Dark Age of Camelot has been an enormous hit in the MMORPG world. If you don't know what it is, then you've been living under a virtual rock (perhaps camping way too long in Everquest). The cool thing about DAoC is that it has grown from a relatively small development house to take over the whole world. It is a true success story, so it's no wonder that fans have been eagerly anticipating Shrouded Isles, the first major DAoC upgrade. Featuring improvements like new races, classes and continents, as well as a graphical overhaul, Shrouded Isles should renew Camelot's grip on your life.
First up: New continents in each realm. Albion gets the island of Avalon, the historical home of King Arthur, which has been laid to waste by the evil Drakoran and Morgana. Hibernia will see the legendary land of HyBrasil for the first time, a wooded paradise that has been laid to waste by the evil Fomorians. Midgard welcomes Aegir to the realm, a land previously only known in myth, but which has been terrorized (and laid to waste) by the Morvalt, who are not all bad, but mostly.
The new races correspond to (and come from) these new continents. The Inconnu are from Avalon, and have historically served Arawn, the "old world" lord of the underworld. Of course, Morgana has really caused some problems for Arawn and the Inconnu (what with laying their land to waste and all), so the Inconnu seek out the other inhabitants of Albion to create an alliance to regain their homeland. The Sylvan are a race from HyBrasil, and they have been driven from their homeland by the Fomorians, who have systematically hunted down and destroyed Sylvan people and lands. The Sylvan hope the Hibernians will help them get HyBrasil back. The Valkyn are a "domesticated" splinter group of the Morvalt, who have taken over the historical Troll Fathers homeland of Aegir in Midgard. They have allied with the Troll Fathers to destroy the Morvalt occupying Aegir.
So a lot is happening in the game these days, and to help you get through it, or get into it, are six new classes. There are two new classes per realm, adding quite a bit of variety to the game. In Albion there will now be Necromancers and Reavers. The Necromancer class is still being ironed out, but the Reavers are fairly rounded out. They are hybrid fighters (somewhere between Champion and Thane) who protect Arawn and get all kinds of spiffy abilities. Hibernia will see the Animist and Valewalker. The Animist is a sort of natural medicine mage, and they can animate plants and heal and whatnot. The interesting thing about Animists is that rather than wanting to protect nature they actually want to become nature. The Valewalker is a sort of combat mage who wields a large Scythe. Sounds spooky. Midgard receives the Bonedancer and Savage classes. The Bonedancer is a sort of pre-Norse necromancer type who can reanimate the bones of dead animals to do his bidding. The Savage is a brawling machine, eschewing edged weapons in favor of hand-to-hand combat.
And to bring all of this together in a nice package, Mythic has undertaken a whole revision of the graphics engine for Shrouded Isles. The framerate has been increased, textures are higer resolution, and steps have been taken to eliminate "fry" or "sparkling" in the game. New reflection and shadowing techniques mean that shiny surfaces will look much better and shadows will cast on everything in the game ? objects, environment and characters alike. Other enhancements, like water that wakes as you move through it, will add to the detail of the game, making an overall much prettier experience.
In a nice move by Mythic, players who have stopped playing Dark Age of Camelot are invited and enticed to return. Mythic has maintained a character database throughout the lifespan of DAoC, so even if your account has been closed for a very long time, you can re-activate your old characters and pick up where you left off. This is a nice move that reflects how dedicated Mythic has been to their players.
Expect Dark Age of Camelot: Shrouded Isles later this year, and expect it to be great.