Legions of MMORPGs have graced the internet to do battle against Blizzard’s World of Warcraft, yet no challenger has bested
Blizzard’s massively multiplayer online juggernaut. Huge marketing campaigns and years of development by the makers of games like Star Wars: The Old Republic and Rift have left players less than satisfied, with an initial big burst of player excitement and eventual failure.
As with other game releases, the developers at Sony Online Entertainment have tried to suggest that their game will be “new” and “different.” It’s not difficult to understand why skepticism is high. Every game that has seen release in the past few years has had developers boast the same and has crashed and burned just a month or so after the release.
Players of EverQuest Next will find a game focus that includes some familiar fantasy elements of an MMO game (like elves), but developers have sought to step away from the traditional, linear questing experience and offer some world-building opportunities for players (much like EVE Online). One of the interesting features expected of the game is the ability for players to impact permanent change upon the landscape.
For example, during wartime a player might decide to build a wall somewhere, and he or she can accomplish this and actually have that wall erected as a permanent feature in the game world. Similarly, when players fight one another or monsters, a spell or explosion that creates a hole in the world will remain permanently. One of the developers likened this feature to the idea of putting Minecraft into an MMORPG.
Although absolutely everything in the world can’t be destroyed (certain structures will be permanent), this opportunity to build, create, and destroy represents a jump forward from the same opportunities players have had in games like EVE Online. World of Warcraft has occasionally offered players the opportunity to change the landscape, but not on a regular basis. Such changes have generally been implemented after a reset with all the realms taken offline, after which players would log in and see the changes.
However, the lack of appreciable impact on the environment hasn’t stopped players from flocking to World of Warcraft for nearly a decade, and EverQuest Next will need to bring an amazing player experience to lure away current players as well as retain them. The ebb and flow of Warcraft’s player base often coincides with the new release of another MMORPG, but after a month or so the new game’s servers are ghost towns. It won’t take long to see whether EverQuest Next can compete with World of Warcraft.