Landmark: Why it's Worth Your Time





On May 14th, Sony Online Entertainment announced its sandbox, free-to-play MMORPG Landmark (Formally EverQuest Next Landmark) is now available on Steam Early Access. While this opens up an entirely new audience for the game, many of these people find themselves asking “What IS this?” If you find yourself in this position, these next few paragraphs are for you.
EQNL_Station Landmark is, first and foremost, a sandbox, next-generation, MMORPG. The game incorporates elements of gathering, exploration, and building beautiful or terrifying structures.  The objective is to create a game where you will be able to take your character through the depths of the world. In Landmark, you’re meant to explore vast oceans and dark, dank caverns to find ever rarer minerals to create ever more powerful items. In this world, you can design and create anything you can imagine!

By launch, Landmark aims to have a combat system, complete with swords and shields. It aims to have a progression system that leads the player through various levels of pickaxes, armor, bows, etc. And it aims to leave other games in the genre in the dust. However, SOE isn’t creating this game just to show “Fantasy-Word-Here-Craft” how it’s done. They are building the backbone for a much more ambitious project, EverQuest Next. This project looks like the most promising thing since Doom, however, the details of that game will be discussed in a future peice. 

Landmark is the foundation for EverQuest Next. It is a great game in its own right, but it also serves a higher purpose. When you embark on the journey on which Landmark strives to take you, you are building the MMO of tomorrow. 

When that afforementioned MMO, EverQuest Next, launches, Landmark will have been it's own game for awhile. SOE hasn't said anything about completely tying the two games together. There has been some talk about allowing building and creation in some way or another in EverQuest Next, however, Landmark will be entirely it's own game with a unique focus on building and exploration that Next will not have as much. Even if there is Landmark style building in EQN, we're not sure what kind of building tools will be available there. 

The building tools provided in Landmark are so much more sophisticated than simply stacking blocks. They are both simple and astonishingly powerful. As of now we have the Add Tool, to create objects, the Delete Tool, to remove them, the Heal Tool to bring the original render of the world back, the Select Tool, self-explanatory, the Paint Tool to replace the material used on a given voxel group, the Line Tool, which paves the way for arches and curves and everything in between and  finally there’s the smooth tool. The latter of which turns your terribly cubic spheres into beautiful … smooth ….. round … .....supple ….. wait … I’m getting off topic. Screw it here’s a picture:
[Any similarity to real world characters or objects is completely coincidental]
These tools come together to give the user the power to create perfect and completely surreal sets and structures. This is exactly what Sony wants. People have really built some amazing things with these tools already, and the contests should squeeze out even more creativity!

SOE has expressed their desire to build the world of EverQuest Next with the players. Their avenue to do so is Landmark. There have been many a mention of contests in relation to the stage of development they are in. For example, David Georgeson has said:

“For example, if we were building Feerrott, and we decided we needed a mad god’s temple, and we thought it’d be really cool if it had this big amphitheater, and a couple other widgets and things we thought would be necessary for gameplay. What we might do is release those specs to you and allow you guys to compete against each other to try to come up with the best one.”

Now I myself am not a builder, but after that last bit, I could have sworn I heard the collective pants-s**tting of every kid who ever played with Legos and wanted more. People who loved to make creations in various other voxel-based sandboxes will feel right at home here.

If building isn’t your thing, the closed beta may not be for you. Currently the Beta is essentially the gathering game combined with building and decorating. To builders, this is heaven. Right now is the closest you’re going to get to “Creative Mode.”

Landmark will eventually offer combat, item progression, enemies, lava, water, and all the hallmarks of games in the genre. At launch, it aims to be a game with danger perpetually threatening your claim if not handled properly, one where you work toward those cobalt armor peices by drudging through multiple teirs of underground cave systems glutted with enemies. We have no word on what the combat system will be like as of yet. With the third person view, I have to imagine it will work something like most current ARPG's. You click a button, it swings the sword or stabs the spear, and if the enemy happens to be in range of that spear, you land your hit! It's meant to be simple. However, if SOE has the guts to add bosses and unique weapons a la Terraria, this will surely be the one of the hilights of 2014. Imagine using your rocketboots to fly around these cave systems and a sword that emanates lethal waves of energy with each swing, raining hell on the enemies down below!

This is what the game could be, and what we hope it is. All this possible combat goodness, with the added benefit of being able to masterfully craft huge, elaborate structures in a matter of minutes. (something no other building game can offer right now) When combined with the ability to take part in creating from the ground floorn something as promising as EverQuest Next, this game, even as a stand-alone product, looks like it may be worth the hype. 









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