Saturday, March 6, 2010

Return to Camelot

Early this week I received in my mail box the most recent Warhammer update. I usually read the whole thing to see if there's anything that would interest me in coming back to play. At the bottom of the letter the topic turned to Dark Age of Camelot. Any returning players can play free for 10 days. Also, everyone gets the last two expansions for free now.

With my interest in STO already dwindling and the addition of a death penalty not helping that situation, I thought this might be as good a time as any to revisit DAOC. The most recent expansion included a minotaur race and mauler class, playable across all three realms. To get back in the swing of things, I thought it would be best to start from scratch and go through the tutorial.

I played on the Gaheris server, which is the only completely PvP-free server. Playing here here also allows you to have characters in all three realms--Albion, Hibernia, and Midgard, which also means access to three times as many quests as you can freely travel throughout the realms. Loading up my account, I had forgotten how many alts I had played here. You are given 10 character slots in each realm, and I had a whopping 27 alts, with 8 of them being max level. I have never had anything close to this number of alts in any mmo. There are about 45 different classes which is enormous. Some of them do have some similarities. For example, there are three different ranged classes from each realm--the scout, ranger, and hunter. But they each have completely different skills along with strengths and weaknesses. And then there are some classes that are completely unique to that realm with no similar counterpart.

I had one slot available in each realm and decided to go with my favorite, Midgard. I love the viking structures, the music, and the entire realm is a bit dark and brooding. You can almost feel the chill in the air and I have this temptation to curl up in my chair with a hot cup of coffee as I play. Although I'm usually not a fan of furries, I was going to try the minotaur. But there was no female option, just a big, brawny male. That only left the norsewoman for the mauler class, which was my typical racial choice for Midgard anyway.

So on to the tutorial. This was not a quick 15 minute affair. My weekday play time is limited, but I did play each night throughout the week and only just finished it up Friday evening. For those used to not reading quests and just wanting to follow the mini map to git er done, they may be disappointed. There is a very small map with red dots giving you a general idea of where to go which does help. But quest npc's are not highlighted once a quest is completed, so you do need to read up on who gets what.

Actions aren't always quick jobs some might be used to. You may need to click and type /use for some things. You may need to click on your icon in your quest journal, which then puts it in your inventory, which then must be clicked on again. This is an older game, so the functions are older style, but nothing that can't be picked up on fairly quickly.

In the tutorial there are three different towns or quest hubs. One of the quests takes you into Demon's Breach which is a dungeon accessible by the tutorial of all three realms. On a typical server, this would mean your first exposure to PvP. But here it just means a chance to come across other players and say hello. Loot drops are great here and it's worthwhile to stick around a bit.

You will finish up the quests at around level 11 where you'll receive a complete set of armor as well as a mount. Now if you weren't reading your quests in the first hub, you will be left wondering what you're supposed to do now that the quests are finished. But if you were paying attention, you'll know you need to head back to the first quest hub and speak to the channeler. Even though he's not highlighted, he will offer a quest and whisk you away to your first real town hub just outside Jordheim.

Once here, your quest options can be overwhelming. And considering your quest journal is very limited, you need to pick and choose which area to focus on for quests. You can stay in town and follow the town quest progression. You can head into the city and pick up your Epic quest line, which can be soloed for most levels. You can do the quest lines in the Undercity, located under Jordheim. This was always one of my favorite areas for questing. You can head to the Shrouded Isles for a change of scenery for questing. There are task dungeons which can be done over and over if you like the grind method of leveling. There are dungeons to be explored that are very much soloable if you don't have a group. Often the barkeeps in the towns will tell you where to go based on your level.

There is a new quest line in the city involving some dragonslayer. Since this was completely new to me, this was the area I decided to focus on. Now with a little more play time this weekend, we'll see where this leads me.

Dark Age of Camelot definitely isn't an mmo with linear progression. If you need to be told specifically where to go and what path to follow, you will be frustrated. But if you like the freedom to explore and have the world completely open to you, the PvE options here are just tremendous. be continued...


Yeebo said...

That is a great writeup. Completely mirrors my experience about a year ago. The new tutorial areas are fantastic. You will have mastered the clunky (by modern standards) interface if you get through one.

From there, on a typical server you can level via 1. WoWish quest chains in the underworld, 2. kill tasks on the Shrouded Isles (you can very quickly power level to 20 on them), 3. PvP in battlegrounds, 4. running instances to get Aurulite (to trade for very solid gear), 5. auto generated instances (you pick party size, solo to 6 man), 6. six man content you need a party for (various dungeons).

Add server types on top of that, FFA PvP, strict PvE, normal RvR, RvE but no Atlantis content or buffbots....

I honestly can't think of any other MMO that gives you 1/3 of those options for progressing. And that is before even starting in on the insane number of classes.

Aspendawn said...

Most times all you hear is how great the RvR in DAOC was. But as you said, I can't think of any MMO offering these PvE options. And probably a lot of PvE-only types never even knew there was a PvE server--especially since it's called "co-op server".

I really wish more people were playing so they'd continue to progress the game. Or that other mmo's would even offer half of what DAOC does. Warhammer should have been so much more.