In the beginning was Ultima Online,
then in 1999 Sony’s EverQuest and Microsoft’s Asheron’s Call joined the ranks of
the Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games.
Ultima has enjoyed several expansions
over the years, and is now up to UO: Third Dawn. EverQuest has just released
another expansion pack, bringing the total to three.
Now Asheron’s Call has joined the fray
with its first expansion – Asheron’s Call: Dark Majesty. Developed by Turbine
Entertainment, Dark Majesty features a new world, but doesn’t cheat gamers who
have never played in the original world. Dark Majesty contains the original
game, as well the new island of Marae Lassel. There are new monsters, a huge map
board to explore, and some other new features, which will enhance the social
climate of Asheron’s Call’s homeworld of Dereth.
Let’s backtrack just a bit.
The story line behind the game begins
with the invasion of Dereth by giant insects. Humans eventually battled back,
but the olthoi (the race of giant insects) remain to torment and kill any
unsuspecting adventurers. Game players create a character and portal into the
world. After some introductory courses, you are ready to venture forth, seek
fame and fortune, and level up your character.
For reviews of the original Asheron’s
Call, please see
Like most online games, you pay a
monthly fee for the privilege of traversing this fantastic realm.
Now to say that this is the first
expansion pack doesn’t mean to infer that since its official release in 1999
that Asheron’s Call has stagnated. There has been the usual round of patches,
including those to repair the game’s trade system, and add a new territory. All
those patches are included in Dark Majesty. And Dark Majesty brings a couple of
other changes to the fore – like player-owned housing. You can buy an in-game
house. This offers a measure of safety and a secure place to store items. This
can be a mixed blessing. UO went this route, and the world – depending on which
server you play on – has become very crowded. It will be interesting to see how
Microsoft et al handle this aspect in the future.
And getting a house isn’t as easy as
just plunking down some cash. Nope, there are quests that must be completed – in
a way, challenging your worth as a potential homeowner.
In spite of the overall changes, Dark
Majesty has not upgraded the game sound (what little there is), the graphical
elements have changed little, and player-versus-player combat is still limited
to one server (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing).
However, if you want to experience the
wonders of this online world, the real value comes in the price – which is less
than $25 for the game with expansion and the first month of play free.
Sooner or later, some company is going
to develop a MMORPG that is truly unique and amazing. In the meantime, games
like Asheron’s Call: Dark Majesty provide a window to traverse strange lands,
battle strange and dangerous creatures, and make some on-line friends.
This game is rated Teen.
You get the game, you pop it in, install
the core elements, then wait another 20 minutes while the auto-patches update
the game. That isn’t exactly the prescription for a good time or instant access
to the gaming world.
These worlds are huge, and there is quite
a lot to do, see and battle
The characters are a little blocky, but
the environments are well done, as are some of the effects.
There isn’t a lot of sound in this game,
but what is there is solid.
The player interface is not all that
intuitive, and there is a learning curve of about 30 minutes before newbies will
feel confident enough to actually challenge and survive the rigors of this
The player-owned housing has been done
before in a MMORPG, so it isn’t exactly new. The new island is pretty cool,
This is not a solo player game. The chat
rooms can be a bit unwelcoming, but the game itself is enjoyable.
This game is certainly value-priced and
packed. There is a lot of solid game play here, great challenges and a
persistent online world that is as intriguing as it is inviting. However, while
new to the Asheron’s Call legacy, the innovations this game brings to the fore
have been done in other games. Asheron’s Call: Dark Majesty is a very solid