Dragon's Prophet: Wintertide - an Interview with the Developers
Runewalker and SOE are eager to show off their open-beta project, Dragon's Prophet. We got an invite to a live-streamed demo of their upcoming content on Thursday, but that didn't work out as planned. Instead, we got the straight dope right from the mouth of Associate Producer Rod Haza, who gave us the rundown on what's happening now and what's in store for this intriguing new F2P game.
The focus of the interview was largely on the game's first expansion, Wintertide. Generally, one might expect an expansion to come out sometime after the game officially launches, but Runewalker/SOE are bucking that trend and releasing the expansion while Dragon's Prophet is still in open beta. When the game eventually does go live - the date to be announced at this year's SOE Live in August - it will come pre-packaged with the expansion already included.
In addition to a slew of beta bug fixes, Wintertide introduces a new zone, new game systems and an increased level cap, from 60 to 70.
The new Wintertide zone is, as you might guess, winter themed, with lots of snow and ice and new creatures to fight. In terms of story, there's enough content to get characters from level 60 to the new cap of 70, and there are 4 new dungeons to explore.
"Three of those dungeons are your standard, either one person or five-person dungeons," Rod explained. "And then there's the fourth dungeon, which is one of our legendary dungeons that is a main storyline dungeon that is a climax for that zone. It also has additional bosses in it, so that dungeon, when you go through it, you'll hit five different boss mobs as compared to the other times when you have a single boss mob."
The Wintertide region comes with a bit of history. In times past, it served as a battleground of one of the first Dragon Wars, when legions of dragons battled each other and their human allies, the Osira, for control of the land of Auratia. The remains of the legendary dragons of old are still scattered across the landscape of Wintertide - great vaulted ribcages and serpentine lines of vertebrae, sheathed in ice and snow. The main story in Wintertide doesn't deal so much with history, however, as it does on the current relationship between the Osira and the Ice Trolls, a race of giants who live in the area. The relationship is not a neighborly one, and the story follows the conflict between the two peoples.
The Wintertide expansion also introduces a couple of fairly major new or revamped systems to the game.
The first has to do with collecting dragons. Dragons are a pretty big deal in Dragon's Prophet - they are mounts, combat buddies, skill-sharers and resource-gatherers - and a lot of players want to try to collect as many of them as possible. Unfortunately, players have a limited capacity to actually collect dragons because of limited storage. The solution: the Dragon Chamber.
"What the Dragon Chamber does for you is, it allows you to store additional dragons," Rod explained. "Currently when you are playing the game, you have your Dragon Stable, which is the dragons you carry around with you that give your your abilities and your dragons that can fight alongside you. Previously, we allowed you to then store those in the Dragon Lair, where they could do activities for you. You can send them out for resources, or you can train them to get different abilities through the Dragon Lair. We've now introduced a third area where we allow you to store those dragons. After you've tamed a few of the ancient or fabled dragons and you wanna keep them, but you're working on different dragons at the time, previously you had to let them go or lose them. You only had a total of twelve you could actually have [at one time]. The Dragon Chamber allows you to store them as kind of a warehouse of your dragons, let them off to have a little retreat. And you can store an additional 96 dragons if you unlock all the slots."
Guilds are getting an update with the Dragon Sanctuary, Dragon's Prophet's version of a guild hall. According to Rod, "It gives you an instance that you can go to for your guild - it's a personal area that only your guild can go to. The Dragon Sanctuary gives you access to a few extra world NPCs so that you can adjust your Dragon Shards which are enhancements to your items. You can also access your lair while you're there, and it also gives access to guild banks."
There are already plans in place to increase the functionality of the Dragon Sanctuary. "We also have some other features that will be coming out soon with the Dragon Sanctuary that aren't quite available yet. Down the line, it's going to give you the ability to actually have encounters within the Dragon Sanctuary, so that you can spawn a boss mob of sorts for your guild to fight in that Dragon Sanctuary, and get special rewards just for that system. That will be coming down the line pretty soon."
And it's not just guilds that are getting fancy new homes. Individual players will get new housing options, too. Previously, players had the ability to buy an open-world lot and build a house on it, or a private instanced apartment, which can be upgraded by buying additional rooms. The Wintertide Secret Apartment housing upgrade uses teleporter pads to transform lowly apartments into "bigger on the inside" private island retreats.
"What we added was an additional upgrade to that. The original system allowed you to have a single apartment and you could upgrade that to a two-room or a three-room if you wanted to. With this update, we added in the Secret Apartment. What that does is, it adds a teleport that takes you to your own instance island. Once you have that island, you can actually go into there and place full-sized houses and decorate them. It's one of the things a lot of players are really looking forward to, because a lot of them bought the Dragon Lord and Dragon Master packs, in which one of the housing items was an actual house. The problem they ran into with the current apartments, they had a hard time placing that because it was so huge. But the secret island gives them an opportunity to place those houses and really get into the housing system a lot more than they previously did."
This update and expansion is available now. Stay tuned for some upcoming Dragon's Prophet newbie guides!