Updated Mon, Nov 05, 2012 by jeffprime
The other two adventures I played solo were Stuck in the Swamp, where you have to fight a medusa and her minions in a swamp, and Detour, where you have to escort an elderly Harper to a refuge. The Detour adventure was amusing as the elderly mage had a piece of the scroll and it would periodically summon a creature when it was jostled when he was hit during combat. Another interesting bit was fighting a powerful mercenary bard who would spout lyrical descriptions of the combat situation.
Players will definitely want to take a rogue with them during these adventures. There are a number of traps and a liberal use of spell wards by the Netherese wizards. One encounter in The End of the Road had the players fighting a horde of bad guys in an area full of spell wards that only affected the players. The adventures also feature the normal DDO fixtures of having optional objectives that the players can fulfill and different difficulty levels. Personally, I'm a fan of optional objectives as I tend to fully explore a dungeon. You can look for evidence of Netheril activities in Cormyr in The End of the Road or help trapped souls in Stuck in the Swamp to find peace.
A wizard of Netheril.
The look of Update 16 for DDO continues their post-Eberron look to the Forgotten Realms more lush, and greener!, palette. The visuals are very strong in this update. The King's Road has the softer, natural feel of the King's Forest, while the areas in Stuck in the Swamp and The End of the Road are extremely foreboding and menacing. The wooden fort in The End of the Road is very striking with it's large size and somber feel. I noticed that all the wizards of Netheril also had the emblem of Shar, their patron deity, on their robes and staffs. A nice touch for us D&D geeks.
The sound quality for the update is also high. Gone are the days of DDO when the standard DM voice tried to speak as different people during an adventure. The various voice-overs are now individually and professionally voiced, such as the various journal entries of Oriphaun that are found throughout the King's Road, providing background information of the area. The musical score is well done from the softer background themes to the more dynamic combat sections. Of particular note for me was the ambient noise of the King's Road itself. The noise of crickets chirping, the hooting of owls, and other sounds of nature made me want to sit on a rocking chair on my porch and drink some mint juleps. While not earth-shattering, it did get me in the groove of wilderness adventuring.
The Primal Avatar Epic Destiny.
The next big addition to DDO in Update 16 is the new Primal Avatar epic destiny. This epic destiny is geared to druid players, but any class can take this epic destiny if the wish to do so. This epic destiny features stat gains in strength or wisdom, which are perfect for druids. There are a few abilities that are noteworthy in this epic destiny. The first is Dryad Elder, where the player can summon a dryad to fight alongside them. The second is Friends of Nature. This ability has the player being able to summon a small, woodland creature to add buffs to the party. These creatures can be killed in combat, but they do their best to avoid combat as they are quite scared of the monsters the players will be facing. The player will be able to summon different creatures, each with their own unique buffs. One of the Turbine team summoned a frog that added +3 to Jump and +2 Physical Resistance.
Probably the most interesting ability for the Primal Avatar epic destiny was Avatar of Nature. This ability allows the player to transform into a hulking swamp-being with enhanced unarmed melee damage and being able to knockdown foes. To shape-shift into this form, the player will need to build up Spirit. Once they've built enough up, they will be able to transform. However, Spirit depletes naturally. As the player's Spirit drops, the player's form will shrink in stature and strength. Overall, there are four stages to this transformation. What should really get players excited over this is that you don't need to be a druid to get this epic destiny. That means that any class in DDO can shape-shift into this powerful form if they pursue this epic destiny. The Primal Avatar epic destiny is free to players who already have access to epic destinies.
The Avatar of Nature.
One last tidbit that Turbine leaked to me was a hint about the upcoming winter festivities for DDO. It appears that the winter games that DDO players have enjoyed in Stormreach Harbor will also come to Eveningstar. No other details were given, so it will be interesting to see the winter landscape and festivities that will come to Eveningstar. Better pick up those halfling-sized long johns now!
Overall, Update 16: The Netherese Legacy is a solid addition to DDO. Long time D&D players will enjoy the introduction of the Harpers and the evil forces of Netheril to the game, further adding additional background and lore from the Forgotten Realms setting to DDO. The new adventure pack is well designed and adds my favorite thing, new content. The adventure pack is free to VIPs or available for purchase in the DDO store. Druids will be happy with the new epic destiny, as well as players who wish to add shape-shifting to their arsenal. The release date for the update is in mid-November. Now if only Turbine would start work on a Greyhawk expansion!
Our thanks to Turbine for giving us this hands-on preview of Update 16: The Netherese Legacy for DDO.