The next big MMORPG has appeared on the horizon, as Sony Online Entertainment debuted EverQuest Next at a live event on August 2nd. This is exciting news for fans of the genre because EverQuest has always been a benchmark series — the original is often credited as setting the standard for MMOs before other games like World of Warcraft came along and dominated people’s free time.
This installment appears to be another significant evolutionary step for MMORPGs. EverQuest Next marks a return to the iconic realm of Norrath. However, it’s been completely overhauled to the point of being barely recognizable to even the most seasoned EverQuest veterans.
EverQuest Next touts a level of substantial player impact on the world, previously unseen in the genre. Using world-building technology called Voxels, the game allows you to dig through layers of ground to reach hidden dungeons and caverns, or destroy bridges to thwart invading enemies. Not everything in the world can be destroyed or changed, but much of it can, and the modifications last long enough to make a substantial gameplay difference.
Additionally, questing in EverQuest Next is meant to be more natural than that of other popular MMOs. Rather than repetitive fetch-quests started by approaching an obviously marked non-player character, the player happens upon situations and chooses what to do about it. For example, when you stumble upon a conflict you can choose which side to take and your choice will have clear consequences. If you’ve spurned a group of people, don’t be surprised when they refuse to offer you assistance later on.
Everquest Next also offers the player the ability to traverse a variety of terrains in a more dynamic way than the standard MMO, including the previous iterations in the series.
These individual ingredients may not sound groundbreaking on their own, as many of them have been seen in other recent titles. Games like Minecraft offer a heightened level of environmental interaction, that has helped make it the cross-generational hit it is today. Mass Effect had serious narrative consequences for every major choice made. Assassin’s Creed and Infamous are built on the ability to climb pretty much everything. What’s exciting is how EverQuest Next combines these aspects and blows it up to the obscene scale of an MMORPG while balancing thousands of individual player inputs.
If these promises hold up, EverQuest Next will provide a unique, epic experience for every individual player. At this point, that’s a hard concept to wrap my head around. Luckily though, I’ll have time to figure it out as they have not yet set a release date.
We’ll keep you posted when we hear more.