So between Wildstar and ESO, Landmark is the new star on the block that everyone’s talking about – everyone with a closed beta key anyway which seem to be an awful lot of people. It’s a beautiful game, too beautiful really for voxels which impresses even those among us who are not usually constructionists. Or gatherers for that matter; Landmark is all about the gathering and an admin mode doesn’t seem likely. I was worried about this before but having sunk several hours into Landmark by now, I am with Liore that the game features by far the most satisfactory gathering experience of them all. Mining and chopping wood has an almost therapeutic, calming quality – the motions and sound effects are great and the chunks and splinters come off seemingly at random as you dig down veins to see what gem might lie at the end.
Landmark, for now, is also making things considerably more easy for you than let’s say Minecraft, which features tool decay at pretty irritating speed before you reach higher tier tools and weapons. A single mine or tree in Landmark yields a respectable amount of materials which makes the process feel rewarding. Besides that, Landmark lets you create all the basic and necessary crafting stations for little effort; it may have taken me four hours altogether once I understood where to find the required higher tier materials. It so happens that all you need to do is hop island.
For someone like me who is not into tedious gathering with steep progression nor into complex (aka grindy) crafting systems in MMOs, Landmark is exactly right. Unfortunately therein also lies mild apprehension because SOE still plan to overhaul crafting entirely until launch. Given how easy things are at the moment, I can’t imagine this going any other way than up towards more restriction and difficulty. Alas.
Remember the classes of EQN where you collect a whole bunch of them and you specialize? We’re going to be doing that kind of thing with crafting also.” So players who have learned specializations will be able to craft different and better things than players who haven’t. Additionally, players will have to work together to craft some really great things, as players will have different specializations. [Dave Georgeson]
So quo vadis, Landmark?
Two weeks ago SOE revealed their comprehensive roadmap for Landmark’s future, inviting players to help shape the development process of the game. MMO players rarely need such invitations – the forums and other social media platforms are bursting with wishlists and suggestions for the future. The game feels very playable right now but it’s lacking more practical and intuitive building tools along with many announced features in the roadmap.
What nobody really can say at this point is in which ways Landmark will truly be more than a very pretty and atmospheric building sandbox with a few social features. Even if the community is happy to visit and explore other claims at the moment, the game in itself isn’t particularly social yet, nor ‘massively multiplayer’. SOE have seperated Landmark from Everquest Next with the recent name change but they are still essentially selling an MMO idea here, while presenting EQN as the traditional MMORPG with y’know, character development and group content and endgame. Or whatever developers mean nowadays when they distinguish between MMOs and MMORPGs –
@DuceWild we probably screwed up with the name. Done now. EQNL is a social building MMO. EQN is an MMORPG. both share the same tech
— John Smedley (@j_smedley) February 7, 2014
So what will be the state of Landmark at launch? For now, the roadmap plans for the following major closed beta implementations: introducing dangers (damage and death), combat, quests (journal) and achievements, a guild system, the crafting overhaul and PvP along with various additions to the landscape (caves, water etc.). I must say, the addition of PvP strikes me as the most dramatic and somewhat curious of the bunch; what kind of motives could drive players to kill each other in Landmark I can hardly guess. Special loot or resources? Claim rights? A PvP-related currency?
I’m sure that Landmark is also going to feature an economy of sorts before launch along with the Player Studio, which for now is reserved for American players but will add more regions come May 2014. However given the complicated tax situation, I have no hopes that this feature will make it to my place anytime soon.
That seems about it, as long as SOE don’t have any more undocumented tricks up their sleeves until official launch. One might speculate about the community’s longevity until that time – after all speculation is the province of the MMO blogger. Personally, I’m not too worried about Landmark but I still believe longterm, it will have to offer a lot more than social platforms and deeper crafting in order to retain a longterm player base. I look forward to see what else SOE come up with. For now, I am quite happy to potter (pot-hole) around.