The closed beta for Landmark (no longer named EverQuest Next Landmark!) started up yesterday afternoon, and I was fortunate enough to be given a beta pass by alpha investor Aurelia, she of the awesome Democracy 3 DLC review video from a while back.
When you first boot up the Landmark beta client you’re treated to a mandatory 3-ish minute video by David Georgeson, the game’s Director of Development, where he talks about what happened in alpha and what players can expect from beta. It was charming, if totally weird in that trademark SOE way.
The character creation is very simplistic, and the character graphics are not great. I run oddly, there’s no strafing (not that there’s anything to strafe away from exactly, but in a world of exploration I occasionally like to move diagonally), and I can’t zoom my camera.
That all being said, we’re not playing Landmark for the character generation, are we? No sir, I’m here for some mining!
I suspect that the same cartoony graphics that hinder the character display help the look of the environment. And it does look good, in a creamy sort of way. I liked that hopping up steep hills is totally acceptable, and there seems to be some mechanic to keep players from plummeting to their death when sliding down the side of a mountain.
Eventually I stumbled across a shiny patch of what I correctly suspected was copper, and started to mine.
It might sound like I’m damning the title with faint praise when I say the following, although I assure you I am not: Landmark has the most satisfying mining experience I have ever encountered in a game. Seriously! The voxels, however they work, make me feel like I am actually excavating a seam of materials. Chunks break away in different shapes, and the pick’s animations give it the right amount of heft.
Unfortunately I didn’t find crafting so compelling. That is more a statement about my short attention span than the crafting, really. I looked at the list of ingredients needed to make a claim flag and spent a few minutes trying to gather them, but I quickly got bored and instead focused on digging a tunnel to the center of the world.
I was digging for quite some time when a random player jumped and/or fell down the ice hole. He seemed to quickly shake off his misfortune, and started digging downward with me.
Eventually my new friend started digging off in his own direction, and after about 20 minutes of finding nothing but subterranean ice I logged off the game.
Overall my first impression of Landmark is that it’s definitely on the road to being a good multiplayer Minecraft. I’m not sure I personally am interested in a game that frontloads gathering so much over crafting, but that’s more a design issue than a fault. Should you get the opportunity to try the game for free, I highly recommend that you mine something.