Eschewing the traditional expansion on the grounds it has not been able to implement all the features planned for the first expansion to Anarchy Online, Funcom last week announced it would be releasing a booster pack for the game instead. The booster pack, which is first in a planned series, differs from an expansion pack in that it provides tools to enhance a player's game world experience, rather than the new areas, creatures, and other large content typically found in an expansion pack.
"Booster packs have been standard in card-based games for years," said Trond Arne Aas, the newly appointed president and CEO of Funcom. "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 main feature of the booster pack will be land control, a feature which will become vital to players taking part in the struggle between Omni-Tek and the clans. Existing areas of Rubi-Ka will be made available for control by player organizations. A "controller" is purchased by the organization and can then be placed in the area it wishes to hold. Controllers then mine notum, the main element used in nanotechnology. Mines will benefit members through skill and experience bonuses, land-holder titles, and more.
There is, however, a catch: controllers can be destroyed by enemies such as other players, and creatures throughout Rubi-Ka. To protect their investment, players must build towers, permanent defensive structures with a potent offensive punch should it be required. As an added bonus, players who purchase a booster pack can also place personal towers virtually anywhere for time-limited bonuses, although these towers are only temporary.
The booster pack is currently slated for release during the winter holiday season. Pricing has yet to be determined, although Funcom is making assurances it will be less than the cost of an expansion pack. As for the planned Shadowlands expansion, it is still under development; however, the development staff has determined it needs more time to work on the game, and has thus pushed back its planned release to the first half of 2003. The booster packs require the full version of AO to play.