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Hi folks. I wanted to write to you all the tidbits I found out about Everquest Next by asking several questions of the dev team and attending SEVERAL of their mini-presentations and the mmorpg.com panel. The dev's, btw, are EXTREMEMY nice and I made sure to thank them profusely for all their hard work and dedication. Also this list is just from memory, I cannot promise I remember or heard everything completely accurate, but I'll do my best.
First and foremost I asked them about playing a single class. I told them that since EQNext doesn't really have any sort of vertical leveling system to speak of (which they seem strangely silent about all of a sudden), most gamers have concluded that a large part of the game would be going out into the world and acquiring all the different classes and then further acquiring a bunch of different skills and abilities for these classes, which we can then mix and match into our own personal multi-classed preference. They agreed that this was an important aspect of the game.
SO. I then asked what about the large player group that comes from EQ1 and EQ2 of old, that probably has little interest in multi-classing and wants to stick with a "purist" class or role. I was told that this subject is a top priority, to make sure EVERY class was completely interesting and compelling on its own and I was assured that the game would be just as fulfilling to a single-class player. They said they realize they would ostracize a large part of their fan base if single classes weren't just as exciting as multi-classes.
I then asked, for example, if I started the game as a Shaman and ONLY wanted to be a Shaman, would I have a greater array of spells and skills then a small initial handful and could more be acquired. They claimed the answer was yes, though, they stressed it would not be as large an array as seen in prior games and I wouldn't have a "90 spell hot bar."
For the Shaman in me, I asked if "warding" was in the game, and to my surprise, they practically didn't know what I was talking about. I had to explain it was blocking damage as oppose to healing hit points. They sort of felt like this "mechanic" was in the game but had nothing specific to say.
Now is the strange part, and I COULD be mistaken. But I did ask twice and was clear as could be. They verified that the first 4 skills on the hot bar are indicated by your CLASS and WEAPON. We knew this. Each of the 40 classes will have 2 weapon sets to chose from and of course there may be repeats like "sword" and "dagger" but a rogue's dagger set will be different than an assassin's, etc (note: they did not use the example rogue and assassin).
BUT - I was told TWICE, that the second set of 4 skills on the hot bar are NOT, in fact, dictated by class, only the hot bar "template" is. The actual abilities are purely pulled from the multi-class system and it will be up to the players to determine what set of skills they want for those 4 slots. Now, these skills ARE set up as a template, determined by class. For example, a rogue will have his first 4 abilities dictated by his weapon, and the next 4 abilities MUST follow the rogue template, which may be 1 offensive 1 offensive 1 movement and 1 movement (I was actually given this example). So this rogue can pick from movement or offensive abilities (though Im not sure if there are any other restrictions) but as a rogue, cannot have any defensive or utility spells AT ALL. Until they change their class, which according to the dev's, hasn't been decided yet on how to do, for example, do you just push a button, or talk to a trainer, or go on a quest to change class, etc. What weapons you are holding DO NOT determine your class but your class DOES determine the weapons you can use and the skills they are associated with.
I was told that if I love Shaman, it is possible to pursue a traditional "slow" and other hallmark shamanistic spells and slot them into my second 4 skill set, but that "slow" itself is not a shaman-specific spell. Any class could use "slow" as long as it is within their template (I imagine utility?).
I overheard a little bit about races and how they are very aware that everyone has their own favorites and how the Everquest franchise has fleshed out quite a few. They said whatever may not make it into launch will certainly be fair game for future content.
They CONFIRMED that Kerran are a CAT race, and do not have to be lions. There will be Kerran's that look much more like tigers, or cougars, or panthers, or cheetah's etc. At least I THINK they mentioned all those cats, it was a pretty big list.
Dave at the mmorpg panel talked again about how roles ARE important, such as having "the big guys" stand between the mob and the "little guys" but that roles can be fulfilled in different ways, not purely with just a trinity set up.
I asked them what happened about a year or two ago when the dev's said very specifically that EQNext would reduce the number of classes and would be much closer to EQ1 than the giant amount in EQ2. They said simply that that game had been scrapped and the new game follows a new path. They didn't want to create the same old thing.
I hope you folks found this at least a bit informative, I can try to ask more questions over the next few days if you have any and that they will answer. As far as I know I am not breaking any rules?