SOE made the right call and Lifted the NDA for the paid EQ Landmark Alpha.
I’ve played for several hours and already am having a pretty awesome time, but I also have some concerns – complaints.
Sadly this is a going to be a text only post since, my blog has been hit by some sort of bug and I’m unable to upload images.
Lets start with restating that this is a real alpha, not some marketing alpha. I think this is great, getting a good number of interested people in playing your game in the fairly early stages gives you time to actually respond to feedback before going live.
*Character Look and Movement*
I like the look of the characters and the world. I feel even the default human characters we have in alpha, have ‘character’. I also think they have some wonderful animations that make their movement joyful, given good system performance (which is not happening 90% of the time right now).
The claim system for claiming land, as implemented right now, is not great.
What I’m commenting on is not the fact that there was not enough space for all players to get land that was in appealing locations. No that issue is easily addressable by adding more and more varied landmasses, and not something I would really expect in alpha.
No my issue is with the interface for the trying place a claim. I have no clue what that interface is trying to communicate to me, but all the red/white lines and the wacky camera controls made trying to place a a claim super frustrating. Granted this was made much worse due to there being more players than space.
*Controls and Camera*
Currently there is no way to remap / assign keys or invert Y look and the default camera position is a bit to close. The camera would be my number one complaint since mouse wheel scroll did not move the camera. Luckily someone pointed out that you can hold shift and mouse wheel it will adjust camera distance. I’m sure there is a very good reason they obfuscated that control, but it is weird.
Granted I fully expect a full control option screen to be implemented as they move through alpha, but it still made the initial experience frustrating.
The Stone Tools operate in S…L…O…W ……M…..O. They are way to slow to make initial gathering fun, and this was while simply digging through dirt.
Thankfully I did have the Founder Axe, which digs at a pace I would expect to start at.
*Tool – Resource Tier system*
Currently the zones (aka isles / continents) are assigned a resource Tier (1-3). Each Tier has different resources which require the matching Tier tools to gather from. So if you end up on a T3 zone but only have T1 tools, you can’t find or gather the resources needed to gather materials in that zone.
The answer given to me was to move to a T1 zone. That is one way to address the issue, if I had some idea of where I current was, and I had the ability to realiably travel. Both of the issues are top issues SOE is working on, so I know they will be addressed, but I still don’t like the underlying design.
I would have designed the resource system to allow players to use T1 tools on any tier of resource. In this system using a T1 tool on a T3 node would result in T1 versions of the resources being extracted.
This would always let gather, but if you wanted the better materials you would want to find the higher Tier nodes and mine them with at least matching level tools.
*Unclaimed Land Changes*
This is where I am currently most disappointed. Areas of the world that are not claimed, can only be altered by players for a short period of time. The open world rapidly heals itself; way faster than I ever expected it to be. I am talking in the range of minutes.
I knew they were going to have the open world heal, but I always expected that natural healing would take place over the course of days or weeks and that players would have a way to spend resources to speed that up.
I was hoping that the player population would be able to for example dig out a large cave system and set up a mining operation. Nope not in the open world you are not. Instead you will be closed into your mine as the world heals around you.
One counter argument says, if it does not heal rapidly the world will be post apocalyptic looking with holes everywhere. I agree, and think that is ok, because I believe the community would actively work to keep the world around them healed.
Another counter is, if it does not heal fast there wont be any resources. Again I agree. currently their is not enough land breadth or depth, but if there was I would be fine with easily accessible resources being scarce. It would encourage player to explore and dig.
One last counter is that claimed land does not heal. They are correct, and if my claim was five to ten times as big and there was enough land to support all players having claims that size, then I would feel better about the open world supa healing. Sadly claims are currently tiny.
*Thanks to the Devs*
I want Landmark to be awesome, because I feel it’s success is critical to EQ Next’s success. And thus I made the decision to pay for access to this alpha to help make that happen, but that means I’m not going to be always be a cheerleader for them.
But right now I do want to cheer them.
They launched alpha on a Friday night, this allowed the highest number of players to access the game on day 1.
They could have launched this on Monday morning to allow the player base to trickle in much slower and give the dev team more normal hours. Though that would have been not be as representative of a launch as doing it on Friday. Of course weekend launch means Development staff has to work the weekend, and I know what that means for them and their families.
So thank you Dev. team for your passion!