Anarchy Online: The Notum Wars
For those who never heard of Anarchy Online, this will be hard to understand, without a little explanation. So let’s talk about this MMORPG first.
Anarchy Online is an online game, in the future, year 30.000 or so. There are 3 sides to choose from; first you have the followers of the official rulers of this planet, Omni-Tec. Their opposites are the Clans; they can be compared with freedom fighters. The last faction are the Neutrals, they have no friends or enemies in the other camps. If you read this, you could think that there is a lot of Player versus Player fighting in AO, but actually that happens rarely. The main reason for the lack of PvP is that you just can’t fight with the others in 90% of the areas. If you really want to fight with another human player, you have to travel to the few zones where this is allowed or go to one of the two available arenas.
AO is 1.5 years old now and it was time for Funcom to give their subscribers something new. Before the actual add-on, that is called ‘Shadow Lands’ and is planned for the second quarter of 2003, they finished ‘The Notum Wars’, a booster pack. If many people buy this pack, it could change the way AO is played now. It is aimed at players who are a member of a guild. The most important change in the pack is the possibility to build towers, and those give advantages to guild members in the area. It is possible to build a tower all on yourselves, but I think that tower won’t last very long, with a couple of thousand other players trying to capture as much land as possible.
But let us talk first about the less important possibilities of the Notum Wars. Things like a better character startup, less dark nights, a few tweaks here and there I will not explain, but there are a serious amount of less important updates. The first important new (and nice) feature is the introduction of voices. Before this, there was only the sound of music (J), the whistling of the birds flying by, the noise of the various shooting devices around you and the groan of dying enemies. Or your own last breathe. Now you can actually speak some words to your teammates. Not with your own voice, but with pre-recorded voices. Although it is nice to hear the first time, I doubt if this will be used a lot. While you’re in a fight, you probably won’t have the time to type in something like “/voice hello”. It is possible to make a shortcut to say things quicker without having to type them, but the shortcut bar of my character is already full with other useful attacks and heal programs. And besides that, if you need to shout at you’re friends that you are in danger, you are in big problems. If you are in good company, they have done what they could and they can’t help you anymore, so you are dead. And with bad players around you, if you don’t dye now, you’ll dye a couple of minutes later. So, the voices are nice, but only useful in non-fighting situations. Luckily for the social players there are a lot of parties, weddings and meetings, the voices are nice in those situations.
The next thing that will make the world of the planet Rubi-Ka a little brighter is the availability of new planes. The big problem with them is their price. Where an old plane was sold for 5 million, the new version costs 80 million and even more for faster models. The only reason why someone will want a new plane, is the possibility to add a special texture. If you look at the screenshots, I don’t have to explain things further. Old planes can be painted also, but not like these two…
Next new thing: cars. The new cars are capable of shooting while driving. Before this booster pack, all you could do with a car was drive to the next location. If something attacked you while driving by, all you could do was pray that you where fast enough to escape. The only thing what will prevent the massive use of these new cars is again a very high price. You get a much nicer car then before, but you have to be rich to be able to afford it.
Does this mean ‘The Notum Wars’ is only for high level players? Nope, the most important element in the booster pack is the introduction of the so-called ‘Land Control’. Parts of the surface of Rubi-Ka can be used to claim for Notum digging. All you have to do is join a guild and build a tower where it is allowed to do so. Towers come in different flavours and go from a level 10 tower to the highest possible, a level 200 tower.
I could have written something before, but I wanted to see how this tower thing got accepted by the players. Now, a few weeks after the introduction of the booster pack, things begin to settle. Almost all guilds have claimed a part of the land. The bigger guilds, like Vox Populi, have 40 towers on their area, but mostly the land controlled area is filled with groups of 5 to 10 towers. To attack a tower, you don’t have to own this booster pack. To gain the bonuses also, the only thing you can’t do is buy and construct a tower. In the beginning I was afraid that the bigger guilds would claim all the land, but fortunately this is not the case. First of all you can only own more then one tower if you are above level 75, and secondly: they cost money also. And you have to keep them of course.
That is easy enough if you have no enemies. If you do have them, keeping your tower will become harder, although not impossible. To prevent the towers to be destroyed to often, they cannot be attacked for 18 hours a day. So most of the time you are safe. The only thing what will break this rule, is when one of your guild members attacks an enemy tower. This assures the guilds a bit of safety. No one wants his towers to be damaged while everyone is sleeping, so most guilds ask the members not to attack any other tower without descent backup or planning.
The towers are not defenceless; a bit of planning makes it hard to destroy the main tower. That one has to be destroyed before the opposite faction can claim the land. But that tower can only be destroyed after all the other towers are gone. It is forbidden to place more then 2 towers of the same level. This is a nice thing for lower levels; they are not excluded of the war like this. Besides, a high level player cannot attack a low level tower, so again some planning in both the building as in the destruction of towers is needed.
The result of this all is more PvP then before, but at this moment the global feel of the game has not changed much. Not every player has this booster pack yet. And so we come to the final question: is it necessary to purchase it? No, it is not an essential purchase. The towers are nice to have, but you can live without them. But this booster pack adds a lot more fun to AO, and if that is your goal while playing, don’t hesitate and run to the shops…