While a number of companies have released large, expansions for online games, Funcom is trying something slightly different in Anarchy Online with its plans to add new features and content in smaller updates, which it is calling "booster packs." The reason behind the booster packs is that Funcom wants to release features previously planned for Shadowlands, the full expansion pack to Funcom's sci-fi online role-playing game. Shadowlands, first announced at E3 in May, has been delayed to the first half of 2003.
"Booster packs have been standard in card-based games for years," said Trond Arne Aas, Funcom's newly appointed president and CEO. "We're excited about modifying this idea for our players in massively multiplayer games, and we're convinced that our competitors will soon come out with booster packs of their own."
The major feature of the first booster pack is the ability for guilds to build towers and control territory. Existing parts of the landscape will be open to guild control, which is claimed by buying and placing a "controller" device on a plot of land. At the controller site, a mine will start up to process notum, the world's precious resource, which will grant a guild a number of benefits. Claiming territory will change the status of the area in the game's player-vs.-player combat system, allowing other guilds to attack a mine at certain times of the day. To defend territory, guilds can build towers. The territorial control feature is expected to focus conflict between the two warring sides in the game, Omni-Tek and the clans. The first booster pack is also said to include "some beautiful graphical updates and new sounds."
This is expected to be the first in a series of booster packs, which will supplement Shadowlands and other future expansions. Funcom has yet to announce pricing for booster packs but expects them to cost less than a typical expansion pack.
For more information on Anarchy Online, check out our previous coverage of the online role-playing game.