Mythic's long-running online RPG, Dark Age of Camelot, will get its next retail expansion pack before the end of the year. Titled Catacombs, this expansion's focus is self-explanatory from the title. But in addition to offering many miles' worth of dangerous dungeon crawls, the add-on is going to do something that should make Dark Age fans most pleased--it's going to completely overhaul all the character graphics, which for the most part, haven't changed since the game was first released back in 2002. We got to see side-by-side comparisons of the old and new looks of most of the game's various races, and we were very impressed with how much better the new character models looked. Considering that the typical Dark Age player ends up staring at these character graphics for long stretches of time, they might as well look their best, right?
The new character models are a definite improvement. Dark Age of Camelot's character models have never looked particularly good in the past, but they still captured the respective races' personalities fairly well. The new models do a much better job of it, and have especially detailed faces as well as fully articulated fingers on their hands. Players who prefer the old-style character models will have the option to revert back to those, but after seeing the new ones we honestly can't imagine someone wanting to go back. In addition to the updated player character models, many of the most common monster models have been redone as well, and they also look much better than before.
As far as actual game content is concerned, most of Catacombs' content expectedly takes place underground. There's justification in terms of storyline for why each of the game's three realms suddenly has access to a subterranean environment, but in gameplay terms, what this means is players of all experience levels will have new dungeon-style content to explore and gain experience in. Additionally, Catacombs will feature instanced content for the first time in Dark Age of Camelot, meaning player groups will be guaranteed access to dungeons unfettered by other players, and they will find it chock-full of stuff to fight and stuff to find. For good measure, all of Dark Age of Camelot's existing dungeons are getting a visual face-lift with this expansion.
Catacombs looks like it's going to address two major areas for improvement in Dark Age of Camelot--the fact that its character graphics are in need of a visual update, and the fact that its player-versus-environment gameplay could use more variety, especially the underground dungeon romp variety. We didn't actually get to play the expansion at E3, but having had a chance to see it, we're very much looking forward to when it ships late this year.