In 2010, SOE announced that they were working on a follow up to EQ2, code-named EQ Next. There was some muted excitement from Everquest fans, but after that we didn’t hear much about the project. Yesterday, John Smedley announced at SOE Live that they’d trashed their original design and now plan to bring EQ Next to market as a sandbox style MMO game.
I had been wondering whether Blizzard would end up taking this route with Titan (or going for a FPS MMO), as the trends simply aren’t towards large subscription MMOs and ‘more of the same’ isn’t going to cut it.
As it happens, with Planetside 2, SOE along with CCP’s Dust are both shaping up as good options for FPS MMO fans. And with this EQ Next announcement, suddenly a lot of old school MMO players will again be very very focused on what SOE is doing. I think this was a momentous announcement for them, it’s the day they became relevant again. And now Blizzard is on the back foot. Check out the link, there were quite a lot of announcements and statements about how they see the industry.
Well, looks like I was wrong to assume that another MMO based on Everquest wasn’t going to emerge (in the light of SOEs recent redundancies). SOE announced that very thing this weekend at Fanfest, their user convention.
Non-fans now have every reason to be confused. Between EQLive (aka EQ1), EQ Extended/ EQ2 and now EQ Next/ EQ3, there will eventually be three MMOs based on the same lore and background.
We don’t know a great deal yet about the new game, such as at what type of user it is aimed. Just a couple of pretty screenshots, and some comments (picked from the liveblog):
- Harkening back to EQ1 but more stylized.
- More interesting combat. More engaging.
- designed from ground up with pvp in mind.
- fewer classes (than EQ2)
- the world should change around you
- We haven’t announced the game because it’s still early in development. We haven’t even decided on raid and group sizes.
Notably, the original Everquest is cited as a greater influence here than EQ2. Perhaps EQ2 is now seen as an evolutionary dead end by SOE, leaving the new F2P servers to pick up any current gen gamers looking for a new world to explore, but with no intentions of following Blizzard in trying to evolve their game into anything too different.
Everquest is the marmite of MMOs. People either love it, hate it, or don’t understand the fuss at all. Me, I fall into the “don’t really get the fuss” category. I loved my first MMO (DaoC) and if Mythic announced an updated version then I’d be all over it, but EQ? Meh. I played EQ2 for a few months and liked it, but there was nothing special or engaging about any of the lore I saw in game. I don’t think those old communities can be replicated any more with a modern audience.
However hearing that SOE wants to go back to their roots could be great news if you fall into the love faction. At least, depending on which parts of EQ they decide to focus on updating.
But for everyone else, they’ll have to come up with something more convincing because the farrow of “let’s make something inspired by EQ but more accessible” has already been quite thoroughly ploughed. Hopefully not involving semi naked elvish paladins.