E3 2003: The RPGs

In addition to the new prestige classes and class upgrades, Shadows of Undrentide will add nineteen new creatures to the game, over fifty spells, and over thirty new feats. As an added bonus, the expansion will also grant you the ability to control your henchman's inventory. This will allow you to give your right-hand man (or woman) a particular weapon or set of armor, as long as their class can use it. In fact, you will have full control of their inventory, allowing you to maximize their effectiveness with any magic item at your disposal.

Shadows of Undrentide looks to be a welcome addition to the original game, providing more functionality as well as a brand new campaign. BioWare is estimating that the expansion will add over twenty hours of gameplay to Neverwinter Nights, but with a handful of new tilesets being included, there will most likely be new fan-created material released as well. SoU should be on store shelves sometime this spring.

Dark Age of Camelot: Trials of Atlantis

Mythic Entertainment's Dark Age of camelot will be getting its second expansion sometime towards the end of 2003. This new expansion will introduce players to a whole slew of new content, including a full island and underwater levels to explore. Differing from Shrouded Isles, Trials of Atlantis will not feature entirely different zones for all three realms in the game, but instead provide a similar version of the same zones for all players. This will allow Mythic to spend more time defining each new zone, since they don't have to come up with three realms worth of content.

Mythic provided me with a private showing of ToA during my E3 visit. Visually, the expansion looks absolutely fantastic. The underwater levels are easily the most graphically advanced areas of the game to date, thanks to a new version of the NetImmerse engine that will be coupled with the expansion. Aquatic life moves throughout the underwater caves, seaweed sways with the current, and unique objects like an old shipwreck litter the ocean bed. Mythic explained that this new engine will take advantage of many new DirectX9 features, with little or no performance hit.

The new underwater areas definitely look like they will give players a vast area to explore, with a seemingly endless amount of terrain to cover. Currently, there is no set way for players to breathe underwater, but Mythic assured me that they have many ideas on the table. However, one method of fast underwater travel has been decided - instead of riding a horse, players will be mounting a Hammerhead Shark to get from place to place.

Although many areas in Trials of Atlantis will require some old fashioned hack n' slash, Mythic is incorporating some new ideas that will put players' minds to the test. They have developed an entirely new language that players must decipher in order to solve particular riddles in the game and figure out exactly what happened to Altantis. For example, during the demonstration I was shown a ruined temple with several tablets full of this new runic language. This new element should add even more depth to the ongoing storyline in Dark Age of Camelot.

To conclude, let me just say that Trials of Atlantis looks to add a considerably large amount of content and features to Dark Age of Camelot that no consistent player will want to be without. Rest assured, I'll be taking my characters into the deep.