Why EverQuest Next is the evolution of MMORPGs


EverQuest Next is a thing. This past weekend at SOE Live 2013 in Las Vegas, NV, Sony Online Entertainment finally pulled back the curtain on their upcoming and highly anticipated MMORPG - EverQuest Next. Yes, they actually kept that as the name. I'm not convinced it makes sense to officially name the game that, seeing as how, you know, they will probably release another game in the series at some point down the road...but minor annoyances with naming conventions aside, essentially everything revealed that fateful Friday was something special.

Before you tell me I'm just buying into the hype, let me explain why a lot of what was said on stage and shown on screen that night really is worth getting excited about. Whether or not it turns out to be a "WoW-Killer" or not is ultimately irrelevant, because EverQuest Next isn't focused on taking down Blizzard's flagship property - SOE wants to redefine the genre and ascend to a new plane of MMO gaming existence. EverQuest Next is a real thing and it's the evolution of the MMORPG that we've all been waiting for.

The Issues with Current MMOs

If you've visited our site a time or two over the past year, you might have noticed one, or two, or three, or several of my articles about Guild Wars 2 - I really, really, liked that game a lot. In fact, I still do. Looking back, it wasn't a revolutionary entry in the MMO genre, but it definitely contributed a lot of fresh ideas that shook up some of the conventions that have become stale over the years. No longer was combat a rigid affair of swapping blows while anchored to the ground watching cooldown meters refill, no longer was every attack a lock-on ability and no longer were NPCs with exclamation points over their heads populating cities and countrysides - Guild Wars 2 truly changed those things. However, at the end of the day, the fundamental quest-driven architecture that defines the MMORPG stayed exactly the same. New innovations like auto-scaling zones brought on new issues, such as forcing your characters to always have the same level of difficulty throughout the entire game. Did you hit the level cap and venture back to your old stomping grounds outside Lion's Arch? Too bad, those level 20 Moa's are still going to put up a reasonable fight.

Guild Wars 2 is an incredible game, but it's not a true evolution of the genre. In fact, it's not the first game we all hoped would usher in a new era of MMOs. Several other games in recent years have carried that banner, only to hit a brick wall of anti-innovation once they finally released. Rift, TERA, Star Wars: The Old Republic and even Darkfall (for those that pay particularly close attention) have in some way, shape, or form tried to evolve the MMO. At the end of the day, however, we are still watching abilities cool down on our hotbars, we are still trudging through similar quest-lines on our mains and alts and our interfaces have remained largely unchained since the original EverQuest made the genre the massive pop culture phenomenon that it is today. The original EverQuest created the playing field and every game since then has merely remained within that same field of play, making minor alterations here and there - EverQuest Next aims to create a whole new field altogether.

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