PAX East in Boston kicked off yesterday, and we were lucky enough to have a visit with Fernando Paiz, the Executive Producer of Dungeons and Dragons Online. We spent some time looking at Update 4 as well as chatting about what else is in store for Dungeons and Dragons Online in 2010.

Update 4 will bring the standard Adventure Pack, of course -- "Sentinels" is geared toward more low-level characters than the previous one -- but Turbine didn't stop there. Players were pretty excited and even more curious about the guild housing planned for this summer, with a lot of questions about it. Will smaller guilds be at a disadvantage? Do you have to spend money to access it? How is it all going to work?

For all the answers, follow along after the jump to see what we heard from DDO's Executive Producer.
Sentinels

The cosmetic changes that came to House Deneith with Update 3, highlighting the military feel of the House, served as a hint of more to come in that area: "that was all part of rolling out the Sentinels Adventure Pack" said Paiz. Those in House Denieth are part of an elite group of mercenaries that serve as Stormreach's enforcers -- they keep the peace, and currently they've got their work cut out for them. The Blood Tide is a group of pirates with an interesting business plan: they're hijacking all the ships coming into Stormreach, and selling the stolen goods back to the citizens of Stormreach at a nice profit.

For all their flaws, the pirates are a pretty organized bunch and have set up a pirate mart in Searing Heights for this purpose. Your first quest takes you out there to shut it down. (Sorry, you can't loot the store yourself after you're finished.) Afterwards, it's off to the Black Loch, a pirate hideout you'll remember from Three-Barrel Cove. The pirates of the Black Loch don't like the invading Blood Tide any more than we do, and have called upon House Deneith to help clear them out.

This is where you learn a little more about the Black Tide. They're not just interested in breaking into the retail business, and running around slaying pirates right and left isn't going to work for you. The Black Tide is working with a particularly unpleasant necromancer, and he's helping them out by resurrecting the pirates that you kill as a new breed of intelligent zombie. These zombie pirates retain their intelligence and are able to cast spells, use weapons, and all sorts of things that make them more dangerous than the shambling, "Braaaaaaains"-mumbling kind we're used to. Taking out the necromancer seems to see the way to go, so that's your goal here.
Once you've taken care of that, it's time to think about infiltrating a little more in an effort to bring down the rest of the Blood Tide. Back you go to begin a quest called "Storming the Beaches", and things start to get interesting. You'll find yourself in a planning room with a spymaster, a captain, and an archmage, who all agree that you need to infiltrate an orc fortress to take down the pirates. Unfortunately, this is where their agreement ends, as they all have different ideas about how you should get in. The archmage, for example, has a great plan to teleport you right to an underwater entrance safely out of sight of any guards. He's a bit imprecise, unfortunately, and may or may not get you where you need to go. The spymaster has knowledge of a secret entrance, and the captain is in favor of a "fight your way through the front door" approach. This provides for some great variety and interest in this quest, and avoids bickering among the party about the best route to take, as it allows each party member to make their own decision and split up if they prefer.

Spies in the House is your next quest, where you work to figure out how these pirates are getting into House Deneith. This is an optional quest, but if you're a fan of puzzles you're going to want to check it out. The Turbine team had a lot of fun with this one, making heavy use of the 3-D space and their physics engine. If you're a fan of the classic DDO style of solving puzzles to advance, you'll definitely want to take on this challenging dungeon. There are traps right and left as well, so Rogues really shine here.

The final quest wraps it all up, taking you to the final showdown and an "explosive" finish. This is an Adventure Pack that all players will definitely want to check out. The changeable difficulty levels -- including casual mode added with Update 3 -- open the quests up to players of nearly every level.
The future of DDO

Turbine has quite a bit planned for DDO throughout 2010. They've committed to six updates for the year, so we're going to see lots of new content in the form of Adventure Packs, but the upcoming update this summer is bringing something exciting.

If you follow Massively on Twitter, you already know why we are looking forward to the upcoming guild housing. No boring, stationary guild houses for the citizens of Eberron -- Dungeons and Dragons Online is introducing guild airships, offering housing and transportation all in one. The airships will work like a standard guild house or hall in one fashion, in that you can acquire the basic place, then add to it, but that's where the similarities end. Acquisition of the airship isn't simply a matter of forking over the right amount of gold -- it's a combination of in-game coin and teamwork on the part of the guild, unlocked as an achievement. Players can upgrade the guild airships through a combination of in-game coin, achievements, and purchases in the DDO store, so options are offered for every type of player.

Besides the guild airships, Half-Orcs are coming to Eberron as a playable race, new cosmetic items are coming to the DDO store, and we can look forward to some UI and engine upgrades, making the game even better to look at.

2009 was a banner year for Dungeons and Dragons Online, and it looks like 2010 is going to follow in its footsteps. We look forward to seeing what these updates bring, and we thank Fernando Paiz for his time!

This article was originally published on Massively.
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