Esportsify wants to make the business of eSports easier

This is what a 100-player game of Galactic Civilizations 3 looks like

Now that's a reveal: Capcom are making a Resident Evil: Revelations 2

Landmark

Everquest Next Landmark first impressions: building an empire

Everquest Next Landmark: a corporate take on the sandbox.

At the moment, £30 will get you a little flag to plant in Everquest Next Landmark, but it takes good fortune and a lot of walking to find somewhere worth sticking it. This is not Minecraft, where a whole server will happily be your oyster. It's not due to be Minecraft, as awesome as Sony's demos where people just fly around and build cool things without a care in the world have been. For all its frontier aspirations, this is a corporate take on the sandbox, up to and including planning to charge upkeep on your sandcastles. Summed up in a sentence or two, Minecraft was a game that started as a toy and exploded into a phenomenon with the force of exactly seventeen neutron bombs. Landmark was built to be part of an empire.

The most notable part of that is that it's not your world that you're stepping into, but shared islands on fixed servers that right now have almost entirely been claimed by other people. New servers have and can be added, easing that pressure, but simply finding a good spot to start building isn't guaranteed. Once you have, you've still got to find building materials, not all of which are going to be available anywhere around you, and unsurprisingly you aren't allowed to go hacking away in neighbour's claims just because they have a tempting patch of gold you want to make a roof of. Ultimately, there'll be monsters to fight and trading to be done, and people who do nothing but track down rare minerals and create templates for other players to buy and integrate into their own designs. There'll be an economy, and guilds with epic builds, and all kinds of stuff. Hopefully it'll end up being cool, allowing for both the stickiness Sony needs, and the satisfaction of working hard to make something great.

For now though, Landmark is mostly, well, kind of a buzzkill.

The thing is that as much as Sony no doubt salivates over ways to keep players coming back and devoting months on end to big projects, everything it does beyond Landmark's tools are ways to keep you away from using them to the full. And make no mistake, Landmark's tools are amazing. Staggeringly good in fact, making Minecraft look even more like a Lego set, and in theory at least allowing for almost anything to be created (visually at least; it currently lacks redstone and other functional blocks to breathe life and motion into them). Within the boundaries of your claim, you are God, obliterating the landscape by pointing where you want the big hole to be, to the point of decapitating mountains and hollowing them out in seconds.

The construction side is every bit as good as promised, offering both straight-up building with blocks in Minecraft style, and slightly more controlled 3D modelling tools that allow the mousewheel to rotate, transform and scale static blocks on any axis. You can have smooth slopes. You can build with spheres. You can punch spheres out of smooth slopes if you like, with a wide variety of material types to make everything look right and the option to add polygonal props that wouldn't be possible to carve out using even the smallest block type. Mistakes can be undone as easily as fixing a typo in a word processor, and while they do have to be crafted for frankly no good reason, advanced tools make it easy to lay down walls and copy and paste complicated architecture to both create templates and simplify big builds.

They're great, exactly as good as Sony promised, allowing any player to put a unique stamp on their slice of the world and hinting at great things for Everquest Next proper. Building is joyful and as full of potential as a sheet of paper. A sheet of paper with god rays and huge vistas and characters flipping around on grappling hooks, yes, but you get the point.

The catch is that almost immediately, Landmark starts throwing up reminders that to create that really awesome winged tower you have in mind for the top of your hill, you'll need a winged tower's worth of stone. More, probably, if you're after good looking stone, to say nothing of other materials that won't be on your map, never mind in your domain - a tiered system controlling where things spawn.If you want something fancy, you've got to acquire it. That includes both tracking it down, and painstakingly crafting the gear required to mine and harvest it in a way that's less lucking into the right components as grinding insane amounts of them. A basic bronze pick for instance requires several trees worth of wood, a bag of tourmaline, a ton of tin, more wood in plank form, and amusingly no actual bronze - except that which can be made from melting down your previous copper pick, because screw you, geology is greedy.

Now, you may think all that is perfectly reasonable. It's a valid design choice, and definitely makes Landmark more of a game. However, playing Landmark in its current form and watching the videos of Sony employees in their special unlimited version of it makes for a sombre comparison that's simply not in the alpha's favour. They get a world of infinite possibilities. We get told that we're out of stone and that our pickaxe is shit. (And yes, that includes the special one handed out by buying into the game. It is a glowy piece of poop.) Later on, Landmark is going to demand even more time to get into the cool stuff. In alpha for instance, everyone gets a free claim flag. In the future, that will have to be earned.

All this obviously makes sense in terms of the F2P model and building a structured experience, and it could well turn into an awesome mix of survival, crafting and team-work without the hostility of something like Rust or the parochial feel of a personal Minecraft server. For now though, those bits aren't there, and the tools that are cry out... scream, really... for Minecraft's Creative Mode freedom, rather than rules and game mechanics that actively make creativity the resource grind's bitch. The ideal middle ground would seem to be letting players and groups pay to have their own pocket dimensions to which they can allow tourists access if they want, but essentially build at will, with more casual players staking claims in the regular worlds of Sony's more structured MMO. That may or may not happen. Unless it does though, Minecraft has little to worry about in the 'let's build Westeros' stakes.

For now though, it's at least clear that both Landmark and Everquest Next proper are built on tools worthy of their hype and with much potential. To really see what they're going to become however is going to take some more time, and with a cheaper $20/£14 beta buy-in currently due for the end of March, you're probably better off waiting a little longer to see if Sony's idea of what Landmark should be is close to the one in your head after its demos.

Login or Register
2
+2
-0
Shriven's picture
1390

One to keep an eye on for sure.

Also, Rich Cobbertt, more please. Bring Crapshoot here!

3
+3
-0
Reikhardt's picture
12

Agreed, Mr Cobbett is truly one of the finest PC Gaming Journalists around at the moment.

1
+1
-0
RichardC's picture
1

Aw, thanks so much, guys :-)

1
+1
-0
Oktober Storm's picture
25

What's the point to these buildings? I wouldn't grind together all those materials if I can't use it for anything but showing off my amateur architectural skills.

1
+1
-0
Jyve's picture
1

Meh. It's Alpha.

Odd to see a big company release a game this early in development, looking forward to having input on getting things tweaked.

Considering it's only been running for a week, I've been really impressed. The big issues (resource gathering) appear to be in the middle of being addressed.

Been amazing seeing what people have constructed already. The eqnext subreddit has stunning works of art already, from only a few days of playing.

But...

yeah, it's Alpha, pre-beta. Still a long ways to go yet!

Alienware - Game VictoriousNvidia Shield - Titanfall
Esportsify wants to make the business of eSports easier

Esports

Esportsify wants to make the business of eSports easier

This is what a 100-player game of Galactic Civilizations 3 looks like

This is what a 100-player game of Galactic Civilizations 3 looks like

Now that's a reveal: Capcom are making a Resident Evil: Revelations 2

Now that's a reveal: Capcom are making a Resident Evil: Revelations 2

Korea's game rating board halts microtransactions in all Facebook games

Korea's game rating board halts microtransactions in all Facebook games

Riot's plan to ensure relegated LCS teams

Riot's plan to ensure relegated LCS teams "don't just disappear from the business"

Ataarrghi: Alone in the Dark and Haunted House reboots due on PC this Autumn

Ataarrghi: Alone in the Dark and Haunted House reboots due on PC this Autumn

EA are giving Shadow Realm’s team “the ability to fail”

Shadow Realms

EA are giving Shadow Realm’s team “the ability to fail”

Ubisoft will release three open-world games in the space of eight days

Ubisoft will release three open-world games in the space of eight days

Blizzard plan to still be working on Hearthstone in ten years' time

Blizzard plan to still be working on Hearthstone in ten years' time

You can pre-load The Sims 4 on Origin this week

You can pre-load The Sims 4 on Origin this week

Campo Santo reveal first trailer for Firewatch at PAX

Campo Santo reveal first trailer for Firewatch at PAX

Icewind Dale: Enhanced Edition announced by Beamdog at PAX 2014

Icewind Dale: Enhanced Edition announced by Beamdog at PAX 2014

Shadow Realms is Left 4 Dead by way of pen and paper RPGs

Shadow Realms

Shadow Realms is Left 4 Dead by way of pen and paper RPGs

Rockstar is updating Grand Theft Auto V’s soundtrack for PC release

Rockstar is updating Grand Theft Auto V’s soundtrack for PC release

Super Meat Boy: Forever revealed; is like the original

Super Meat Boy: Forever revealed; is like the original "without the use of multiple buttons"

Meet Ratbag, Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor’s sniveling orc informant

Meet Ratbag, Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor’s sniveling orc informant

Blizzard has

Blizzard has "six or seven" World of Warcraft expansions planned; "easily 10 years worth of stuff"

Facepunch Studios announce Arcade: want to

Facepunch Studios announce Arcade: want to "let players design their own arcades"

The Journey Down: Chapter Two review

The Journey Down: Chapter Two

The Journey Down: Chapter Two review

ArcheAge gets a release date: launches September 16th

ArcheAge gets a release date: launches September 16th

Dota 2 to receive long awaited Techies update next week; we're all doomed

Dota 2 to receive long awaited Techies update next week; we're all doomed

GoD Factory: Wingmen launches on Steam, brightening up the galaxy

GoD Factory: Wingmen launches on Steam, brightening up the galaxy

Saints Row: Gat Out of Hell pits the gang against Satan

Saints Row: Gat Out of Hell pits the gang against Satan

Maia 0.44 ramps up the danger with catastrophic earthquakes and suspicious aliens

Maia 0.44 ramps up the danger with catastrophic earthquakes and suspicious aliens