Review by choc66
"While DAOC goes underwater, this expansion almost drowns"
Dark Age Of Camelot was a game released back in 2001. It brought along some welcome additions and innovations to the MMRPG world, little connection problems, nice connection speeds even for dial up users, and most importantly, it catered to both the Hardcore gamer, and the Casual. Dark Age Of Camelot (DAOC now on) also tied Arthurian, Norse and Celt myths/lores seamlessly too for a more enjoyable effort.
The new expansion, Trials of Atlantis, released nov 2003 is a change from DAOC, and its first expansion, Shrouded Isles, by introducing Atlantis, as well as Greek Mythology and Egyptian tale. Trials of Atlantis (TOA from now) introduces better graphics, new races and new ablilties. Read on for the full breakdown.
For the note, ive been playing this expansion since it came out, so i have given it plenty of playing time to review it properly.
The Game is installed typically like most, but because this is a monster, it comes on 2CDs, it also includes the free ''Foundations'' expansion, handy for you that dont have high speed connections to download it.
The first thing you notice when you run the game is the character selection menu has changed, and the graphic options/sound etc interface is much more friendly then it was in Shrouded Isle (SI from now) and DAOC. When you first go into the new areas, or old areas, the first immediate reaction is wow, the new graphics are great, yes they sure are, but you better have a decent graphics card and at least 2GHZ cpu if you want to run everything. Older areas benefit from graphics upgrade as well, everything from trees (great for you hibernians) water, and ground look much better.
Next, there are 3 new races to choose from, 1 for each realm. The Half Ogre (Albion) The Shar (Hibernia) and the Frostalf (Midgard) all 3 classes have the pros and cons. While the new races are a welcome addition, why Mythic this time chose only 3 new classes is a mystery considering the SI expansion brought on 1 new race and 2 new classes for each realm. A new class or two would of been good for this expansion so mythic in my opinion were lazy in this area.
So what else does the new expansion add? The new additions to TOA are two things: Master Levels and Artifacts.
Artifacts sound good in theory. Weapons, armour etc that you can actually level up to make them more powerful. Once they reach certain levels, they can new stats, or some even give you a style/spell or two to utilise every so and so minutes. The trouble with Artifacts is, they dont just drop from some area with enemies, you have to setup up a group with certain classes who will benefit you and lead what is called a Artifact Raid. Here, you help in most cases 1 person get an artifact, this is done usually by killing a very high leveled enemy, once he is dead that person gets the artifact. Some artifacts though can be gotten for everyone in the group, not just the one person. Now comes the other part. Each Artifact requires 3 scrolls to create a book, which you must then present to a scholar so he can very a artifact and thus verify and activate it for you to use. Getting these scrolls can be a nightmare as there have been reports of some people fighting the same type of enemy for one week before it dropped what they wanted. Then there is the whole case of levelling the artifact by fulfilling certain conditions (Such as killing this type of enemy, or killing people from other realms)
Artifacts could of been greater had they not been such a pain, especially for the casual gamer. This though will not faze the hardcore DAOCer as much.
Master Levels are the other notable new addition. There are a total of 9 master levels, plus 1 extra hidden master level for a total of 10. Master levels are like epic quests except much much longer. A typical master level quest has you doing 10 steps, some of which can be soloed, but most steps require a group or battlegroup. Upon completion of a Master level, you get a choice of new abilities depending on what class you are. Classes such as the Assassins (Infiltrator, Nightshade, Shadowblade) can choose from being Spymasters and receive abilities such as pickpocket, or create a dummy etc or battlemaster. Tanks such as Paladins, Blademasters, Armswo/men, Hero, Warriors can choose from Battlemaster which gives abilities such as bodyguard, which they can block caster classes from taking any hits while casting etc.
TOA also introduces diving, and provides a true 3D area, meaning you have to dive up and down as well as moving forward. To survive underwater, you need to buy special water potions, which are fairly cheap.
TOA has quite a few problems.
Ive explained the Artifacts problems, but they also apply to the Master Levels. Not everyone has 10 or so hours to spare. Yes the can be done 1 step at a time and then done later, but thats not the point, as the user would have to find another group willing to do 1 step at a time etc. I dont see casual gamers having much chance of completing many master levels if any. Why mythic didnt give you multiple ways of completing Master Levels is a mystery to me
This also applies to Artifacts, it would take a casual gamer ages to get 1 artifact, getting it to level 10 is another story.
The new expansion areas, yes they look great. Though were SI gave us new islands, they were as you expect, different for each realm. SI gave us avalon, Aegir and Hy brasil and everyone of those islands were unique and different. TOA on the other hand have given us a few atlantis isle which are exactly the same on each realm. This is dissapointing especially if you play in all 3 realms, and again, lazy from Mythic.
There is also the lack of a thing most gamers were expecting called a map. There are maps on the camelot herald (The games official site for news/info/rankings) so why couldnt Mythic just slot these maps into the game. They had two chances which i let off with the original and SI, but no map now is just stupid.
Realm Vs Realm (RVR) combat still has its faults, some of which though will be addressed with the free ''Frontiers'' expansion later this year. RVR combat still suffers from the fact that which ever realm is more populated on a server, that realm on that server will dominate in RVR. Certain classes will also find it frustrating, no matter how skilled they are.
There is also the fact that all enemies in the new atlantis zones are powerful, sometimes too powerful for even level 50 characters. There is no way a low level 20, 30, or 40 can benefit from exploring here.
TOA is a good expansion though its a expansion with problems and lazyness, thus not putting it in the same league as DAOC and SI. It seems Mythic rested on its laurels with this one and lets all hope they find there midas touch that was DAOC and SI in the next ''Catacombs'' retail expansion. TOA is a worthwhile purchase if you love DAOC. If you dont mind the mentioned problems, pick it up.
Reviewer's Rating: 3.0 - Fair
Originally Posted: 04/28/04
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