A lost city with untold secrets, hidden from view for ages. The tales that are shared about this culture speak of powerful artifacts, guarded by fearsome beasts buried deep in dangerous lands both above and below water. What ancient mysteries are yet to be uncovered by the three realms that inhabit the land? That's the question to be in answered in Mythic Entertainment's latest expansion, "The Trials of Atlantis." I recently had the opportunity to participate in a walkthrough of the expansion with one of the Camelot's producers, Mark Davis and Becky Yung, a member of Mythic's marketing team. Through the course of the walkthrough, I was able to see exactly what treasures and trials the lost civilization of Atlantis brings to the table for the Camelot universe.
The back-story behind this expansion is fairly straightforward. Playing on the common knowledge that the citizens of Atlantis were extraordinarily innovative in the areas of magic and machinery, the story discusses the fact that they fashioned relics of great power for their use. However, the great minds of Atlantis suddenly discovered through prophecy that soon their society would soon be destroyed. Wanting to make sure that their technology didn't fall into "unworthy" hands, the Atlanteans devised a series of elaborate obstacle courses for adventurers to overcome, complete with powerful monster guardians. These tests of both cunning and bravery have since become known as the Trials of Atlantis. Though not an entirely new concept from a background perspective, still I felt the history revealed in the game design fit very well.
Just as with previous expansions, Mythic uses latest major update to the gameplay to update the graphics engine as well. The new areas obviously take advantage of this update, but Mythic's improved engine also affects the prior zones on the game. What's been upgraded for the older areas relates specifically to the trees and terrain, bringing a richer and more life-like feel to the areas. The trees are especially detailed with individuals leaves making up their design now. Without even being told what was done to them, I recognized the trees had been upgraded the minute I logged in after installing the expansion. That alone should speak to the level of detail that's been added. Granted the updated engine will cause some "tree lag" as it is affectionately referred to by some players on the less-than-"screamer" PCs. Proof positive that the changing face of the gaming world is following suit with the latest hardware technology updates. Though the older upgrades are eye-pleasing, the newer zones are nothing short of impressing. There are few games out there that illicit "wow" from me in a repeatable fashion when it comes to art in a game. I can tell you that these new lands deserved every syllable and then some. From the ancient temples of Stygia to the watery depths of Oceanus, the level of detail is astounding. Davis pointed out that a great deal of research was done on ancient structures trying to reverse engineer the possible "beginnings" of these structures in the Atlantean culture present in the game. Color me impressed yet again. Also of note was the updates to the GUI, which also allows players to create custom skins based on the original design. Though only one custom skin is supported at a time, this feature allows a greater level of customization then had been seen previously. The new lands also offer the players newer forms of travel in the form of sea vessels, both man-made, automated boats and of the animal kingdom. Players may also purchase boats of their own to navigate across the ocean in search of monsters to slay. Bringing new meaning to the term fishing, players can drop anchor and dive into the ocean below to hunt if they so chose.