Update 7 is our first look at what's to come. The quest series is in the level 12 range, a bit higher than what we've seen in the past months. It's free-to-play, which makes it even more appealing, and heavily features the two new races, the half-elf and the half-orc.
Fernando and Producer Erik Boyer were kind enough to spend some time showing off part of the new content and updates, so follow along after the jump for a first look at Update 7, titled Half Bloods. I started my tour with a closer look at these two new races, including their fun incidentals like emotes. My graceful half-elf charmed passers-by with some pretty ballet moves while the two half-orcs... well, rocked out. These characters seem like the fun-loving type but aren't to be trifled with. They can /taunt with the best of them, with a sassy little booty-spank from the half-elf and some aggressive flexing from the half-orcs.
Once I'd finished cavorting around and giggling madly at the /taunt emotes, it was time to get down to business. The new adventure pack is titled "Droaam" and begins by introducing us to a Droaam ambassador inside Lordsmarch Palace, a Medusa named Hesstess. The story stems from her desire to establish a colony for the residents of her nation, and if you protest this she'll put you in your place pretty effectively. It's nice to see some new races hanging around Xen'drik, as they're almost certain to present some interesting viewpoints along the way.
After our chat with Hesstess, we headed out to Lordsmarch Plaza, a brand-new public area where diplomat Naleen Lassite was waiting with news. As always, nothing is as simple as it seems, and it turns out Hesstess didn't arrive alone. She landed on the Skyfall Coast with several Droaam ships. It's a pretty big party for a simple diplomatic visit, so things are tricky. Naleen wants us to find out what these ships are all about without offending the powerful Droaam, so it's time to be sneaky. We headed to the coast to discover something disturbing -- multiple ships unloading siege weapons, arms, and soldiers.
This set the stage for a quest arc full of full of intrigue, danger, new zones, and new enemies. I was impressed with what I saw of this adventure pack for several reasons. It is well-put-together, carries an intriguing storyline, and sets us on the path to more high-level content. And best of all it's free!
In addition to acting as a "gateway raid," The Chronoscope solves an age-old DDO mystery. Nat Gann disappeared way back when and his fate has been a mystery ever since. The Phiarlan Carnival adventure pack teased us a bit -- we thought we'd find out what happened to poor Nat, but in the end it turned out to be a mere wastebasket. This should solve the mystery once and for all.
The new content and races are great, but some of the other updates are just as exciting. The impending addition of a search string to the auction house is a huge relief to... well, pretty much everyone who has ever used the thing. I spent some time poring over the new UI as well and was pleasantly surprised.
So often it's the little things that make the game a more enjoyable experience. Some minor changes to the UI when you've died, for example, will make the game easier on the eyes. The screen will be a bit brighter, allowing you to see where you are going. In place of a separate button that asks you to release out will be a recall button that simply tranforms when appropriate. A less cluttered UI and the ability to see where you're going when dead seem like little things, but they make for a more pleasant game experience.
I also checked out the general character and inventory windows and enjoyed the new setup immensely. One thing that's always bothered me in DDO is the disorganization of inventory and items. Once Update 7 arrives, your inventory will contain a series of tabs along the top to organize your items by type. There are tabs for weapons, armor, clothing, wands, components and more. It's not a huge game-altering change, but being able to find what we're looking for more easily is something we can all appreciate.
I look forward to seeing Update 7 arrive on the live servers. Check out the included gallery for a little tour of some of what's new in DDO -- I think you'll like it as much as I did.
Thanks for your time, Erik and Fernando!