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Lords of EverQuest Updated Impressions

We get a new look at the upcoming real-time strategy spin-off of EverQuest.


Today at a Sony Online Entertainment press event, we got a fresh peek at the company's upcoming real-time strategy game, Lords of EverQuest. This was the first time we'd had a chance to see the game since our hands-on preview two months ago, and it appears that Lords of EverQuest has made a number of big strides since then, particularly in its presentation.

The first thing we noticed was the added polish in the graphics. The terrain textures have been given a lot more detail, with noticeable cracks in the ground and rocky patches of terrain breaking up grassy areas. At the edge of forests, you'll see trees become thinner, shorter, and scrubbier as the edge of the tree line meets up with open areas. Small cabins, fenced-off areas, and other structures decorate parts of the map for added ambience, or for use as landmarks as you make your way through the levels. Voices have also been added to each of the game's units, and they will acknowledge your orders as you give them, just as in most other real-time strategy games.

James Parker, the producer of Lords of EverQuest, made special note of the flexibility of the game's user interface. The different parts of the interface, such as the unit displays and minimap, can be moved around the screen and docked to any side, and even resized and stretched to different dimensions if you choose. Parker also noted that these interface elements can be skinned, and will include adjustable transparencies.

Another interesting aspect of the user interface is the way the developers are addressing the issue of hotkeys. Lords of EverQuest includes dozens of unique lords and other units, many of which have unique special abilities and spells. Factor in that any unit can pick up one of the game's special items to put in its inventory, and there are hundreds of possible spells and abilities that might require a hotkey. To get around this problem, each unit will have its specials mapped to the function keys. The use of each function key will change contextually depending on which units you have currently selected.

In our earlier preview, we noted that the game's lord units all carried a special aura that could bestow bonuses on your troops and penalties on nearby enemies. The auras of the game's 15 lords are unique, and have properties that include giving allies added poison damage to each hit, or causing enemies to attack more slowly. Players will also be able to knight two units in their army, giving each of those knighted units a small aura and additional hitpoints. As with the lords, the knight auras are unique to every unit. Knighting a wizard might bestow a mana regeneration aura, while knighting an ogre warrior would give an armor boost to nearby units.

Each of the units in Lords of EverQuest will gain experience as it is used in battle, and as units gain levels, their armor and weapons will change in appearance and strength. Magic users may gain additional spells and abilities, along with new AI routines that will allow them to intelligently auto-cast their new spells. Parker also made note that the level of auto-casting in Lords of EverQuest is fully adjustable by the player, so those who prefer more micromanagement can take away spellcasting duties from the computer.

Multiplayer Lords of EverQuest will support up to 12 players--with a unit cap of 50 per player, which means the engine can support up to 600 units at a time in the game. Those who play the game online will do so over a new, peer-to-peer matchmaking service called The service is free, and it will include basic functions such as quick match and tournament support.

The first round of beta testing on Lords of EverQuest is slated to begin within a few weeks, and it will be limited to 500 people. GameSpot Complete subscribers should check back in next week for a chance at winning a spot in this very exclusive group. We should have more hands-on info on Lords of EverQuest in the coming months as we get a chance to play the game during the beta.

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