A new starting area, tweaked visuals, sweeping profession balance changes — today the fourteen-year-old Anarchy Online received the biggest update its seen in ages, as well as the first $US15 from me since I stopped playing in 2005.
I didn't just play Funcom's Anarchy Online, I was in love with it. While its rocky 2001 launch turned off many early adopters, the science fiction MMPORPG slowly became one of the coolest games in a space dominated by fantasy games like EverQuest. I loved it because of its unique setting. I loved it because it made me do maths to put on my equipment. I even loved the role-playing, even if I often took things too far (mailing my guild one of my character's severed ears when another character turned "evil." I sucked.)
Today's update 18.7, which arrives two years and change since update 18.6, changes enough of the game that I'm willing to spend $US14.95 to activate my old subscription account (it can be played for free as well) to see if I can get lost in space once more.
For starters (you'll see what I did there) there's Arete Landing, a new tutorial zone for characters just starting off on the planet Rubi-Ka. A series of quests will guide players through the starting experience, familiarising them with the concepts they will need to understand in order to shout for buffs months down the line when they need to shoehorn themselves into high stat requirement armour.
Then there's the new ICC (Interstellar Confederation of Corporations) headquarters, which is now a central hub filled with shops and other reasons to actually go there, rather than a massive hole in the ground. Seriously, it was a hole. Now it is not a hole. Hooray, Funcom!
The most interesting aspect of the update as far as I am concerned are the new profession changes, as described in the lead designer's message for the patch:
Arriving with 18.7.0 is a large amount of changes to each professions' nanos, perks, and research procs. The scope of the changes ranged from simply adjusting numbers, to complete overhauls. Some solutions required some new nanos/mechanics to be implemented, which are now all available. During the design and implementation of these changes, much inspiration was drawn from the community. Professionals, forum-based wish lists, patch feedback, random /tells or PMs, etc. have directly contributed to several changes that are a part of this patch - Thank you once again to everyone who contributed during the development process. As this patch belongs to all of you, as much, if not moreso, than us, it felt prudent to enact feedback and breathe life into some long-standing requests.
So basically everything has changed, which means I won't feel quite so helpless attempting to step into the armoured boots of characters I've not touched in a decade.
You can read the full Anarchy Online update 18.7 patch notes over on the official website. Just make sure you bring a snack — its the largest update in years. And who knows, now that all of this is in place we can finally get around to updating those character models.