At last count, AC2 was existing on around 14,000 subscribers, despite recent attempts by Turbine to woo players back to the franchise following its acquisition of the brand from Microsoft. Unfortunately, the reasons why most of them left in the first place are beyond the ken of a mere expansion pack (unless that expansion pack is called Asheron's Call 2: World Of Warcraft). Legions is one for the existing crowd only, bringing all the new content you'd expect of an MMO add-on pack - new weapons, new spells, new armour, new dungeons and quests and a whole new continent called, ahem, Knorr.
Seriously people. Sometimes it's worth taking five minutes to Google your fantasy world's name to check on these things. It's even spelt the same way as the luxury food sauce manufacturer. Anyway, before I get sidetracked, there's also a new race to explore (two if you have the pre-order bonus), the Empyrean magic users, vanished from the world ages past, now returning to reclaim their position of power.
It all sounds great on paper and the content should be more than enough to keep the AC2 faithful happy, especially as it's almost entirely designed for high-level characters. A state of affairs that kind of betrays the thinking at Turbine. It's almost as if it realises that it's a lost cause appealing to new players with a game engine that's almost three years behind everything else, so it'll do what it can to cater for the loyal 14,000 and try not to lose their subscriptions.
That engine, by the way. AC2 has been running since early 2003 and when it started it was the best out there. EverQuest couldn't hold a candle and it made UO look like the top-down 2D tomfoolery it was. But time and technology wait for no man and the intervening years haven't been kind.
So despite a slight lick of paint, especially in the newer areas, AC2 still sports one of the ugliest interfaces in MMO history and has game options that are insultingly simplistic. Combat is the most evident form of who has the most powerful numbers we've seen, crafting is still pretty much a pointless affair and there's none of the thought, care or polish that we almost take for granted in more recent titles. In fact, playing AC2 just makes us appreciate our current state of affairs all the more.
Legions changes none of this and as such offers nothing to attract the new player. The present AC2 crowd will find everything they expect and it's at least encouraging to see Turbine still catering for this small but friendly and fiercely loyal crowd. But the end is surely nigh, especially when Turbine's next two titles - Dungeons & Dragons Online and The Lord Of The Rings Online - arrive. Asheron's still calling, but the signal's getting weaker...
For acquired tastes only
- Loyal audience
- Lots of content
- Ageing really badly now
- Hideous user interface
- Nothing for the newcomer
- High levels only