Landmark may be just another building game after all.
If you’ve read this column before, you probably know I prefer to be optimistic, to look on the bright side when it comes to the future and deal with problems as they arise. I’d rather not waste energy worrying about things I can’t change. You may have even worked out this column is meant to be about EverQuest Next and Landmark, though I hide it well sometimes.
So it takes a lot for me to say that for my personal relationship with Landmark as a player, this is a low point, and I can’t see it swinging back in the near future.
As people who write about these things are so fond of saying—Big Changes are coming to Landmark. If you haven’t heard, you can catch up with the official forum post.
The changes have been presented as dialing back the overlap with EverQuest Next to make room for something that works better for Landmark. Personally, I don’t buy this at all; these changes show a marked change in direction when it comes to how Landmark operates as a multiplayer experience.
Here’s a quick list of what I’m specifically referring to:
- Making basic building resources free and removing some higher tier crafting materials entirely
- Allowing all resources to be harvested with any tier of equipment
- Streamlining or removing most material refining and processing
- Decoupling weapon and armor crafting from tool crafting
- Removal of the Ether Stone, and Ether Shards for most recipes
- Removal of Salvaging
- Removal of variation on crafted items, upgrading and relics
The way I see it, this is a change designed to bring in those people interested in the building aspects of the game when the game soft launches into open beta, they are currently the game’s core audience, so it makes sense to build on that foundation (puns everywhere). However, this is at the expense of any feature that ‘gets in the way’ of the building systems.
Many people will be happy with these changes, but it’s a disaster for the long term vision for the game. The original vision as I understood it, at least.
The game will become something else, something a little different than the destiny imagined at its conception. I’ll continue to follow Landmark with keen interest, but after all this time of waiting and looking forward to being an active participant, it looks like it’s not going to be for me.
These changes are about making Landmark a building game, not a tool for collaborative content creation in a persistent multiplayer environment. Whether this was a result of the game’s scope needing to be reduced or a decision to consolidate and go for the safe option, I don’t know. Now the game has shifted towards ‘Creative Mode’ it will attract players who want that, and who will demand further concessions towards it.
I’ve always said this would be a tightrope, but I suppose I had assumed they’d make it across. That’s my optimistic nature in action. I figure that the plan is still to include more content creation tools, but I don’t have particularly high aspirations for the results as I once did. I was hoping for collaborative projects, but I don’t see the game attracting the variety of players it will need to support them.
If the game’s entry requirements are wanting to build solo, you’re lowering the barrier to entry for one type of player while raising it for another. This is not an effective way of nurturing a creative community. When only one type of person comes in, you tend to get the same ideas out the other end.
Worse yet, if everyone is building, who is left to participate in any content that is made? The same issue arose when PvP was introduced; there was no shortage of players building battlegrounds, but you couldn’t find anyone to fight.
While the creators continue to do amazing things in the game, I can’t help but feel it will all be for nothing without the glue of participants and consumers to hold it together.
So, I’m a little disappointed for myself and players like me, but really happy for all those people whose experience this will improve. I can’t wait to see what they can do with fewer obstacles in front of them.
The quality keeps going up; the community is becoming more and more collaborative and experiential. I have no doubt EQN will be visually stunning.
So, if Landmark is going to be ‘just a building game’, it’s certainly raised the bar in that category, and I’ve no doubt its symbiotic relationship with EQN will produce unprecedented results.
If Landmark is going to fall short of its potential, at least it was because they were reaching for the stars.
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