EverQuest 3: Largest Sandbox Ever Designed

EverQuest Ruins of Kunark Art

The news coming out of SOE Live has my hands shaking as I write this post.   John Smedley, President of SOE, has dropped a huge announcement that will interest those of you who, like me, live for the glory days of MMORPG’s and EverQuest.  Apparently, what SOE had in the works for EverQuest Next isn’t the direction they’re going to take the game.  It was originally going to be just the ‘next’ EQ, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but now it is going to be much, much more exciting.  Here’s what he had to say:

“I have to be honest with you. We have completely blown up the design of EverQuest Next. For the last year and a half we have been working on something we are not ready to show. Why did we blow up the design? The design was evolutionary. It was EverQuest III. It was something that was slightly better that what had come before it. It was slightly better. What we are building is something that we will be very proud to call EverQuest. It will be the largest sandbox style MMO ever designed. The same exciting content delivered in a new way. Something you’ve never seen before. The MMO world has never seen before. We didn’t want more Kill 10 Rats quests. We didn’t want more of the same. If you look at the MMOs out there, they’re delivering the same content over and over again. So are we. We need to change that. When we released EverQuest, we changed the world. We want to do that again with a different type of game.

What I will commit to is, at the next Fan Faire, not only will you get to see it but you will get to touch it. Most of the EQNext devs are in this room. If you get them drunk enough they might tell you. They’re led by Dave Georgeson. Terry Michaels. Vets from EQ and EQ2. We are remaking Norrath unlike anything you’ve ever seen, but you’ll recognize it. I’m sorry we don’t have anything to show for it, but I wanted to be honest with you and tell you a little bit about it. Keep the faith.” – EQ2Wire.com

I know there isn’t any reason to believe that this will be some messianic MMO release.  I know it’s coming from John Smedley.  I know there isn’t any tangible reason for me to be excited, but I have to put my faith in something.  I have to believe that some company out there has the capital, the desire, and the talent to take what I love about EverQuest and the sandbox genre and combine into one game.  Why can’t that company be SOE?  I know there’s about 100 things wrong with that last sentence, but I’m at the point where I have to sit back and realize that beggars can’t be choosers.

I’m excited to think about all the ways that EverQuest ‘Next’ (are we still calling it that?) can transition from what I have thought of as pseudo-sandbox to a full sandbox experience.  There are opportunities to revive open-world dungeons, player dependence, and the scope of a virtual world to just name a few.

However, I am going to hold John Smedley to every last oozing drop of hyperbole.

  • Wow. I lost my teenage years to EQ (thanks Greg :P), but couldn’t get into EQ2, not with WoW and GW being so awesome (plus, real life). But I do loves me a good sandbox! Here’s hoping (against hope?) that SOE pulls something amazing out of their rears

    Thanks for the heads up!

  • “The design was evolutionary.”

    I have never heard anyone say that before about their upcoming game, so I guess it must be true… 😉

  • Will believe they’ve actually got the guts when they show what they’re holding next year. There really should be a spot for a game like this in the marketplace, but nothing about SOE’s efforts to date suggests it’s a direction they are willing to go in – look at how much effort they’re spending on the misguided attempt to make Vanguard more theme-parky for F2P.

  • Just another hype machine that will end up failing somehow. 1001 ways they will find to ruin this. MMO’s are finished folks.

  • Well the timing could be good. WoW’s numbers are declining, and its pretty clear that the next big thing hasn’t come yet. Many People thought that SWTOR would be it, but clearly people don’t want more of the same, showned by the pretty massive failure it had. There are tons of themepark MMO’s out there, and most of them are pretty good theme park MMO’s, but it seems impossible to make one that can rival WoW in any way.

    SOE are not stupid, they wanna make money, and I think they can see the patern with recent themepark MMO’s, thats why I think now would be a good time to bet on something different, a sandbox MMO. So I feel this might actually be different, and not just empty talk.

    Another bet i’m willing to make, is that its gonna be F2P from the start, or, maybe have a box price, but then F2P, like GW2, or planetside.

    I think developers are realising that most people dont subscribe for more than a couple of months anyway, a better and faster way of getting money is selling a load of stuff like GW2 shop, sell all matters of cosmetics, xp boosts, key’s to loot crates, stuff like that.

    If you absolutly want to you can have some “Elite member” subscribtion, where you get some extra stuff for the usual 15 bucks a month

  • Sounds good. I like the statements “It will be the largest sandbox style MMO ever designed” and “We didn’t want more Kill 10 Rats quests”. I’ll definitely be keeping my eye out for it being a EQ vet myself.

  • As much as this excites me, everybody has disappointed me so much over the last decade that I find it hard to believe. Oh I’m sure it will be a giant sandbox, but the rest I have my doubts about.

  • They say this now but in the beta test when everyone whines that it’s not everquest 3 they will scale back and the revolutionary abilites will be over.

  • Never again will I get hyped for a game before there is even beta footage out.
    They are just theory and ideas. I can not play those.

    In other words… Show me the game.

    The kill 10 rats quests should have been dumped a long time ago.
    Some Korean grinder style games think we like this idea and put up quests like kill 4000 of these.. ugh.

  • “We have this amazing thing, and it is revolutionary, and it gives you freedom, and it blows away the competition!!”

    “Show me?”

    “Oh… ahhh… yea about that, we don’t actually HAVE anything to show you at present. But believe me! It is going to be AMAZING!”


  • I’m not willing to throw the whole genre under the bus quite yet like my old friend Iduna but NO WAY do I ever let bullshit hype like this get me excited about a game after getting violated by SWtOR.

    “Why can’t that company be SOE?”

    It’s like we’re tied up in the basement, bent over with out short around our ankles. . .it’s SOE’s turn, maybe this time I’ll enjoy it. . .

  • I wouldnt trust SOE for nothing. Heavens forbid they did actually manage to do this, then I would be super excited……………IF they move away from any forced grouping, or FFA PvP systems. Cause I’ll tell you right now, the game could be the savior to the genre but if it contains any of those 2 elements of old school sandboxes, I will never even bother to look in its direction.

    Sandbox can be attained without having forced grouping, or non consentual PvP.

  • After the disappointment that has been Guild Wars 2 we need something new to look forward to, may as well be this one.

  • I suppose it is so like you Keen to, even at this late a date, with so many reasons not to, get hyped for another MMO.

    And so soon too, before there is even footage.

    You’re setting yourself up for a long few years of excitement followed by a short few months ending in disappointment…

  • Planetside 2 does not seem to be that bad of a game. And very few companies are willing to build a giant PvP oriented MMO FPS.

  • @Tristan – I only have two gripes about GW2. Social (communication between multiple guilds, Looking for Group search, offline notes for guild members, details of a guild or friend member’s whereabouts), Bots (spam has been squashed to where I don’t think I’ve gotten anything in a week) just get rid of the bots in PvE and I’m happy there.

    Currently, the KGC guild is practically empty with 2 leaders that barely/never sign on. I haven’t moved on because we’ve still got a hand full of decent people signing in every once in a while and they actually talk in guild chat. If I could see KGC guild chat and another guilds, I would have already moved on.

    Until I get more social interaction, yes it is a disappointment, but the game itself is great.

  • Haha Ilk believe me I’d love to see a true sandbox mmo again, but I’ve lost all faith it will happen ever again unfortunately.

  • The only thing that really gave me a lot of excitement, was the whole notion of not doing “more of the same” as previous posters have mentioned, the failure of SWTOR really has shown the genre that we are finally tired of the same old themeparks over and over. Being a Pre-CU SWG fanatic, i definitely will welcome any well made sandbox.

    My problem with the MMO genre now, is there are 2 extremes, games either follow the blueprint made by Blizzard and are deemed a “WoW clone” and never do well, b/c at the end of the day it’s a business, and i guess they’re afraid to experiment, so they figure they’ll make money if they follow the status quo.
    They do the total opposite and make a pure sandbox, that only had player made content, and absolutely no endgame past that, such as raids, instanced pvp, etc. I’ve been saying it for years but the first game that offers a themepark style endgame myriad of options as previously mentioned, but also caters and accommodates sandbox lovers, who want nothing of that, (The world in which you play is key here, has to be made to cater to this genre) assuming it’s polished and well made, will rule the genre, period.
    Despite recently canceling my sub, b/c i simply don’t have the time, RIFT has been slowly but surely trying to do this, release content insanely quick, but also constantly releasing new game modes, ways to level, ways to group, etc, all in line with something a sand box game would do, the only problem is, the world was initially made for a themepark, which would explain why in the upcoming expansion they’re literally tripling the size, does this mean they’re going to have a ridiculous amount of free space for exploration, which most Sandboxes have? Who knows, but it does seem to go in line with what direction they’re going a “blend” of the two styles, i believe this is the future of the MMO.

  • I’m not holding my breath due to a combination of things.

    First, MMO’s have become a very stale genre where each new game claims some new bold thing, but fails in the other important aspects. So, the new thing may be great, but who cares if the other aspects are merely subpar?

    Second, it’s SOE. Until I see a beta with all the great things in it, and how big the world is… I will not believe them.

    Third… it’s probably 3 years away from release. MMO’s could be dead by then with the current trend.

  • He did say it would be playable next year at SOE Live. That’s a far cry from being ready to release, but it’s something.

  • Thanks for putting this on the radar for us Keen. When it gets closer maybe we will be able to tell if it is just a flock of geese or DEFCON 1.

  • I wonder it is related to the issues with the rest of sony(deeeep shit level). Perhaps directive came from on high to go for broke? Could be it I think. One of the common wisdoms floating around is that Sony only chance is to identify fe potential break through products that can be brought to market in couple years time.

  • Now all SOE has to do is saying something in the lines of “carry over your EQ2 stuff” and bam, everyone is suddenly playing EQ2 like crazy 😉 . Even if they do take 3 years with this, if they pull the same stunt that Arenanet did, i can see EQ2 seeing some sort of revival. I bet GW1 had the same thing…

  • I wonder if they just came to conclusion they are only going to get a few hundred thousand retention rate anyways might as well make a sand box game and see if it can be higher.

    I think all the games that have launched in the past 5 years, with hype machines behind them trying to emulate WoW, could have easily launch as sandboxes and done just as well. Retention might of even been higher.

    If you kick WoW out of the standings almost every game has seen similar sales and retention as MMOs from the first generation. Many have seen worse.

  • Just curious, Archage seems to cover all the items you want to see in a game and it’s actually up and running with an alpha (beta maybe?) and videos everywhere. Why no excitement over that game?

  • I’ve posted a lot about ArcheAge before. I am definitely excited for it. However, there are currently no definitive plans for it to release in the U.S. It’s hard to get too excited when it’s not a sure thing. It’s also being made by a dev team from Asia, and I often find that it’s hard for me to enjoy those games.

  • I think ‘sandbox’ MMO’s are niche games.

    Whether or not SOE is willing to bankroll one of these remains to be seen.
    I don’t know if they’re the kind of company to deal with a pure, community driven game world.

    You just have to look at EVE to see what that ends up looking like. It’s amazing, deep but utterly brutal and unforgiving. There’s a reason why they’re struggling to grow their player base base the small ‘hardcore’ crowd.

    EVE is impossible to play in any ‘casual’ sense. You either turn it into a lifestyle, or don’t bother.

    Not saying there isn’t a market, but it’ll be interesting to see how large that market actually is. Good luck to them. The genre needs something to shake it out of the doldrums.

  • @Anon:

    I have always thought of sandbox games as niche games also, but perhaps that is because they haven’t been marketed properly to a larger audience? SOE has the money if they choose to try it.

  • Two things:
    1) EQ1 never was a “sandbox”. It’s the precursor, the grandfather of theme park MMORPGs, which resulted in WoW and clones.
    2) It’s SOE… so I won’t believe a word until I see it myself. What they call “sandbox” will most likely just be marketing hype, and end being another EQ/EQ2/WoW clone game.

  • You’re excited about EQ Next being the “Largest Sandbox Ever”? That was the most disappointing thing I’ve heard about EQ Next. EQ Next just went from my must play list to my who gives a shit list. Sandbox = no direction, no story, no compelling characters, etc… There is no doubt that EQ Next as the “Largest Sandbox Ever” is just going to be centered around an extended/enhanced version of Player Studio where the content is made by players instead of game designers and I see it just turning into and EverQuest themed Second Life.

    I was excited about EQ Next when those original screen shots came out. This announcement just tells me that I will have absolutely *zero* interest in this game.

  • First reaction: Smedley and honest dont belong on the same planet, nevermind same context.

    Second reaction: S.O.E.

    Third reaction: How much will be the mandatory cash shop per month ONTOP of the sub ONTOP of the purchase price?

    Fourth reaction: OK, Fine. Let’s wait for a release and see what it looks like. The wait will be longer than I can survive without oxygen so I’m not holding my breath.

    (sidenote: There are only about only half a million MMOs with “direction, story and compelling characters” out there, so yeah, take your pick)

  • @Keen: “However, I am going to hold John Smedley to every last oozing drop of hyperbole”

    Webcam or it dint happen 😛

  • I’ll believe it when I see it. As mentioned earlier, SOE’s definition of “sandbox” is probably very different from our definition.

  • Tristan said ….

    “After the disappointment that has been Guild Wars 2 we need something new to look forward to, may as well be this one.”

    More accurately, SOE ‘blowing up’ their model and perhaps starting from scratch is largely driven by the undeniable success of GW2 and how that game broke so many conventional MMO molds. SOE is scrambling and good thing they are because the masses are tired of the “same ol'” with a different face ala SWTOR …

  • I’d be happy with a predominantly single player game for pc. I want to visit all of the EQ I universe to date, and recognize it. Have support for up to 6 players co-op, some sort of arena modes to support even bigger numbers. It’s just such a wonderfully fleshed out universe, I’d like to go back there, but in full 2012-2014 style. In the meantime, I’m about to revisit old haunts with EQ f2p. I’ll admit, titles like skyrim and its massive modding community has me really feeling spoiled. Hey, that’s another direction too.


  • Hope it will be as good as they’ve hyped it. I think SOE are one of the few companies who could well pull off something like this, just look at how good EQ and EQ2 were when they “first” came out! Sadly, flip side of the coin is if anyone can self – implode and destroy something so great in spectacular fashion SOE has to be right up there at the top as well! Doh!!

    But for those of you getting your knickers in a twist as to SOE not releasing any trailers or information, settle petal(s)! Why should or would they? They’ll be spending millions of $$$ so why leak any ground breaking material? You’ll have all the other major competitors jumping on the band wagon, maybe get in there first and SOE will have lost all their hard work on getting half a year to several years ahead of everyone else!!

  • doesnt anyone remember Dark age of Camelot? that game had everything i loved, then everyone went to wow cause it was new and different, if people went back to DAoC then i would go back myself cause the game is no fun with only a handful of people, it needs the numbers it used to have back in the 90’s as for every other game i find the whole 2 sides thingkind of boring there isnt any element of surprise, not like when theres 3 sides and you could be battle one side and all of a sudden that third side comes charging in from your side cause all hell to break loose, i used to love that in bg’s in DaoC bring back the 3 sides with great content maybe mix mythic’s pvp with say blizzards pve… i think something magic could happen.

  • @xenovore

    It depends what you mean with “our definition of sandbox” because I don’t think there is a common one. I would like EQ Next to become some sort EverQuest (difficulty) + SWG (crafting, housing and non combat classes) + Xsyon (freedom to change the world) with an Focus on cooperative PvE rather than the ganking and griefing PvP we have in Darkfall, the competitive PvP with some grief play we have at ArcheAge, or the hardcore PvP with permadeth that WoD seams to aim for. There maybe few PvP Sandboxes, but there are no PvE Sandboxes with a little PvP. And EverQuest always was all about PvE.

    Are there any EQ Next fansites out there? I am looking for a community page, but only could find http://www.everquestnext.com (which seams to be abandoned) and http://www.everquestnext.de (which is actual, but seams to be German).