SOE Live highlights old and new MMO games

A scene from Sony's DC Universe. (Photo Courtesy of Sony Online Entertainment)

A scene from Sony’s DC Universe. (Photo Courtesy of Sony Online Entertainment)

Sony Online Entertainment’s annual fan festival celebrates a host of long-running online multiplayer video games like “DC Universe Online,” “EverQuest” and “Planetside.”

In 15 years, SOE Live has come a long way from its roots as an “EverQuest” fan fair. But 2014 is a landmark year as SOE revealed details on its upcoming plans for its games in development, new and old.

SOE has been calling 2014 the “Year of EverQuest.” The original “EverQuest” celebrated its 15th anniversary back in March. All of these years later and the groundbreaking video game that paved the way for massively multiplayer online gaming trudges on with its 21st expansion, “EverQuest: The Darkened Sea,” to be released on Nov. 11. SOE continues to tweak the game with new zones, a level cap increase to 105, and streamlined looting preferences.

Not to be outdone by its predecessor, “EverQuest 2” celebrates its 10th anniversary this year and will receive its 11th expansion, “EverQuest 2: Altar of Malice.” The new expansion will increase the level cap to 100 and add a new dragonkin player race. “EverQuest 2” released a five months after one of the most popular MMOs ever in the same year, “World of Warcraft.”

The older games are still getting tender loving care from SOE, but it’s the new games in development that have players excited. Last year, SOE revealed two new “EverQuest” related games were in development — “EverQuest Landmark” and “EverQuest Next.”

Landmark is a game that players will explore and build. Think Minecraft but as a fantasy MMO. Players can build literally anything and that’s a big deal because it with these building tools that players might see integrated with “EverQuest Next,” the more traditional massively multiplayer online role-playing game. Landmark is utilizing the community to fuel development of “EverQuest Next” as players test and provide feedback on the building tools in Landmark.

SOE also announced that on Aug. 27, Landmark will receive player versus player combat which introduces death, weapons and armor. Monsters are expected to be added in September. On the Next side, dark elves were introduced as a new player race, joining humans and Kerrans (cat people) and the first three of numerous classes were revealed — Cleric, Elementalist and Tempest. Both games provide a level of immersion yet to be seen in MMOs.

Not everything is high fantasy at SOE. The highly anticipated zombie survival MMO that could be one of SOE’s most successful games yet, “H1Z1,” is coming to PC, and PlayStation 4 via Early Access which is a trend where players get to play the games as they’re still being developed. SOE has been pushing “H1Z1” hard with regular livestream play sessions. New features revealed at SOE Live include airdrops containing food, water or survival supplies that are intended to force player versus player encounters to occur and more player character race and gender diversity.

Like “EverQuest Landmark,” “H1Z1” will rely heavily on player’s commitment to world building just like it’s closest zombie survival competitor “DayZ” which is also headed to PS4. Back in April, when “H1Z1” was announced, SOE president, John Smedley, didn’t back down from the comparisons between the two games. “How is this different from Day Z? Not going to give some politically correct dodgy b.s. answer. It is a survival in a zombie apocalypse game. So is DayZ. They have made a brilliant game (first I might add),” Smedley said on Reddit. “We’re making the game we’re making.”

SOE seems committed to PS4 owners as they have a strong line-up for the console with “DC Universe Online” already available and futuristic first-person shooter MMO, “PlanetSide 2” coming via Early Access as well. It is expected, though unconfirmed, that “EverQuest Next” and possibly Landmark will come to PS4 also.

All of SOE’s PC games use a free-to-play model with a paid subscription upgrade through its SOE All Access pass. The pass provides full content for all of its current and upcoming games for $15 a month, the typical cost of a monthly subscription for one game. There is no word yet on if this pass will become available to PS4 owners.

For more information and details on updates on all of SOE’s games, check out the the SOE Live website and the SOE YouTube channel for videos of keynote presentations for the various games at SOE Live.

 

Reach the reporter at michael.jerome.martin@asu.edu @Bizarro_Mike