Massively's developer tour of DDO update 5: airships, evil carnivals, and bacon


Dungeons and Dragons Online's update 5 is just two weeks away, and we fans have been waiting impatiently with visions of airships dancing in our heads. We've been hearing quite a bit about the big additions, guild renown and the new adventure pack, gaining small details along the way.

What about a firsthand look, though, you may ask? Screenshots and patch notes are nice, but is the execution just as good? We at Massively wanted to know too, so we sat down with the Turbine team for tour of update 5: Rise of the Guilds.

Executive Producer Fernando Paiz, Producer Eric Boyer, Senior Content Designer Ricardo Liu spent some time showing off all the latest and greatest in this update. Follow along after the jump for Massively's developer tour of airships, evil carnivals, and bacon.

Rogue traps

Update 5 brings Rogues the ability to craft their own traps. Traps have been a little one-sided until now; Rogues were able to find and disable traps -- saving their party members from a sharp and pointy death -- but weren't able to use this skill to turn the tables and craft their own traps. The new trapmaking feat changes all this. With update 5, all Rogues level 4 and above will automatically gain this feat and all lower-level rogues will have the opportunity to gain it.

Disabling a trap gives you a chance to scavenge parts from disabled traps and craft your own. Crafted traps can take two forms, either a landmine style that you set on the ground or a hand grendade style that you equip and throw at your enemies.

New adventure pack

The Carnival of Shadow is a level 5 premium (paid) content adventure pack, but high-level characters aren't left out in the cold. As with many of the others, this pack has epic difficulty available -- high-level players will find a challenge and a chance to pick up epic versions of named items. There are four adventures within the pack, and Turbine has responded to player requests by adding some long/very long adventures with this update.

The story behind this adventure pack centers around a carnival that's recently set up shop in House Phiarlan. It looks pretty great on the surface: colorful tents, fortune-tellers, cute trained dogs and more, but there may be more to it than meets the eye. House Phiarlan's spy chapter, the Serpentine Table, has some suspicions about what or who is behind the carnival, so off you go to find out for yourself.

Partycrashers

Our first adventure took place in the Phiarlan Chapterhouse. (Partycrashers is technically the second adventure in this pack, but the first three can be done in any order.) The Chapterhouse's Grand Gala is underway, and word on the street is that the shady characters behind the carnival are planning to assassinate the Viceroy -- the party's most important guest -- at the event. Since your name is not on the guest list for this event, you'll have to get a bit sneaky and enter through the back way: the Illusionarium. The Illusionarium is an entertainment venue of sorts, specializing in illusions -- House Phiarlan's specialty. This exhibit is closed for the Grand Gala, and acts as a sort of security system that we'll need to navigate to progress to the party. Marks of Shadow are the source of these illusions, and will block your progress until destroyed.

As you work your way through the illusions, you'll see some widely varied new landscapes, sneaky illusion traps, and new enemies such as swarms of flying Sprites. Keep an eye on arches with glowing crystals in the top -- entering those will trigger more security devices, so be careful. Be sure you take time to appreciate the landscape, because this new adventure pack boasts some truly beautiful maps.

Eventually you'll emerge from the Illusionarium and approach the main ballroom, and if you're a fan of optionals you'll love this area. The main ballroom is a huge space full of party guests, and you'll want to chat with all of them. You'll find some familiar faces, hear some familiar names, and one quest even takes you to a hidden area of the Chapterhouse: the bathroom. If you've ever wondered what's in a MMO bathroom, it turns out it's a rest shrine. Of course. Many of the party guests offer optionals, and the final fight in this adventure changes depending on what you do and do not choose to complete. Eventually you'll approach the Viceroy, the character you are to protect, and veteran DDO players will get a laugh from what he has to say.

Once you're finished, you'll approach the guest list to find your contact's name, conveniently adding your own name to the guest list while you're at it. This almost acts as a save point for this adventure; if a party member has to leave and re-enter, or joins late, there's no reason to work through the Illusionarium. Everyone in the party is considered an invited guest and can waltz right in the front door.

Snitches, hellhounds, and a circus succubus

Partycrashers is the longest adventure in this pack, but the others are just as good. The Snitch finds you inside the Golden Wing Inn to search for someone who can confirm that there is evil intent behind the carnival. Roderic Nettle, your snitch, is disinclined to rat your suspects out because they've given him a shiny magic wand. He's having a grand old time summoning monsters right and left, and doesn't want to give up his new toy.

You'll follow him from one room to the next, dodging monsters as he tosses them at you, and eventually arrive at a rooftop where Roderic gets a bit more creative. He's got a trap to spring and a pile of rubble for an ally. With a wave of Roderic's ill-gotten wand, a pile of old crates becomes a named boss: Crateos. Crateos is, of course, made entirely out of animated barrels and crates, with the exception of his chest. Amusingly, that part is the chest in the literal sense -- you'll loot it once you kill Crateos. Eventually you'll corner Roderic and convince him to talk, but there are a few more minor hitches before you're ready to move on.

We wrapped up with a peek at the final adventure in this pack: Under the Big Top. Visit the northeast corner of House Phiarlan after you've finished the first three quests, and you'll find you're able to enter the central carnival area. Take your time and explore here -- there are quite a few fun surprises in and around the tents. You'll find strongmen, knife throwers, fortune tellers, and cute trained dogs. As you approach they'll reveal their true colors and attack. The cute trained dogs aren't quite as cute as they seem -- they turn into large trained hellhounds that are not balancing on a ball, but a large wheel of fire that explodes if it touches you.

This adventure brings the end boss: Malicia. Malicia is a charming young lady in the truest sense of the word. When you enter the big top, you'll find a number of patrons in the stands, sporting familiar pink cones on their heads and mumbling about what a fantastic show they've seen. Soon, Malicia, the succubus-slash-ringleader will arrive and monologue long enough for the party's Rogue to lay some of those clever new traps, and the fight is on.

Airships

We've gotten quite a few details on guild renown and rewards, but more is better, and the Turbine crew was kind enough to show off the highly anticipated guild airships.

We began our tour in the airship showroom. The showroom features small models of every available airship on display pedestals. The airships are divided into lines -- the Windspyre line, for example. Each line has three separate sizes, and clicking on each model will give you a rundown of its features: capacity, crew, etc. Stormglory is the most upscale line, purchased with Astral Diamonds -- a new item in the DDO Store. All airships share the same functionality and can be purchased with in-game gold, but if you want to drop some Turbine Points on a flashier model, Astral Diamonds are the way to go.

If you want a closer look at any model, check out the central platform. You can rotate the controller until you come to the model you are interested in, complete with a little captain on the deck for a sense of scale. Taelyn D'Lyrander is the showroom NPC who will assist you for purchasing or making a deposit. Deposits are a handy function, considering that airships are a guild-wide amenity. Only officers can make the actual purchase, but any member can approach Taelyn and make a deposit toward the airship. It's a clever, easy way for everyone to contribute and help with the admittedly hefty price tag of some of these models.

Once we finished looking at the showroom, it was time to board an actual airship. This is made easy by the addition of airship towers in every city. Simply enter the tower door and emerge on your airship. While we know about the basic amenities of these ships, facts and figures don't do it justice. Check out the gallery below for a tour of the Windspyre Sparrow and the rest of DDO update 5!

Thanks to the crew at Turbine for your time!

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This article was originally published on Massively.