Dark Age of Camelot: Labyrinth of the Minotaur

Most MMOs are lucky enough to release at all, let alone gallop into their sixth year with no sign of flagging; constantly adding fresh content without damaging the original concepts that made the project a success to begin with is dicey business.When in doubt, though: add dragons.

Such is part of the agenda Mythic Entertainment has in mind for its long-running, defiantly tripartite MMORPG Dark Age of Camelot. In a break from tradition and quick on the heels of November’s expansion Labyrinth of the Minotaur, 2007 will bring new faction-specific story-based campaigns every 6 months and new content every two weeks, including a few differences between the European and U.S. versions (apparently to cut down on intercontinental "spoilers"). And not just expository piffles either - but hardcore epic sagas which Mythic’s Walt Yarbrough claims will cause permanent changes to the game world.

Starting within the next couple weeks, the first campaign, A Dragon’s Revenge, features a triad of faction-specific dragons (you can’t kill other factions' leviathans, apparently) materializing in each realm and leisurely torching villages to ash, unless raid groups of players intervene (and yes, the dragons will respawn).

According to Yarbrough, dragon loot won’t be statistically superior to other gear; it's more about visual cachet. Which of the three dragons will be toughest? Much will depend on tactics, Yarbrough says, and subjective appraisal. "Nothing we do as developers ever survives contact with the players. If one turns out to be too powerful, we’ll nerf it." As if killing dragons and their minions wasn't payoff enough, players also get to help rebuild the villages (because fighting battles without planning for reconstruction would just be absurd, even for fantasy).

There's also, of course, that minotaur labyrinth to explore, the biggest dungeon in the game to date. Its enormous acreage is split into three different sections: flooded, corrupted, and clockwork (minotaurs, Yarbrough explains helpfully, have a yen for clockwork guardians). The goal is to capture often heavily guarded minotaur "relics", either modest ones that affect only their carriers or especially potent ones whose effects cover an entire frontier zone.