“Landmark started out as a way to build Norrath together with fans”, Director of Development Dave Georgeson told fans during the Landmark keynote speech Friday morning at SOE Live 2014. What players have seen so far is “just the starting point.” And on Aug. 27, we’ll all get to see the next step of Landmark development.
On the 27th, the Landmark multiverse will become a much more dangerous place. Damage will be implemented, and players will have an armor — which regenerates itself over time like in many shooter titles — and health, as well as a limited energy reserve to power their abilities. Those abilities will include things players are used to and have already crafted, like grappling hooks, but there will also be a whole lot more.
Weapons and armor are whole new classes of crafted (and found) items. Each weapon has a basic, left-click attack and a special, right-click attack. For instance, the Soldier’s Blade’s left-click attack is your standard slash (which can destroy blocks placed in the world), while right-click is the Rush ability, which closes in quickly on a foe and also staggers them. The mage-type Conjurer’s Staff has a Gravity Bubble special attack, which slows enemies in an AOE and the Marksman’s Bow has Sniper’s Mark, which increases damage taken and also staggers. Your hotbar lets you swap between weapon sets; abilities aren’t tied to the hotbar.
Armor offers more passive effects, such as increasing attack range (for light-type armor), reducing energy costs for movement (for medium armor), or better regen (for heavy armor).
And why do players need all this armament? Because monsters are coming to Landmark! The first batch will be a mostly stationary lot, like the infamous chomper and a mushroom that explodes, but Senior Producer Terry Michaels assured me that more mobile hazards were in the works. Oh, and falling damage? Yeah, that’ll be in the update on the 27th, too. Watch your step.
Meanwhile, within your claim, players will have lots of new toys to play with. Teleporters let you set up two pads and, well, teleport between them. Flingers consist of a launch point and a target, letting you zip across your claim in style. (Think of the rings in PlanetSide 2.) And for moving platforms, you set up a start and end point and a handy section of flooring conveys you from one to the other — even if they’re at different heights.
While in your keep, you can set up PvP battles with one of three (for now) modes: Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, and Capture & Hold. Set up objectives and spawn points and have a go at it with friends! Right now, the only rewards will be leaderboards and bragging rights, but Michaels assured me that they were going to work with fans to determine what kind of actual loot players can win with their in-game scuffles.
One thing that Landmark won’t be is a typical MMO in terms of progression. “That’s what we’re aiming for in Landmark,” Michaels said. “Not the leveling progression you see in other MMOs, but more of the breadth of collecting the items and armor and things like that to create the play style you’re really interested in.”
There won’t be traditional endgame either — at least not one developed by SOE. “When we put in the game-mastering tools, and people are able to create content, you’re going to be able to play through that and have scenarios and quests and storylines that players have created. You’ll be able to play through that and get rewards, just like you do with everything else in the game.”
There’s still a lot of work to be done on Landmark, but many of the basics are there, or will be later this month. As for when it’ll be “finished,” Michaels was understandably a little non-precise — not so much because he was being intentionally evasive, but because, the way SOE does things, you can never quite be sure when some new idea will come up.
“Doing it in such a collaborative, interactive way with our community, we never know when the good ideas are going to stop, and we want to put every good idea we can into the game. We’ll make a call at some time when we think it’s ‘complete enough’ to move to an open game, and then we’ll move out of closed beta, but until then, we’re taking the feedback from the players and we’re integrating it in so that the game we’re making is as amazing as it can be.”