EverQuest Next… the next MMO

Sony Online Entertainment has announced that EverQuest Next is happening, and that it is going to be the future MMO that we have all been waiting for. Will it be as revolutionary as the original EverQuest was when it hit the dial-up modem 14 years ago?

SOE certainly thinks so.

“With EverQuest Next, we’re going back to our roots — a space we defined with the EverQuest legacy — and ushering in a new era of MMOs: The Emergent Era,” said John Smedley, President, Sony Online Entertainment. “Today, many MMOs fail because players consume content faster than developers can create it. With EverQuest Next, we’re creating a living world that players are part of and empowering them to produce new content alongside the development team. What does the future hold for EverQuest Next and Sony Online Entertainment? It’s in the players’ hands, and we like it that way.”

“EverQuest Next is not the continuation of a familiar story. It represents the fundamental reimagining of the characters, lore and environments of the EverQuest universe,” said Dave Georgeson, Director of Development for the EverQuest Franchise, Sony Online Entertainment. “Make no mistake; while great care has been taken to respect the extraordinary influence that EverQuest has had in this industry and with our player community over the years, this is a boldly different game unlike anything that has come before.”

In development since 2009, EQN looks to change the MMO formula by adding features not yet seen or fully fleshed out in the current iteration of the MMO. EQN looks to add destructible environments and permanent changes to the game world. That means the fall of a city and its inhabitants results in exactly that, no respawns allowed. This also leads to the idea of consequences, as your decisions and actions indeed shape the world around you. While this sounds inherent, I think that it basically ties the previous two features together, but more organically.

“We believe that the bold choices the team is making with EQN will result in a product that provides players with an absolutely new kind of game experience,” said Laura Naviaux, Senior Vice President of Global Sales and Marketing, Sony Online Entertainment. “However, there is something even more important to us. As an organization, we are dedicated to partnering with our community to give them a voice in the games we create. With EQN, we are taking this idea even further and offering our players the opportunity to actively build EQN with us.”

NPCs will now have ‘Emergent AI’, which sounds like something pulled directly from The Elder Scrolls series. NPCs now have motivations for what they are doing, and the reasons they are doing something may be the direct result of the environment around them. The press release gives the idea that an Orc may attack an adventurer opportunistically in order to take their gold, instead of you clumsily running into his attack radius. What an Orc will exactly do with the gold you drop after defeat is up to him, but my guess would be to hit up the local Red Light District (“Crushbone”, anyone? Wink wink, nudge nudge.)

Lastly, EQN will feature multiclassing, which will give players the opportunity to expand upon their chosen class (which there will be over 40 at launch). There are no levels in EQN, just skills that you level up. And multiple class skills can be mixed and matched now, meaning that Ranger/Necro hybrid you have always wanted to make is now possible.

So is this the next MMO that we have all been waiting for? Will I want to hop into yet another EverQuest game? Will you? I think there is some promise here, and that the initial ideas seem solid. Execution of these ideas, though, is the key.