previews\ Nov 11, 2013 at 4:38 pm

EverQuest Next Landmark First Impressions: The next step in world-building


World-building games gained an incredible amount of prominence and notoriety when Minecraft introduced its polygonal brand of magical creation tools. Players were able to build away for hours on end, literally molding entire lands around them. However, world-building doesn't need to just be relegated to chunky cubes, and that's exactly what EverQuest Next Landmark has set out to prove. Sony Online Entertainment wants to deliver the next evolution of this open-ended genre by letting you create even more — yes, even rounded edges, because the world isn't just made up of voxels.

At a recent Landmark preview event in LA, SOE's Dave Georgeson explained that the upcoming game would be a “build your own MMO” experience. By delivering a robust set of tools, the game will let you do more than just create structures and add set pieces — you'll be able to craft your very own lands rife with things to see and discover. As previously mentioned, your creative hopes aren't relegated to simple triangular and squared shapes. Thanks to some pleasantly incorporated smoothing and layering tools, you can create buildings with curves and rounded edges, which is kind of a big deal for this type of game.

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While building is the focal point of Landmark, exploration is also a major component. In fact, various creation resources are scattered across the whole of the fantastical land, so exploring the world will definitely come into play in a big way. This adds a distinct wrinkle to the game, and it's kind of nice that running around the environments will reward you with even more tools to unleash your crafting creativity.

I spent a small amount of time playing Landmark, and while I was quite overwhelmed with the sheer depth of everything that could be created, I made sure to roam the world and see what the game's designers had made. Houses, towers, castles, and mechs (yes, mechs) were placed across different areas. There were even some wonderful tributes to movies, with the Jurassic Park entrance gates standing out to my inner child the most and filling me with unbridled nostalgia.

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I played around with the toolbars, seeing what resources were available. There were flowers with butterflies, trees, boulders, and other kinds of environmental features, and I was actually impressed with how much there was to decorate the land. Of course, I was immediately informed that those available tools were just a small sampling of what's to come. That's certainly great news for players who love attention to detail and want to litter their worlds with a ton of variety as far as smaller features are concerned. Plus, this further ensures that not everyone's creations are too similar regarding the finer details.

One of the most important things to note about Landmark is that it takes time to master. You can jump right in and start building, but you'll soon find out that your first handful of hours will be mostly experimental. You're bound to spend plenty of time putting pieces together, combing preset shapes, creating new shapes, building your very own structures, and then realizing that you could probably get a bit better at it. Of course, with some time and patience, you can eventually toss your very own forts, temples, and even cultist dance clubs into the world.

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You can purchase one of three Founder's Pack variants now for access to the Landmark alpha. The Settler Pack is priced at $19.99 and will let you get in on the creation craze beginning March 31, 2014. Meanwhile folks who shell out $59.99 for the Explorer Pack or $99.99 for the Trailblazer Pack will be granted access to the alpha beginning February 28, 2014. Early access will let players have an easier time claiming the land they desire right from the get-go. So if you want a bit of a headstart in Landmark, you'd do well to look into one of the Founder's Packs.

It should be noted, however, that the game world is quite expansive, so if you choose to wait it out, you can still find yourself a good plot of land and build your massive chamber (or mech!) there. Either way, Landmark is seemingly the next evolution of world-building games, and with so much at your disposal, it's on the right track to being a worthwhile experience for fans of these types of games.

Want to talk about indie games, Kirby, or cheap pizza? Follow me on Twitter @dr_davidsanchez.

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