DDO Update 13 Preview & Forgotten Realms Sneak Peek

Update 13: Web of Chaos for DDO launches today! Ten Ton Hammer sat down with Fernando Paiz, Executive Producer, and Adam Merksy, Director of Communications, for a hands-on preview plus info on the upcoming Menace of the Underdark expansion!
dungeons and dragons online - ddo - update 13 and forgotten realms preview

Update 13: Web of Chaos launches today for Dungeons and Dragons Online! Ten Ton Hammer sat down with Fernando Paiz, Executive Producer, and Adam Merksy, Director of Communications, for a hands-on preview plus some info on the upcoming Menace of the Underdark expansion!

Update 13: Web of Chaos serves as a prequel to the upcoming expansion, Menace of the Underdark. Not only is there a free adventure pack in Update 13, but there are some other welcome additions and changes to the game.

Web of Chaos

The main component of Update 13 for Dungeons and Dragons Online is the new adventure pack, Web of Chaos, which is free for all players. This adventure pack contains three adventures (The Lords of Dust, Servants of the Overlord, and The Spinner of Shadows) which serve as a prequel to the events in the upcoming Menace of the Underdark expansion, slated for release on June 25th!

In the Web of Chaos adventures, players will attempt to deal with a group of cultists, comprised of Rakshasas and Drow, who are attempting to free the demonic Overlords who have been imprisoned in Khyber. The Drow encountered in the adventures aren’t your typical Eberron Drow. Instead, they are Drow who have begun worshipping Lolth and wish to further her evil aims.

For those who are unfamiliar with Lolth, she’s a central component of the Forgotten Realms setting for Dungeons and Dragons. She is an exceptionally evil god who rules from the Demonweb Pits (a plane of existence that you don’t want to go to!) and serves as the principal deity of the Drow in the Forgotten Realms setting. She is vicious, sadistic, cold-hearted, and has no compassion at all. In other words, she’s bad news!

Fernando Paiz ran me through the first and third adventures in the adventure pack. The first thing players will notice that a crack has appeared in one of the giant artifacts found in the Harbor that the city of Stormreach has been built upon. Surely nothing bad can be happening from such a circumstance? There’s no reason to worry why the Silver Flame are gathering in force around the crack, is there? Well of course there is and it’s up to the players to figure out what’s happening.

dungeons and dragons online - ddo - update 13 and forgotten realms preview
That crack wasn't there yesterday. Surely there's nothing to worry about?

In the first adventure, The Lords of Dust, we fought through hordes of cultists, saw some unexpected events, and attempted to stop an unholy ritual. The story elements are strong in these adventures, but what really struck me was the increased use of voice acting within them. Instead of the usual DM voice mimicking other voices, Turbine now has different voice actors portraying various key NPCs within the adventures.

Eventually players realize that the cult is attempting to free an Overlord called the Spinner of Shadows, which is an aspect of Lolth on Eberron. In the third adventure, players attempt to stop the freeing of the Spinner of Shadows, but are too late. What follows is an epic fight to force the Spinner of Shadows back into containment. To do this, players will need to kill Flame Eater spiders, which eat the power of the Silver Flame guardian, and use that energy to rekindle the torches surrounding the altar.

The Spinner of Shadows looks amazing and my long-running hatred of Lolth (I’ve been playing D&D for 30 years) came roaring back as I fought to defeat her. Sadly, the players aren’t successful and the Spinner of Shadows opens a portal to the Demon Web and players get a glimpse of the true Lolth. Luckily, the players are pulled back out before it’s too late. The portal will get a lot of use later on as that it serves as the gateway to Faerun and the Forgotten Realms setting in the Menace of the Underdark expansion.

dungeons and dragons online - ddo - update 13 and forgotten realms preview
The Spinner of Shadows' lair.

Pets

In Update 13, players will be able to collect cosmetic pets. If players pre-purchase the Menace of the Underdark expansion, they will receive up to three different pets, depending upon the expansion edition they buy. These pets are accessed through your inventory, which will feature a new tab once you have a pet. Pets appear account-wide, so once you’ve bought a pet, all your characters receive them. The pets are cosmetic and don’t help in combat, but you can give them gear and they will perform tricks. Additional pets will be made available in the future.

Other Update 13 Additions

Starting with Update 13 for Dungeons and Dragons Online, players will receive a slice of 6 year-old birthday cake to celebrate the sixth anniversary of DDO. But who wants to eat 6 year-old birthday cake, right? When a player clicks on his slice of cake, a genie will appear and tell you not to eat six year old cake, but he will trade you something for it. He will offer you items ranging from stacks of healing potions to a pork barrel (watch a pig explode on a barrel full of power and watch ham rain down!) to the item what most people will probably grab, a +2 tome.

dungeons and dragons online - ddo - update 13 and forgotten realms preview
The portal is open and you get a glimpse of the true Lolth.

The other major change coming in Update 13: Web of Chaos is the fact that certain quest chains and adventures will now show all named items as final rewards once the chain or adventure has been run three times. Now you’re guaranteed to get Carnifex after running Delera’s Tomb three times. This is a change that I’m very happy about as that I hate endless grinding for cool loot.

One last addition with Update 13 is that players can now start at level 7 with Veteran Status. This status can either be bought in the DDO store or gained for free if you accumulate 3000 favor.

Menace of the Underdark Sneak Peek

After running through the contents of Update 13, Fernando talked to me about the eagerly anticipated Menace of the Underdark expansion. He showed me one of the shapeshifting abilities of the upcoming Druid class by turning me into a wolf. When a Druid shapeshifts into an animal form, additional abilities become available to them, but certain normal abilities are unusable while in wolf form. The player’s size changes with the shapeshift. Players will be able to perform most actions while in animal form, even though a dancing wolf looks pretty hilarious to me. The Druid class and the Eveningstar Challenge Pack are free for all VIPs.

The coolest part of the Faerun tidbits fed me was the look at some new dragons. Sadly, I wasn’t allowed to take any screenshots. However, Turbine has new models and new technology to make some really awesome custom dragons. They will be introducing a new dragon, the Green Dragon, and the sizes of the dragons run the gamut from what we’re accustomed to right now in DDO to truly huge dragons. The dragons we’ve been fighting so far are essentially teenage dragons, but now we get to rumble with some big boys!

dungeons and dragons online - ddo - update 13 and forgotten realms preview
Fighting the Spinner of Shadows in her lair.

The official release date for the Menace of the Underdark expansion is June 25th and comes in three editions. Most players will opt for the base edition, which has the expansion which comes with a pet and a Lesser Tome of Learning. Those with deeper pockets can opt for the standard edition, which has two pets and a Greater Tome of Learning. Players with the deepest pockets can grab the collector’s edition, which includes three pets, a Greater Tome of Learning, and the onyx panther figurine.

The Lesser Tome grants a 10% bonus to xp and a 25% bonus to xp the first time you complete a dungeon. The Greater Tome increases that percentage to 20% and 50% respectively. You will be able to upgrade Lesser Tomes to Greater Tomes in the DDO store. The xp bonus stacks with other bonuses. The Figurine of Wondrous Power: Onyx Panther will summon a level 20 creature that will fight in melee for you. This panther can always be summoned, but you must be level 18 to use it.

Overall, Dungeons and Dragons Online players have a lot to look forward to. Update 13: Web of Chaos launches today with a free adventure pack that includes a great boss fight and great voice acting. Grinding should be reduced with the change that certain quest chains and adventures will make all their named loot available the third time around. You should expect to see hordes of pets running around Stormreach as soon as players start getting their hands on them. Plus, with the coming of the Menace of the Underdark expansion, players can begin adventuring in Faerun, face off against cool new dragons, and shapeshift into woodland animals as a Druid. With dungeons, dragons, druids, Drow, and the Underdark, 2012 looks to be DDO's busiest year yet!

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