The moment everyone was waiting for, came when Matt Firor got up and started to the Catacombs demo. The demo started by showing off the new lighting and water effects of the new graphics engine, which was very impressive. I had just finished testing World of Warcraft during their stress test and the lighting and water effects where much more impressive then what I saw in World of Warcaft. The opening scene was a animated waterfall illuminated by a blue glowing light off to the side. The presentation was limited to the Midgard area. As Matt explained the three goals for the expansion, a fellow helper ran us through different areas of catacombs.
Goal 1: Their first goal is the character model overhaul. I was very disappointed because we didn’t get to see it. He explained that it is not yet finished. However, He explained we would be able to pick a look for our existing characters versus having the game choose one for us. Obviously, you will not be able to change races.
Goal 2: The second goal for catacombs is the five new character classes. Three of the five classes have been announced (Zealot, Valkyrie, and Warlock). He would not comment on the other two classes.
Goal 3: The third goal was getting the new underground content into place. This included instanced wings, quests, and items. An instanced wing is a section of the dungeon that is created just for your group or yourself when playing solo. Matt announced that the first part of the beta test would focus on the Midgard area only. They are also looking into quick easy ways to travel between the new Catacombs dungeons and the old dungeons.
The look and feel of Catacombs is great. The NPC character mobs that we were able to see are a lot better then any I have seen in the current DAoC release. I was expecting more of a Darkness Falls feeling in the dungeons, but for the most part the zones looked like huge outdoor zones that are dark. The cave system was massive and includes huge trees growing up to the ceiling of the caves.
Matt showed off three major areas of the catacombs. The Kobold Under City was lit by little bowls with glowing fish. To give you a feel for the size of the area, we saw a large ship inside the dungeon. Matt stated that the ship was the biggest movable object they have created for DAoC. We also saw an underground forest is a massive forest of huge trees. The final zone we were able to see was the Highland. Mythic had not yet finished the lighting effects for this zone yet so it was fully lit. It reminded me of North Ro in Everquest (I know, I know. I shouldn’t mention EQ it brings out too many bad feelings). I can describe it as a large desert with camps of evil kobolds that all seemed to have a headache. They were all holding their heads like they had a hang over and it lacked any noticeable vegetation. Out of the three zones this was the least impressive.
Matt explained the lore and content focus for catacombs. The Midgard section of catacombs will focus on the origination of the kobolds. There are two factions of kobolds and the evil kobolds are winning the war. The good kobolds put out a call for help and that is where the adventurer begins. He briefly mentioned that the Hibernia zones will focus around the Shar, and the Albion zones will focus around the Iconnu.
The content focus of catacombs will be geared toward small groups, where Trials of Atlantis was geared more toward larger battlegroups. The expansion will support all character levels from 1 to 50. So you won’t have to leave catacombs to level. Each realm will get nine new zones and at least one major city. There will be over 350 new quests when catacombs releases. The closed beta will be starting in about ten days, about October 4, 2004. Matt also mentioned that all the classic dungeons would get a face-lift with the new graphics engine. Travel to and from the Midgard section in Catacombs is via a mining cart you ride in.
The last part of the presentation and the most impressive was the Warlock presentation. All through the demonstration, all I was thinking about was, “watch out Albs, here comes your death.” I’m not taking sides or anything, but “GO MIDGARD!” The Warlock can weave spells together creating duel effects when they hit the target. The down side to this is it takes twice as long to cast those spells.
The real power of the Warlock will come in what is called Chambered Spells. A Chambered Spell is a spell the Warlock prepares before the fight. A warlock can chamber up to 5 spells. The spells he or she has chambered flows above his head for all to see. When he releases a chambered spell it costs the warlock no mana and is an instacast. However, there is a two second timer between casting chambered spells. Another feature that the Warlock will get is what is called primers, which the warlock weaves into his spells. The three primers that Matt mentioned are Instacast, Powerless Cast, and Extended Range Cast. Yes, Archers beware. The warlock weaves one primer with one secondary spell for the desired effect.
Support, Programming and Catacombs Breakout Sessions
Sanya, Linda, Georgia, Dan, Scott, Mike, Destin and Walt all talk about the future of DAoC.
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