Norrathian Notebook: Landmark's latest patch packs an armored punch

Norrathian Notebook:  Landmark's latest patch packs a punch

Wowsers! While we knew that September was a month of bug squashing and that meatier content updates would return to Landmark, this latest one seems extra juicy. It could just be that everything feels like a feast after a famine, but I think it's more than that -- and not just because it took multiple posts to announce the changes. Besides being tantalized with a bunch of new goodies right now, I get the impression that we are in for regular doses of content, content, and more content as the dev team revs up for open beta. And these changes are also glimpses into the ongoing development of EverQuest Next. Who doesn't love that?

As it is, I am pretty excited to delve into this content update, Armor? Appearance slots? Additional weapon abilities? Ability to template the movers, flingers, and stuff? Lava?! Heck, yah -- serve it up.

With so much announced, I can't honestly tell you which details I dived into first. It could have been the list of Landmark's new building materials (there are 35 -- I counted), or the addition of the appearance slot. Of course, weapons and armor are both major components of the full MMO, so I might have read those notes before the others. Or maybe Heroic Movement alterations caught my eye first. No matter -- it's all pretty good stuff. Here are the major changes in no particular order.

Dressing for combat success

When combat was first announced, the devs were pretty clear that it would be coming in phases. First, we got basic weapons and PvP games. But what's a fight if we can't dress right, right? And now Landmark is finally getting its first sets of armor. Just like the three weapons, the three sets, each composed of three pieces, are starting out pretty basic, focusing on distinct playstyles. As time goes on, players can certainly expect to have more variety. Changes are also inevitable as items are balanced throughout development. And just as with the weapons, players can freely make all the pieces at the forge; there are no material requirements. Here are the placeholder sets available now:

  • Soldier's Armor Set (emphasizes tanking; offers armor and health)
    - Head: 300 armor
    - Chest: 500 armor/200 health
    - Hand: 200 armor/200 health

  • Slayer's Armor Set (focuses on dealing damage with armor and offense bonuses)
    - Head: 100 armor/20 offense
    - Chest: 100 armor/50 offense
    - Hand: 30 offense

  • Mercenary's Armor Set (more diverse, adding energy as well as armor and offense)
    - Head: 150 armor/30 energy
    - Chest: 300 armor/30 energy/15 offense
    - Hand: 150 armor/15 offense

Players can mix and match the different pieces from any set to form their own unique power combination. An outfit's look, however, is tied to the chest piece for now until pieces can be separated later; for example, Slayer's Gloves will not be visible if you wear a Mercenary's Robe. Sadly, it also appears as if the male and female versions of the soldier's set are also different colors (red and silver, respectively), and the color I want is on the male avatar.

What if you don't like the look of the armor at all and love that awesome suit you found in a chest while spelunking or won during a code giveaway?

Dress your way

Even if you are dressing for the combat occasion, that doesn't mean you want to sacrifice fashion on the altar of functionality -- especially if the armor pieces you want come from a variety of different sets. That's why the addition of the appearance slot at the same time as the armor is perfect. People should clash visually only if they really want to! Depending on how these initial armor sets look, I may be taking advantage of this new feature from the get-go.

Shoes make the outfit heroic

What's a good outfit without the perfect pair of shoes? Less heroic, it seems! One change that some folks are not necessarily keen on is the switch of the Heroic Movement abilities from their various items to just footwear. That restricts a player to only one Heroic Movement ability at a time. In the future there may be boots that offer a combination of double jump with glide or what have you, but for now one pair of boots equals one ability. A full list of the new items and their respective abilities is in the patch notes. The player-made boots are crafted on the Outfitter's Table.

Note that this change applies only to the abilities that were granted by specific items, like gliding sprinting, multi-jumps, and the like. The fluff movements that players can do by tapping specific keys for various flips and rolls are not affected.

Another change to Heroic Movement is actually a very welcome one: Claim owners can now limit which movements are allowed in their PvP matches. Don't want people bunnyhopping through the whole fight? Restrict jumping. Don't want folks grappling all over your carefully constructed obstacles? You can restrict that. In all, PvP gamemasters can restrict jumping, climbing, gliding, sprinting, multi jumps, and grappling hooks. High jumps can't be restricted at the moment because devs are having some issues with settings, but it's being worked on. Personally, I am really looking forward to this because I hated how PvP feels like being inside a popcorn machine; I expect more variety and skill to come into play now!

Accessorize with more powerful weapons

No outfit is complete without the right accessories, and what's your biggest accessory if not your weapon? Now these accessories pack a bigger punch. This latest update introduces the next iteration of weapons, giving the staff, bow, and sword a third ability each. The Marksman's Bow even got a new moniker: Slayer's Bow. Specific stats are all spelled out in the update notes.

This change may seem small initially, but here's how I see it: Not only does it make Landmark more fun, but it brings us one step closer to how combat will work in EverQuest Next. We know that combat will be tied to equipment and skills there, so getting the chance to utilize more weapon skills gives us a bit of the flavor we can expect in the other title.

With the change in weapons and such, there are also a number of alterations to keybindings. Players will likely want to brush up on the new bindings or be prepared to adjust them to their own preferences (there are more choices available now for customization). Most obvious will be that E no longer works the grappling hook (Q does); instead, it fires your weapon's third ability.

The UI gets a new look

OK, so maybe not the whole UI yet -- just the action bar has a spiffy new look this time around. I'll admit that I'm really looking forward to the full reskin (the UI drives me bonkers), but some is better than none! I'll take having it come out in phases over not getting it at all. And speaking of the action bar, can we now sing praises and shout hallelujahs that it can lock? Whoot!

New outfits for construction, too

After this update, not only can you don a new look, but your building projects can too! There are tons of bricks, bronze, and other metal and stone textures added to the building materials. Interestingly, this particular list seems to be hinting at more than just crossing off completed features. The devs noted that this was in preparation for future workshop competitions, so read between the lines as you peruse it. What do you think it says? To me, this particular list screams Dwarves!

During one of the Landmark Live streams one dev joked that perhaps the next race focused on wouldn't go up for public vote but would simply be the Dwarves, which has had a close-but-no-cigar showing on both previous polls. While that isn't quite the case (the Dwarf vs. Ogre poll starts this week), perhaps the bearded, surly folk will indeed be the focus of the next Workshop series. That will certainly make Brasse happy!

New building materials

Of all the awesome materials being introduced, the one that captured my attention and heart was lava. Oh, how the pyro in me rejoices! No longer will players have to make do using copper and other materials for their fantastical fiery builds; they can spruce up their projects with the oozing orange liquid itself (though at the moment it is neither oozy nor liquid). And to make things even better, the addition of buildable lava also tells me that lava in biomes can't be that far behind! New biomes incoming? Now the explorer in me is rejoicing.

In all, this update is definitely a substantial meal that I will be savoring for quite a while. But don't let that delay the next course, SOE! I'm ready for more content whenever you can dish it out.

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!