EverQuest Next Five Years Down the Road

EverQuest Next — which is a totally different beast — has no current timetable. It could release in 2015 or 2025 for all we know right now.

Massively, Leaderboard: EQN vs. EQN Landmark, Jan. 2014

I was doing the month in review post for August when I ran across the fact that EverQuest Next was officially announced at SOE Fan Fest… as it was called before being changed to “SOE Live” a couple years back and then to “Daybreak Doesn’t Do That” earlier this year… five years ago.

Freeport Next? I guess not!

Not destined to be Freeport Next

Meanwhile, that quote at the top of the post is about as true today as it was when it was published nearly two years back.

Five years back the whole EverQuest Next plan… back when EverQuest Next was a fine placeholder name, but laughable as an actual end result… was based around what seemed to be the lessons learned by SOE at the time.  I summed them up in a post at the time as:

  • Single world without the need to load zones
  • Instanced dungeons
  • Low system requirements
  • Stylized character models
  • Fewer classes, relative to EQII
  • PvP from day one and “done right”

I the contrasted that list, which aside from the final point sounds a lot like WoW, with what seemed to have been the lessons learned after EverQuest that went into the way EverQuest II appeared to us on day one:

  • Zoning is Okay
  • Who Needs A World?
  • Reduced Death Penalty
  • Group Play
  • Quests Needed
  • Twinking Is Bad
  • Player Housing Is Important
  • Crafting Should Be Really Complicated

Missing from that second list is “open world dungeons,” but only because that wasn’t a change from EverQuest, though by the time EverQuest II launched with such dungeons the original game had already learned its lesson on that front and had gone to instanced group content because players will become horrible people if left to compete over limited shared objectives, and no amount of wishing for the “good old days” will change that.

Anyway, most of that is neither here nor there at this point.  EverQuest II changed its path over time and the people SOE realized that their EverQuest Next plan sounded like yet another WoW clone and tossed it out the window.

Then we started hearing words like “sandbox” from Smed as SOE Live approached back in 2013.  I started projecting what I wanted to hear, but even if I did not get most of it what we did hear was pretty exciting.  EverQuest Next was going to be a brave new vision.

Firiona Vie makes it to 2013

Firiona Vie makes it to 2013

There was a lot of excitement after that announcement, with some of the take away talking points being:

  • No Levels
  • Limited Skills Available
  • Skills Specific to Weapons
  • 40 Classes and Multi-classing
  • Six Races
  • Destructible Terrain
  • Parkour-like Movement
  • Combat Roles beyond the WoW Trinity
  • Emergent NPC AI
  • Sandbox nature
  • World Changing Quests

There was all this plus some sort of dev tool they were going to let us play with called Landmark, with a hint that maybe we could make stuff that would actually go into the game.

Heady days back in early August of 2013.  The game had already won an award by that point. But I was wondering even a week later if SOE could keep all the enthusiasm and good will they built up going.

And then things got quieter.  SOE gave us EverQuest Next Landmark, and by “gave” I mean “sold” as in the dubious early access scheme we have seen so much of… erm, sorry, it was “closed Beta” for no definition of “Beta” I would ever be able to use with a straight face.  But at least work there meant work was being done on EQN as well.

Eventually EverQuest Next Landmark simply became Landmark and things remained pretty quiet on the front as Smed bounced on to H1Z1 as the game he talked about most, though the company couldn’t seem to agree if it was an MMO or not.

Last August there was some more talk about EverQuest Next at SOE Live.  We saw some rough demos in a very dim dark elf zone along with some more concept art.

Dark Elf Female

Dark Elf Female

There were some shiny, exciting bits certainly, but the big question of “when” wasn’t even glanced at sideways by the team.

And since then I haven’t heard much about EverQuest Next.  There was a brief mention by Jason Epstein of Columbus Nova Prime about EverQuest Next being released in the “near future” as part of the puffery around the acquisition of SOE from Sony.  But given that he also said that H1Z1 had already launched in the same sentence, I am going to guess he wasn’t really concerned about accuracy compared to what sounded good at the moment.

Since then most of my attention has been on EverQuest and EverQuest II when it comes to fun times in Norrath.  Holly “Windstalker” Longdale has done a better job at getting and keeping attention to the games in her part of Daybreak than her predecessors (or the remains of Daybreak community team), though she does have that convenient nostalgia card to keep playing.  Special servers for EverQuest again along with a pair (well, three if you count THAT one) for EverQuest II that even included the surprise return of the Isle of Refuge have provided more fodder for news items and blog posts than EverQuest Next has managed.

EverQuest Next is still out there.  There is still a vision on the official site and some Workshop videos coming out now and again and a report of some internal play testing starting at SOE, though oddly that came as part of an announcement on the Landmark side of town.  But in that part of Daybreak they are trying to push everything to Reddit.  And in any case, internal play testing comes a long, long time before even Daybreak would considering throwing the game up on Steam and declaring Early Access.

Without the Daybreak equivalent of SOE Live in the offing, there isn’t much making news with the game five years since it was announced.  And with the reality of the transition to being Daybreak, I wonder what sort of game we will end up with.

4 thoughts on “EverQuest Next Five Years Down the Road

  1. bhagpuss

    For a while after they scrapped the first two versions and went with the Lion King Edition they announced two years back I tended to say I thought we’d see some kind of paid beta in 2015 and a full official launch no earlier than 2016. That now sounds wildly optimistic. If I actually had to bet real money right now I’d put it on “never”.

    My feeling is that if they’d stuck with Plan A and basically made an EQ-skinned WoW they’d have made money. It would have kept the current fanbase reasonably happy and on-board and offered a simple way in to the EQ franchise for the vast untapped audience of ex-WoW players. Personally I would have been fine with that version.

    The one they unveiled in 2013 sounded amazing. It really did sound like it might be the start of a new generation of MMORPGs rather than another addition to the old one. It also sounded far too good to be true and as far as we can tell that’s exactly what it is.

    At this stage it’s hard to know what to think. My gut feeling is that they’ve simply bitten off far more than they can chew and the reason we haven’t seen anything substantive is because there isn’t anything. Whether they have the resources to finish the job, who knows? How long Nova will give them to try, who knows?

    I’ve written it off emotionally. If it comes, it comes. If not, I’m not bothered. In a way I kind of hope it comes to nothing because a) by the time it does arrive it seems almost impossible to believe it won’t be disappointing/out of date/irrelevant and b) even if they were able to make that game they talked about two years ago, it’s still an action MMO and I don’t really like action MMOs. If it didn’t have the EQ name attached to it chances are I wouldn’t even try it anyway.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Stabs

    Sadly add me to the “never” camp.

    I’d love to see it release and certainly would play it extensively but I’m wondering if it even has a champion now that Smed is gone and SOE has become Daybreak.

    Like

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