Welcome to the Crystal Ball, MMOBomb’s new semi-regular column where we pontificate on what we’d like to see in an upcoming free-to-play MMO or what we’d like to see added to an existing one!

Today’s topic is EverQuest Next, Sony Online Entertainment’s next big thing, which John Smedley says will be “the largest sandbox style MMO ever designed” and “unlike anything you’ve ever seen.” Expectations FTW!

Skill > Level

Contrary to what some might believe, I don’t hate sandbox MMOs. What I “hate,” if anything, about most of them, is the notion that if you play longer, you automatically have an insurmountable advantage over someone who doesn’t. Beat me because you’re a better player? I can deal with that. Beat me because you’re level 50 and grinded out full sets of raid gear? Not so much.

Themepark-style MMOs have mostly managed to eliminate this kind of negative play experience, but sandbox devs still seem to think their players only like ganking underpowered noobs. A lot of them probably do, but as MMOs have matured, so has their audience, and I for one would rather be challenged on a slightly more balanced level.

Sony Online Entertainment undoubtedly wants EQN to be a “big” game, and it likely won’t get there by catering too heavily to the ultra-elite, 12-hours-a-day crowd. They’ll have to “soften” things a bit so a new player doesn’t get steamrolled 10 times in his first hour and quit the game forever.

SOE can use PlanetSide 2 as a template, where maxed-out players only have about a 20-25% numerical advantage over beginners. In a fair fight, two smart beginning players are more than a match for a totally certed-up character.

This isn’t to say experienced players won’t be better than noobs. Those players will know the terrain, the intracacies of the game system, and yes, have some numerical advantage. But I’d rather have fights be more dependent on skill – and maybe your allies – than on who’s better at grinding out numbers.

SWG-Style Crafting

This seems like almost a given. I never played Star Wars: Galaxies, but I’ve heard former players rave about the gathering and crafting. More than probably any other MMO, crafting required enormous skill and dedication, and master crafters were just as sought after as high-end raiders.

I like crafting in MMOs, but, even more than combat systems, they’ve started to all feel pretty much the same. It’ll be refreshing to get a chance to try something totally new – to me, at least – even if it’s just half as good as what the old SWG players have told me.


It sounds kinda generic to say, “I want it to look pretty,” but after spending too much – I mean, some – time in PlanetSide 2, I’m drooling over the possibility of how gorgeous EverQuest Next could be.

As nice as PS2‘s environments are, imagine what SOE’s artists could do with a mist-cloaked swamp brimming with undead or an active volcano or a verdant elven village or other terrain that’s more “fantastical” and less “realistic” than the continents of Auraxis.

Now if I could just figure out a way to import my PlanetSide 2 tank into EverQuest Next

Michael Dunaway has been part of the MMOBomb team for years and has covered practically every major Free-to-Play title since 2009. In addition to contributing First Look videos and news articles, Michael also serves as the Community Manager for the upcoming MMORPG, Skyforge.


  1. Mounted

    In all seriousness I’m interested t see how SOE handles trying to make a EQ sandbox mmo.As for all the hate towards the author,it’s unwarranted hate.You people hating on the author and the article are the exact ultra elite 12 hrs a day pricks mentioned.I have been playing mmos for years and I literally have played all but a few of the asian ones.Truth is both theme park and sandbox mmos are filled with vets doing nothing but ganking newbies.It’s a symptom of the mmo genre being filled with douche bags.All of whom think being elite means you get to be an a$$hole.

    I doubt any of the haters here would have written a better article.In fact if any of you really think you know better write a better article.Which none of you will,you’ll just keep whining and trashing on the author.Because the haters are nothing more then posers.Easy to criticize when you never tried to do the same thing yourself.And just because you might be the d*ck ganking the noobs and enjoy being a jerk,doesn’t mean other players are getting the same experience.And none of you a$$holes talking sh*t about the author are experts so stfu.

    To the author you did a decent job with the article,don’t let the trolls tell you otherwise.

    • The language you used makes YOU sound like the elitist, not the other way around. Notice how nobody else was using as much hateful language, and how when we did, it was only because it was true? If you have played as many MMOs as you say you have, you would know this.

      The point was not that it was a good or a bad article, but the fact that almost all of the article’s CONTENT was unfounded and untrue. The author simply didn’t know much about sandbox MMOs, and it appeared that he wasn’t very experienced in MMOs either.

      On a side, you calling people “d*cks” and “a$$holes” just makes you look like the scum that most decent gamers choose to avoid. You enforce this by going so far as to state your so-called extended career in MMO gaming. Who cares what games you played, everyone commenting here has most likely played their fair share of MMOs. I played everything from UO to Sony’s new Dragon’s Prophet, but did I mention? No, because I’m not some internet kid who thinks it actually matters to state that.

      So please, don’t comment again unless you can post something with even some criticism, not some rant calling people as many names as you could, just because your mommy wouldn’t let you as a little boy.

      • Nice note, I think pretty much everyone who frequents mmobomb or any other mmo websites played tons of mmos so I don’t think the amount is even worth bragging at all. The mmo markets booming for years already, so its getting very common with people.

  2. WTF is point of this article? Does author wants to have everything at the start and just go and explore map? And be bored at “end-game”? Did he/she ever played some newer MMO where in PVP you fight with people who have similar gear… Try some new MMO game. It’s like normal to go into PVP arena, game sets your level to be same as everyone rest and fun starts. I like to see my progress in game after I spent 6 months playing it and I enjoy things that I accomplish. I love when I level up my crafting skill and get better gear cause I worked for it in game!

    • As a player of EvE, I can definitely say that a sandbox game can have a sense of progression while still making it feel skill based and not completely reliant on progression and level.

      I’ve been playing for about 4 months and on the smaller scale (in terms of ships) if my skill as a player was better I would be able to compete with veterans easily. As it stands I am currently horrible at PvP which is a skill factor not a gear factor.

      • I just don’t want that everything is handed right away for players who just started to play, at least I don’t like that. I like to struggle at the begging and later enjoy my progress with better gear and overall knowledge of the game. But I also don’t like games where in 12 months time you can’t get best gear in game. Also, in most of MMO games skills is somehow related to gear you have (except P2W games). Cause in order to get good gear you had to play the game a lot and get experienced at what your character can and cannot do.

  3. Seriously… we need to start requiring authors to list their name before spewing rotten info all over the site.

  4. Also… You do realize Planetside 2 is a shooter, correct? It relies mostly on the aim of the shooter, not TAB-targeting. Even if PS2 had a bunch of “pay to win” overpowered guns, a player with immense skill could still beat out the competition. It happens all the time in other shooters that suffer from the pay to win disease.

  5. The person that wrote this article is a complete idiot. Theme-park MMOs enable players to have advantages over players playing less, not the other way around. Sandbox games don’t have much to do with raiding, if you’ve ever even played one. THEME-PARK MMOs have raiding, raidgear, and “Level 50’s”. I’m sorry bud, but at least play MMOs before you try to talk about them.

    “I never played SW:G”

    I mean, sounds like you’ve never played a sandbox game at all… Maybe Minecraft, just because ya jumped on the bandwagon.

    • I think what the author meant is (I am not the author) when you play a theme park MMO you always experience the content at your level until you reach max where you can then begin to compete for raid gear and such on a more balanced playing field. In a sandbox MMO there isn’t much in the way of “gating” so technically a new player can very well go out and immediately face more seasoned veterans who happen to be in the same areas as them since its an open world to explore.

      Sandbox MMOs can have raiding as well. I don’t see why they cannot and Everquest has been known in the past to have a huge raiding scene.

      • As much as I would like to believe you on most of what you said, spunk, I just can’t believe that the author of this article even plays MMOs to begin with. Every word he typed just screams “novice” in the journalism and gaming business. Believe me, I read this article a few times to see if I had read it wrong, but this guy really has no clue what he’s talking about.

        I also didn’t say sandbox MMOs DIDN’T have raiding, I’m saying, if it is a true sandbox, raiding is NOT a big part of it.

        • Why can’t raiding be a big part of it though? A sandbox MMO is all about choices. Choose to raid, choose to PvP, choose to build a house in the middle of nowhere, choose to dance naked on a mailbox.

          Regardless of whether a sandbox’s main focus is raiding or not, it’s ultimately up to the player how he chooses to experience his sandbox MMO. If he chooses to raid then it is a big part of it to that player.

          I honestly would love to have PvP intertwined with my raiding. Would remind me of old school open world WoW raids. Even better if players can be on similar grounds skill wise and I don’t have to worry about a tier 3 hunter one-shotting me.

        • big difference though you have to keep in mind. In an sandbox MMO getting gear is ridiculously more difficult since it doesn’t have your typical rep vendors, raiding etc. Also like most sandbox games you step outside of the safe zone and you’re ganked way too often and lose all of your hard earned gear setting you back many many hours or days. In a theme park there is no such thing as a set back, dying doesn’t remove equipment or progression.


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