EverQuest Next was going to be a complete reimagining of the world of Norrath both physically and in terms of lore. Many characters, locations, items, and lore were to feel familiar to players of previous games in the franchise, but there were also going to be many changes and brand new discoveries.
After many years in development, the game was cancelled on March 11, 2016 via an announcement from Daybreak Game Company president Russell Shanks.
EverQuest Next's former Director of Development, Dave Georgeson, referred to these key features as the four "holy grails" that would bring innovation to the MMO genre that were never possible before.
Changing the Core Game
Rather than rehashing the standard D&D method of picking a class at the start and progressing through a tech tree specific to that class, EQ Next featured a Multiclass System. Players could choose from one of eight base classes at the start of the game, then discover many others by simply playing the game. Players could potentially pick and choose elements of new classes they discover to create their own unique hybrid characters and switch between them on the fly.
Blow up anything, anytime, anywhere. The world of Norrath from the mountains to the smallest plants in EQN were constructed entirely of tiny voxels, which allows for anything to be both destructible and constructible. Players would've been able to strategically destroy bridges, crash through walls, knock down trees, and dig through the earth virtually anywhere in the game. The playable world in EQN was hundreds of feet deep in any given location, so players could dig down and discover hidden caverns, temples, and all sorts of secrets. The depths of Norrath could be procedurally generated, and while player-created tunnels could be permanent, world events such as earthquakes could collapse them and new content will be left waiting to be discovered.
A Life of Consequence (Emergent AI)
All NPCs had their own built-in wants, needs, and fears. For example, rather than having an orc camp that spawns four orcs every fifteen minutes in the same exact same spot for all eternity, when those orcs spawned, they would seek out their own desires as a group and are affected by the actions of players both directly and indirectly. If provoked enough, those orcs might've uprooted their camp and moved to a new location they believed would be easier to pick off wandering adventurers. Players might've then done a quest that changes the patrol route of guards, which further angered an orc emperor somewhere nearby who would then send even more orcs to fight back. Dynamic AI like this example was planned to be present throughout EQ Next, which meant the world was continuously changing based on the actions of individual players as well as collective groups of players.
Permanent Change (Rallying Calls)
Server-wide Public Quests that can take months of real time to complete and have a permanent impact on that server's version of Norrath. These Rallying Calls were to have various story beat checkpoints, but not always clear what exactly would trigger the next piece. For example, a city is being built somewhere in the wilderness. Players could potentially help or impede the progress of the city's construction by building walls, clearing nearby forests of goblins, or protecting miners from the dangers found below the city. Through the progression of the story, new quests would be introduced based on what players had done on that server's version of the Rallying Call. Once complete, a permanent change would have been made in that server's world, which may be completely different from what another server's community did. These Rallying Calls could include events such as constructions of city, multistage wars between factions, invasions of new races, and much more.
EverQuest Next was set to utilize a multiclass system that allowed players to pick and choose aspects of many familiar and not-so-familiar classes to create their own unique characters. The game did not have levels in the traditional sense. Instead, players progressed through the class system similar to job systems found in some RPGs. Eight classes were to be available to choose from during character creation and around thirty-two more were planned to found within the game through quest rewards, loot, raids, etc.
Every class had two weapon types available to them, each with their own unique skills/abilities. For example, the warrior class could either wield a two-handed sword or a hammer and shield. The player's choice of equipped weapon determined which skills were available. Each class also had their own innate class-based abilities such the warriors' "leap" (pounce attack) or the wizards' "flash" (short distance teleport). Players could have a maximum of four weapon skills and four class skills active in their hotbar at any given time.
In EQ Next, players were not going to be limited to their original class choice. They could switch between their available classes at any time except while in combat. While there were no artificial limitations on how many classes one player can discover, there may have been faction-based limitations. For example, a guild of assassins may have required a player to perform certain tasks in order to earn their trust and join their ranks. These nefarious tasks could potentially make it almost impossible for that same player to simultaneously earn the favor of a paladin guild.
In addition to switching between classes entirely, players could also customize their class by adopting certain skills to create hybrid classes of their own. If a player wants to be a teleporting rogue, they could do that. While many of the class types were traditional in terms of the MMO genre, the "holy trinity" of Tank/Healer/DPS had been mostly scrapped. The developers said that each class could and should be responsible for their own survival.
There were going to be dozens of classes available to discover in EverQuest Next. These are the ones that were announced before cancellation.
The Adventurer is the featured class in Landmark, the world-building exploration game that preceded EverQuest Next. Players of Landmark were to have access to this class at the launch of EQN.
Beast Lords were a pet-focused class.
Blademasters [details unknown].
A Cleric's primary function was to protect his/her friends with healing magic. Though limited, they did have some offensive skills including command over the element of fire and the ability to ward undead.
- Hammer & Shield
- Two-Handed Hammer
Elementalists used the powers of fire and ice to trap their opponents, which set them up for attacks from allies.
Necromancers were the masters of controlling the undead. Every necromancer commanded a pet known as a "Monstrosity," which grew and evolved right along with its master.
- Dagger & Focus Object
Paladins [details unknown].
Rogues [details unknown].
Tempests were warriors who had control over weather-related magic including lightning and wind. They were able to dash/teleport around the battlefield, quickly attack an enemy, and dash back out.
- Dual Wield Swords
- Two-Handed Sword
Warriors often make great leaders. While traditionally thought to be defensive-oriented, warriors in Norrath were surprisingly agile.
Wizards [details unknown].
As always, players were to be able to pick from a list of races for their character, each with their own pros and cons in terms of stats and abilities. Appearance could vary greatly thanks to the many customizable options during character creation.
Races Confirmed Before Cancellation
Religion and the gods themselves were important in many aspects of the world. The gods themselves are said to have a tangible influence on things that affect individual characters as well as on world altering events that occur in Norrath. At the time in history where EverQuest Next was set to begin, no one living had ever seen any of the gods, but many were still devout followers based on tradition passed down through the generations.
The Seraphs, a relatively new religion, were a group of eight gods and goddesses worshipped primarily by members of the Combine. The Seraphs include:
- Anashti - Known as "The Reaper."
- Brell - Known as "The Builder," he is worshipped by crafters.
- Erollisi - Goddess of love, nature, and growth.
- Karana - Known as "The Traveler," he is the god of weather.
- Luclin/Drinal - Goddess of history and prophecy.
- Mithaniel - God of war, honor, and duty.
- Solusek - God of fire as well as learning.
- Talen - Known as "The Trickster," she is worshipped by many rogues and bards.
The Four was an ancient religion founded by the Keldarain in the first era. The gods and goddesses of The Four are elemental gods that govern water, earth, fire, and air.
Veeshan was the mother of all dragons. There are some non-dragons who worshipped her, but it was quite rare.
The Nor'I was the belief is the spirit of the planet Norrath itself, which was primarily a religion of the Kerrans.
The stories within the world of Norrath consisted of thousands of years of detailed history, which was utilized in many aspects of the game. While similar in many ways to the fiction found in the previous games of the franchise, the lore in EverQuest Next had been completely reimagined. The history was divided up into four main eras, which are each divided into various ages.
- Age of Awakening
- Age of Balance
- Age of Exploration
- Age of Decline
"Dal" was the elvish word for elf. The Dal Era encompassed a period of 2000 years of dominance of the elven races of Norrath.
Age of Ascension
Elves, who had previously lived in small villages in the forests, began to build large cities and become the most advanced race in the world.
Age of Allies
Elves discovered the use of teleportation through the massive spires found throughout the world. As a result of this, the elves began forming alliances with other races including the dragons. The age is considered a "golden age" to historians as it was time of peace and sharing of cultures. The Shissar, a race of snake-like people, betrayed the elves and other races by starting a war in an attempt to claim all of Norrath for themselves. The shissar were eventually defeated by a coalition of other races and the teleportation spires to shissar empire were sealed.
The elves become paranoid that other races will turn on them as the shissar did. The strength of the alliances begin to decay and a sect of elves began to separate themselves from the rest of their own race. Calling themselves The Koada'Dal ("high elves" in the common tongue), these elves considered themselves the best their society had to offer. Their discovery of High Magic, a magic that rivaled that of even the dragons, allowed them to hold power over the other races, which led to the creation of Takish Empire and the capital city, Takish'Hiz. The dragons then left these lands and went back into isolation on the continent of Velious.
The Takish Empire ruled for a few hundred years, but that all changed with The Sundering. The spire closest to Takish'Hiz exploded in an eruption of fire and stone, which buried the capital under a towering mountain of rubble, now known as Ashfang. The capital of the empire was gone and the secrets of High Magic were lost as well. In the aftermath, the various kingdoms of elves began warring with each other for control. Peace was eventually established but the elven empire would never come close to the power they had before.
The dragons saw the fall of Takish'Hiz and the loss of High Magic as their opportunity to once again become the dominant race in the world. The Dragon War began with the utter destruction of elvish colonies on Faydwer. While the Koada'Dal were elvish purists, another faction of elves, known as the Feir'Dal ("wood elves" in the common tongue), were more open about collaborating with other races. The wood elves joined forces with many of the other races in the Norrath (humans, ogres, kerrans, dwarves, etc.) to combat the rising force of the dragons. The dragons were too strong though, and soon this new combined force of races realized they could no longer survive in their homelands, so they decided to flee to Kunark. In order to buy time for this, an elite force of soldiers known as the Teir'Dal ("dark elves" in the common tongue) held a last line of defense at a fortress known as Bastion while the rest successfully escaped through the spires.
Driven from the lands they had known for thousands of years, the races of Norrath must start from scratch in the unexplored wilds of Kunark and work together to survive.
Age of Exile
Although the losses were extremely high, the plan at Bastion was a success and many made it Kunark alive. The Combine quickly began establishing camps and exploring the mysterious continent. It was not long before they discovered that Kunark was now controlled by the shissar that had betrayed them so many years ago. With revenge on their minds, the shissar had spent the last few hundred years building an enslaved army of Iksar, and now their enemies were coming to them on a silver platter. The Combine, weakened by the war with the dragons, were quickly defeated and spent 500 years enslaved by the shissar.
Eventually, the iksar began an uprising against their masters, and the Combine join these efforts. The shissar defeated and driven out of Kunark to unknown whereabouts. In the aftermath, the Combine and the iksar began establishing their own empires separately on the continent. The iksar slowly began adopting the practices of their former masters while the Combine seek to build forces strong enough to take back their homelands.
Age of Heroes
The Combine Empire finally decided the time is right to attempt to leave Kunark and reclaim their forefather's lands. After many centuries away, the Combine established a foothold on the west coast and founded the city of Qeynos.
This is where players were to enter the timeline of Norrath in EverQuest Next.
EverQuest Next had been in development for many years. During its development, the game was completely scrapped twice and started over. The information that follows briefly chronicles the game's history, so some of the information here does not reflect what will now end up in the game.
In 2009, Sony Online Entertainment published a hard-cover book to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the franchise. The book features many behind the scenes details, interviews, lore, concept art, and player stories from all of the games and expansions in the series. The final chapter of the book, entitled "EverQuest Next," was written by the series' creative director, Rich Waters. In this chapter, he confirms the existence of a new game.
"There's a lot to wrestle with as we begin laying the foundation for EverQuest 'Next.' As I write this, we have concept artists and game designers working hard in our studio-taking the lessons of the past, the best parts of the present and the most promising ideas for the future-to bring the world of Norrath to a new generation of players, as well as the dedicated legions of fans who made the EverQuest franchise timeless. I hope we'll see you there."
Fan Faire 2010 Announcement
During the 2010 SOE Fan Faire, a Q&A session was held for fans to ask John Smedley questions about the newly announced third installment of the EverQuest franchise. Several bits of information were revealed.
- EQ Next would feature less classes than EverQuest II, similar to EverQuest.
- SOE intends to continue to support all three games (EverQuest and EverQuest II).
- The game will be scalable in terms of hardware requirements in order to be played on laptops and lower-end PC's.
- The possibility of a "hardcore" server similar to original EverQuest's difficulty (i.e. corpse runs).
- While EQ2 was a direct timeline follow-up to EQ, EQ Next is a reimagining of the world.
- Designed from the beginning with PvP in mind.
Fan Faire 2011
During the 2011 SOE Fan Faire, it was announced that EQ Next would utilize the company's new, in-house development engine known as Forge Light, which has been built in partnership with NVIDIA and utilizes PhysX. The new engine is said to finally do away with the concepts of zones and loading screens, meaning that the world of Norrath will be completely seemless. Also worth noting is the focus on being able to convey emotion in character's faces with much more detail. Other than the announcement of Forge Light and a singular screenshot from the game, there was no new information or details about the next iteration of EverQuest.
SOE Live 2012
At SOE Live 2012 on October 18th, John Smedley announced that the original design for EQ Next had since been "blown up" and the design team had scrapped everything in order to start over in the last year and a half. Due to this new direction, nothing of the game was shown at SOE Live 2012. The new focus is on making it the "largest sandbox style MMO" ever made. Smedley stated that they are dedicated to creating a revolutionary experience in the MMO genre instead of simply an evolutionary one that they had originally planned. He guaranteed that by SOE Live 2013, attendees would not only get to see it, but they would get to play it.
EverQuest Next was shown to a select few attendees at E3 2013. SOE held a live stream on their TwitchTV channel from the show floor featuring several of the game's lead developers. They discussed how important the project was to them and the overall vision for the game, but divulged no actual details or surprise announcements. While no information, screenshots, or video was released to the public, the game still won "Best of Show" awards from MMORPG.com and Ten Ton Hammer. There were also rumors of a PlayStation 4 version of the game being in development.
SOE Live 2013
The unveiling of EverQuest Next was held on Friday, August 2 in Las Vegas, Nevada and live streamed on TwitchTV.
SOE Live 2014
SOE introduced several new classes and races, but not much else was announced.
After many months of silence, on March 11, 2016, Daybreak Game Company's president, Russell Shanks, announced via Twitter that the game had been cancelled.
"In the case of EverQuest Next, we accomplished incredible feats that astonished industry insiders. Unfortunately, as we put together the pieces, we found that it wasn’t fun."