Posted Tue, Sep 03, 2013 by Sardu
This weekend we sat down with our friends from SOE to learn more about the alliance dragons, high lords, and mounted combat in the Dragon's Prophet Frontier System.
The overall footprint of the MMO industry at PAX Prime this year was somewhat small in comparison to previous years. At least, that’s the impression you’d get if you took the exhibit hall at face value. But much like SDCC before it, PAX has aggressively begun to grow beyond the confines of the convention center and is sprawling outward across an ever-expanding list of downtown Seattle hotel ballrooms and meeting spaces.
One of our biggest appointments during the event took place in one of these satellite spaces, as we met up with our friends at SOE to see the latest about EverQuest Next, Landmark, and Dragon’s Prophet. For more about EQNext and Landmark be sure to visit EQHammer, where we’ve got an exclusive interview with Dave Georgeson on the way along with a deep dive into what makes Landmark a full MMO rather than just a massive virtual toolbox.
While that stuff continues to percolate, we were also given an updated look at some of the major refinements being made to Dragon’s Prophet as the game heads into the home stretch before launch.
With the September 18th launch date looming just over the horizon, the team at SOE in conjunction with developer Runewaker are focusing on a final layer of polish and feature improvements for Dragon’s Prophet. For example, a massive new area is being added to the game for launch that will not only introduce four new dungeons, but also increases the level cap to 80.
Of course, the recently unveiled Frontier System is also big news for the game. To help give you a top level overview of what the system is all about, it essentially adds in a rich endgame PvP system that factors in not only guild-level battles, but an alliance system where multiple guilds can team up as well.
The Frontier System is really made up of three sub-systems which we'll touch on here before diving deeper into each between now and launch later this month. These include alliances, high lords, and mounted combat.
Multiple guilds can group up to form alliances which can contain between 2 and 5 guilds. This helps introduce an additional layer of structure similar to the guild system, but then also accounts for bringing larger groups of players together to work towards different goals and objectives.
Alliances combine efforts to siege the citadels on the frontier islands. Those citadels can then be captured and essentially owned by an alliance, at which point ownership of the citadels is maintained through PvP. Attackers will need to capture a number of different points in an attempt to gain control, but that’s much easier said than done. Battles around these capture points can be pretty massive, along the lines of 100 vs. 100 depending on how many players are actively defending or attacking at any given point in time.
Alliance dragons can be raised from basically an infant state, and then the High Lord for the alliance can eventually summon them during combat to help with either the siege or defense of a citadel. These are fairly massive beasts that will be instantly recognizable on the battlefield. The High Lord is essentially the overarching leader for a given alliance. Only guild leaders can become a High Lord, with the founding guild’s leader assuming the role of High Lord for the alliance. It will be interesting to see how this aspect of the frontier system plays out over a longer period, as alliances are bound to form, break apart, and reconfigure based on how worthy the leadership of a given High Lord is perceived by players within an alliance.
So on the one hand an effective leader will want to share tactics with key members from each guild, but that can also be a double-edged sword since one or more guilds can split off to form a rival alliance, thus gaining a critical advantage unless the tactics of the original alliance are altered to some degree. How often this kind of thing happens remains to be seen, but having the proper tools to allow for it in the first place adds a definite layer of intrigue to the notion of endgame PvP in Dragon’s Prophet.
Mounted combat will also factor into the frontier islands, which is part of how the alliance dragons will be put to good use during siege or defense. When you hop on a dragon you’ll be given a number of new skills that can be used along with the standard flight button. So you’ll gain some mounted abilities for your dragon along with the ability to use your normal attacks while mounted. This form of combat will be a little more restrictive since you’ll lose the ability to roll or sprint.
So small scale combat will still be best while on foot, but in larger battles you’ll have the option to capitalize on some of the additional mounted skills such as forward leap attacks, or the tried-and-true fire breathing attacks.
The mounted abilities you’ll gain for a given dragon will be intrinsic to what family it belongs to. For example, a ground mount might have frontal claw attacks, biting attacks, or sprinting abilities, while a flying dragons will have more magic-based attacks, breath attacks, or aerial mobility skills. Within the citadel there will be an NPC that allows you to train your dragon with new abilities, so this is one aspect of the system that will work a bit differently than how abilities are normally gained for your dragon.
We’re definitely eager to begin exploring the citadel system, alliances, and mounted combat in the release build for Dragon’s Prophet later this month. There’s still time to dive into the open beta for the last couple of weeks before launch, so be sure to ride your favorite dragon over to the official Dragon’s Prophet website for more details.