meant, don't snicker. Dwarves could delve deep and rebuild Kaladim.
2. Destroy the stone bridge to kill the pursuers.....Can you say...."You shall not pass!!!!" Again, very cool.
3. Falling into a dungeon accidentally.....very, very cool.
4. Rallying calls, cooperating to build a city, with realistic consequences from nearby hostiles...extremely cool.
4. NPCs remembering what you do to's about time. If you go around killing the named guards of a city for that little extra xp, yeah, you should get chased off. Players who roleplay as good characters should be treated as good characters by the NPCs, evil as evil by the NPCs, and griefers as pariahs by all.
Makes sense to me.
5. The Roundtable -- Being able to contribute to the direction the game will take --- this is probably the smartest thing SOE is doing. Want to keep your paying customers (of which I am one )? Try listening to them.
Again, this makes good sense.

Except for the characters look, I like almost everything I'm hearing.
I hope my computer can handle it.
Smiley: nod
"Contradictions do not exist. Whenever you think that you are facing a contradiction, check your premises. You will find that one of them is wrong. "
Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
Being Able to Dig and Explore
# Aug 08 2013 at 1:23 PM Rating: Decent
4 posts
Cept Halflings are not Hobbits.
# Aug 05 2013 at 12:14 PM Rating: Decent
138 posts
I will try it, but I don't think it can hold me for long. I like vertical progression and would feel lost without it. I don't think horizontal progression will not be enough to satisfy me. We'll see.
Rylaar - 100 Ranger - Bristlebane - EQ1
Trylon - 100 Cleric
Iamken - 92 Enchanter

Fyfe - 95 Troubador - Unrest - EQ2
Rylaar - 95 Ranger
Quinleigh - 95 Fury
Dalarn - 95 Inquisitor

Rylaar - 90 NE Hunter - Khaz Modan - WoW
Rhylaar - 90 Troll Hunter - Shadow Council - WoW
# Aug 08 2013 at 1:27 PM Rating: Decent
4 posts
Impressive toons except the ones on "EQ1" since there is no such thing. It is called just Everquest not Everquest 1.
My take
# Aug 04 2013 at 7:46 PM Rating: Default
4 posts
I will stick with orginal eq.
# Aug 04 2013 at 7:00 PM Rating: Decent
178 posts
I will stick with orginal eq.
I will stick with orginal eq.
# Aug 04 2013 at 7:00 PM Rating: Decent
178 posts
Let me add some detail why I will stick with original eq. as someone else stated the pc power needed to play will most likely require a new setup which I do not have the luxury of money to do so right now. I believe if you were to rate eq, eq 2, vanguard, and now eq next. It would be eq #1, eq 2 close 2nd and vanguard 3 will see where eq next falls in. I know some people will enjoy it and please do. I am just afraid some people will leave eq 1 for it and make the severs just that more empty. I am like some people I have spoken to we thought eq next was going to be a rehashing of eq 1 with no load zones, updated graphics, bug fixes, maybe expansions once every 12 or 18 months. I think if soe did release a new version of the original everquest with what I just mentioned maybe with some other things it would be more successful than eq 2, vanguard or eq next could ever hope to be. What is it that keeps people on eq 1 some is being familiar with the mechanics of the game, nostalgia, simple game with simple graphics, thus simple machine required, if it isn’t broke don’t fix it, friendships, and other things I may not of mentioned. I will admit I will give it a try however thus far the way it looks most likely going to stay with eq 1.

Just my simple 2 cents worth.

Edited, Aug 5th 2013 1:14am by cjguy
# Aug 04 2013 at 2:45 PM Rating: Decent
18 posts
I've only seen a little bit of it too just like the rest of you,, but it looks like to me that there might only be a few path to travel on to get across the whole zone. Guild Wars is like that, instead of being able to run anywhere and everywhere in the zone, you only got a few certain paths in the whole zone, I think that sucks. Here it looks like they got to much trees, rocks, building, ruins, mountains that you got to run around instead of over like in EQ. Just my thoights.
# Aug 04 2013 at 7:58 PM Rating: Decent
7 posts
I did not get the same impression as you. Granted, they were running along the marked trails, but I wouldn't read anything into that.

If that IS the case though, it would be a giant step backwards, given the extensive work with other terrain features and the construct/destruct capabilities.
Candy Land, err EQ Next
# Aug 04 2013 at 2:43 PM Rating: Decent
55 posts
It's candy land. That is all.

No corpse runs.

No rusty axes at level 1, with the rusy axe look.

Nothing earned...

All fed.

It's all about $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

I don't blame them though.
# Aug 04 2013 at 11:28 AM Rating: Decent
159 posts
I believe we have enough content up to the latest Plane of Fear Addition. I am happy for those that want to make the switch to EQnext, but I will stay with POF EQ until I tire of it or it gets dumped for the space age EQ that is being introduced.
EQNext looks great....
# Aug 04 2013 at 9:43 AM Rating: Decent
14 posts
But right now, I am really unwilling to spring for the probable computer upgrades to properly render it at a playable rate. That said, experience has proven to me over and over again; it IS my gaming that drives my decisions about upgrading my computers. So you can take my first sentence with a grain of salt. I applied for the Beta and will see if my rig can handle the load or not. If SOE has the game that sucks me in and immerses me in it; I will eventually get the upgrades necessary to play.
# Aug 03 2013 at 11:26 PM Rating: Decent
184 posts
"As you read this, EverQuest Next is being unveiled to the world at large."

In my opinion, as it currently stands with the information I have read, this game is not worthy of the Everquest title.
Author of SparxxUI
Like the graphics
# Aug 03 2013 at 5:26 PM Rating: Good
69 posts
My gosh, the environments are terrific. I've spent time in both desert and topical jungle areas and the graphics look very comfortable. Mucking around ruins is also in my past and the ruins in EQN bring back not only visual memories but also descriptive memories from some outstanding writers. Kudos to the artists.

Other forums are yakking about the 'Madagascar Lion' appearance. Well, I really didn't see enough to agree or disagree. What I did see was the split second change from 2 foot to 4 foot movement that looked dang realistic. Very cool.

What I'm really working on is not comparing EQN to the previous games. It's so self defeating to keep saying 'it's not... it's doesn't look like... etc., etc., I KNOW the game will be different in all ways.

I generally like change and need to embrace the change that is EQN.

Great write up by the way )
Lion looks like Madagascar lion
# Aug 05 2013 at 6:22 PM Rating: Decent
87 posts
Maybe the circus tiger Vitaly had a point in that Madagascar 3, where he disses Alex the lion with a heavy accent,
"Stefano, we do not invite trouble into our circus. I don't trust lion, hair too big and glossy. Not lion, lioness with a beehive! "
The armor looks cartoonish -- seems a waste of buying a more expensive graphics card if the landscape looks awesome but my character looks like his armor was pulled out of a Disney coloring book.
"Contradictions do not exist. Whenever you think that you are facing a contradiction, check your premises. You will find that one of them is wrong. "
Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
Like the graphics
# Aug 03 2013 at 7:12 PM Rating: Decent
7 posts
I'm guessing the references to the "Madagascar Lion" relate to the cartoon-like characters (and the specific reference is to the cartoon feature Madagascar, which I did not see).

They did show some of the interesting new automatic movement changes, like the lion's leap (can't quite bring myself to call it a Kerran yet), sliding down hills, vaulting low walls and objects, etc. This is part of their new movement paradigm, and it is built-in to the character movement. Nice touch.

But you will really have to see how well you can identify with or take seriously a bunch of cartoons moving through the great looking environment.

There are still a lot of unanswered questions regarding the game. The "voxels" sound interesting, yet I'm not sure that I want a world where a bunch of vandals (you KNOW there are such in all games) can go through the towns and wreak havoc on them. I'm guessing that SOE is not unaware of this likely event, and has some plans for it (maybe the gradual reset of the default terrain. Can't keep too much of whatever happens, because then my little change and your little change and HIS little change all keep adding up. Pretty soon the "Valley of the Gwangi" becomes the "Hill of the Gwangi" and the Sahara Forest becomes the Sahara Desert. Not something I'd mind in a geologic timeframe, but this game isn't that.
EQNext Presentation
# Aug 03 2013 at 11:04 AM Rating: Decent
7 posts
Good write-up. I enjoyed their presentation (even the lengthy sand-art intro) and Georgeson did seem very pleased with himself as he presented the new concepts. Everything looks good, although I absolutely HATE the character appearances and the accompanying "plastic toy" appearances of the weapons and armor.

I hate first-person shooters, and disliked the "guess my secret word" style of dungeons that preceded EQ. And I was never into graphics on my computer, preferring spreadsheet-style 4X space games.

My first MMO was EQ2 close to when it started, drawn in by a friend who thought it would be a neat way to keep in touch across the country. It worked well for us, we made some friends along the way, joined a guild, and ultimately were handed the reins for it when the founders decided to move on.

Since then I've tried a number of MMOs (WoW, Vanguard, DDO, LOTR, Rift) but have always come back to EQ2, in large part because of the realism. I can suspend belief in the EQ2 world and take it seriously in a way I never could for any of the others (Rift being a possible exception, as my computer was NOT powerful enough to render it beyond the lowest graphic level). Now, with the flying mount ability at the top levels, it is a pleasure to just wander around sometimes and enjoy the environment. EQ Next looks like it could have that same kind of environment.

So I was anticipating EQ Next with somewhat baited breath. I don't think that I'll be able to get past the cartoonish characters and equipment though. SOEmote is a neat idea, and works OK in EQ2, but to let it drive the design of the characters in EQNext is to let a technical tail wag the game dog. It's a deal breaker for me, I'm afraid, and I don't anticipate moving to EQNext because of it.
great but....
# Aug 02 2013 at 9:38 PM Rating: Decent
20 posts
there is also news about a new EQ expansion... that would be nice to hear about on an EQ site... right???
great but....
# Aug 06 2013 at 9:21 AM Rating: Excellent
Empress of News
2,350 posts
great but....
# Aug 03 2013 at 4:36 PM Rating: Good
great but....
# Aug 03 2013 at 4:54 PM Rating: Decent
20 posts
i already knew about those threads... my whole point was that THIS is a EQ1 site... and still no article about the new expansion.... only a different game... this is a great article... but still..

ok my apologies ...this article is being seen on all SOE game pages.. wasnt aware of that at the time of my postings since i only play and look at the EQ1 part of zam... however i do still stand behind my original statement... where is the news about the new expansions for EQ1 and EQ2 on zam..

Edited, Aug 3rd 2013 7:18pm by kajazz
great but....
# Aug 08 2013 at 1:38 PM Rating: Decent
4 posts
This is not an "EQ1" site as EQ1 dose not exist, it is simply EQ or Everquest. No where on any EQ boxes or DDL discriptions dose it ever say EQ1 or Everquest one. BTW I am viewing this on Zam's EQ2 tab.
great but....
# Aug 03 2013 at 8:05 AM Rating: Good
6 posts
Maybe because this article is about EQNext. A different game.

That aside, I enjoyed the great article and I look forward to reading more about the new MMO in development.

Edited, Aug 3rd 2013 9:08am by Borrhavan
# Aug 02 2013 at 2:33 PM Rating: Good
4,530 posts
Great article --you've got me interested.
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