Players: 1+ Player Game | Release Date: 12/02/02 | Genre: MMO
Dark Age of Camelot: Shrouded Isles is a must-buy for any hardcore fan of the game. Maybe that's a bit blunt, but there it is. It adds new content, new classes, and new races, but most of all it add an update to the graphics. While the graphics aren't as cutting edge as games that have been released in the last year and change, the difference between the look of the original game and the expansion shines like a beacon in the night. Flowing water looks especially realistic. I spent quite some time exploring the river that runs through Camelot Hills and Salisbury Plains, although I quickly learned that the Salisbury Giants weren't as captivated by the water's beauty as I was. With those long legs of theirs, they can quickly stomp a poor adventurer into a puddle of goo. Where this graphics boost really helps is with the "realm versus realm" battles; while there is still some lag occasional lag (as with all online games), it stays playable, unlike before.
I have mentioned it before in other reviews of expansion packs, and I'll probably mention it again, but the key to a good expansion pack boils down to "more". Sure, that's a pretty, broad concept, but it works. Shrouded Isles offers two more classes per realm: Albion gets the necromancer and the reaver; Hibernia gets the animist and the valewalker; and Midgard gets the bonedancer and the savage. The latter for each realm is a light tank and the other is a pet caster. Each realm also sports a new playable race: the Inconnu, the Sylvan, and the Valkyn. There's also the new area to explore which of course is an island reachable by portal with new monsters to fight, weapons and armor to find and use, and some new twists to the storyline. The expansion lands are massive with tons of new sights to see, and it feels like they are laid out better. The further you move away from the starting towns the harder the challenge. The original game had that to a degree, but with all the towns that it offers the difficulty of the monsters can overlap at times (or at least it seems that way sometimes).
Power players would probably have liked to see a higher maximum level or at least a lot more stuff catered to them. There's the problem of what to do once you have been level 50 for a while. I think most start working on new characters to explore the game from a different experience. One of the latest patches has added the ability to create a level 20 or level 30 character if you already have a level 50 character on one of the servers. The difference in level is decided by the popularity of the server. If a server has a smaller population, you will be able to make a level 30 character to start with. While this is a nifty feature, the first few days after the patch went live, I was worried; very few low level characters were on making it harder for new characters to get started. Luckily it was only a temporary lull.
It comes down to that the expansion pack is a must for anyone who plays Dark Age of Camelot already, and new players would be best served by picking up the Gold version of the game which includes both the game and the expansion at a reasonable price. The online experience that the game provides is well worth the cost of admission, though some might still baulk at the monthly fee. Once a player starts to feel like they are a part of the game's community, a real sense of belonging and camaraderie comes into being.