Keen over at Keen & Graev wrote up a quick post about his wishlist for EverQuest Next and it got me thinking about my absolute ideal experience for the game. As my top most anticipated game, it’s only natural that I have a few ideas for the feelings I hope it brings about within me and the kind of gameplay and world that I wish for.
I need to get the feeling that I’m simply too small to matter in the grand scheme of things, and no matter how hard anyone else tries they need to appear insignificant too. I want Norrath to always be the center of attention, not Bob the Gnome and his guild of 200 sycophants. I want to be overwhelmed. I want to be scared. I want Norrath to be so grand in scope that I can’t possibly comprehend the breadth of what’s out there.
This hits the nail squarely on the head for me. Modern MMOs are so focused on me being the hero, being the one who is bringing about major change to the world. Guild Wars 2 and The Secret World focus so much on my personal story and how I’m growing within the world. SWTOR was so story-driven with all the cutscenes and theme parky guided gameplay that I felt this sense of being a ‘hero’, someone that the other players and NPCs were supposed to be looking up to. WoW has me cleansing plagues and healing the world, especially in the Cataclysm expansion with all of the zone phasing. These games are all so obsessed with making me feel heroic as the player, which isn’t something that I actually want as a player.
My favorite feeling about EverQuest 1 was feeling that I was a tiny person in a huge giant sea of excitement. I remember the feeling that I could play for years and years and never experience the entire game. This had so many benefits to me as the player. It made me want to explore, made discovering new areas feel so epic. It made all the minor achievements that I accomplished (such as making my first usable item with Pottery) such a massive success for me. It made no conversation feel insignificant.
I don’t want a loot pinata. Games like WoW and RIFT and basically every game since 2007 attempt to motivate me to progress by a continual flow of upgrading my gear. Every quest requires some sort of equipment upgrade, making each one feel insignificant. I want acquiring new gear to feel like a milestone, like something truly exciting. I want to capture that feeling again of questing for weeks and weeks to finally get my epic weapon. I want that sense of pride when I manage to craft my own upgrade through a lengthy process. I want to uncover random named mobs on long spawn rates that might happen to have an upgrade for me, and if they don’t, they drop something special that I can sell to other players or give to a friend to make their day. Make quests give me a bit of XP and have them uncover more color to various stories, and that’s all the reward I need.
I want less instanced dungeons. Playing EQ2 is fun again because there are dungeons where you can run into other players and have social interactions. Instances have their place and I’m not saying EQN should do away with them completely (I think they’re great for casual players — in particular I love the concept of scaling or duoable dungeons a la RIFT) but the occasionally un-instanced dungeon would be exciting.
I want robust player housing like EverQuest 2 and RIFT. This is a huge draw to me. In fact there are many things about EQ2 that I absolutely would love to see make an appearance in EQN such as the mentoring system, player-created books and other forms of user generated content, conversation trees with NPCs, and profession classes. I am sure that SOE have all sorts of handy metrics to see which core features of EQ2 are used heavily and convert into better player retention or monetization, and hopefully it aligns with the reasons I love EQ2.
The sandbox idea is exciting to me. I want to forge my own path and go my own way (cue some Fleetwood Mac). Interestingly enough, the current state of WoW in Mists of Pandaria feels sort of sandboxy. There are so many options now for progression or gameplay that it feels like I have tons of choices. I could level through dungeons, or PvP, or do rated battlegrounds, or pet battle my way up to level 90, collect rares, hunt achievements, do archeology or other professions, explore, do the Brawler’s Guild, do LFR or LFD, quest, collect mounts, etc. and that’s the kind of experience I want in EQN. Perhaps not as “kitchen sink” but the feeling that I’m not being shuffled through a narrow hallway going from checkpoint to checkpoint, not having the game spoonfeed the experience to me, but allowing me to truly ‘play’ and ‘create’ and ‘explore’. I play MMOs instead of single player RPGs because I love the feeling of being small and having a massive world to uncover and so far the only game that’s captured that for me has been EQ1.
What about you?