E3: Anarchy Online: Alien Invasion details.
05.12.04 - 7:38 PM

Funcom’s E3 presentation in LA featured details on their new expansion: Anarchy Online: Alien Invasion, adding a whole new level of interaction for the players in social environments and advanced game play. Still a work in progress, AO: Alien Invasion is still a visual marvel; the opening sequence of the demonstration video begins with a long camera shot of a player created city model, and zooms in as a huge mother ship begins to take over the skyline. Move over Independence Day, the Anarchy is coming.

Alien Invasion, naturally, has alien creatures heading to the Rubi-Ka world for revenge and domination. Glossy black forms, multiple appendages, and the classic glowing green make up the basic initial design of the alien force. While the mothership looms over the city, an advanced sequence of analysis takes place surveying the local population and responding with a challenging force. The game server will check the strength, levels, gear, and location of the guild that ‘owns’ the quadrant of the city under attack. The AI system is advanced in responding with additional forces, and constantly changing battle tactics responding to what the players do to defend their city.

Battle begins when the city’s central notum tower, which powers the city, sends an early alert to the guild under attack. The pace of the battles looks to be more classic AO, with strong but not impossible encounters; harder than normal Rubi-Ka enemies but not near the individual difficulty of the shadowlands areas. The waves of attacks start out ‘easy’ as the first lander-ships deploy their creature cargo, and increase in difficulty depending on the player response and other random conditions.

Victory is earned when all waves of attack are vanquished and the boss of the ship beams down for a final beating. If the players are able to overwhelm the boss, they will be able to board the empty alien vessel for 10 minutes before it is ‘called home’. Fast and organized battle will be rewarded with an internal boss and loot, however, if players do not get in and out within the time frame they will be killed and take a trip on the ‘reclaim express’. Players do not have to assist in the defense of their cities, but if they are present at the time of the attack they will have to watch their backs as each player will have an alien hunting them specifically. Alien kills will also be rewarded with their own form of experience, imparting on players different skills as they interact with the aliens and their technology.

Player created towns, forged from tradeskill crafted buildings, are the center point of the social elements in the expansion. Fully customizable city blocks comprised of guild houses and shops will cluster together in groups of five to form full fledged cities. Streets, lights, banners, architecture, signs, towers and grid access are just the beginning of the options available when designing a guild house. Internally several room models with different bonus’ will be available from player vs. player clubs, plastic surgery clinics, tradeskill shops and several others. Each room type will have its own personal bonus for anyone present and tied into the theme of the room.

While aliens are a threat to the condition and bonus’ of an organization’s city, the attacks will not permanently destroy them. Instead guilds will have to pay an up-keep fee to hold onto the space, preventing inactive organizations from clinging to spots. All of the areas on Rubi-Ka will have locations available for building, with 300 locations available per server. (Enough for 1,500 orgs) A new GUI feature will be added for tradeskill process; making the construction of cities, and other items, less frustrating and more educational to the crafter. Suppression gas levels, the determinant for battle interaction, are also determined by the individual organizations that make up the city.

Originally intended to be a “social booster”, Alien Invasion holds to the promise and more. New clothing options are available to buy, craft, or find; totaling 50-60 individual pieces. Halloween on AO will be a whole new experience this October as costumes are among the new options including; princess, cowboy, and pirates. Gamers that preorder the new expansion will be treated to a surprise; in keeping with the success of the Jobe Luxury Apartments included with the Shadowlands Expansion preorder, players that preorder Alien Invasion will receive their choice of several pet leets!

Alien Invasion also will reward the adventurous, with NPC encounters that will present tidbits of the storyline and a red herring or two for good measure. On the small scale it will be up to the players to figure out and explain the reason for the attacks based off this information and in-game ‘events’ run by the ARK volunteer program. The ways players respond to the events, automated attacks, and to each other will greatly effect the coming direction as the invasion takes hold.

Developer Marius Enge seemed hopeful for the future of Anarchy Online, and excited about the new features being implemented. Funcom is also planning for the future and has recently added to their staff; including a new art director, as well as hiring the creator of the much used travel-to map skin. Pleased with the sales and success of Shadowlands, Funcom will continue to develop for AO as long as people continue to play it; and with the nature of Alien Invasion people surely will be calling Rubi-Ka home for a long time.


Stephanie Michaels