The first thing that Gershowitz showed off was the Carnival of the Ascended, which celebrates th one-year anniversary of the game. Currently, players are participating in the first phases of the celebration, and there are carnival games, fun foods, and lots of loot piñatas found all over the world. Soon, players will be treated to Carnival of the Ascended parades, which are Telara's way of celebrating the victory against many of the notorious world threats. The parade is replete with parade floats of Greenscale, Akylios, and other famous figures. As people wake up the next day from their revelry, the two sides are a little grouchy, the carnival's moved away, and they begin to fight with each other (and there's plenty of opportunity for you to participate should you choose to do so!).
Next, he unveiled the upcoming 20-man raid zone, called the Infernal Dawn. It continues the overarching story of the dragons, Telara, and planar forces. Carcera is where Maelforge has been imprisoned for the past hundreds of years. Meanwhile, Laethys was melted down in Charmer's Caldera, and those who played in the group instance will recall that she's been set free, and she regroups in the Infernal Dawn to join forces with Maelforge.
The raid zone is huge, with three different wings. There is less foot travel than in Hammerknell, but there are seven unique bosses and nine to 11 encounters if you count mini-bosses. In the fire wing, we saw the Wanton Council making preparations for battle, and raiders can take on the heads of the demons, the kobolds, and the goblins.
In addition to the smaller encounters, there are a number of epic challenges for players in Infernal Dawn. Gershowitz showed Laethys' treasure room, and while Laethys herself is still being finished up, he described her as being comprised of molten gold, so fighting her is like fighting the sandman. She can change her look, reform her shape, and do all sorts of tricks to keep players on their toes.
Of course, the ultimate fight of the zone is against Maelforge, and it was impressive to see him swoop down and land as we entered the room. He's immense, and Gershowitz explained that the fight will involve battling not only him but also the volcanic cavern. As the fight progresses, lava fills the room, and you have to tangle with the spires and obstacles that jut down from above and fall down around you as you float toward the top. It's a larger cinematic experience that will require raids to split up and coordinate together in order to win.
For those who prefer 10-mans, Gershowitz promises a new raid zone on the way, and the devs are hoping to get it ready for Update 1.9. Don't be too surprised if you see an Infernal Dawn Chronicle down the road!
Also in Update 1.8, the team is adding leaderboards for PvP players and achievement-oriented players. It will track between 60-80 different accomplishments and is sorted by various divisions, which are based on factors like playtime and level so that you're better matched against your peers. It covers crafting, PvP, and lots of regular objectives as you're out adventuring.
The devs are implementing lots of new content, including new instant adventures to Ember Isle. They're also adding non-combat activities, like fishing, survival, cooking, tent-making, and the creation of utility items. Later on, trapping will be added, the sister skill to fishing. It involves capturing and taming creatures in the world to use as vanity pets. Trion has a laundry list of other things, like a looking-for-guild feature and new zone events. Gershowitz said the upcoming year will be as fast-paced as the first year and that the team hasn't even scratched the surface of what it plans to accomplish.
I asked whether there will be lower-level instant adventures and chronicles, and Gershowitz said the next thing planned for lower levels is instant adventures, since they're a popular way for early players to get together and meet friends. After the Ember Isle instant adventure, the devs will be working on putting them into the lower levels. He also noted that the team would like to add Chronicles down the road.
Mentoring came up next, and it will be similar to EverQuest II's
system. It probably won't be ready for 1.8; more likely, it'll be in either 1.9 or 2.0. The system will allow higher-level folks to temporarily lower their levels to play with their friends. Because of the planar attunement system, there is plenty of incentive for high-level players to mentor down, and everyone will walk away with something in the end.
Lastly, I asked about player housing, which has been rumored to be in the works. Gershowitz said it's Trion's great white elephant in the room. The devs don't have any set plans that they're willing to talk about; the big thing for the team is to do it right, and it's a huge project. But he added that they're starting to add bits and pieces of those types of things in other areas of the game, like the wedding instance. They would like to build off of that, and it may culminate in housing, but they're still working on it. As for guild housing, they would like to take the wedding instance and build off of that, so players might be able to rent a hall and have a guild meeting or rent a party hall to have friends over for a social gathering. He also mentioned a danger room, where guilds or friends could spawn a boss to practice. They have a list of ideas that includes player input, and while they might not put in something that's a personal home, there will be opportunities for personal activities in Telara.
Massively sent four resolute reporters to San Francisco to bring you back the biggest MMO news from this year's GDC, the largest pro-only gaming industry con in the world! From games like The Secret World to PlanetSide 2, we're on the case, so stay tuned for all the highlights from the show!