Like many other MMO bloggers and players and longtime EverQuest fans, I am playing Landmark a bit. Not quite as much as others because I’m gearing up for the biggest exam of my life (real estate license) and life is crazy right now….but enough that I’ve formed some early thoughts on the experience thus far.
I was lucky enough to be able to attend the Year of EverQuest event last Friday at the SOE headquarters here in San Diego. It was a neat event with a ton of fans of the franchise coming together in excitement to get their hands on Landmark almost 8 hours before the rest of the alpha testers were let in. It was a fun experience. We were separated into groups (which made the size manageable) and we received a live demo from Eric Smith, Associate Producer for Everquest Next. After showing us the tools, we all went into a room with some beastly PC setups and were set free for about 15 minutes. I wasn’t allowed to take pictures while I was in there, but I made some silly happy face while I familiarized myself with the tools. The first time my pickaxe sunk into the ground I thought “wow” as I watched the terrain change. It has a feel to it that no experience I have played before has given me — a real almost tactile feel to forging your way into the earth in a 3D world. Immensely powerful.
Friday night I gained my own alpha access and tried to play for a bit, but the login servers and platform were plagued with load and I decided not to fight with it. I tried to roam around but had a lot of rubber banding and loading issues that prevented me from enjoying the game that night. Unfortunately, I didn’t take screenshots either because I figured the NDA would be hovering around for awhile. Oh well.
I’ve been spending a lot of my time harvesting. This game requires a. ton. of. harvesting. To be completely honest, it’s too much for me. But I do not fall into the segment of players who will find most of my enjoyment in Landmark by building. I am definitely the explorer type in sandbox games. My time in Second Life was almost 100% spent on running around and admiring other people’s creations. I think it’s fascinating to see what others can make. However, I want to get a feel for how difficult the crafting is so that I can appreciate other players’ handiwork even more — which is why I’ve decided to try gathering and building a bit for comparison’s sake. I have a claim now on the Dome world on the Serenity server, and I was fortunate that it’s not too far away from the spires so I can easily teleport to different worlds for my exploring fix.
Here’s my few early thoughts in no specific order:
Holy fuck this team is working hard – Some serious kudos are in order to the team working long hours and all weekend long getting this game in the shape required for proper alpha testing. The amount of communication has been staggering, and Keen summed this up nicely. If this is the face of the new SOE — I’m all for it. I think separating community engagement work and delegating it to a community team is actually detrimental in the long term to both the player base and the development team, so it’s great to see this collaboration from SOE and the amazing benefits it’s bringing to the community.
Holy fuck there is a lot of gathering required – I know they’re tuning this. It will be interesting to see where this goes. There are a ton of players who feel that it’s wayyyy too grindy to get started. On the flip side, there are a ton of old skool players fighting the idea of ‘dumbing it down’. Then again, these players are saying they don’t want maps and they don’t want any helpful modern quality of life features in the game too so….here’s hoping SOE don’t cater to the niche players who are stuck in the past. Who knows.
The world is pretty, but could use more saturation – It’s my same complaint with Planetside 2. The environment is glorious and wonderful but these games both feel like the gamma is up too high, like things are washed out. I’m not talking WoW level of cartoon colors, but some Guild Wars 2/FFXIV type of deep color palette would lend wonders to this world I think.
The creativity is near limitless – I can’t build shit. But other people are already making amazing stuff. I watched a guy stream today and he is building a fantastic airship that is intricate and gorgeous. I’ve seen some carvings into the side of mountains that blew my mind. And it’s early AND there have been a couple of server wipes — so imagine what some time and effort will do. I’m excited to be a tourist of this new world.
There is some amazing potential here – I think SOE have a huge undertaking on their hands. Landmark could very well be fleshed out into a full-featured product with a 100+ dev team and countless ways to monetize and grow it. However, they’re also trying to make a full MMO as well using this technology and assets in EQ Next. I can’t wait to see how this works out in the end. I could see the team being derailed by Landmark’s success, and that wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing. If it buys more time for EQ Next while also keeping SOE above water to support all their games, I support all efforts going toward Landmark if it’s what it takes. There really is something special in there, even now with the amount of early understandable bugs. I’m super stoked to see where this all goes.
Other good stuff – Avatars look nice and their animations are great. The world is detailed and beautiful. The amount of different types of building resources and tools are adequate to make some amazing things. Mining feels great. Chopping down trees is fun and relaxing. Great that we can chat with other people and that we’re not tied down to a server.
All in all, I’m really excited to dig in more and see what Landmark will offer. So far, so good.