Anyone who plays online role-playing games knows that it takes a ton of content to keep gamers satisfied - and to keep the subscription fees rolling in. Four years after launch, Square Enix's first foray into the massively multiplayer arena is still going strong. Final Fantasy XI will soon be growing once again with the release of its third expansion pack, Treasures of Aht Urghan. While hardcore fans of the game have the most to look forward to, the expansion provides ample opportunities for anyone who's interested in the game to find something new to do.
Set on the Aradjiah continent, lying just off the eastern edge of the map, Treasures of Aht Urghan tells of the struggles of the mysterious Aht Urghan Empire's fight to hold on to its, er, treasures - chiefly the Astral Candescence, a mystical source of magical power. The Arabian-themed empire is fighting two conflicts, one with the empire to the east, the other with the Beastmen within its own borders.
No longer able to withstand the Beastmen's assaults on its own, the reclusive nation has begun hiring mercenaries from around the globe to help it protect the Astral Candescence from whoever (or whatever) seeks it. Naturally, legions of adventurers (i.e. you and your pals) heed the call, and voyage to the capital of Aht Urghan, Al Zahbi. As mercenaries, players will complete a variety of missions for the empire, protect the Astral Candescence as the city is besieged and, in the event they lose it, invade the enemy fortresses to retrieve it.
While the culture and architecture is clearly inspired by Arabian and Persian lore, the continent is more varied than you may think. Lush forests, roiling volcanoes, haunted reefs and undersea citadels all await you. Skulking around the myriad new environments are a wide variety of new monsters, ranging from series classics like Lamia, or serpent women, and Cerberus the three-headed dog. There are also new monsters, like the elephantine Marids and adorable Apkallu.
To the game's fans, the most exciting addition to the game are the new character classes, or "jobs," in Final Fantasy parlance. Three jobs are being added: Blue Mage, Corsair and Puppetmaster, bringing the total number of mix-and-matchable jobs up to 18.