EQ Next: Three Games, One IP

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.

What we might be playing after WoW

Larisa posts about the heart and soul of branding and the kind of work the WoW guys are doing to keep an old brand alive  (I never actually thought marketing people cared about anything but now I’m going to feel bad about every time I’ve passed up an aging brand in favour of something new).

I did momentarily feel a pang of sympathy, but I do struggle to see WoW as any kind of underdog in any sense at all. But for all that, I think future studies will centre on the amazing job that Blizzard have done to keep the game new and fresh and appealing. There are so many things to love about Wrath and despite the bum notes (like the whole of patch 3.2) Blizzard do know how to make fun games.

Sadly, my sympathetic side lasted all of about 5 minutes … which was the time it took me to go check out the Guild Wars 2 trailer. SHINY. Armoured bears and giant robots? Sign me up please. And again I stab Blizzard’s  poor marketing peons in the heart  with my shallow, fickle and feckless consumerist ways. (Sorry, Larisa.) If you weren’t excited yet, Ravious@Kill Ten Rats discusses some of the ways in which the Guild Wars 2 team plan to change questing and make it a more dynamic and involving experience. I do wonder why they’re so obsessed with using ships as bridges though, Isembard Kingdom Brunel might have had a word or two to say about that.

Here’s a more expansive Eurogamer article about the game and what lies in store for players.

And if that wasn’t enough, I then spotted the Final Fantasy XIV trailer. FFXIVcore.com snagged an interview with Square Enix at Gamescom this week to talk to them some more about their plans. Nothing really revolutionary here (other than running on a PS3) but they’re clear on their target market. It’s to be a PvE game, subscription based, with plenty of content for both casual and hardcore players that builds on what they learned with FFXI.

So that’s at least two games coming down the pipeline that might appeal to people who enjoy WoW at the moment. The Everquest team have also been dropping hints that they are working on a next generation version of Everquest, plus of course there’s whatever secret MMO project Blizzard are working on.

I can’t remember a time when I’ve been so upbeat about what the future holds for MMOs. And this is discounting all the free to play games in production, and the non-fantasy games, and the FPS or fighter type MMOs.

As far as other games go, Hudson has a collection of  gameplay trailers and videos debuted at Gamescom this week and it reads like a list of ‘Games Spinks might want to play’ so I’m hyped. (and not a single WW2 shooter among them.) How about you?