SOE Live 2014: Details on EverQuest Next combat, classes, and races

We heard you: You want more EverQuest Next info. We do too! And here at SOE Live we've been getting all of that for you! Between the keynote address and our chats with Creative Director Dave Georgeson, Senior Producer Terry Michaels, Lead System Designer Michael Mann, andLead Designer Darrin McPherson we've discovered the next race to be announced, learned about the three newest classes, and watched a demonstration of those classes in combat. Get your first glmpser of EQN's Teir'DAal race and check out the Cleric, the Elementalist, and the Termpest.


EQN's open development

While many players have been clamoring for more EQN news, Georgeson pointed out that "We've been building it right in front of you the whole year!" Those who have been dismissing the news that comes out about Landmark have been doing themselves a disservice. With the exception of the EQN-specific Rallying Calls, the systems in Landmark are the basis of the systems in EverQuest Next with just a few tweaks. Remember the flingers just announced for Landmark? The principle of those is what went into making catapults for combat in EQN. And the list of ties really is vast -- much more so than just the same destructable voxel environment.

Combat, however, is one of the systems that is tweaked a bit, specifically because EQN uses classes and weapons both to determine abilities instead of just the items like in Landmark.

Three new classes

Unlike the earlier games in the franchise, the classes in EverQuest Next are not a one-time choice that players are stuck with for the remainder of that character's life. Instead, players can swap out the classes and use the skills and weaponry of that class in different situations. With over 40 plus classes promised to be available at launch, that's a lot of flexibility. And now we know of three more that will be playable.

The Cleric is the first of the support classes. But this isn't your typical support that many MMO players are useed to. McPherson emphasized that the devs are building the support classes to be actively engaged in the battle, not just standing back staring at health bars. The Cleric, in fact, is actually a battlefield leader, using his skills to direct allies to the fight. The skill Heavens Vengeance is actually a huge beacon that alerts nearby allies to where the action is; on top of that, all enemies in that beacon's area take damage while allies get a boost. Clerics also have damage attacks that provide heals and benefits to allies, such as the broad projectile Blessed Hammer and the rescue skill Intercession that charges to your allies and restores their armor.

The Elementalist is the next new class. A magic user like the Wizard, the Elementalist flings spells at enemies and prefers to stay at range. This class, which focuses on ice and fire spells, excells at controlling the area around. For instance, the skill Flash Freeze puts a circle of ice on the ground and enemies within that area can be frozen in place if the caster follows up using his Elemental Blast skill. The elementalist also uses Ice Shards, three bolts that fire out and cause more damage the closer the enemy is. Lest you think Elementalists are all about cold, Fire Pillar causes massive fire damage.

The final class revealed is the Tempest. Think a lightning-flavored Druid Asassin. The basic attack is the Spark Rush, where the Tempest turns into lightning and dashes in any direction, getting up close to an enemy in order to unleash other attacvks. The Cyclone skill is similar, but it sacrifices mobility (it can only go forward) for a larger amount of damage upon impact.

Of course, like any of the classes, one is not really better than or the antithesis of another. It all depneds on how players want to play. Georgeson emphasized that a Cleric can stand toe-to-to with a Warrior. What matters is the skill of the player and how s/he uses the abilities and heroic movements in combat.

Combat

So what about combat itself? It's definitely not your old-time tab targetting system! EQ Next's combat, like Landmark's is very active and involves skill, relying on body positioning. If you want to attack you need to be facing the target. Heroic Movement is also a huge part of combat. Players can chain movements with their combat abilities to create desired results in battle. Because of these mechanics, players will have to time attacks to take into account the movement speed and direction of their target. As Georgeston emphasized, skill is definitely rewarded.

Another aspect of combat to point out is that because the world is destructable, combat affects the environment. For instance, the Warrior's Whirlwind ability damages the terrain. This brings the terrain into play in the battle to a degree that players are not used to. Instead of just LoS issues, the environment becomes an active player in battles: bridges can blow up, walls can be crumbled, and even the floor can be taken out from under combatants. Players just need to keep in mind that not all terrain is created equal when it comes to toughness. As you would expect, stone is tougher than ice. What you might not expect is that players can use this to their advantage. Georgeson summed it up by saying you "can really change the environment by just being a smart player." For instance, if an Elementalist turns the ground into ice with his skill, a Warrior can break through that ground much easier. So players can use different skills in concert with one another to create even more variables in a battle or just during adventuring. It's just a matter of using abilities and skills intelligently.

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.