Anarchy Online: Shadowlands Impressions

We took a close look at the upcoming expansion pack for Funcom's sci-fi massively multiplayer game.

We were able to sit in for a demonstration of Shadowlands, the upcoming expansion pack for Funcom's 2001 online role-playing game Anarchy Online. Shadowlands was already running on Funcom's test server with all of its huge outdoor areas implemented.

Shadowlands won't take place in the original game's futuristic world of Rubi-Ka. In the expansion, you'll begin your journey in the gigantic floating city of Jobe, which was built by rogue neutral scientists from both the sinister Omni-Tek corporation and the rebel Clans. The white walls of the city, like many of the new landmarks in the upcoming expansion, will be huge enough to see from a great distance. Jobe will be divided into three different levels accessible via large, glowing portals that will represent rifts in reality. Hopping into the proper portal will set you on your way into the Shadowlands, which will be divided up into specific environments loosely inspired by Dante's The Divine Comedy. We had a chance to run through some of these varied environments, including the lush, green fields of Elysium, in which we encountered our first Shadowlands notum vein. Notum has been present in Anarchy Online as an important mineral resource, but in the Shadowlands, it exists as a glowing liquid that will literally be the source of life. You'll even be able to "carry a monster in your pocket" by purchasing the DNA blueprint for one from Jobe and then combining the ingredients with liquid notum at a vein--in essence, you won't even have to run around looking for monsters to hunt if you don't want to, since you'll be able to create them when you wish.

We also got a chance to visit one of the temples in the Shadowlands. Temples will be centered on liquid notum veins, and they will be carved out of glowing stone and presided over by a spirit, a huge ghostly creature that, as we saw, will be a pale, ethereal creature if belongs to the good-aligned Redeemed faction, and an opaque, black, twisted creature if it belongs to the evil Unredeemed faction. Outside of the temple, we were able to get a glimpse of some of the enormous creatures that you'll encounter in Shadowlands, including the huge three-headed dragon that was revealed to the public earlier--these powerful creatures will prove to be extremely challenging even to high-level players. And as it turns out, if you wish to become an extremely powerful, high-level character and attain levels 201 through 220, you'll need to choose a side (either Omni-Tek or Clans); you may not advance any further as a neutral character. The Shadowlands will be released later this year.

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