Turbine continues Dungeons and Dragons
Online's descent into madness with new content with Update 10, which (conveniently) goes live today. Offered the chance to get a hands-on preview, I jumped at
the opportunity and was run through the first adventure in the Reign of
Madness adventure pack in addition to learning of the crafting update
heading players’ way. My tour guides were Ian Currie (Design
Director), Erik Boyer (Producer), and Fernando Paiz (Executive
Reign of MadnessUpdate 10 is primarily the Reign of Madness adventure pack. This series of adventures (level 17 and up) continues the madness-themed adventures, Harbinger of Madness, from Update 9. As we were starting up, I told the DDO team that I was looking forward to the new adventure as long as there were no beholders as that my entire party had been wiped a few times by a bad-ass beholder the night before. (We were eventually victorious). The response from the DDO team was a great deal of laughter and I was informed that not only would I be facing beholders, but there were, in fact, three new beholders in this adventure pack. Sighing with the certainty of failing my saves, I plunged into the adventure.
First, the players look and attempt to recover the scepter. Once you enter the inn, you'll begin your search. Eventually, you’ll find the scepter within the grasp of a mindflayer, who you’ll chase throughout the inn. Poor souls who have been tainted by chaos will assault you. If you take too long in dealing with them, hideous floating eyeballs will erupt from them and attack you. After dispatching those doomed souls and killing the mindflayer, the scepter is there for you to take, but….
As soon as you go to grab the scepter, a treasure chest in the corner comes alive, rushes over, and swallows the scepter. This is no mere treasure chest, it’s a mimic! A mimic is a creature that can change its shape and disguise itself as an inanimate object, which is usually a chest. This marks the introduction of the mimic to DDO. You will then be forced to chase the mimic throughout the inn as he capers about taunting you as you chase him. You eventually corner him in the laundry room where he activates the scepter, which opens a portal to Xoriat. Your screen changes with an eerie red tinge to it and the perspective becomes slightly warped. As you look up to the ceiling, you see the ceiling break apart and the portal to Xoriat becomes clear. Next, a huge beholder comes down and swallows the mimic whole and returns to Xoriat.
|The mimic is a cruel, taunting creature.|
Your goal now is to construct an airship by using the beds and bookcases in the inn. To do so, you’ll go up to the various beds and bookcases and talk to them. They will then animate and begin to march their way to the laundry room. However, since the portal is open, minions from Xoriat are entering the inn. You’ll have to keep them from destroying the furniture as they march. Here you’ll get your first taste of the Frost Beholder. This is my favorite part of the whole adventure and I found it incredibly entertaining and imaginative. Watching the furniture march through the inn was like seeing Fantasia mesh with Bedknobs and Broomsticks. Once the furniture reaches the laundry room, they swirl together high in the air until you assemble enough components. I was reassured by the DDO team that you can never run out of furniture. If furniture is destroyed, it will respawn. If the furniture is destroyed several times, it will respawn as hardier furniture and will be more difficult to destroy. Once you have enough components, they will form a giant airship and you’ll find a ladder nearby to climb up and enter the portal to Xoriat.
Once inside the nasty innards of the beholder, you’ll see several chests and other creatures swallowed by the beholder. Some of the monsters are free and they’ll attempt to free the trapped monsters. The best strategy of a group is to target the free monsters first to keep the number of monsters manageable during the fight. Once you’ve dispatched the monsters, you’ll have to determine which chest is the mimic. You have the option to break open any chest, but if the chest isn’t the mimic but a real chest, the contents of that chest fall into the stomach acid of the beholder and dissolve. There are a number of ways to determine if a chest is real or the mimic, such as a rogue using their abilities, using skills like Search or listen, or having a high enough Wisdom or Intelligence. Once you find and defeat the mimic, you can grab the scepter and keys that will open the other chests.
You’ll then reappear back in the laundry room of the Sleeping Spell Inn. When you use the scepter to try to close the portal to Xoriat, something bad happens and another portal opens. Appearing before you is the Lord of Eyes, a lord of Xoriat and a being of incredible power. He will demand the scepter from you, and while you have several dialogue options, the end result is that you’ll be forced to hand the scepter over to him. He takes the scepter and decides not to kill you, but instead closes the portal and disappears to begin his plan of taking over our dimension. This ends the Acute Delirium adventure.
Playing through the adventure was a blast and the design is extremely inventive. You’ll face many dangers, and the fight on the airship is hard, but cool. That first step is a doozy! There is also a tremendous amount of voiceover content in the adventure from the DM script to the mad ranting of the mindflayer. Players should definitely enjoy this latest adventure pack.
Crafting, New Armor, and Tower of the Twelve ChangesCrafting gets a boost in Update 10. The crafting level is being raised from 75 to 100. In addition, players can now create unbound shards so you can buy, sell, trade, auction, or just plain give them away if you wish. There is also one new item that will become available in the DDO store and that is a new docent for Warforged called Cog Armor. Lastly, the Tower of the Twelve gets a makeover emphasizing the magical prowess of the Tower’s denizens. Turbine was never enthusiastic about the original layout, so they thought it seemed a good time to give the Tower a makeover seeing as it features in the adventure pack.
Future Updates for 2011After the adventure was played, I asked about future updates for the rest of 2011. I was told that there were 2 more planned updates (Update 11 and Update 12) for the year and that Update 11 was going to be the biggest of the year. The Turbine team mentioned that their focus was to increase the end-game content for the level-capped players. When I pressed for more details, they hit me with a Ray of Paralysis, so I stopped asking.
Overall, Update 10 for DDO is essentially the latest adventure pack with an increase in crafting levels. If the remaining adventures in the Reign of Madness are half as good as the first one, Acute Delirium, then players will be very happy. You can tell the DDO team put a great deal of effort into crafting these adventures and it shows. My only gripe is that I always seem to fail my saves! Update 10 launches Monday, June 20th, for VIP members and is available in the DDO store for other players starting Wednesday, June 22nd.
My thanks to Ian Currie, Erik Boyer, and Fernando Paiz for taking the time to give me a hands-on preview of Update 10.