One of the things that SOE made clear at Fan Faire 2010 was that they were interested in hearing what we wanted in the next EverQuest product. I’ve been sitting around and mulling over exactly what I’d like out of the game and finally put that all to paper. Some of these things you’ll have heard me ask for before and others might surprise you. Hopefully someone will see my humble desires and at least pick a thing or two on this list for the product!
If EverQuest II did anything wrong, (and SOE seems to recognize this), it is that the game has about twelve classes too many. You simply do not need that much variety in an MMORPG. There just aren’t enough unique abilities and roles to make them all worthwhile and you have a lot of bleed over and class amalgamation. For EverQuest Next I would like to see far less classes. Somewhere in the realm of eight to ten so that a closer class balance can be achieved. Balance, despite what some of my critics may suggest, is still extremely important to players. Everyone wants to be on equal footing. This also allows each class to have more options and power.
With fewer classes I would like to see a return to class interdependency and role definitions. I know in this modern world every class must do DPS, heal, solo, group, raid and essentially be a little of everything. I say enough is enough with that junk. Every healer dosen’t need to do DPS. Pick one healer for that and let the others stand out in other areas such as survivability or utility. Every tank doesn’t need the ability to turn into a tier one DPS and every DPS doesn’t need self heals! If a developer wants to ensure that everyone can solo make the solo content ridiculously easy and keep interdependency alive for groups and raids! Basically, if Blizzard does it in their classes do the opposite. This will be an EverQuest title, not world of Warcraft. Despite what people think they’re actually two completely different demographics.
Know your audience
Everyone incorrectly assumes that EverQuest Next needs what World of Warcraft has. Obviously we’re all MMORPG gamers and that means we want the same thing, right? Absolutely not! WoW players are WoW players. EverQuest players are EverQuest players. I have long since learned that they’re different audiences with different desires. Tailoring EQ Next for that WoW audience might get some main stream appeal but it will alienate the built in, extremely loyal and zealous, core audience. Guys like me want more EverQuest and a whole lot less WoW. We don’t need everything to go back to the way it was but we certainly don’t want the cheesy theme park.
SOE needs to recognize that the installed player base of EQ and EQ2 is unique and has been playing those games for a long time for a reason. That is the audience we are. Linda Carlson said it best at Dragon Con when she noted that EverQuest players would simply not accept a lot of the changes that are in EverQuest 2. EverQuest Next should shoot for a nice middle ground between the two games and unite us all! I for one will not accept EverQuest 3: WoW edition. Too much of that game bleeds wastefully into EverQuest 2 and it goes under-utilized(cough, battlegrounds).
World, world, world, world, world
Norrath is a world. That may sound like a stupid thing to say but a lot of MMORPGs these days release without a world. They have a string of areas put together to meet certain demands. It is like riding a roller coaster with little reason to deviate off your quest paths. Exploration is unnecessary and largely unrewarded. EverQuest was not like that. EverQuest 2 was originally not like that either! You could roam the lands and find good areas to slay monsters. You might wander into a dungeon or find some ancient ruins. Geographic curiosities were placed because they were cool and fun, not because they were for a quest. The sooner we return to that the better.
We need to return to EverQuest’s Norrath. Zones that are laid out in a logical, contiguous pattern with multiple ways to get around. I still don’t quite understand why “the hole” is a floating island in EverQuest 2. I don’t want to see any of the EverQuest 2 style “what ifs” in EQ Next. What happens when the Oasis of Marr is cut off from Norrath for centuries? I’ll tell you what. You get one of the worst expansions ever released (that is Desert of Flames for the uninitiated). Ask EQ2 players which zones are their favorites and you’ll quickly find them to be the ones where the EQ2 team simply redid the old zone as close as possible and added some twists. That is what I want. Take the original Norrath, rebuild it with a modern engine, and add just enough to make it different. That is all I want!
Open zones please
I understand why we uses instances. Instances mean a lot of players get to enjoy content without stepping on each other. I get it, we all do. Do we really need to instance EVERYTHING? Does every expansion need ten or more instance dungeons and one or zero open ones? This is an EverQuest product! Keep the instanced dungeons! Keep the instanced raids but for all that is holy give us LARGE open dungeons as well! The way EQ did and the way EverQuest 2 started! I loved Stormhold and Varsoons! I delighted in Permafrost and Cazic-Thule! All of those dungeons were absolutely brilliant! Why did we have to start going to fewer open dungeons per expansion? It doesn’t make sense. Put them out there, make the gear competitive to the instances and make grinding in them work! I harp on this a lot but honestly, Lower Guk as an instance? That is a disgrace!
Obviously I could go on forever with this list and I intend to! For the sake of the reader I’ll be breaking it up into parts. Part II should follow soon!