Every few years, I wonder whatever became of EQ Next. It was going to change the face of MMO gaming. Mobs that reacted to over-hunting or being left alone to become a bigger problem. Emergent events. A fully destructible world. All the old lore tossed away for bright shiny new lore. Simple control scheme for console play, but depth for PC players.
You know, the game with everything.
Landmark was the tech demo, a construction set where the developers could try out new stuff before putting it in the game. A place where the players could use the same tools the developer used to create anything they could imagine. If it was good enough, it could be sold to other players, or even find its way into the main game.
The last Producer’s Letter from June said they were shifting focus from Landmark to EQ Next, but it’s been radio silence since then.
To find out more about how EQ Next might be coming along… I headed into Landmark. I paid over a hundred bucks for beta access back in the day. Not the best money I ever spent.
I’d heard combat had been added. Itching for a fight, I ran around the ruined world looking for monsters. Ruined in the sense that all I came across were old, lifeless structures. The last time I’d checked into Landmark, there were still people running around, actively building things. This time it was just the odd castle here and there, occasionally a sculpture. My old builds had been stored as blueprints when my plot inevitably got repossessed, but I felt no real need to haul them out again. I hadn’t ever mastered the weird stuff you have to do to get intricate detail in builds, so everything I ever made was essentially Minecraft, smoothed out a bit.
I jumped down a hill and got the message that my armor was now ruined. Darn it! Fortunately, I had a bunch of other outfits in my inventory. I would have to be more careful, going forward. A couple joyful leaps off a ridge and I could be down to my undies. Not cool.
With nothing dangerous around in the overworld, the only direction remaining was straight down. I couldn’t find the building tools so I couldn’t build UP, you see. They used to be in the inventory but they must have moved and I could not find them. However, the PICK was right where I left it. I targeted the ground at my feet and started swinging.
After about twenty minutes I broke into a little fairy garden (video above). The map said, though, that I was still in the overworld level, and would have to dig even deeper to see the mysterious lower layers of Neo-Norrath.
So, I kept digging. Eventually I did reach the second layer, an ice realm, but continued digging failed to break through the ceiling into this second world. I wondered if the teleport spires could make this transition a little easier. Abandoning my journey to the center of Norrath, I returned to the spire and chose a local teleport to the second layer, and then the third.
The third looked promising. Reminded me a little of the fairy cave. I ran around and some fungus exploded at me and dropped a little loot. I saw movement in the distance, and ran over to see what it was…
Combat, in Landmark, is a swing attack and a dash attack. I guess my armor wasn’t up to snuff (maybe it had been destroyed somehow). I didn’t use any health potions because where would I get more? So I swung and dashed and died. I doubt I’ll go looking for any more combat in Landmark.
Landmark is a very beautiful, if empty, game. The animations are great. The creative tools very much reward those who spend the time to learn to use them in the unconventional ways that have become standard.
But… it doesn’t feel like EverQuest at all. Not one bit. No moss snake has ever kicked someone to death in THIS world. And half elves are not 49.99999% elves now, they don’t even exist. You are human, or you are a LARGE human….
I’ll check in again in another few months. See if the plots that had castles on them now are still there.