SONY MAKING ITS MARK
With big hitters such as Minecraft or Terraria already released and plenty more on the way, developing a sandbox building game seems like an uphill battle. Sony, however, is very experienced with developing games and have tasked Sony Online Entertainment with the development of EverQuest Next and their building MMO, Landmark. Strangely enough, Landmark didn’t appear to be its own fleshed out game for a little while, leaving gamers slightly confused with what to call it. Therefore I’ve created this handy guide to further explain what I mean:
- EverQuest Next is the upcoming MMORPG set in a parallel world to the EverQuest franchise
- Landmark is what this preview is all about and it’s Sony’s upcoming sandbox MMO that shares the same engine as EverQuest Next
- EverQuest: Landmark doesn’t exist currently and is often mistaken for Landmark
- EverQuest Next: Landmark combines all the names into one incorrect game title
- Landmark The Game is what Sony sometimes use to emphasize that Landmark is a separate game
Now you could say that Landmark is the EverQuest Next Alpha, and while that is not totally incorrect, you must remember that Landmark is being developed from the ground up to become a building MMO. EverQuest Next on the other hand will be set in the universe of EverQuest with all those lovely MMORPG features & aesthetics. So the question remains; what does Landmark offer when compared to Minecraft, Terraria or the thousands of other building type games released or in development?
LAY OF THE LAND
Landmark is currently in closed beta. It will be a free to play game with an in-game cash shop. To snag yourself access you will need to sign up for the beta, enter contests, or purchase permanent access via the founders pack for 20 Dollars or 18 Euros. Landmark’s main focus is, of course, giving players the freedom to roam around a huge world with tons of items to craft, and options to build things. It is not possible to build anywhere you like because the world heals every 20 minutes. All of the resources you’ve gathered or massive holes that have been dug, will be restored. Before a player can start building, they must first claim a piece of land. From there, they will be able to create anything their heart desires.
Sony is also operating in a semi-transparent mode, meaning anyone can publicly view all of the upcoming changes, features, and most importantly, give their opinion. At the moment most of the crafting, gathering, and building systems are in place. To highlight some of the much needed upcoming features, Sony is adding health and death systems, monsters, water, in-game voice, and lots of different things to explore above and below ground.
COOKING UP A STORM
Despite being in closed beta, Landmark already contains over 50 different resources divided into 6 tiers. Each tier contains ores, wood, gems, textiles, stones, elements, and crafted materials. Just like other games, the tiers help provide a clear scope of early game and late game materials, e.g. a tier 1 mining pick won’t be able to mine a tier 6 ore, likewise for axes and wood.
Collecting the different types of resources also works a little different compared to other building games. Each server has 50 subworlds known as islands. Each island only has two biomes (currently desert, tundra, forest, snow) and a tier rating that tells the player what resources will be spawning there. Biomes work in the sense that only certain trees grow in the desert or snow, while certain ores are more common here or there.
Once you’ve collected tons of resources, it’s finally time to craft! Landmark currently has five types of crafting stations that includes alchemy stations, forges, workshops, tables, and refining stations. Naturally the alchemy station is used for transmuting wood or creating bombs. The forges smelt ore, which also allows you to craft tools. Lastly, the tables are for creating clothes and other tailoring specific items. I was happily surprised when I booted up the closed beta to see they’d already fleshed a lot of the crafting and mining elements.
Just like in Guild Wars 2 anything used in recipes doesn’t clog up your inventory but instead is placed in a separate area for ease of use, which is very handy. Additionally the server system in Landmark works a little different, instead of having everything bound to one server or character, the only thing that doesn’t follow you between servers are the individual claims of land you’ve made. This means playing solo or with a friend gives you full access to your resources/items wherever you may be.
BUILD ME A CASTLE
Landmark does have a learning curve when it comes to the keyboard shortcuts and how to manipulate things in a 3d space. Some of the most useful things any new player should know about is that ctrl+z is undo, and ctrl+y is redo. Yes, this is an MMO that features a simple method of correcting mistakes. To make things better, you can cut, paste, eye dropper, duplicate, rotate, reverse, and flip. All the visual prompts and controls give you a clear vision of what will happen while using your tools. My favorite feature inside Landmark is the ability to create templates of things you’ve made. For example, you’ve built a lovely dog statue, but want more of them around. You simply select the template tool, highlight what you want, name it and boom! You can now (if you have the resources) build this instantly anywhere! The uses of the this tool are invaluable, and Sony even plans to let players sell their templates to other players for in-game cash, just like Second Life.
As mentioned earlier, the holes and ores are restored over time. In order to build something that lasts forever you must craft a claim flag. Once crafted you’ll need to find a suitable location of your choice and claim that land for yourself. This means no one can build, claim, or grief you in anyway but you can give permission for friends to do so. When the land has been claimed you will need to start paying a daily rent, however it’s only a few copper ore that can be farmed in 5 minutes of play. Better yet, you can stock up loads of copper ores and pay for 1 week of rent upfront, no need to log in daily just for rent. If you don’t pay the rent, everything on the claim will be removed, returned to you as a template of whatever you created there.
Unlike Minecraft, Landmark is not limited to giant cubes. This is by no means a cheapshot at Minecraft, but instead an attempt to shine light on the power of voxels. My fellow lovers of building will go completely nuts over how easy Landmark is to pick up, and how fun building the most insane structures can be. I’ve been on various forums and read that you have to be a professional in order to build anything better than a dirt hut in Landmark. Reading this puts a little smile on my face because I’m not exactly a master builder, yet I managed to build a lovely house.
LANDING IN THE FUTURE
The current path of Landmark not only intrigues me, but also show tons of potential to become the clear modern day frontrunner in regards to a massively multiplayer sandbox building and crafting video game. The only things missing are combat and monsters, but Sony already has them planned. Once that has been implemented, I feel that a lot more players will come join the fun that is Landmark!
You can say what you want about large corporations but Sony Online Entertainment (Sony) keeps on impressing me with their recent game releases. If you’re a lover of building/mining, then Landmark should fit your needs, if you are the kind of player who likes to fight for their right to build, then I would wait a month or two because Sony is still working on adding combat/creatures to the mix.
– Solid feature foundation for an early beta
– Looks and feels great
– Easy to learn building controls
– Tons of changes and additions coming very soon
– The whole EQ:Next/Landmark name confusion was silly
– Early beta will burn players out. Might be better to wait for release
– Nothing else really…
CLOSED BETA VIDEO PREVIEW
Instead of the usual social plugs, I thought it would best if I leave some of my other work such as my video reviews. So below you can find my video preview of Landmark!Related: Daybreak Game Company, Everquest, Landmark, Preview, Sandbox