Shadowbane: The Rise of Chaos Review
By Jimmy Goldstein |
Every world has a door, a gate that no one is supposed to open. For this very door leads to dark and dismal places where death is common and--so very often--not as quick as some would like it to be. History tells us of Kolaur the Dread Overlord of Chaos who was slain by other gods and whose underlings have yearned for revenge ever since. The Minions of Chaos took their revenge by starting the War of the Scourge and releasing untold masses of demons and other foul creatures to plunder and destroy. The effort of all the races of Shadowbane could not defeat them and it took the concentrated efforts of the Over God himself to seal the gate to chaos, thus ending the War of the Scourge. But as time passed, the war and the chaos gate were forgotten until now.
The Rise of Chaos is the first expansion pack released for the online game Shadowbane. The expansion itself is primarily aimed at those who are already fairly experienced with SB and want some different things to play with. That is not to say there isn't anything for new players to do--far from it--as surviving to reach those challenges is often as much fun as the later battles themselves.
Getting to the new island is an adventure in itself, as you have few choices on how to get there. You can run to a rune gate and travel there by the way of the gates - though the gates are often quite a distance away from any civilized location. Or you can hopefully get a summons from a friendly cleric. However, there's is no place to bind yourself to. So if you die, you get to adventure right back. The two cities on the chaos island are there for show - one northern city and one southern city. Think of them as the good city and the evil city, if you will.
The island itself is a volcanic region, though there are no environmental dangers, with the exception of drowning if you try to swim back. Other than that, it's just a long run to a couple of higher level zones to adventure in, with some lengthy runs between the zones themselves. I'd really suggest making friends with a healer and letting them do the running.
The only things that justify this expansion are the extra character slot and the new race and classes. The rest of it is just gravy that could have been added with regular patches and that most other MMOs already release as part of their periodic updates: a few new areas to play with, more tile sets or land types to give atmosphere to the general game environment, and a dozen new monster types that are based off the chaos mindset and range from the low 40s to the 70s for higher level players to kill. Monsters include Barbatorr demons, Formorr giants and massive reptilian horrors known as the Qualgnarr.
The new race is the Nephelim, a second winged humanoid race to enter the Shadowbane world. The Nephelim are a bat-winged race with demonic origins who have long roamed the world in human disguise using personal transformation spells that are available to every member of the race.
According to the game lore, it's rumored that the Nephelim are humans tainted by chaos itself. The Nephelim are able to pursue every base class and can achieve a good portion of the advanced classes, though they make particularly good mages with their ability to hover and cast a stamina transfer spell. The stamina spell gives them the ability to solo quite well and with little danger.
TRoC offers two new classes to try out, one fighter-based and one healer/mage-based. First are the Doomsayers, chaos priests who can cast a wide range of spells to harm, debuff and generally inflict varying degrees of unpleasantness on their opponents. Being both part mage and part healer also gives the Doomsayer the ability to heal, as well as summon pets to help them do battle.
The second class is the Sentinel, a warrior that stands against the tide of chaos, keeping it from overwhelming the world as they know it. Similar to both Crusaders and Templars in many respects, the Sentinel is a mage-based fighter who is particularly effective against demon spawn and chaos targets. The Sentinel is a particularly useful fighter against mage-type opponents, thanks to the "Exalted Words of Binding" power that removes flight, slows the targets speed drains mana and transfers it to the sentinel. Pretty nifty.
Last but not least are two new disciplines for people to play with. Both disciplines are chaotic and evil in nature and should provide many new hours of discovery, for those interested in such niceties. The first is the Conjurer. Great mages of the deathless empire practiced the dangerous art of conjuring.
In the world of Shadowbane, the Conjurers of old learned how to contact other places beyond the normal world you and I know of and over the course of time became proficient in summoning minions of chaos and binding them to their will. Though most of the secrets of this dangerous art have been lost there are still some who practice this perilous test of wills. The conjurer discipline grants the ability to summon demons (pets).