So a few days ago SOE announced their next MMO in the Everquest series called, cleverly enough, Everquest Next (for some reason Everquest 3 just didn’t have a nice enough ring to it). I was very surprised when I heard the news as well as a little bewildered. At first I thought it was just another low-key video game like their Playstation 2 or PDA versions but nope, it’s apparently a real, full-blown, fully fledged MMORPG. Neat.
Even though SOE seem determined to make everyone hate them (maybe someone dared Smed at a drunken stag do one night?), I can’t help but have soft spot for them. They gave me my first MMO experience after all and no one forgets their first true love even if they’ve moved onto greener pastures. I’ve also always liked the Everquest lore and back story and even prefer it to the Warcraft or Lord of the Rings lore. I can’t really say why other than the fact that EQ has Beastlords and again that it’s probably purely a personal nostalgia thing.
Not much information has been released yet and it’s probably going to be a couple of years before the game materialises but a few interesting facts have already been stated. Firstly SOE want to embody and embrace the original Everquest feel and art direction; secondly they want to have fewer classes; thirdly they want to have more PvP; and fourthly they want to make the technology more scalable and run even on lower end machines. All of these things are definitely a step in the right direction and it looks like someone learnt a few valuable lessons from World of Warcraft.
And speaking of WoW, a lot of folk, including myself, are probably wondering if EQ Next is just going to be another WoW clone and right now it looks hard to tell. If I know my EQ community though then I’m sure most players will openly revolt at the mere hint of that so I’m hoping that SOE will try to forge their own path and not copy Blizzard’s implementation for the sheer sake of it. Saying that, however, there’s plenty of positive things to take from WoW (scaling the technology for instance) and with any luck SOE will find the right balance.
It’s also interesting to see that EQ3 – sorry, I mean ‘Next’ – is a reboot of the franchise and takes place in a completely new timeline or dimension or whatever you want to call it. I’m a little sad that they didn’t set it 500 years before the original Everquest just to mess with people’s minds but, after a little consideration, I think a clean slate is probably a good thing for everyone. It gives SOE more creative freedom and the opportunity to do things differently where necessary without worrying about affecting the lore or impacting the two other EQ MMOs.
Finally, I can’t help but wonder where this all leaves Everquest 2. The original will always be known for being the first 3D MMORPG and kicking off the industry but what about the sequel? It’s a fabulous game but SOEs vision for it didn’t quite meet the public’s demand and they made some poor choices, especially relating to the gaming engine (I swear even on my quad core machine with gigabytes of RAM oozing out of it the game still runs likes a sick three-legged dog). Hopefully EQ2 won’t become the red headed stepchild of the Everquest family and still get it’s much needed love and attention. Other than silly overpriced ‘free to play’ membership plans that is.