After a year of mostly silence, SOE finally opened up about EverQuest Next, and it looks and sounds better than ever. In addition to the keynote speech, I also sat in on seminars about classes and content, as well as getting a few minutes with Senior Producer Terry Michaels. Here’s my take on classes; we’ll cover the content in a later article.
As you might have seen in the keynote, the cleric, elementalist, and tempest were shown off, adding to the warrior and wizard that were demoed at least year’s SOE Live. As you’d expect, the cleric is a buffing/healing class, but he doesn’t just sit in the back looking at health bars. He takes a more active role in supporting his teammates, charging into battle and fighting alongside his allies.
The elementalist is what you’d expect in a fire/frost-styled mage, fighting from a distance and slowing the enemies’ rush. One cool thing he can do is freeze the ground, which isn’t just a texture like you see in most MMOs. Because EQN’s world is voxel-based, this actually changes the ground, making it more brittle, so a class with a “ground pound” ability can then smash through it and take the battle literally to a whole new level.
My favorite, though, had to be the tempest, which Director of Development Dave Georgeson likened to a “druid assassin.” A heavily movement-based class, the tempest can change her body into lightning to dash around the battlefield, striking down single targets or multiple foes with her cyclone attack.
I got a few more details in the class-specific seminar. Each class has an origin for its powers and a manifestation (may not have been the exact term – sorry, working a little from memory here). An origin can be “martial” or “divine” or “nature” and represents the source of a classes powers. The manifestation represents the effects the power has in the world. These can be “radiant” or “lightning” or “fire.” There were six origins and seven manifestations.
For example, the tempest’s primary powers are nature/lightning, as she derives her powers from nature and manifests them as lightning. These keywords play a major part in how powers work together. For instance, the tempest might have a passive ability that says, “When you use a lightning skill, regenerate 5% of your armor.” The keyword system strikes me as very CCG-like, and should seem sensible to any player of Magic: The Gathering or Hearthstone. You’ll have active and passive abilities, and they’ll both have these kinds of effects.
As you’ve probably gathered, players will be able to accumulate multiple classes per character. So how will you switch between, say, your warrior set-up and your tempest loadout? Pretty easily, it turns out.
“I don’t think that we’re going to want you to be able to switch classes mid-combat,” Michaels told me. “But outside of combat, we’ll make it really easy. We don’t want to make it the sort of thing where you have to go back to town visit somebody… it’s really just going to be one of those things where we have to balance it with how the combat feels and acts.”
As for acquiring the classes, that’ll come about naturally. As Georgeson said in his keynote, you’ll start off with a class – say, warrior – and soon come across someone who needs your help. After a series of adventures, that NPC might decide you’re cool enough to train as a wizard. And blam! “Yer a wizzerd, ‘Arry!” OK, maybe it won’t be that easy, but that’s the general idea.
With 40 classes in EverQuest Next, and hundreds of, if not a thousand or more, powers, there should be no end to the ways you can make your character and break your opponents – not to mention the world itself!