DDO Update 12: Vaults of the Artificers Hands-On Preview
DDO adds not only new content with Update 12: Vaults of the Artificers, but also new gameplay in the form of Challenges. TTH sat down with Turbine to preview the new Challenges and other updates coming soon.
Update 11 added Artificers and House Cannith to Dungeons and Dragons Online. Now Turbine is adding new gameplay and other improvements to DDO in Update 12: Vaults of the Artificers. Yours truly got to sit down with DDO’s very own Fernando Paiz, Executive Producer, and Erik Boyer, Producer to get a hands-on impression of DDO Update 12: Vaults of the Artificer.
Challenges in DDO Update 12: Vaults of the ArtificerThe main focus of DDO Update 12 is the new Challenges that players can undertake. These Challenges are designed not in the usual story-focused manner of normal quests, but rather in a more popcorn, arcade-like style. Turbine first tried this type of gameplay when they created Euphonia's Challenge: Treasure of the Crystal Cove for their fifth anniversary. They’ve been created to allow players who have 15-20 minutes to kill to do something fun, try to beat their previous high scores, and to get some xp and loot in the bargain. When Update 12 releases in mid-November, there will be four Challenges:
- Dr. Rushmore's Mansion: Behind the Door
- Dr. Rushmore's Mansion: Moving Targets
- Kobold Island: Kobold Chaos
- Kobold Island: The Disruptor
Challenges are repeatable with the only limit being the number of Daily Challenge tokens that a player has. To obtain these tokens, players need to talk to Kariya ir’Vannis, located in House Cannith along with the Challenges. VIP players will get additional tokens. Each day, one Challenge will be available for players to get tokens to. The tokens do not have an expiration date, so you can save them up for use at a later time. Players will also be able to buy additional tokens from the DDO store. Free-to-play players will want to log in every day to talk to the token NPC to grab the free tokens and save them up. If players want full access to every Challenge on a daily basis, they can also purchase the Challenge pack. Challenges also cover almost the entire level range, ranging from level 4 to 20.
Gameplay in the DDO Update 12 ChallengesThere are four Challenges, which means that there are four maps. Each Challenge also has three rules variants, which tweak some rules and have optional objectives. The Challenges can also be played on Epic level. All of the Challenges are timed, so you’ll need to keep moving. Within each Challenge, there are objectives that you’ll need to achieve. As you progress through the Challenge, you accumulate points. When you get enough points, you get a star. You must get at least one star to get any xp and items. For each star you get, you receive Favor with House Cannith. Between DDO Update 11 and DDO Update 12, players will now be able to get enough Favor to unlock the Artificer class to play. You can track your progress in the Challenges by opening up your Adventure Compendium, where a new tab has been created for Challenges.
Once you enter a Challenge, you will need to work fast to achieve the objectives. To help you out, you can get powerups that will drop during the Challenge or you can get one from a Cannith Supply Vault. You can only access a single Cannith Supply Vault per Challenge, and you will need a token to do so. To get the powerup, you just run through it. My personal favorite was Quad Damage. Sweet. You can also receive time extensions whilst in a Challenge.
I was run through two of the Challenges by Fernando Paiz and Erik Boyer. The first was Dr. Rushmore’s Mansion: Behind the Door. This Challenge was an Assassination Challenge, wherein your purpose is to penetrate the mansion and kill at least one boss of Rushmore’s party. Needless to say, there are quite a few bosses lurking around. The map is huge and there are multiple paths a party can take. Most doors are sealed and you’ll need to find crests to open them. As we passed by paintings, phantasmal creatures would spawn and attack us. One item that cracked me up was in the mansion’s restroom, where a rest shrine was available, but it was the toilet paper dispenser.
The second Challenge from DDO Update 12 I experienced was Kobold Island: Kobold Chaos. This Challenge took place on Kobold Island, an area that I remember when DDO launched. This particular Challenge was a tower defense, where players need to activate extractors to mine shards, but they also need to protect the extractors as well. To get the extractors working, players need to get parts, which is done by killing kobolds or destroying little shrines. Kobolds spawn around the shrines, but you aren’t guaranteed of getting any parts off of them when you kill them. You are guaranteed to get parts when you destroy a shrine. The more extractors you have working, the more shards you accumulate. You can use parts and shards to upgrade the extractors and to build cannons to defend the towers if you aren’t there. To help you keep track of the situation, new icons have been created for maps to keep you quickly informed.
The best part of the Kobold Chaos Challenge was the dialogue from the kobolds that kept cracking me up. For some reason, I always love slaying kobolds in DDO. Anyway, as you fight the kobolds, they spout off quite a few great lines. My favorite was, “You steal kobold’s only possession….how cold.” When DDO Update 12 goes live, players will be able to hear these lines as that all the kobold dialogue will be voiced.
Other Changes in DDO Update 12DDO Update 12: Vaults of the Artificers brings more than Challenges to the game. There will be four new armor kits available, with two kits reserved for warforged. Shared banks will now have a deposit/withdraw function for platinum, which will allow players to easily transfer funds from one character to another. The limit for the shared bank will be 50,000 platinum and players can buy limit increases from the DDO store. Name change parchments will also be able to be purchased either for a first or last name. Also, raids from level 16 on up have upgraded on the elite setting. This upgrade ups the difficulty but also upgrades the rewards. Lastly, the hyper-aggression of hirelings will be tamed. They will no longer leave your side to venture to the farthest reaches of the dungeon to fight. In addition, you will see the cooldowns on your hireling’s abilities and instructions given them will be put into a queue. If your cleric’s Cure Serious Wounds is still in cooldown and you click on it, they will cast it once the cooldown has passed.
I’m really looking forward to the release of Update 12: Vault of the Artificers for DDO. A new, fun style of gameplay that can easily be accessed by both VIP and F2P players only makes the game better. Perfectionists will want to go for that high score, while people like me will do the Challenges for Favor and loot. Sadly, there is one thing that is lacking….pandas. I tried to talk Fernando and Erik to getting on the panda bandwagon and that all games need pandas, but alas. I was told that DDO would always be panda-free.