Crystals, Pirates, and Bugbears! A Hands-On Preview of DDO’s 5th Anniversary Event

Today marks the fifth anniversary of Dungeons and Dragons Online and Turbine is ready to celebrate!

Today
marks the fifth anniversary of style="font-style: italic;">Dungeons and Dragons
Online and Turbine is ready
to celebrate! This MMOG, based upon the father of all pen-and-paper
rpgs, continues to move forward, even after setting the online gaming
industry on fire with its successful move to a hybrid
free-to-play/subscription model. Your humble correspondent (Ethec
won’t let me call myself a bard – maybe
he’s afraid I’ll start singing around the office!)
got invited to enjoy a hands-on preview of the 5th anniversary event
for DDO.
My DMs for this journey were Design Director Ian Currie and Producer
Erik Boyer, who walked me through this pirate-themed event of style="font-style: italic;">Euphonia's Challenge:
Treasure of the Crystal Cove!



This event will run for a week starting Thursday (there’s a
preview today) and run for another week in late March, so jump in as
often as you can right now!


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Fighting in the Crystal
Cove.

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Protecting your miners
from pirates!



The
Setup


Euphonia's
Challenge: Treasure of the Crystal Cove

is a two-tiered event that takes place in two locations. Your overall
goal is to collect a variety of doubloons, gems, and crystals to trade
in for some really great gear. Also, every character gets a free pirate
hat (if your character existed before the special event patch) ranging
from a simple bandana to the mighty Dread Admiral’s Tricorne.



The first location is Smuggler’s Rest, which was the original
starting area in style="font-style: italic;">DDO
until Turbine created Korthos Island. (At Ten Ton Hammer, you always
get free history lessons!) You can travel to Smuggler’s Rest
by talking to Sailor Calatin in the Harbor. Smuggler’s Rest
is a fog-shrouded area that is filled with dangerous pirates, but who
doesn’t love bugbear pirates? Anyway, your goal is to gather
enough map pieces to unlock the Crystal Cove. How do you get map
pieces? By killing scurvy pirates, that’s how!
Smuggler’s Rest is an open public area that has enemies
ranging from level 1 to 20. They won’t attack you unless you
attack them first, so be careful with who you’re picking a
fight with.


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A selection of piratical
headwear for your adventurer!

When you defeat the pirates,
they’ll drop doubloons and map
pieces for you to loot. You turn in the map pieces at the Barter Box
located next to Euphonia Teles on board her ship. When a certain amount
of map pieces are turned in, then the Crystal Cove will unlock. The
final number may vary, but the first time to unlock the Crystal Cove on
a server was 50,000 at the time of the preview. Once the Crystal Cove
is unlocked the first time, then it only takes a grand total of 1500 to
unlock it again from there on. Once unlocked, a message will be sent
out to the entire area and everybody can begin traveling to the Crystal
Cove. To get to the Crystal Cove, you will need a compass, which can be
looted from pirates or bought from the barter box.



The second location for the event is the Crystal Cove, where your job
is to protect kobold miners as they mine crystals. Yes, you heard me
right. Your job is to protect kobolds. This stage is a mini-game where
the goal is to collect a certain number of crystals (100), with any
extra kept by the players. The trick is that kobolds will stay only
within 20 feet of a Safety Incense Torch and said torches must be
within 30 feet of another torch. Basically, you’ll plot a
line using the torches to where crystals are located for the kobolds to
mine them.



To increase productivity, you can buy additional barrels for kobolds to
strap to their backs to carry more crystals and you can purchase a
teleporter device that allows the kobolds to teleport back to their
boss to turn in the crystals. You can also purchase additional miners
to work the area. Sounds easy, yeah? Well, the rub is that you will be
constantly under attack by pirates seeking to take the crystals.
Kobolds will squeal in horror and not be of any use in this fight as
that, according to Kobold Minion Union Rulebook (available from Foreman
Wee Yip Yip on Euphonia Teles’ ship), “6. In case
of combat, workers are authorized to scream and run around in panic
until rescued.”


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Your kobold workers follow the
union rules. Know them!

You will need to employ some sound strategy to gather the needed amount
of crystals, plus any extra for you to take. The Crystal Cove is an
instance that lasts for 20 minutes and remains unlocked for 40 minutes
at a time. You can solo the instance if you wish or go with an entire
group. You can gain bonus crystals (if you get any) by choosing a
higher DC than the highest player level in the group. If you choose a
lower DC, you’ll get penalized the number of crystals. If you
choose 5 levels lower than the highest level character, you
won’t get anything at all.



Overall, the pacing is whatever choice you decide for
Smuggler’s Rest, but once you get to the Crystal Cove, it is
practically non-stop combat. Killing pirates in the Crystal Cove will
net you more doubloons and gems that you can use to buy items from the
Barter Box onboard Euphonia Teles’ ship. In addition to the
normal pirate forces, the occasional red named enemy will show up just
to mess up your day.



The
Payoff


Euphonia's
Challenge: Treasure of the Crystal Cove

is a nicely executed event with one caveat, which I’ll get to
in a minute. First, the layout of the event is extremely atmospheric
from the fog-shrouded public area to the gleaming Crystal Cove. style="font-style: italic;">DDO
has always put their best foot forward with the environment and this
event is no exception. The nautical themed music was very well done and
was actually nice to listen to. I thought about doing a
sailor’s jig to the music, but decided against it.


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Shiver me timbers!
Pirates!

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It's time to smack down
some pirates!



For me, the real treat was the kobold miners. I honestly
couldn’t stop laughing as they swarmed around me when I
entered the Crystal Cove. They’re so excited to see you and
constantly cheer you on and butter you up. Erik and Ian mentioned that
they recorded over 130 lines of dialogue for this event and it shows.
Hearing the kobold cheers and saying things such as, “Get in
ma barrel!” and “So pretty…”
and “Kobold beat the odds! Kobold come home!” will
really endear these joyful kobold miners to your heart.



The loot that you can acquire is some damn good gear. Going through the
items (which I didn’t have that much time for) made me want
to get a bunch of things for my characters to have. That, however,
leads to the one rub for the event. It is an extremely grindy event.
With the large number of items needed for the good gear, most people
will only be able to get one to two pieces. If you’re a nut
for getting everything, you will howl with despair because I
don’t think that’ll be possible. If you can live
without getting everything under the sun, then you’ll have to
set your priority and go for the item you want most.



Overall, Euphonia's
Challenge: Treasure of the Crystal Cove

is a well designed anniversary event that is available to all players,
from level 1 to 20, and from solo to über group. The mini-game
aspect of the Crystal Cove is a lot of fun and challenging and will
probably be applied to future events, according to Erik and Ian. Most
players should be able
to get a really good item piece before
they’re done, but players that want to collect everything
will be frustrated. The grind aspect of getting the higher end gear
items will put off some players, but most players will just jump right
in with a “shiver-me-timbers!” and begin dueling
bugbear pirates. That kind of fun is what online gaming is all about!


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Protect your kobold
miners.

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