DDO's Update 17 Playsession with the Devs
Dungeons & Dragons
Online has had some strange detours over the course of its
long life. Recently, with the Menace
of the Underdark expansion, one of the biggest detours took the game
into the Forgotten Realms, and shifted a great deal of the game's focus
onto the Drow and the Drizzts and the Underdark. Update 17
will see the focus swing back into Eberron - specifically, the region of Gianthold.
We got a hands-on tour of Gianthold courtesy of Turbine's production
staff, including Athena Peters (Producer), Eric Boyer (Senior Producer),
Ben Schneider (Senior Content Designer) and Leo Tan (Digital
Gianthold has been around for a good long as a wilderness
adventure area - a volcanic wasteland leveled some time ago by
a magical explosion, and the battleground in a war between giants and
dragons. The Ruins of Gianthold adventure pack is for
level 10 - 18, with most quests in the level 13 - 14 range. Update 17
gives this area a bit of a rework, ramping up the content to the epic
levels and replacing the end raid with a brand new one. Players who
already have the Gianthold adventure pack will have automatic access to
"This is something for our dedicated players," the team explained. The
epic-level content updates to Gianthold are a major part of Update 17, and
will appeal more to the long-term player who has reached epic levels and
now wants more stuff to do. The update is more than just one area,
however, and the less-hardcore are not forgotten. One major revision
coming with it adds augment gems and augmentable weapons to regular
treasure, starting as early as level 8 and available up to the epic
"Loot is one of the all-important things in DDO," explained Eric Boyer,
DDO's Senior Producer. The team hopes that adding these augment items to
regular loot makes the system more accessible. Formerly, augment slots and
gems were raid-only items that required expensive ingredients to make and
use, but Update 17 adds them to regular loot tables. Lower-level players
will be able to find augment gems and weapons with augment slots in
The primary focus of the playsession, however, was on Gianthold and the
cool new stuff there. The Wilderness area sees the battle between the
defending giants and the attacking dragons rage on unabated. In the epic
version of the Gianthold wilderness, dragons can be seen swooping around
in the skies overhead, something players don't see at level 13. But, with
a name like Gianthold, there's a clear focus on the defenders.
"We want to give players a dose and a half of giants," Eric said,
explaining that the area uses a new random encounter system to generate
enemy mobs. The area is huge, and players have a chance to randomly
stumble across epic dragons or groups of confused giants defending their
wasteland. Most of the enemies we encountered on our own excursion were of
the giant variety - huge, rock-hurling brutes that rise out of the very
ground and spam knock-downs and trip attacks, or flame-bearded Fire Giants
with massive burning swords, or even the occasional troll.
But even the larger groups of trip-happy giants are pretty tame compared to
the rare dragon encounters. They can be encountered sleeping near chests, with
an automatically-bestowed quest popping up urging the player to try to open
the chest without waking the slumbering beast - a task easier said than done.
Or they might be encountered near a heap of dead giant bodies, swooping in
with an aerial bombardment just when you realize there is a loot chest
underneath that pile of bodies. Be sure to bring a tough group here, and be
certain that the group contains at least one healer.
Explorers of the wilderness area will be rewarded by finding totem-like lore
items left behind by the generals of the giant-dragon war here - Stormreaver
and the Truthful One. Clicking on the giant-skulls-on-pikes or the
tree-trunk-sized swords opens up an ongoing narrative of the battle from both
Additionally, the team is updating the in-game Monster Manual with a third
installment, so completionists will want to hunt one of everything for that.
If you are wondering why there were so many Turbine staffers on call for this
playsession, be assured that there is a good reason. The new epic raid, The
Fall of Truth, requires a big group. Once we were done noodling
around in the wilderness area, Producer Athena Peters put the call out, and
several more Turbine staffers joined the party to show off their new raid.
This raid is a major showdown between Stormreaver, the meaglomaniacal Storm
Giant boss, and the Truthful One, a powerful dracolich that has been
manipulating the dragons in the area for a long time. Though he has been
working behind the scenes for the past six years, this is the first time the
Truthful One makes an actual appearance in the game. And he does manage to
make a grand entrance worthy of the wait.
The raid is a two-boss arena-style fight with a mechanic that requires both
bosses to be taken down within ten seconds of one another. To complicate
matters further, there are groups of paired lesser giants and dragons thrown
into the mix as well, making the whole scene chaotic and crazy. The fight
requires a well-coordinated and experienced team, and a choreographed and
orderly execution. The Turbine crew did exactly that while I ran around the
room getting screenies.
The Fall of Truth has gotten a lot of positive response from the DDO
community already - there's even a (currently) 3-page forum thread petitioning
for its designer to get a pay increase. It is challenging and engaging and not
just raw player punishment, and any type of character will find something to
Update 17 is scheduled to launch sometime in February. Let us know what you're most looking forward to from this giant update in our comments!
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