Elder Scrolls Online and EverQuest Next impressions

Normally I’m not very up-to-date when it comes to new game news. I’m the sort of person that discovers games months or even years down the road and wonder how the heck I could have missed it all this time.

But it seems that I’m totally on the ball today. It started when I received an email yesterday from Elder Scrolls Online letting me know that they would be showing live gameplay on Twitch today. I do love Skyrim so I was excited to see what ESO looked like. So I decided to check it out while I worked.

I’ve embedded videos of the live streams at the bottom of each section if you’d like to watch them yourself.

Elder Scrolls Online

Several days ago, I was rather disappointed to learn that the races of Tamriel have been divided among three factions, leaving the player no choice to play say, an Argonian with the Daggerfall Covenant. Belghast of Tales of the Aggronaut did a very good job of explaining why the faction walls should be abolished. Personally I am all for no factions at all, or at least letting each race choose which faction they wish to play. In a real war, there would be mercenaries and spy by the dozens so not everyone would simply align with their own race. Or even refusing to get involved in a war whatsoever. After playing Skyrim where so many personal choices are possible, it’s strange to see them trying to shoehorn players into default factions. This is besides the fact that there are three of them. I think just about anyone who has played WoW knows how difficult it can be when some friends like Horde and the others Alliance. Now you’re splitting those people even more?

Putting that aside, I did like what I saw from the brief bit of gameplay they showed. The interface was very much like the one in Skyrim, very clean and minimalistic. The world looks to be very open and they encourage exploring, which I do love to do. For example, the first thing I did after the starting quest in Skyrim is to run off exploring. I’ve put over 120 hours in the game already and my character hasn’t even chosen sides yet. There are also plenty of books to read and crates to plunder, so you can even begin crafting right from the start.

Oh yes, and they mentioned that the game is entirely voiced. Given the quality of their voice actors for previous games, I think they will do an excellent job of this.

It was also mentioned that there are indeed classes but they act as a starting point and you can customize your character any way you want. Every weapon and armor type is usable for you, and like Skyrim, it has skills that increase as you use them. You can also switch weapons and fighting styles on the fly just like in Skyrim, so you can switch roles easily if need be.

A portion of the video showed a dungeon where you would group up with other players. I am getting a little tired of seeing dungeons in MMOs but I’m not sure how else you would work to get groups together towards a common goal. It did seem like there weren’t very distinctive roles and it was more chaotic than your usual tank rounding up all the mobs while your DPS kills them. I think this is good because it’s interesting and engaging, it keeps everyone on their toes. The mobs were large swarming packs too, which looked like fun to mow down. 😉

I’m interested to see more as the game is developed. My biggest complaint now is the mandatory factions but until the game is released, I will carry a spark of hope that they will make the races faction-flexable. It does look like a game that I could really get into however.

Watch live video from married2gaming on TwitchTV

EverQuest Next

After the ESO stream was done, I saw that people on Twitter were talking about the debut of EverQuest Next coming up on Twitch as well. I’ve never played any of the EverQuests before and had never really been interested but I thought why the heck not.

To be completely honest, I hadn’t been expecting anything earth-shattering. My impression of the previous EverQuests was that they were very much your standard MMORPG. Which makes sense, as it was arguably defined the whole genre and gameplay styles.

They begun by showing off character models and landscapes. Very pretty but nothing really spectacular there. The characters are on the cartoon-y side which I’m not really a fan of. Oh look, and there’s some cleavage bearing going on. I’m disappointed by this part.

Then they talk about how there will be multi-classing. You begin as one class and over time you can learn over 40 other classes that you can use to completely customize your character and gameplay. Okay, this is kind of neat. You really can’t have too much customization in a game I think.

The next concept they talked about is where my jaw started to drop. They made their whole environment out of voxels AND made it all destructible. First they showed players knocking down some ruins while fighting. Neat but just okay. I could see the world becoming a wasteland very fast, but they did mention that the environment would heal over time. Then they showed an enemy pounding holes into the ground around players, eventually causing them to drop below the ground. Into a new subterranean level. It turns out that there are not only several layers underground that you can explore and fight mobs in, but these “caverns” can collapse and open up elsewhere in a procedural manner. This means that the world isn’t static, which is just mind blowing in my opinion. Now getting stuck under the ground won’t be just a bad glitch, it will be a new adventure!

AI enhancements was the next topic. Not only can players change the environment, they can also change the way mobs behave. For example, if there’s an settlement of orcs that are getting pounded on by players too much, they won’t just respawn over and over again. They will actually move their settlement to a more suitable location, one more secluded and therefore safer for them.

Lastly, “rallying calls” were introduced. These are public quests that take months to complete and change the world permanently. Not only that, but the tasks players do for the rallying calls affect what will happen in the next stage. Pestered the neighborhood gnolls too much? They’ll lay siege to your fortifications in the next stage. It will kind of suck for the new players who come after the fact, but it will be greatly rewarding for the participants who were part of such a historical event.

I was surprised one more time when they finished with announcing EverQuest Next Landmark. The gist of it is that it’s a separate but related game that seems to be a combination of Minecraft and Wurm Online, so you plant a land claim and then create anything you want. There’s the possibility of selling your creations to other players and some of the designs might be chosen by devs to use in the EQ Next world.

This…this right here is so damn cool. Someone want to tell me when I can buy this? >.>

I have to hand it to Sony Online Entertainment. They completely and happily surprised me with these ideas. I really hope this will mean a change within MMOs, one that gives players more choices and more sandboxes to play in. I’ll be keeping a close eye on EQ Next news now…this is looking to be a game that’s definitely worth playing.

Watch live video from everquestnext on TwitchTV

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