Dark Age of Camelot: New Frontiers Review
Editor's Note: Mythic Entertainment released a free expansion called "New Frontiers" for Dark Age of Camelot in June of 2004.
Dark Age of Camelot is a game that has an interesting mix of pve and pvp. Pve content takes place in your realms lands, be it Hibernia, Albion or Midgard, and pvp takes place in the frontier area, which is accessible by all three realms. In this frontier area the realms fight over control of keeps and relics. Control of the majority of the keeps, other than bragging rights, gives the dominant realm access to the pvp Dungeon Darkness falls, while control of the relics grants the realm holding them various bonuses to melee and magic damage, depending on the number of relics you hold.
The frontier area of old often ended up with a stalemate in a zone called Emain Macha, a zone of Hibernia's frontier area. The portal keeps of Albion and Midgard would lead to large walls called mile gates. They would have to get through this to gain access to the Hibernian frontier area. Many nights would see an hour's long stand off at this mile gate, which some people enjoyed, and others hated. It was easy to choke off the enemy before they entered your frontier in the old frontiers set up, and this annoyed many would be conquerors, and even some of the defenders. Many people did not want an hour's long stand off with hundreds of people involved; they wanted the small group warfare that would ensue if the enemy ever got past the mile gates.
Another feature of the old frontiers that frustrated people often, especially solo people, was the fact that it was a long run to the fight, and enemy stealthers and groups would often camp the most used routes and ambush the unwary before they even got close to the keep defense, stand off, or the rest of their group. While the people doing the ambushing no doubt had a great time, the people on the receiving end would be left frustrated and rezz sick at their respective portal keep.
Mythics answer to this, in their unique free expansion program, was to create a completely new frontier with the TOA graphics upgrade. This new frontier did away entirely with the old frontier, adding new styles of keeps, which not only looked better, but were more interactive, instead of just the doors being attackable, you could actually destroy keep walls, mount siege weaponry on the castle walls, even hire various npc's such as mages and rogue type npc's to help defend the keep in addition to the normal guards. You can now port directly to some of the keeps instead of having to run across the whole frontier to get to the fight, you can also take boats to get you there faster. The keep fights are much more involved and interactive now. There was even a realm war map added that not only let you see where you were in the frontier, but would show you where heavy fighting was taking place.
At first, the newness of NF impressed everyone, and people began surging out to RVR, more so than had been out in recent months. Keeps swapped hands, walls were destroyed, towers burned to the ground; all in all it was tons of fun. To this day, NF is still fun for the masses. The massive keep raids and tower takes are much more fun than they were in OF. The downside is, the 8 man battle that many crave, with new frontiers they are pretty much a thing of the past. No longer do you find small groups running around that can engage each other, or two solo stealthers going at it, its all about the so called zerg warfare and the keep takes, which has left quite a few people less than happy after the euphoria of new frontiers new car smell wore off. All in all, I would call the NF expansion a success, even more so because it was free to the player base. You can't make everyone happy all the time. Read back to the beginning of this article, and you see the things people complained of in the old frontiers, much of that is what they complain is missing in the new frontiers. Mythic is even addressing the new complaints, adding a pvp island in the frontiers, that resembles old Emain somewhat in its set up, with hopefully an improvement in the design, allowing for most of the good points of old Emain with few if any of the bad points.
Mythic has done a good job with their free expansions. The amount of work they put into new frontiers is astounding considering they never boxed and shipped it, and never charged the player base for it. Coming down the pipe is the new RVR Island, which is trying to capture some of the old nostalgic feeling of pvp, without the downsides of it. Overall, mythic has been going to great lengths to listen to the fan base, adding new servers with alternate rule sets, adding this pvp island to the frontier area, etc.
Dark Age of Camelot has been on the shelves since 2001, and as is expected, the original graphics are quite dated. However, with each new box expansion that has been released, a major graphics overhaul has been added. By the time New Frontiers released, two box expansions had already hit the shelves. More recently, another box expansion has been released called Catacombs, which upgraded the pc models, as well as an overhaul of many of the npc models. The end result is a mind boggling difference in the graphical interface of the New Frontiers, as well as the whole game in general, bringing it up to par with the most recent releases in MMO's.