SOE unveils EverQuest Next

MMORPG publisher prepping all-new, alternate history installment in long-running fantasy universe; Fan Faire 2010 highlights offer first concept art.

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Over the weekend, Sony Online Entertainment held its annual Fan Faire, a meet-and-greet for those interested in finding out everything that's going on with EverQuest, EverQuest II, DC Universe Online, The Agency, and more. However, that's not all that SOE had in store, as the massively multiplayer online role-playing game company also took the opportunity to announce its latest evolution of the EverQuest franchise, tentatively titled "EverQuest Next."

Kelethin appears to be in for a facelift.
Kelethin appears to be in for a facelift.

As detailed in a panel posted to SOE's official Facebook page, EverQuest Next will be an all-new MMORPG effort from the storied developer. However, unlike 2004's EverQuest II, the new title will not be a continuation of the events that began in the 12-year-old original. Instead, the studio is positioning EverQuest Next as a "reimagining of the EverQuest universe," one that will have "familiar faces, races, and places" but operate as an alternate dimension and with a "clean slate."

Those statements were supported by a batch of concept art that accompanied SOE's EverQuest Next panel. The shots showed a variety of familiar environments, including the human town of Freeport and the elven forest of Faydark. Other shots showed detailed images of familiar races and monsters, including dark elves, ogres, and ghouls.

The design panel also noted that the next EQ will include a range of classes more in line with the original rather than the more specialized slate available in EQ2.

"We wanted to make the next EverQuest be something that still keeps the flavor the original and the lore and core tenants of it, but we wanted to make something that is truly next generation," said SOE president John Smedley of the game's direction. Smedley also said that SOE plans to provide a wide range of scalability for the game, noting that EverQuest Next will accommodate cutting-edge tech right down to minimalist laptops.

EverQuest Next remains in the early development phase, and SOE did not offer an expected release window or platforms.

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