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I’d been fanboying over Landmark really hard of recent.  It was my personal best game of 2014.  It was the game that made me look at the sandbox MMO in a way that didn’t involve cocaine addict-levels of jittery paranoia.  It was something that both made me realize I suck at creating things in a 3D environment and also made me feel okay with that.  It brought a lot of great things to me this year.

So, of course I was excited for the PvE Patch.  I mean, it literally says on the front “This is a patch for your playstyle, Wolfy.  Here.  Please, drink deep of our flavor and enjoy.”

“Here, let me pour that for you.”

So imagine, then, my great disappointment when this patch turned out to not only to be a spectacular disappointment, but something that has shaken my faith in this game and the future of EverQuest Next.

I’ll need to elaborate, of course.  Combat has been a thing since the PvP patch in August.  I already knew that the combat model that was installed felt like an oily walrus trying to give people high fives with a sword.  But it didn’t really bother me, because PvP is a game mode that I don’t take very seriously, and so the complete ridiculousness of the whole affair didn’t have a great effect.  Granted, I was a bit worried, but I also wasn’t going to write it all off until I saw how it operated in a PvE environment.

Welp, I’ve had some time experiencing this in a PvE environment, and it’s not whimsical anymore.  It’s awful.

There’s been about two adjustments to combat–one major one that changed the weapon effects and output, and one that arrived with this patch that introduced new weapons and a variety of “keywords” that bring effects when you link pieces of gear together with the same keyword.  These are all neat ideas, but none of it matters if things still make you feel like a desperate LARPer.

“I’m trained in the Spastic Lemur style”

Combat is controlled in an over-the-shoulder third-person view, with mouselook aiming, and your left mouse, right mouse and E key the default attack keys for whatever weapon you’re holding.  The hitboxes are incredibly unforgiving.  Attacks do not flow well from one to the next.  Some attack animations actually stop you from moving for no reason, even after you’ve finished your swing.  Positioning doesn’t appear to provide any advantage other than ability to hide behind objects.  Enemy attacks are hard to pick out.  Aiming is loose, erratic and uncontrolled.

In short, it’s the hellspawn of DC Universe Online and Planetside 2, thrown at your eyes like an Alien Facehugger, and with about the same sort of horrible results.

Sorry pal.

Sorry pal.

The other big ticket item was the final version of Caves.  Before these were just small, randomly generated little areas that went down a few feet, had some random treasure and greater yield of minerals.  Now they have up to five different layers, head down to the core of the island, and have higher yields of treasure, minerals and monsters that get rarer and more awesome the deeper you go!  Sounds bitchin’ right?

NOPE!  What you get instead is a small hub area that literally is laid out the same, accessible only through the central teleporter crystal thing.  If you wanna explore the other, deeper more varied layers? You have to equip a mineral finding tool, use a Pulverizer machine, and DIG TO THE SHIT YOURSELF.  And it’s actually by design!  Dave Georgeson himself actually has said so!!

Add to that a crafting system that has been expanded into an even more numbing, boring grind, and…well…you can perhaps understand how things are becoming very frustrating for me in Landmark…and incredibly worried for  Neo-Norrath.

“What’s Next”? Intense disappointment.

I understand that this is perhaps an early build of things.  Maybe things can be improved upon.  But I doubt it.  Crafting hasn’t seen any actual touch-up in a year.  Combat hasn’t been changed in months.  It would appear that this is about as good as its going to get, and that makes me incredibly ill.

This game just does. Not. Work with a twitch combat model…and I say that as someone who actually prefers active combat.  It’s one of the best parts of WildStar.  It’s what also made me sick of DCUO and what is making me sick of Landmark.  SOE does not know how to build this stuff in-house and make it feel good…at least not with current examples.  I don’t see how this can be tightened up by simple virtue of the fact that they have yet to create an active combat system that doesn’t make you appear like you’re in a poorly animated slap fight.

I have laid out my concerns on the appropriate board.  I have rescinded my money.  I even tried to get a refund of my Founder’s Pack purchase.  That’s how strongly I feel about this whole thing.  I genuinely think they’re about to giddily crash into a reef…and that has me very upset, because this game could make sandbox MMOs the new normal thing…but as it stands now?  It will kill all potential for this genre.  This is a squandered opportunity in the making–a train wreck happening before my very eyes in slow motion, and I can’t help but watch in teary-eyed horror.

I hope I can be proven wrong.  I want to be.  But early looks right now are telling me that this is not going to change very much.  And with full attention going over to Next in the coming new year, I have had my faith in this game series utterly dashed to the floor.

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