EverQuest And Vanguard Creator Announces Pantheon

In a world overrun by unstoppable cartoon sound effects, one wizard will rise up. Then she'll probably land or something, and I don't know, I guess hit a skeleton unless it's her friend/pet/significant other.

Have you been looking for an MMO to round out the less massive, woefully lonely aspects of your life? And not just any MMO, but The MMO, one that can be summed up using a checklist of vague yet overwhelmingly familiar elements? Well then, have I got a game for you (to Kickstart, naturally). Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen has the pedigree of EverQuest and Vanguard developer Brad McQuaid behind it, but so far it doesn’t have many other aces up its long, wizardly sleeves. Fast-ish-paced combat, teamwork, and old-school difficulty seem to be the big selling points. So it’s a fantasy MMO with some slight tweaks to a withered and ancient formula. All well and good, but worth $800,000? Hmmmm.

Pantheon’s definitely trending in a more old-school direction than, say, EverQuest Next or even The Elder Scrolls Online. It sounds like grouping will be necessary pretty much everywhere – even if you’re just out adventuring. Solo play might be a viable path, but don’t expect an exclamation-point-paved golden brick cakewalk. So kinda like EverQuest back in its early days. I remember those times rather fondly, though I’m not sure if that’s what I want out of an MMO anymore. But to each their own, I suppose.

And the rest? Well, McQuaid and co summed it up in a list that could honestly apply to just about any MMO out there.

  • An MMO developed by gamers who aren’t afraid to target an audience of like-minded gamers.
  • A fantasy themed Massively Multiplayer Role Playing game (MMO) with a heavy focus on character development, an immersive world, and teamwork.
  • An MMO for players wanting a challenging and rewarding experience.
  • An open world in which you explore to obtain not only more powerful items but also new spells and abilities.
  • Travel where and when you want to in a non-linear world.
  • A huge world to explore, trade, and adventure in.
  • A complex back-story that players may gradually discover as they grow in power and explore the world.
  • A constantly expanding and evolving world.
  • Group-focused social gameplay using a class based system to encourage teamwork.
  • Customize your class by bonding with the spirits of fallen warriors.
  • Reactive combat where you can determine what the NPC is doing and react to it. (move, counter, deflect, etc.) .
  • Combat will be challenging and involved – your decisions will matter and directly affect the battle’s outcome.
  • Travel the world and profit from selling exotic items collected from distant realms. Different cities and outposts may have local Bazaars.
  • Limited and class based teleportation may get you close, but in order to reach many destinations you will have to traverse the planar scarred lands of Terminus through the use of your own two feet or on the back of your mighty steed.
  • Earning experience is only part of what it takes to level up. Exploring the world you will gain knowledge and power allowing you to overcome more powerful enemies.

Yep. I can safely say that Pantheon will be a massively multiplayer role-playing videogame.

The game’s deity-driven world of cataclysmic culture shock could be interesting, but it’s not really looking that way yet. Pantheon just ascended to Kickstarter’s hallowed halls, though. It’s hardly in its home stretch. The best is surely yet to come, if it gets funding that is.

I can’t say this one is doing much to win me over, but maybe it’s different for some of you. Will Pantheon get any of your precious pennies?


Top comments

  1. unfun says:

    To me it's obvious how this game plans to differentiate itself. The Kickstarter reads like a list of old Everquest features that have disappeared from MMOs: heavy grouping; a PvE world that's wide-open and dangerous instead of a "theme park"; inconveniences (like slow travel) imposed on players in the name of building community. There is a subset of old EQ fans who mourn the passing of this style of gameplay. Everyone else is glad it's gone.

    That said, there aren't really any current games that offer this sort of thing, so maybe Pantheon can carve a niche for itself, if it's not a buggy mess or whatever.
  1. Belsameth says:

    Awesome! Especially after Vanguard, we can really trust Mr McQuaid to know what he’s doing.
    Oh, wait…

  2. AngoraFish says:

    I can’t imagine how anyone can seriously believe that anything less than tens of millions of dollars is enough to produce a viable MMO. The sheer volume of content required to keep things things interesting over any kind of reasonable timeframe, not to mention the complexity of networking infrastructure, is staggering. Why any devs think that Kickstarting an MMO is even vaguely a practical idea is one of life’s great mysteries; and a testament to the human tendency of hope, ambition and self-delusion to trump all logic.

    • Shuck says:

      I’m completely baffled by the amount of money they’re raising – I don’t know what anyone is expecting for $800,000 (realistically that about covers office and salary for just the people in the video for maybe a year), and even their largest stretch goal doesn’t raise enough money to cover the basic promises, much less the extra continent and realms. Even if their engine and back-end are completely built already, that’s still not enough money to build content. It’s completely mad.

  3. LionsPhil says:

    Wow, an elves-and-wizards MMO with a bog-standard feature list. Don’t go crazy with your wild ideas now, there.

    • Cerzi says:

      Except for fans of Kunark-era Everquest, this is one of the rare cases of an MMO promising old-school features, which may appear invisible to people whose first foray into MMOs was World of Warcraft, but is a pretty big deal for those of us who have been waiting 15 years for something to follow in EQ’s footsteps (and not be a broken mess like Vanguard).

      EQ1 was to MMOs like Rogue was to RPGs. Except it was forgotten.

      • Arglebargle says:

        McQuaid seems to carry some heavy baggage with that. Don’t know the details, but the rumors are pretty bad.

        And EQ was not a flawless bed of roses. It had plenty of problems; I know I looked at it at the time, and decided it wasn’t worth it. Still, it’s good for folks to have gameplay they like.

        • ceriphim says:

          Interesting, can you be more specific with your “baggage” comment?

          FWIW, an MMORPG that hearkens back to the heady days of EQ1 is just about the only kind I’d be interested in playing nowadays. Part of the fun in EQ, looking back on it, was that it just wasn’t designed to make every single player feel like a coddled, unique snowflake. Every time you breached a hell level, it felt like it meant something (and could be taken away by bad play or sheer bad luck).

  4. Shadowcat says:

    This sounds not only great, but also super.

  5. Cerzi says:

    I’m ready to be fucked again, Mr McQuaid
    -Classic EQ fan

  6. Scytale says:

    This feels like this is the pitch to every fantasy MMO for the last 15 years. They all started by promising open, immersive worlds and ended up being a general grind.

    Why does this feel like Vanguard 2 but wanting payment-up-front?

  7. unfun says:

    To me it’s obvious how this game plans to differentiate itself. The Kickstarter reads like a list of old Everquest features that have disappeared from MMOs: heavy grouping; a PvE world that’s wide-open and dangerous instead of a “theme park”; inconveniences (like slow travel) imposed on players in the name of building community. There is a subset of old EQ fans who mourn the passing of this style of gameplay. Everyone else is glad it’s gone.

    That said, there aren’t really any current games that offer this sort of thing, so maybe Pantheon can carve a niche for itself, if it’s not a buggy mess or whatever.

    • utharda says:

      You see, Pantheon will have The Vision ™. Possibly also some dev running around with a flaming sword.
      That having been said, part of me dreams of going back to the days (years) I spend playing eq. Part of me knows that those days simply aren’t possible again, until I retire. or find the right insane asylum.

      • Reapy says:

        100+ people stuck awake all night in a public plane of hate raid disaster doing corpse recovery is a fun conversation over lunch, not something to get forced into playing now a days. Still, there are some good ideas and room for more player skill that were lost, like having an enchanter that could mez exponentially more mobs than another with similar gear, the dangerous windy dungeons etc.

        • ceriphim says:

          To be fair, nobody’s “forced” to play it nowadays like we maybe were at the time, there are a number of alternatives that will gently hold the player’s hand through any misfortune.

          Some of my old gaming group’s favorite stories (after we’ve had a few drinks and start to reminisce) still revolve around huge trains in Guk, Plane of Fear raids that went awry, and terrible party wipes & corpse retrievals.

    • crizzyeyes says:

      I’d never played Everquest until some months ago; I played it because I saw a Something Awful thread advertising a free shard server with improvements, and I decided that it was a good opportunity to try something I’d never tried before. Yet I still like Everquest more than theme park MMOs. It’s not all 35+ year old nostalgia glasses wearing fans, guys. Personally I would definitely prefer it if we had more MMOs like this.

    • mxmissile says:

      Dont fall for the scam, we have heard all this before, he is just repeating everything he said while Vanguard was in development. His employees working on this game have to have some balls, cause the *day* this sees the light of day, unfortunately, they will loose their jobs. Someone mark my words please.

  8. Blackcompany says:

    Nice to see a kickstarter looking to fill a void in such a sparsely populated genre. Kudos on recognizing that there’s a niche to fill….oh, wait. Maybe not….

  9. bstard says:

    I’m still not sure the good old days in WoW or Lotro where due to it being new or it being harder. I for one like to see the old style coming back to get the answer: subs to remove the begging F2P and not the 15mins session play to make it convenient for gold buying I dont have time players.

    Btw how’s that beta thinggy of TeS Online going?

  10. Anti-Skub says:

    Right…and why would you kickstart this and not just wait for EQ2, which is claiming to be doing all those things?

    • tad10 says:

      I’m not sure what you’re talking about. EQ2 already exists and is a WoWified game. If you mean EQN that has nothing to do with “old-school” MMO features like trinity combat that are planned for Pantheon.

  11. Merus says:

    A game with forced grouping but individual goals, so everyone is basically out of step with one another? Yes, that’ll end well.

    Also I see they’re promising ‘class-based gameplay to encourage teamwork’ which to me reads like the trinity. I’m not sure how their ‘reactive combat’ is supposed to work with tanks and threat because the whole point of the trinity is that DPS and healers can concentrate on their roles.

    But we know that MMO players, in general, keep looking for a game that’s just like their first game, up to and including the things that ended up driving them away from the game. I’m sure there are lots of Everquest players who are still chasing the dragon and will pay for this; I’m also fairly sure they’ll find the game is not in fact capable of doing what they wanted: capturing the magic of being a young person without responsibilities discovering an entire, unknowable virtual world for the first time.

    • lord_heman says:

      Well said, well said indeed!

    • Rizlar says:

      As true as all that is, there is definitely a lack of certain elements in newer MMOs. My personal peeve is how unconvincing the worlds are when everything is designed with efficiency, accessibility and ‘the player experience’ in mind.

      Why is the surface of this planet uniformly covered by hostile monsters, slightly larger camps of hostile monsters, dungeon entrances and tiny, disconnected quest hubs? Give me a big town which you are sent back to again and again, because it’s an important place. Give me a zone full of shit-scary enemies, which means instant death for a solo player (Orr in GW2 is actually quite a good version of this). Give me a huge, empty zone which is beautiful simply due to it’s emptiness, and the change of pace it provides where small details can be newly appreciated. Give me a world full of stuff simply because it exists, not because of ‘quest-flow’.

      TL;DR: It’s not all nostalgia, for instance I recently reinstalled Skyrim because one of these new MMOs had me craving it’s immersive, deeply realised world. But agree about the promises and expectations of something like Pantheon, which doesn’t look all that interesting to me.

    • Jenks says:

      “But we know that MMO players, in general, keep looking for a game that’s just like their first game, up to and including the things that ended up driving them away from the game. ”

      EQ was actually my 3rd (graphical) MMO but by far my favorite. It’s weird how people love to peg EQ fans as blinded by nostalgia, when there have been zero games to fill EQ’s shoes in over 10 years. People miss the grouping, the danger, the sense of exploration. No MMOs even attempt to offer what EQ did.

      4th pillar… facepalm.

  12. Noviere says:

    I’ve read about how Brad McQuaid allegedly ran his last company into the ground. I wouldn’t give him my money.

  13. solro says:

    1999 EQ1 vet here, and I was all onboard for Vanguard, even went to their 1st and 2nd pre-alpha Las Vegas gatherings. And while McQuaid talked a big and compelling game in-person, face-to-face in the motel lobby even, after the events all his activity on the official game message boards seemed to be just talking about his sports cars. Then after the game flopped big time the reports from laid off employees about him not showing up for work aren’t hard to believe. A while later he lands some kind of job back at Sony Online Entertainment but cant hold that for long either.

    I just can’t see myself trusting or believing anything he says.

    If he worked as part of a team, after vanguard, and showed greatly improved leadership ability (or at least giving a crap about his work) on a successful project, I could see myself buying his ‘I was full of myself, but now I’m better’ line.

    As it stands, his latest project just seems like the result of no one wanting to work with him anymore.

  14. araczynski says:

    all that, and they’ll still find a way to include IAP i bet, on top of the monthly fee. loved everquest, but not interested in more of the same. years ago i’d have welcomed this type of a game, but now that i’m older (39.9), I’m just not interested in wasting what precious little free time i have with grinding and forced grouping, leave that stuff for the younger crowd with no lives yet.

  15. PopeRatzo says:

    I think $800,000 is a lot to pay for a game.

    I’ll probably wait until Steam has a sale and it’s like, $50,000.

  16. The Random One says:

    Maybe I’m just a complete MMO noob, but to me most of those features read like “Interactive Menus!” on the back of a DVD case. And this, specifically:

    “An open world in which you explore to obtain not only more powerful items but also new spells and abilities.”

    …sounds like “additional content includes not only cut scenes but also the cinematic trailer”.

    • crizzyeyes says:

      Er, they mean that you actually explore the world to get the spells. As in, you aren’t going to magically get your spells/combat abilities if you just sit around killing the same mobs.

      • Dances to Podcasts says:

        The words that come to mind are ‘padding’ and ‘grind’.

        • Orsenfelt says:

          Maybe, but we’ve had about 10 years of the alternative and the words that come to mind for that are “boring” and “carebear”

    • aliksy says:

      Maybe most MMO players just have low standards. That explains the quality of some of the games.

  17. knowitall011 says:

    Is this the same moron that wasted 100 million on vanguard? I hope it isn’t.

  18. Foosnark says:

    the pedigree of EverQuest and Vanguard developer Brad McQuaid behind it

    Hee hee hee.

    Corpse runs and forced grouping for everyone!

    • Foosnark says:

      …in fact, this story is a lot more fun if you just search and replace “Brad McQuaid” with “Fippy Darkpaw.”

  19. Moraven says:

    “Half naked mage with big implausible boobs. Check!”

    Well that got that fantasy MMO feature included at least.

  20. Moraven says:

    Why did they got take this opportunity on starting fresh to do something not Fantasy? Its it that hard for them to try anything else?

    Camelot Unchained at least asked for $2 million. Not sure what $800k will help them do.

  21. Press X to Gary Busey says:

    Subscription based niche EQ-nostalgia MMO. $800K. I think I’ll pass.

  22. hooby says:

    Hah, you can get way more dynamic sandbox gameplay with much more innovation and good crafting, good open world pvp, good open world pve, no instances, amazing player housing, player cities, and ALL THE GREAT STUFF – for way less than $800k.
    You have to beat that: link to kickstarter.com to get me excited. :P

  23. Cooper says:

    Until MMOs break the “hotkey rotation” combat system they remain basically dead in the water for me.

    Every game that’s promised a break from this hasn’t really managed to…

  24. machail says:

    Hey folks,

    Ben from Visionary Realms, Inc. and Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen here.

    I just wanted to swing by and thank R,P,S for the coverage and to see if I could answer some of the reader’s questions about our game.

    @Moraven – why fantasy? We still LOVE fantasy. Sure, there are tons of fantasy games out there, but they’re still pretty great, we think. Aaaand… there are elements of Pantheon yet to be revealed that might put a bit of twist in our fantasy world. We’re focusing on lore next week, so if you’re interested swing by the Kickstarter and you’ll be in for a bit of a treat.

    @The Random One – I understand where you’re coming from. This is an MMO that takes people back to the way things once were in MMO gaming. Those that played in those early years remember a much larger emphasis on social connections in game, the need for allies, and content that was enjoyed for many hours or even days, weeks, or even MONTHS instead of being rushed through in a matter of minutes. And the kicker – it’s from some of the same guys who made one of the very first MMOs ever, so they’ve been around a while and have seen how the genre has changed, and want to touch again on the things that made MMOs so popular in the first place which is sometimes forgotten nowadays. Brad goes into more detail in yesterday’s update at link to kickstarter.com

    @unfun – summed it up really well, and you’re clearly the audience we know is out there that we’re trying to reach. We understand it may not be for everyone, but for those of us who remember what was so great about MMOs when they were fresh and new also understand that the MMO audience used to be a niche itself. Now it’s gotten so big that there are subniches in there, and that’s where Pantheon comes in.

    Anyway, please do feel free to contact us at any time with any questions or suggestions. I’ll check back here, but you can also reach us via messaging on the Kickstarter.