Saturday, August 26th, turned out to be my three-year anniversary for subscribing to Anarchy Online. Yes, I freely admit that it’s not that much. Nor is it three years of consecutive playing time – I’ve taken several extended breaks from the game. But it’s still an achievement. It’s even more interesting to think that three years prior I didn’t even know what an MMO was, much less any other acronym that I know freely throw around these days.
But I digress. Tomorrow the newest patch for AO goes live. 16.3 sets to introduce 30 new quests to the Inferno playfield, a newly-modified 1000 token board with slightly increased modifiers, increasing the total amount of missions you can have at once to 20, changing the planet map, and completely messing up the old IP distribution window, and a few other things.
I mention this because Funcom has done something I’ve seen very few other MMOs do. (Feel free to enlighten me here.) And that is to go back and edit and add quests, items, and change older content. Several places in AO that have been in the game for a long time have been modified in order to keep up with the changing game. They offer new quests, new rewards, and a new experience to the zones that were often bypassed just so people could get the items they wanted. And I feel that Funcom has done the community a service by doing it.
Sure, some people are angry and feel violated at these changes, but that is the way of a persistent world. Things change, people can’t handle it. But these changes make the world more interesting. One of the recently redesigned areas is a place called the Biomare dungeon, also known as Foreman’s. Prior to my newest character, Foreman’s stood as a place where you went to get a pair of low-level guns that for its level were obscenely powerful. I never explored Foreman’s. I went there, camped the mob that needed to be killed, and moved on. But this time around I was forced to explore this dungeon in order to progress and move freely around. And, I have to admit, it was neat to finally see this dungeon in full. And I have to wonder now, if this is that interesting, then what about the other playfields they’ve added content to?
Funcom has added content to the Nascence and Elysium playfields in the Shadowlands.
The new content, like what is being done with Inferno, as well as what was done with Foreman’s, came in the form of new quests and rewards. You have to remember, the Shadowlands expansion pack was release three years ago, about two weeks after I started AO. While it’s not as old as some other games’ expansion packs (EQ for example) they have gone back to add content and rewards to the zones that were otherwise just powered through. That is what is happening with the Inferno playfield as well. While it is a well-used playfield, it could see more action. Inferno has a perpetual heat-bloom like effect that makes it quite hard to play in at times. (The patch is also supposed to make Inferno a bit easier on video cards by editing some graphics files.)
Maybe it’s just me, but I think it’s really great to see MMOs going back to their old content. I understand that MUDs have been doing this for a long time. And that’s why I’m marveled by the whole thing. An MMO company is going back to what it originally created and adding a new twist to these things. Sure, it’s most likely a diversion of resources for higher level content and probably angers people looking at it from that perspective; however, when a game is at the point where all of it’s old content is so battered and abused that most people don’t even know what some of it is anymore, giving the beginnings a push forward is a great thing to see.
I’ll admit, I’m not saying that just adding new quests to old zones is a great addition, but at least they are trying. Funcom screwed up AO with the addition of The Shadowlands, of that there is no question. As a result, most of the content that people used to have became almost derelict. Yet, Funcom managed to breathe life into these places by doing two things. First, they have gone back and revisited some older areas to allow people the chance to try something new. Second, they opened up classic Anarchy Online to the public for free. While, yes, it is a defeat for Funcom, it also opens up the doors for people who never saw the old stuff. People are back to doing Cyborg camps. People have gone to Bothackers and 8×8 in Pleasant Meadows. And *gasp* people are actually getting tokens!
As with all MMOs, Anarchy Online has grew and changed. Even in the three years I’ve been with it AO has undergone massive changes. Tomorrow new changes abound. People are up in arms at the prospect of coveted high-end armor and weapons have a nodrop tag. For example, one item that sells for about 500 million credits may now be achievable by those people who don’t have that kind of money, or the time and ability needed to camp the mobs that drop this item. (A note: This is speculation. It is believed that the new Inferno quests reward people with these items just with a nodrop tag, but from what I’ve seen and read, there is no real evidence to support this claim… yet.)
Anyway, enough rambling. I just wanted to talk about some of the recent changes that I’ve kind of marveled at in AO recently. Funcom is trying to bring life back to parts of the game that are sorely neglected. And, yes, AO probably is dying a very slow, painful death. But so long as the players are around, and Funcom is willing to try to work with us, there may be a chance that the game will get enough changes and additions to keep drawing people back. Most likely, especially with some of the nonsense the newest expansion pack that is in the works, Lost Eden, this is far from the case. One can hope, though… I guess.
Edit: Looking at the patch notes again during server downtime. I forgot to mention a big change to AO: PvP Missions. In order to fit with everyone wanting to play WoW with a different name, Funcom has added PvP missions. As of yet, there are no real details about how this will work. When it goes live and I get a chance to read some more about it I’ll keep you updated. Welcome to World of Anarchy Online. Published by Blizzard want to be subsidiary Funcom. *grumble*