Over the past few years there have been a few online games which allow the videogame community to flex their creative muscles in ways never thought possible. With releases like Minecraft, Terraria, and Rust, developers have been working hard to stake a claim of this growing segment of the gaming landscape. New to this scene is Everquest Next: Landmark from Sony Online Entertainment. The game takes place in the Everquest universe, but is described as set in an alternate reality.
First, I need to note that the game is in an early alpha state, which basically means it’s only around 60% complete. Many things are not in the game yet, and you can sometimes come upon some nasty bugs. Although it can be a bit frustrating, this is part of the benefit of being part of the preview as you can communicate these issues with the developers via the game forums so they can improve it as it is being worked on.
After going through a relatively basic (for now) character creation setup, you are dropped into a bright, colourful world to explore in a third person view. The overall size of the world is a bit limited currently due to the early stages of the game, but what’s there is still very impressive. You will come across lush green forests, mountains, and sandy deserts to explore. There is a day and night cycle too, which is cool because shadows from the landscape move as the sun rises and sets. You won’t find much wildlife, and coming across other players is rare, but it does happen.
The first major thing I had to do in this new world was to find a spot of land to claim as my own. By opening the world map I could see what was available, where other players had set up shop, and where to mine for materials. Once I was finally able to find a suitable spot (which was on the side of a mountain range) and claim it, a crafting table and forge appeared, and I was ready to set out to harvest materials.
You start the game with an axe and a pickaxe in your inventory for collecting materials. Since I was right by a forest, I decided to start with collecting wood. This was accomplished by simply equipping the axe and clicking on a nearby tree. I was glad I didn’t need to constantly click on the tree, I just had to hold down the mouse button and watch small pieces of wood and other materials fly into my backpack. A similar process is used for mining, but you need to look for different coloured patches of land normally found around rocks and mountains. I spent a fair amount of time running around collecting materials, which was rather relaxing, but I did miss interacting with wildlife and dealing with potential threats.
Finally, after spending time collecting materials and enjoying the atmosphere, I was ready to get down to building something, so I returned to my home base. All I had to do was click on the forge or crafting table and select what I wanted to build from a list of items – such as wooden planks and furniture – as long as I had the proper resources. I really enjoyed building and crafting, and also seeing what else was popping up in the surrounding area from other users, as my mountainside plot of land enjoyed a great view. My two-story mansion really started to come together and I found myself getting engrossed in my work. The interface for manipulating items you have built and other basic building blocks for your structures reminded me of Second Life’s interface, but simpler. It’s not a very complex interface but it gets the job done just fine, and I had fun working with it. I liked the more organic, detailed creations that came together, over the blocky look of Minecraft.
Right now the developers seem to be concentrating on the building aspects of the game but have a huge list of additional features planned for the game. I honestly look forward to some of the things they have coming, such as a planned combat system, enemy creatures and NPCs, and improved interactions with other players. The possibilities are huge and with this graphic engine it’s going to look great. It’s panning out to be a huge social world once things come together.
The game developers offer special bundles called “Founders Packs” for various prices that get you extra goodies as thanks for supporting the early stages of the game, ranging from special clothing, equipment, and banners to put on your land to show to others your Founder status. If you enjoy being creative, but would like to experience a crafting engine within a more fantasy-based world, I’d recommend checking out the game and possibly contributing to its development. It’s one to keep an eye out for!