by Cody “Micajah” Bye
When gamers talk about successful massively multiplayer games, the
first game that commonly springs to their tongue is the style="font-style: italic;">World of Warcraft.
It’s hard to deny the popularity of a game that’s
seen nine million users pass through its storied lands. However,
there’s another contender to the throne of ultimate
popularity, one that’s been around even longer than the lands
style="font-style: italic;">The next Lineage 2
expansion will have a completely new playable race!
For those of you that still haven’t guess what game
I’m talking about, the title in question is style="font-style: italic;"> NCsoft's fantasy
MMORPG, Lineage II: The
Chaotic Throne. It’s a game where player versus
player combat is a commonly accepted practice and there’s no
other way to play. Over 17 million users have interacted in the game,
nearly doubling the number set forth by Blizzard and WoW. Last weekend,
I had the chance (along with a host of gaming press compatriots) to sit
down with a panel of the game’s North American developers at
their Austin, Texas, studios to discuss their seventh (and largest)
free expansion of the game. The panel consisted of Tim Tan (Producer),
Samuel Sungno Han (Associate Producer), Jessica Folsom (Community
Manager), and a whole host of marketing and Q&A personel. Each
of these developers contributed in some form to the discussions, and
all were extremely enthusiastic about their upcoming product.
Dubbed The First
Throne: The Kamael, the latest expansion for the 3.5 year
old Lineage II
offers gamers more content and features than anything they’ve
experience in the past. Over a gigabyte worth of content has been
included in this new expansion, with the biggest change coming in an
entirely new race, the Kamael, and a new starting land for that race of
According to the developers, the Kamael are “one-winged
soldiers with affinity to dark magic.” So what does this mean
for the Lineage II player? You’ll have a new bad-ass
combat-oriented race that relies very little on magic and prefers to
get messy with either a sword (for the males) or a crossbow (for the
females). When it comes to tanking, few races are as good at it as the
Kamael, and I'd go so far as to say that the tanks in the game will
almost exclusively be the Kamael in the post-expansion days.
Aside from just a generally solid combat ability, the Kamael are also
able to harvest the souls of NPCs that have died in combat to power
their special attacks. In fact, many of their combat
souls to work, leading me to ask the obvious question of whether the
new Kamael will have a “Soul Power” meter. This
resulted in a multitude of chuckles from the crowd, and a comment of
making a Kamael named “Undercover Brother.” After
the laughing died down, Tan said that there won’t necessarily
be a soul meter, but that their will be a ticker located in the chat
box and in the general user interface.
On top of the new race and all of its quirkiness, a new interface is
going into the game as well. The developers changed the interface to
hopefully make things a bit clearer for players of the game.
“It should make things a lot cleaner for the
players,” Tan said.
This new interface will probably be necessary for players who are
actively engaged in the political landscape, especially with the new
inclusion of fortresses and fortress battles into the PvP arena. Unlike
castle sieges, there will be almost no wait for players to jump into
siege-based combat when the fortresses go live.
style="font-style: italic;">Fortress battles
are an integral feature in Lineage
II: The Kamael.
“Basically the fortress battle is like a smaller version of
the castle siege,” Tan said. “Castle sieges can
occur every two weeks and are usually meant for larger clans or
alliances. The fortress battles are actually meant for groups or
smaller clans to take over and are on a much quicker time cycle. You
still gain bonuses to holding fortresses, just not as much as you might
from keeping a castle.”
“All of the fortresses are in various territories as
well,” Tan continued. “It’s not exactly
an oath, but you have the option to swear fealty to the castle
that’s associated to the particular territory. If you
don’t, it actually causes problems, which ties back to the
game’s political system. The castle lord will want to take
that fortress back from you if you hold one within his
When another memberof the press asked about the viability of fortress
sieges in smaller groups, Tan mentioned that there will be plenty of
fortresses to attempt to take and each of them will run on a very fast
timer. “Players will be actively attempting to take a
fortress all the time, so there will definitely be chances for players
to take over fortresses from other players,” Tan said.
“On top of that, the larger groups would have to spread their
forces incredibly then to actually try to defend each of these keeps
from the various invading groups, and you can’t be available
all the time.”
Tied to these fortress battles (and a whole list of other political
system features) are some of the game’s first instanced
dungeons; an area of gameplay that the style="font-style: italic;">Lineage II team had
yet to really explore before the Kamael expansion.
“The system is actually fairly broad, but there are some
instances that are actually tied to the political system,”
Tan said. “If you take over a fortress, there are instances
tied to that fortress. If you take over a castle, there are instances
tied to that castle. Outside of that, there are actually hunting
grounds out in the world that are also instanced. That’s a
fairly new path that we’re going down.”
When I asked Tan about the fan reaction to instanced dungeons, he said
that it had been fairly non-reactionary. “There really
hasn’t been any hesitation to it that we’ve
seen,” Tan said. “It will certainly be a different
experience than what the Lineage
II players have done in the past.”
Inside these new instanced dungeons, players will find all sorts of new
items, enhancements, weapons, and armor for their characters to use.
“There are new sets of armor and armor slots going into the
game,” Tan continued. “It may not sound that
interesting, but we’ve got new equipment slots for the shirt
and the right wrist. Along with that we’ve got new S80-type
armor going into the game along with new weapons.”
After getting a question about the new armor and armor slots and
whether they’ll be able to be crafted, Tan said, “I
know that one part of the new bracelets are tied to fortress battles,
but they aren’t craftable.”
style="font-style: italic;">The Final Form
Kamael are pretty bad-ass. Make sure you stick around for our hands-on
experience that will be running later this week!
Along with the new armors and weapons, some new elemental augmentations
will also be available for characters to apply to their weapons. Like
most elemental augmentations, one can be applied to a weapon to
increase a particular elements damage, but the same can be applied to
an armor to increase that particular armors resistance to an element.
Tan figured that players would eventually create sets of the armors to
protect themselves against particular PvP attacks.
Finally, Tan let us know that a whole set of new account services were
being introduced into the game including character transfers, name
change, and gender changing services. These will cost a small
transaction fee, but many Lineage
II players are certainly looking forward to these welcome
However, the details for the account services are still not openly
available to the general public. “We haven’t gotten
everything pinned down just yet, and we need to make sure everything is
balanced out before announcing any of the changes we’re going
to make,” Tan said. “However, I can say that there
will be a cool down period between transfers of the same character and
it will be longer than a week.” So all of you who were
thinking of making money by importing goods from other servers into a
less stocked server, your hopes have just been crushed. No cheating for
On top of the character transfer comment, Tan also commented about the
Gender Transfer service. “For those of you who are curious,
you won’t be able to reselect a new fair and face style when
you switch gender. It just does a straight switch from one to the
other. The Kamael also won’t be able to switch genders, and
there will be a disclaimer to point this out to players.”
In general, the entire panel was very excited about the upcoming
expansion that they’ve brought online to North American
players. While some of the kinks are obviously still being worked out
of the system, players should be extremely excited about
what’s around the corner for style="font-style: italic;">Lineage 2. Stay
tuned the rest of the week as I give my thoughts on the actual Kamael
play-session at the NCsoft Studios and how much fun it was to transform
into the Kamael’s Final Form!
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Make sure you check out the Kamael gameplay video!
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