EverQuest Next looks to bring major innovation to the MMO genre, putting the fate of the realm into players' hands.
Despite periodic bouts of innovation, the MMO genre has remained largely static over the past decade. Ironically, the next era of online gaming may be heralded by a reborn titan from the previous generation: EverQuest. SOE's ambitious revamping of the classic MMO world, EverQuest Next, aims to provide a huge voxel-based realm with fully destructible environments, advanced high-level AI, and a hefty emphasis on player agency in shaping and protecting each server's unique landscape.
The most immediate and impressive feature of EverQuest Next is the modifiable terrain. Powerful attacks may leave permanent craters in the ground, while some classes like Earth Wizards can use magic to raise, lower, or destroy the terrain on the fly. However, these abilities are available to your enemies as well: giant enemies like dragons or golems may attack player settlements, and if they aren't defeated they can cause substantial damage to buildings (which will have to be repaired by players, brick by brick).
Enemies won't be your standard MMO goons, just waiting around for players to kill them and take their loot. Groups of foes will dynamically move around the world responding to events: a clan of orcs will be drawn to gold, and may set up camp along a well-used road to ambush travelers. If players decide to root out the camp or defend traveling caravans, the orcs may decide to relocate to a more lucrative location - or they may try to cut troublesome players off at the source and raid a nearby town!
If SOE can follow through on even half of the potential implied by these features, EverQuest Next could make some serious waves in the MMO market. It's still far from ready, but keep an eye out for more news from Norrath.