Summary of SOE LIVE 2014 for Everquest Next

For the second straight year Sony Online Entertainment teased fans with EverQuest Next sneak peeks during its annual fan event, SOE LIVE 2014. We were treated to three new classes, a new playable race and more details on exactly how combat and destructible environments will work in the upcoming next-generation mmorpg for the PC and PlayStation 4.

While we were sad that no launch date was announced — many expect it to drop in next year’s SOE LIVE 2015 — the disappointment quickly gave way to excitement as we watched the three new classes in action.

clericFirst up was the Cleric, a dedicated support class that is anything but passive or weak. We are used to the idea of clerics as wimpy healers that stay at the backline spamming heals, or dealing tepid damage with a mace when push came to shove when all other DPS classes have been killed

But in EverQuest Next, the Cleric steps up big time to become more akin to a combat commander. This offensive-and-defensive support class can dish out the pain with holy spells while healing and providing buffs to allies. “People will rally behind him” says Darren McPherson, lead designer for EverQuest Next, which means the Cleric will join the front lines to act as a battlefield leader.

The second revealed class during SOE LIVE 2014 was the Elementalist, a ranged mage type that specializes in burning or freezing targets with fire and ice spells, respectively. Players searching for a class that inflicts strong area damage and crowd control will be satisfied with the Elementalist’s suite of abilities. There is also a big fun factor in playing this particular class — spell synergies! Through EverQuest Next’s unique combat system, spells can actually affect one another, and in the Elementalist’s case, encasing a foe in a block of ice then flinging a scorching fireball should result in extra explosive damage.

Then there’s the Tempest, the third and final class in the fan fest preview. True to its name, the Tempest transforms into lightning to deal high burst combo damage to unfortunate enemies. We are most reminded of a rogue’s playstyle, which is to rush up to a defenseless target then unload a sequence of skills to cause serious injury within seconds.

Speaking of the class system, EverQuest Next solves the problem of players easily getting bored of their chosen class and needing to start over completely with a new character just try out the other classes. In EverQuest Next, class switching is allowed and made easy– even encouraged at times — to take advantage of inter-class synergies. There will be around 40 classes available at launch, so the combinations are plentiful enough to avoid homogenization in playstyles.

We also got confirmation of a new playable race, the Teir’Dal or the Dark Elf. A bit of background about this tough-looking race: elementalistAfter the Combine was pushed to its last stronghold, the Bastion, in their war against the dragons, a caste of Elf warriors led by the Prince Keramore Thex distracted the main advance so the rest of the allied races could escape to another continent. A series of events led the warriors to the dark realm of Umbra where they were stuck for a long time and were transformed by the native magical forces into more sinister versions of their former race. EverQuest Next sees the return of the Teir’Dal from their exile in Umbra but are faced with an uphill battle for acceptance due to their drastic change in appearance.

This year’s preview also touched on the innovative game mechanics between combat and the environment. Normally, players can only interact with the environment outside of battle. But in EverQuest Next, you can smash and shape your surroundings while in battle as part of your strategy to win. Terrain can become a hinder or help you in each battle, so players must assess their environment on top of all the other combat conditions. In fact, skills can be cast on the environment to produce dramatic effects such as freezing the floor then shattering it to create a pit where enemies will fall to their deaths.

What do you think about the EverQuest Next reveals this year? What are you most excited about? Let us know in the comments!

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EverQuest Imagination Gone Wild: Fantasy Classes

everquest-next-teaser-modelsLast month Sony Online Entertainment president John Smedley teased the world with work-in-progress 3D models of what looked to be a heavily armored type class in EverQuest Next, the sweeping sandbox game that is set to shake up the world this year.

The image had our minds running wild with questions: Who is that character? What armor set is he wearing? Is he a good guy or a bad guy? How many equipment slots do characters posses? And most importantly — What class is that?

Based on the bulkiness of his armor, we think it is a Warrior-type class, maybe a Berserker based on that vicious snarl he has on his face. It would be cool to have the Berserker to make a re-appearance in EverQuest Next, but of course it would even be better to get a Berserker 2.0 class — along the lines of a Gladiator with the same bloodthirsty rage of Berserker but with access to a couple of long-range weapons like javelin spears and bola nets.

You may laugh now, but with EverQuest Next promising a fully sandbox world, that idea just might become a reality when players are allowed multi-class skilling. Here are a few fantasy hybrid classes that we wish we could create in EverQuest Next:

1. Doomsayer Bard – Most bards are often stereotyped into the support role, providing buffs and a few crowd control services to their party. But the doomsayer bard brings on the debuffs and damage over time with his ruinous tales of war and destruction.

2. Weapons Master Monk – Monks are best known for their peerless hand-to-hand combat skills, but they also train to fight with weapons and are in fact very good at using them (at least in the real world). It would be great to see a weapons-focused version of the monk, one that combines amazing acrobatic moves with intricate weapon attacks.

3. Possessed Mystic – Mystics tap into the spiritual world to provide mostly defensive benefits for their allies through protective buffs and healing. But what if the Mystic could channel the spirits in his or her body for a limited time, granting him or her heightened combat powers? That would be really cool, as well give Mystics more solo-friendly abilities.

4. Animator – Conjurors and Necromancers call upon the power of minions and the undead, respectively. The Animator goes a step further and gives temporary life to inanimate beings, like making a stone golem out of a slab of rock. A summoner whose toolkit changes based on the environment he finds himself fits in like a glove to the sandbox concept of EverQuest Next, although we realize implementing it will be quite a headache.