SOE Live 2014: Combat comes to Landmark August 27th

If you've got a thing for combat, have we got the perfect date for you! Landmark launches the ability to fight -- and die -- on Wednesday, August 27th. That means everyone who's been waiting in the wings for the new sandbox to get more systems before diving in only have to hold out two more weeks before they can finally experience Landmark.

Are you ready to die? The first phase of combat includes death, armor, weapons, landmines, PvP, and many possibilities! We got the scoop on this much-anticipated system at SOE Live from Creative Director Dave Georgeson and Senior Producer Terry Michaels at SOE Live, including some great video clips of the upcoming content.
Landmark Deaths

Why the wait?!

Throughout the development of Landmark, some folks have found it difficult to envision the game as an MMO without combat. Some have erroneously labeled the sandbox as 'just a building game.' So why would a feature that is integral to the game be left for so late in the development? Georgeson said that was by design.

Remember, the game is literally being developed in front of a live audience -- us. So we're seeing the systems as they come. Georgeson assured me that "building is just the start of where we want to be." He pointed out, "The reason Landmark right now revolves around the building tools is because we had to have the building tools or we couldn't build anything." But he also said that developing a strong community was equally important. Georgeson noted that the four types of gamers who really like Landmark right now are builders, decorators, explorers, and crafters. He added,
"That is exactly the right kind of bedrock for a great MMO community. Those are the kinds of people that make stuff happen in a virtual world, and we wanted that to happen. We're stupidly happy with the community that's evolved around Landmark. Everybody's friendly and helpful and it's all great.
Death to us all!

As anyone following Landmark knows, systems are deployed in phases. Combat is no different. Like water and caves before it, combat will have an initial iteration and it will become even more robust over time as other features are added in. This allows players to get in and experience parts of the system without having to wait until everything is done. So what will be available come the 27th? For starters, death!

Warning: All daredevils who fling themselves off of high mountains or claims will quickly experience their first death in Landmark. Yes, fall damage is on its way, as is drowning. At first players will see only one or two death animations, but Michaels revealed that over time more animations will be added. Players will have armor, health, and energy stats that can and will be depleted. Health is pretty self-explanatory: If you have it, you are good. If you don't, you are dead. Armor is your defense against attacks, and it goes down as you get hit and then is restored over time. The energy pool will drive Heroic Movement abilities as well as all item powers. What items specifically? Weapons!

Landmark's Elite Fire Sword and Shield

Weapons of choice

In Landmark, there are no classes; all players are Adventurers. Different abilities come from what is equipped, be it rings, bracelets, grappling hooks, etc. The same principle applies to the weapons. Players will get to equip whatever weapon they want, but will only have access to the currently equipped weapon's specific abilities. So what instruments of death will be available in two weeks? The basic weapons are a staff, a sword, and a bow. Each one has a main ability accessed by clicking your left mouse button and an alternate ability accessed by clicking the right one.
  • The Conjurers Staff is for those who want to have magical ranged attacks. Left clicking will trigger Energy Burst, a shotgun spray of nine magical shots. Right click, on the other hand, unleashes Gravity Shot, which is a combination AoE damage and snare.
  • Soldiers Blade is for those moments when melee is preferred. With this weapon equipped players can left click to Slash their enemies (and break up terrain!) and right click to charge forward and knock an opponent back while causing damage and increasing personal armor regeneration. The latter ability is called Battle Rush.
  • The Marksman's Bow is perfect for every Robin Hood-at-heart. As with the other weapons, left click fires the basic attack, which in this case is Quick Shot. The right click advanced attack is Sniper's Mark; this ability marks the target causing the next Quick Shot to do twice the damage and knock the enemy back.
Even if players have a preferred style that matches one weapon, they will likely want to have one of each since weapons can be swapped out mid-battle to change the style of attack to fit changing situations. Multiple items can be equipped if they are made a set, such as a sword and shield. These three basic weapons will be craftable for little or possibly no cost according to Michaels. Georgeson noted that in time, epic weapons will become available to craft as well as be found in game. An important note to the crafters: While all epic weapons will have different abilities, there won't be an issue of crafted or looted being better than the other. Michaels illustrated by saying,
"It's not about 'this weapon is more powerful than that weapon is'. It's about playstyle and what the abilities are. So there may be a fire sword and an ice sword, as an example, and one of them may be found and one may be crafted. They are not more powerful than one another, they just enable a different kind of playstyle. For you, maybe you want that crafted ice sword, but for me, the way I play, I want that found fire sword."
What if you don't really like the specific abilities of an item you have found? Once salvaging and imbuing systems are implemented later, you'll be able to break things down to use the components to craft something else, and possibly even make items of greater rarity.

Monsters in Landmark

Dressing for the occasion: Armor

Having weapons to kill your enemies is only half of the equation -- you also need armor to keep said enemies from killing you! In Landmark the basic armor is craftable and can be upgraded. Armor isn't just about defense, either. Like weapon types, each armor style has its own types of bonuses, and players choose which armor offers the abilities that fit with their gameplay style.

The beginning styles include a robe-type armor that gives bonuses for ranged abilities (which helps with cast times, range, etc.), a barbarian-looking set that give bonuses for movement abilities (including granting specific movement combinations), or a tech-looking set for melee that offers bonuses for armor and health regen (along with special defenses against certain weapons, etc.) As Georgeson pointed out, the armor is "genre agnostic... we kind of embrace all genres." Players will see some sci-fi and some fantasy, and eventually there will be much more variety than the beginning styles. "We'll mix it up and make a bunch of different things," Georgeson assured. "Eventually there will be all kinds of armor and you'll be able to seek out the ones you like for what has the best abilities for your gameplay style."

Landmark's Landmines

Let there be PvP

While there are plenty of AI monsters in the works that will be coming in the next month (get ready to have your face chomped off by some very nasty plants!), Georgeson emphasized that "the first monsters that we're going to put in the game are you guys!" The first iteration of combat is specifically PvP. But don't panic! PvP is completely consensual as well as claim-based so you won't stumble upon it in the wilds without knowing. This is so that players can give feedback on the fun-factor of combat while the AI continues to be honed.

PvP opens up a whole new world of possibilities for claims. Besides just the ability to whack at each other with weapons, this first combat phase also introduces the first game master items -- called game rule objects -- that can be placed to facilitate PvP games. Initially, players will have access to a game table to specify the type of PvP game (to start there will be deathmatch, team deathmatch, and capture and hold options), respawn and alternate respawn points, and objectives like capture and hold, etc. On top of this you can set landmines! Yes, you can hide little orbs of destruction deep in your undergound maze so that taking a wrong turn becomes much more dangerous! Landmines are the first in a set of hazardous objects that can be used on PvP claims.

And in case you were wondering, yes you can fight underwater! Right now being in fluid does not impact abilities, so a charge does not become slowed. A new camera is also being put in for combat and PvP.

Also included in the August 27th combat update are interactive objects for your claims, specifically teleporters (EverQuest II players will be familiar with these), flingers (adjustable springboards that literally fling people around the claim), and moving platforms (hello elevators!). Georgeson took a moment to describe his claim where he was testing many of these items, calling it a globe of doom where the only way you could get out was by your death!

Platforms

What's coming up soon?

This next update is certainly not the end of the road. In the not-too-distant future players will see the advent of the AI editing system (and we'll be covering that panel for you!), as well as more gamemastering tools later this year. Players will soon have the ability to create full scenarios on their claims. Georgeson said quite plainly, "Anything you can imagine you will be able to build. If we can build it, you can build it." He continued, "We're setting the players up to be magnificent. We want them to be amazing."

So what is Landmark? Georgeson summed it up this way: After adding in all the building systems, the platforming elements, mobs, combat and PvP, the AI editing and mobs, and the gamemastering tools, the final ingredient of the mix is player creativity and talent. "At that point," he emphasized, "you can start to realize what Landmark will actually become. We can't wait to see what the players do with it."

What happens in Vegas doesn't stay in Vegas, at least where SOE Live is concerned! Massively sent intrepid reporter MJ Guthrie to this year's SOE Live, from which she'll be transmitting all the best fan news on EverQuest Next, Landmark, H1Z1, and the other MMOs on SOE's roster.

This article was originally published on Massively.