Dark Age of Camelot: Platinum Edition Review

Copper? Maybe. Platinum? No.

Dark Age of Camelot started as one of the more unique MMORPGs on the block. Over time, it introduced a few expansion packs — some as free downloads, and two as separate, commercial packs. The two packs bearing prices, Shrouded Isles and Trials of Atlantis, were later combined with the original to form the Platinum Edition.

At first, this looks like it would serve gamers well. The full version of the original game, plus the two commercial expansions, with the two free expansions shoved into the same box for convenience. Considering the separate prices of the things included, the Platinum Edition seems like a great deal. However, it doesn’t take long to realize that the expansions in this package don’t shine like the color named in its title. Actually, yes, it does take a long time, and that’s half of the problem. Some MMOs may start out leaving one impression on the player, but gradually change with time. Players picking up the Dark Age of Camelot Platinum Edition will start an standard-grade title showing its age, and months later, still be playing an standard-grade title showing its age.

Dark Age of Camelot itself is a unique and interesting MMORPG. The story works with stories surrounding the legendary King Arthur, as well as certain Celtic and Norse myths, to create a plot all its own. Players going through this story are must choose an army with which to align, as the game’s central focus is a three-way war between the realms of Hibernia, Midgard, and Albion. While certain other games have featured multiple nations/factions/armies fighting for power, Dark Age of Camelot handles this strife unlike the rest by making server choice a determining factor in the actual importance of one’s realm. Role-playing servers are focused on role-playing, and provide a satisfying experience for those who log on to them. Should someone play on a Player vs. Player (PvP) server, realm is extremely important, as spotting players from another realm means a fight will begin in a matter of seconds. These PvP servers work like other a certain few other MMOs that have come out since DAoC‘s debut in that players of different alliances can’t even understand each others’ language. On a Realm vs. Realm (RvR) server, the PvP battles involve many more players, making for huge group battles, and the language barrier remains. PvP on a Normal server be consensual, while such combat and language scrambling do not exist on a Co-op server. The variety servers is one of DAoC‘s real bragging points. They let the player play however he or she wants. One can join the heated Realm vs. Realm wars for large-scale combat, or set alliance aside and cooperate with players from other Realms, all depending on which server is picked. Even three years after its release, this remains one thing DAoC can boast over other games.

The city of Camelot.

What it can’t boast is very much appeal to new players, and this Platinum Edition is a fine example of why not. Shrouded Isles added content accessible to all levels of players; this is good. A graphic upgrade to visuals that were already competitive shows the developers’ desire to keep the game satisfying, new classes of characters are generally met with appreciation, and everyone loves new areas to explore. These additions sound great on the surface, sure, but that thinking will likely change upon seeing the actual quality of the new content. The biggest thing added by the new races in SI is visual. It’s nice to have a greater variety in the way players look, but it’s even better when those new toons can actually do something unique in battle. Even the new classes can not do much that existing ones can’t. The potential abilities of the new races and new classes added in SI is nothing drastically different than what was already present in DAoC. Or, in more example-driven terms: players conceived no deeper gameplay strategies because of them.

The most important change in the Shrouded Isles pack is the interface tweak made by Mythic. Several vital commands in the standalone DAoC required typing in a text window, but SI features a critical edit to this, effectively making combat easier to learn and less painful to engage in. The beefed-up number of races and classes in Shrouded Isles give Mythic another point with which to lure in new players, but in the end, these boil down to nothing beyond what should be expected of an expansion pack. Adventurers might dig the new islands, but SI did not revolutionize DAoC.

About 11 months after Shrouded Isles came Trials of AtlantisToA makes Shrouded Isles look like the lord and king of expansion packs. Like any other run-of-the mill MMO expansion, ToA is headlined by the ability to explore — you guessed it — parts of Atlantis. This idea sounds exciting at first, and such a unique addition to an MMO could very well be a wonderful way to bring in new players. But then the player discovers that in order to embark on the “trials,” a character must be at least level 40. Picture this: Johnny Newplayer loads up everything in the DAoC Platinum Edition, and sees within the very first few help screens a message saying in so many words “well, you can’t do this until you’re level 40.” Okay, that’s a small drag, but at least the player will have something to do when level 40 rolls around. Wrong. After Johnny Newplayer obtains a level 40 character, which consists of much more than simply leveling one character (he got curious about these other two realms, explored them, created other charcters to examine the other races, etc), he gets to Atlantis and finds there’s nobody around. Players need a group to accomplish the bulk of Atlantis’s goals, but finding one here is even tougher than being a Warrior in the notorious “Valkurm Dunes” of Final Fantasy XI. Additions like certain “artifact” items that must be leveled as part of obtaining “master levels,” are already designed to take a long time, but end up consuming entirely too long due to the huge amounts of downtime in between segments of quests and solid leveling sessions.

An unbalanced community is the result of Dark Age of Camelot’s lack of low-level content in these expansions. The high-level areas of the game are seemingly getting all the developer attention, which means starting a new character can be a ridiculous chore, because the already-slow level grind is made even slower by the fact that so much soloing must be done. Rewarding high-end characters is great, and more MMOs should give the high-level community as much attention as DAoC does, but not at the expense of all of the other characters. Even the level 20 activities provided in ToA are a joke.

Don’t get excited; none of them are real players.

To the credit of both expansions, the new lands added are aesthetically amazing. The variety of these lands is also good. First adding mysterious islands, then the lost continent of Atlantis, the development team has been original in their selection throughout DAoC’s history. Being in these environments is pleasant, and their quality is a credit to Mythic. But again, a downfall of only focusing on high-level content and expanding further is that previous adventuring areas become desolate and useless.

Even the respectable graphics and wonderful music can’t save the Dark Age of Camelot Platinum Edition from being an overall weak package. None of that matters when goals take twice as long to finish and leveling is so much more of a grind than it has to be. If Mythic keeps catering only to those that are near the level cap and have a high amount of patience, Dark Age of Camelot will end sooner than the company would like. This bundle has its good points, but there really isn’t much reason to buy it…at all.

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'Awful' --1.5/5



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