We had a chance to catch up with game director Morten Byom to discuss the upcoming expansion for Anarchy Online, Lost Eden. The new expansion will focus on encouraging players to engage in casual player-versus-player battles (rather than the high-level player-versus-player battles that currently take place in the game between powerful characters and their wealthy guildmates). Part of this focus will be based on satellite stations in orbit around the game's planet of Rubi-Ka. Satellites will consist of open arena areas, separated by character level ranges (so you hopefully won't see many battles between characters of level two and level 200), surrounded by turret guns that can also be used by players (preferably by lower-level players who don't have powerful armor and items to defend themselves with).
Another idea behind the expansion will be researching advanced technology, which, incidentally, the aliens of the previous expansion pack, Alien Invasion, will also be researching. You'll be able to commission armored mech walkers (including a cheap two-legged model that will be free of charge) in the expansion and research more-powerful models as you go. But if players fall behind on their research, the aliens will apparently take the lead and become much more challenging opponents. At present, the plan is to let players contribute from their experience point pool to global research--whether players from the supposedly evil Omni-Tek faction will contribute as much as the rebel Clan faction remains to be seen, though Funcom will take steps to make sure the arms race remains mostly balanced overall. In addition, the expansion pack will add all-new alien encounters, including a high-level battle that can take place on the alien mothership.
In the meantime, Funcom is moving forward with a general upgrade to Anarchy Online that includes upgraded graphics and textures, both for environments and for character models. According to Byom, this change will not be a one-off addition but rather something planned for the next several months. The expansion itself will be released later this year, though in exactly what form (possibly packaged with the original game and one or more expansion packs) has not yet been revealed.