The online role-playing game known as Anarchy Online originally launched in 2001, and like in other, similar games before it, players could create a persistent character by choosing from a number of different races and professions, then go off to explore a huge online world with other like-minded players. The game distinguished itself with its futuristic sci-fi world of gun-toting technologists and mystics, and also with severe technical problems that were later resolved. The new expansion pack, Shadowlands, adds a huge amount of new content to the game in the form of an entirely new realm to explore, along with two brand-new character professions, an all-new character development system, and loads of new quests to undertake that further develop the game’s unusual sci-fi setting. While it’s still extremely complicated, Shadowlands adds a tremendous amount of intriguing new content that helps make Anarchy Online much more worthwhile.
The new expansion pack adds an entirely new realm to Anarchy Online’s futuristic world of Rubi-Ka: the titular Shadowlands, a huge nether realm inspired by Dante Alighieri’s The Divine Comedy. The Shadowlands are a vast realm bordered by the huge floating city of Jobe, which acts as an entry point into the new area for both new and returning players, as well as the site of the expansion’s all-new player dwellings–luxurious penthouse apartments where you and your online friends can role-play as lounging socialites, if you’re into that kind of thing. Once you leave Jobe, you’ll be able to explore progressively more-challenging areas by solving key quests related to two ancient factions–the peaceful, nature-loving redeemed and the evil, technology-focused unredeemed–which correspond roughly to Anarchy Online’s original factions of clan and Omni-Tek.
Each of Anarchy Online’s new areas is home to lots of new quests, as well as plenty of other things to do and see. The Shadowlands are home to an entirely new set of monsters, including monsters native to each segment of the Shadowlands, monsters native to the redeemed and unredeemed factions, and monsters that belong to the brink–the mysterious and sinister nothingness that has begun to encroach upon the edges of the realm. You’ll find plenty of new monsters to hack and slash your way through in these different areas, as well as static dungeon areas with more-challenging opponents, plus temples to the ethereal spirits of the redeemed and the unredeemed, which act as safe havens for players of the same alignment and as hostile camps of powerful enemies for those of opposing alignment. If that weren’t enough, you can even create your own monsters by carrying around their component DNA parts with your character, then infusing these formulas with life by using the realm’s veins of notum–the precious resource over which the warring factions are fighting. Interestingly, exploring the Shadowlands is a more-focused and more-linear experience than the free-form exploration typically associated with Anarchy Online and similar games, since you must solve quests to advance into the increasingly inhospitable regions of the realm.