If we've heard that question once, we've heard it a thousand times, which is understandable, considering EQ Next has been totally scrapped and re-imagined more than once and Landmark came literally out of nowhere. Until recently, the two even shared a name; EverQuest Next was dropped from Landmark's moniker when closed beta started at the end of March of this year.
We certainly haven't heard the last of the question, either. With new folks finding out about the games and getting interested in them, it's likely to come up a few more times. Those who haven't been following the development of the games from the beginning have a lot of material to plow through to find answers to their questions. For that reason, Norrathian Notebook is going to address the differences and similarities between the upcoming titles in one fell swoop. Hopefully, with a concise reference we can call on again and again, the confusion will dissipate.
So what is the difference between EQN and Landmark?
In a nutshell, the two games can be distinguished in this manner: EQN is where devs script the story and drive content, whereas in Landmark, players will. Both games are using the same engine, the same voxel-based world technology, and the same tool sets. The difference is that in the former the devs use the tools, and in the latter, the players will. Director of Development Dave Georgeson stated point-blank in a Massively interview that Landmark players will have all the tools that EQN devs have, from the AI editor to the scenario builder to the NPC editor.
One misconception that keeps cropping up is that Landmark is simply a building sim and EQN is the only "real" MMO of the pair. Not true! Landmark is going to be as much an MMO as EQN will be. All the trappings of EverQuest Next -- combat, questing/dynamic story events, treasure, and more -- will be present in Landmark. The difference is in who provides the bulk of the content.
Yes, Landmark is currently missing many aspects of an MMO, but let's be fair: EQN is missing them, too! Landmark is in development right alongside EverQuest Next; we just get to see (and take part in) Landmark's development at a much earlier stage than we are used to. It is really important to remember that this particular closed beta is not merely a special test of a finished product. "In development" means literally just that: in development. If you're hungry for more specific EQN news, keep in mind what Georgeson said in the aforementioned interview: The team is putting the systems in Landmark as they are being developed for EQN. So by and large, Landmark news is EQN news.
With that general difference defined, it's still helpful to see the specifics. So here's a list of what will be the same in both games:
- A voxel-based word that can be (temporarily) destroyed, then heals itself
- A multi-layered world with content deep beneath the surface to be discovered
- Combat against both players and mobs
- Intelligent AI that adapts to each situation
- Crafting (armor, weapons, props/decorations)
- Dynamic story events/scenarios
- Player-built and player-decorated housing
- Treasure and loot
- Parkour movement styles that include sliding, jumping, gliding, and flips
Even within those similarities, there are some distinct differences. We already mentioned the most notable one: dev vs. player content. But what does that mean for the individual features? There are a few other key differences beyond these as well. So let's break them all down.
Voxel-based destructable world
- Landmark: Players can claim any land, including underwater territory (but excluding cave entrances), that is not already claimed by others to build whatever they want, with the only exception being inappropriate subject matter that will be removed by devs. Players also can grant special permissions to others as far as being able to use the property, which includes everything from props (doors, lights, treasure chests) to manipulating the land itself. On individual property, all environmental changes are permanent; they won't heal unless the player actively heals them to their original state.
- EQN: Devs build the cities and the environment; players cannot destroy certain areas such as cities. Player buildings will be restricted to specific plots.
- Landmark: Combat abilities will be based on what weapon the player has equipped, and stats will be affected by what gear and accessories the player has on. It is confirmed that weapons can be switched during combat, giving players great flexibility in how they address situations (for example, they can bounce from melee to ranged and back).
- EQN: Abilities are based on which class a player has selected at a given moment. Each class has two weapon types, and each weapon has specific moves associated with it. Four abilities will be weapon-based, and the four other abilities will be class-based (players get to select which class skills are active).
- Landmark: With the AI editor, players will get to control the AI on their claims, from what they are to what they do. There will also be mobs out in the wilds for hunting and fighting that cannot be controlled.
- EQN: Devs will control the ultimate scripting of the AI, determining the conditions for AI behavior.
- Landmark: Players write and run the events. Thanks to the various editors players will have access to, folks can experience different things on different claims. For instance, one claim can be a focused on fantasy, while another can be a space setting, each with individualized rules, physics, mobs, and so on.
- EQN: The dynamic story events (known as Rallying Calls) are scripted by the developers. Although the exact progression of the events is dictated by the actions of players (many different cues can advance the story in different directions or occur at a different pace on each individual server world), the various steps and possible outcomes are all programmed by the devs.
- Landmark: Players can build whatever they want with complete freedom (except for inappropriate content as mentioned previously). Sci-Fi? Fantasy? Old Victorian? Steampunk? Wild West? An amalgam of everything? You got it! During special contests, players also have the chance to design and create things to be used in building of EQ Next!
- EQN: Player housing must conform to the fantasy theme and fit visually in Norrath. Approved Norrath-themed templates created in Landmark can be used here; players can use their own or acquire them via the Player Studio. Some structures and such around the world may also have been designed by players in Landmark.
- Landmark: Other than exploring caves and finding areas that have dangerous mobs near treasure, players will create dungeons for others to experience on their claims. Think of a very, very expanded version of EverQuest II's Dungeon Maker.
- EQN: Devs will create all dungeons.
- Landmark: Players can make loot available to others on their builds (currently restricted to filling treasure chests for others, but likely expanding when NPC and AI editors are implemented).
- EQN: Loot rewards -- both in type and placement -- are determined by the devs.
- Landmark: There is currently only one race, human, although there are some customization variations that allow for skin that resembles that of the Teir'Dal. More customization options are definitely incoming, but more races are not guaranteed.
- EQN: Although not all options are announced, there are multiple Norrathian races available: Dwarves, Kerran, Feir'Dal and Teir'Dal (light and dark elves, respectively), Ogres, and Humans. Different roundtables have focused on which races players want to have most (although some might be for NPCs and not playable).
- Landmark: There is only one class: Adventurer.
- EQN: There are over 40 classes, seven of which will be available at character creation; the others must be discovered and learned through gameplay. Only a few of the classes have been officially confirmed so far.
- Landmark: There is no detailed overarching world lore, only what players create on their own. There will be treasures that players will find in the world, but what those finds portend will likely be determined by the players themselves.
- EQN: Lore is a major component of the world and why things are how they are, and lore delivery and consumption is important for devs. There is an elaborate backstory being written and shared through various ebooks like Prison of Fire. Famous writers aren't the only ones helping develop lore, either; players will be able to contribute as well.
- Landmark: Land is currently divided into servers and islands, with multiple islands per server. Each island has two biomes and its own unique topography. Players can travel without restriction between all servers and islands. Initially, devs announced that there would be Norrath-enforced lands, but nothing has been mentioned since. There is also a chance some islands may be joined to make larger land masses.
- EQN: Each server will be a separate world that develops at its own pace depending on actions of player inhabitants. No travel is possible between the server worlds.
This list is not exhaustive but does cover the major aspects of the games. Of course, as development continues, expect there to be more information available. At that point, this list will be revised to help it stay up-to-date. Hopefully, it will banish some confusion about SOE's upcoming titles. If you know anyone who still has questions, feel free to point him/her here!
The EverQuest realm is so big that sometimes MJ Guthrie gets lost in it all! Join her as she explores the franchise's nooks and crannies from the Overrealm to Timorous Deep. Running biweekly on Thursdays, the Norrathian Notebook is your resource for all things EverQuest Next and EverQuest II. And keep an eye out for MJ's Massively TV adventures!