EverQuest II, the sequel to Sony Online's wildly successful massively multiplayer role-playing game EverQuest, will be exhibited at E3 2003. The original EverQuest is one of the most popular and successful games in its genre, with hundreds of thousands of subscribers and several expansion packs added since the game's release in 1999. EverQuest II will be an entirely separate game, still set in the world of Norrath, but in a time period subsequent to the one portrayed in the original game.
The game will have a brand-new 3D graphics engine, capable of advanced shadows, dynamic environment mapping, and per-pixel lighting. The character models and architecture promise to be much more detailed than anything seen before in an EverQuest game. The gameworld will be larger than in the original EverQuest, so in order to help you get from place to place quickly, EverQuest II will have controllable mounts and vehicles, such as horses and boats. You'll also be able to own land in the game, and the developers plan to have player and guild housing by the time the game is released.
EverQuest II will feature an entire makeover of the original game's mechanics, including many changes to EverQuest's combat, questing, leveling, spell, and skill systems. New classes, such as a tradesman, will be included in the game to go along with the addition of new trade and crafting skills. Plans are in place to allow high-level craftsmen to create extremely powerful items, weapons, and armor, so players won't necessarily have to quest for good items.
Sony Online also plans to address a number of issues plaguing the original game in order to make EverQuest II more attractive to newcomers. The class system has been redesigned into a branching system, so you don't get locked into too many commitments upon character creation. In another effort to accommodate more-casual players, the developers are aiming for the game to be played in shorter chunks. Quests won't necessarily be completed in just a couple of hours, but discrete portions of long journeys will take only that amount of time so they can be continued later on. Downtime for healing and mana regeneration is also being addressed, as are the grouping mechanics.
EverQuest II is currently scheduled to launch in late 2003 for the PC. We'll have more information about the game from the show floor.