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Age of Shadows introduced a new landmass to the game called Malas. Malas was designed to appear as a broken continent, with various islands and pieces of land separated from each other and connected only with bridges. The pieces of land were surrounded by stars, suggesting that Malas floats somewhere in space above the rest of the Ultima Online worlds.
The main purpose of Malas was to provide more land for player housing. Players had complained that limited open land was causing an unreasonable amount of price inflation in the community, and restricting younger players from owning houses until they had played for many months. The greatly increased land that Malas provided helped to lower the cost of housing, and gave more players the opportunity to own a home.
New item attributes and properties were added with the expansion. The new attributes allowed for hundreds of combinations of items, a drastic change from the limited possibilities before. Four elemental properties were part of the change: fire, cold, energy, and poison. If the elemental properties were high enough, items changed color to reflect elemental power. This change produced a variety of items such as blue broadswords, and orange katanas, which caused upset with traditional players who claimed that the unrealistically colored weapons detracted from the authenticity of Ultima Online (see: Criticism).
Two new character classes were added with Age of Shadows.
The new Paladin character class consists mainly of the new Chivalry skill. If used in conjunction with a "Book of Chivalry," a Paladin using the skill can perform powerful techniques, such as curing poison in battle, or teleporting to a new location. These types of magical abilities were previously restricted to mages. In order to perform Chivalry techniques, a Paladin must tithe gold to a shrine in exchange for "tithing points."
Paladin (Chivalry) techniques:
- Close Wounds
- Holy Light
- Consecrate Weapon
- Enemy of One
- Dispel Evil
- Remove Curse
- Divine Fury
- Sacred Journey
- Noble Sacrifice
The new Necromancer character class was introduced along with 16 Necromancy spells. Necromancy requires a separate group of reagents: Bat Wing, Grave Dust, Daemon Blood, Nox Crystal, and Pig Iron.
Necromancer (Necromancy) spells:
- Poison Strike
- Pain Spike
- Curse Weapon
- Blood Oath
- Evil Omen
- Mind Rot
- Corpse Skin
- Wraith Form
- Lich Form
- Vampiric Embrace
- Horrific Beast
- Summon Familiar
- Animate Dead
- Vengeful Spirit
On the review aggregator Game Rankings, the expansion received an average score of 71% based on 12 reviews. On Metacritic, it received an average score of 74 out of 100, based on 6 reviews — indicating "mixed or average reviews."
The months following the release of Age of Shadows saw a significant exodus of veteran players from Ultima Online. Many players insisted that the new brightly-colored items detracted from the game's atmosphere strongly. A further, more serious criticism, was that the new item system broke Ultima Online's long-standing tradition of being skill-based in favor of an item-based system. This was exacerbated by the fact that the expansion's release roughly coincided in time with an increase in the subscription fee.