Landmark closed beta now on Steam Early Access

Tyler Wilde at

Beachport Manor by Chiora, via the Landmark Showcase on the official site.

Landmark, which as of a couple months ago was "EverQuest Next Landmark," is now on Steam Early Access. The voxel building MMO was pitched as both a standalone creative game and a testbed for the RPG features and environments of the new EverQuest, and that remains the case despite the new title. As of right now, though, Landmark is all about exploring, mining, crafting, and crazy projects like the manor above (see more like that in Tim's gallery of the best creations).

Later this year, however, SOE plans to add features we'll see in EverQuest Next, including combat, survival, and a procedurally-generated underworld. The most recent major patch added oceans, but without swimming animations or any way to handle drowning and reviving, players can currently walk on water—so it's not quite there yet. According to SOE, though, things are progressing fast: its death is planned for June, and combat is planned for July.

Until then, Landmark has merit as a building game. Though I tired of my project after a few weeks (and then the world was reset), I spent a lot of hours putting together the Coconut Monkey Bar & Grill when the closed beta launched. I'll probably jump back in as the updates keep coming—I should probably build a shelter before monsters are introduced.

If you're interested, though, I don't recommend the more expensive packages, unless you really care about having your name in the credits. The cheapest package available on Steam is the $20/£15 Settler pack. You won't get as many exclusive items unless you spring for the Explorer or Trailblazer packs, but regardless of whether or not you have a special bracer, Landmark requires a lot of time. It's not like Minecraft's creative mode where everything is available right away—you have to work for the privilege to claim a plot and use advanced building tools. That means a lot of whacking rocks with a pickaxe, so don't expect to instantly start building what you see in the screenshots.

Once you're under way, though, the player creations in the community showcase speak for themselves—it's a really powerful building game. Entrepreneurs should also note that building templates will soon be sellable on the SOE Player Studio for real money. I can't recommend spending $20 hoping to make a fortune on Gothic arches, but it's an interesting model: most player marketplaces feature skins and models made with specialized software, but Landmark provides both the tool and the store. I can't wait to hear about the first in-game real estate moguls.