The alpha for EverQuest Next Landmark has arrived, and the NDA shields are down. The Minecrafty MMORPG that serves as a staging ground for some of the features coming later to EverQuest Next is rough around the edges at this stage, offering just a handful of a long list of features that will roll out over time. However, even in this early stage with all the server issues, broken code strings seeping into item descriptions, crashes, and long queue times, the potential for this title shines through.
It was only a matter of time before a big developer/publisher decided to take some of the concepts of titles like Minecraft, Terraria, and Starbound and move them in a MMO direction. EverQuest Next Landmark features all the building and crafting that players could want, allowing them to claim territory and work on it with friends to craft castles, spaceships, Wild West museums, etc. The game also features item progression in the form of mining tools, axes, craft tables, and pulverizers that allow you to quickly burrow down into the earth.
Only a few biomes are available at the moment, but it’s enough to get a sense of the scope of the project. The game should get more interesting when the monsters show up. EverQuest Next Landmark plans to have a variety of enemies to battle that drop resources that the more fighting-oriented players can trade off to their crafty/buildy friends. The range of skills and abilities with which to do battle is limited compared to EverQuest Next, but Sony Online Entertainment is promising a decent assortment of ranged, magical, and melee attacks.
In about an hour of playtime, I mined several different types of ore, chopped down some trees, and placed a claim on the far edge of one of the available Tier 1 areas. I have some low tier crafting tables set up, and I’m looking forward to digging in more once servers get a bit more stable.
While I think the concept is poised to survive and thrive as its own game alongside EverQuest Next, there’s much talk about how high-profile builders and building teams could create massive projects that find their way into the main MMORPG. Organized teams (guilds?) of builders or a solo savant with a mission could create massive, sprawling dungeons, epic castles, and other items that could make it into EverQuest Next itself, as long as they meet Norrathian design rules.
I’m surprised Sony let this alpha out into the wild in the current state, but this is probably one of the best ways to get the feedback it needs to get things rolling toward beta and beyond.