The ruins of the once-vibrant marketplace are now the site of new construction! Our tour of DDO Module 8 began in the central hub of the game, a place now being revitalized by person or persons unknown. The developers were very cagey about what would be erected here, noting only that construction of whatever-this-is will take the better part of a fiscal quarter. Don't expect to see what's coming here until Module 9!
Nearby the marketplace are one of the new hireling NPC vendors. These guys are scattered throughout the game, offering the services of melee and healing allies of appropriate levels all along. Fighters, Clerics, Barbarians and Paladins are currently available. Meant to fill up parties lacking a little muscle or divine energy, they're going to be a boon to solo-ers or small groups everywhere. They each have a unique personality, and you can only have one of each individual in a group at a given time. Eventually this system will allow players to have an ally at any time, and will include arcane spellcasters. At Module 8's launch, though, hirelings will only be brought into play for special events. The developers should have news of those events soon.
After talking to a few friendly chaps at the top of the Airship tower, you're transported to your own instance of an airship hanging over the waters of the Thunder Sea. Captain Agammon is waiting to give you your simple instructions: jump. You can <a href="http://www.massively.com/2008/10/21/massivelys-tour-of-dungeons-and-dragons-online-module-8/">see the fall happening in realtime</a> on this story's main post.
It quickly becomes obvious why you have your own instance. This moment wouldn't be nearly as cool if there were dozens of other players raining down into the ocean. The developers helpfully add: "Try not to hit the rocks." Below the waves is a crack that leads to the 'Reaver's Refuge', the quest hub for the new content.
This Module adds the additional layer of detail found in DX10 support, and those with the full suite of graphical options enabled will get a real treat in these new areas.
Reaver's Refuge is gratuitously beautiful. Absolutely amazing. Dungeons and Dragons Online, regardless of anything else, is one of the most attractive MMOs on the marketplace right now, hands down.
Way back in module 4, players faced down this guy: the Stormreaver, an important figure in the Draconic Prophecy. He's come to realize more of his role in the prophecy, and has made contact with the dragons of Argonessen. He's switched sides and is now working to battle the 'Truthful One', an enormous Dracolich working to amass an army of undead dragons. The Truthful One is firmly cemented in the game's storyline, but he's a background character at the moment.
As in a number of other DDO dungeons, progress in the module 8 areas isn't gated as much by your swordarm as it is your head. A combination of wit and skill with your character's abilities will be required to get through all the obstacles.
This is one of the first dungeons in the new module, an abandoned drow monastery. The Monastery of the Scorpion is just one of the place players will be searching out in Module 8. The agents of Argonessen are seeking out player assistance to contact a character known as Sor'jek. He was the DDO team's first raid, and one of the most popular for players. He's become a lich, and is now in the aid of the Truthful One. He aims to slay dragons and reanimate the for the Truthful One's army. The players are tasked with scouring the farthest reaches of Xen'drik to discover information on the Truthful One's plot. They also have to seek out artifacts that will be required to deal with Sor'jeks necromantic intentions.
This switch here is an example of the new, semi-randomized approach to content the developers are taking with new content. Each time you pass through the Monastery you'll be working through a series of rooms. The switches to open these rooms are semi-randomized, as is the switch that ultimately opens the door to move on to the next area. The result is that passing through this area will never happen quite the same way twice; each time players will be faced with slightly different challenges.
Puzzling-solving has been a part of DDO since the game launched, but every module has made the traps and tricks more dastardly to solve. This particular puzzle is especially troublesome; depending on how you solve the puzzle it may make the next area easier or harder.
As you can see here, solving the puzzle and getting through the door only leads to more tribulations. This unique air-current puzzle requires your character to be bodily flung through the air to move around a giant complex of rooms. As the developers put it, "people are virtually guaranteed to die here" Luckily, they give you the opportunity to try out the fling mechanic back in the The Reaver's refuge. Check out <a href="http://www.massively.com/2008/10/21/massivelys-tour-of-dungeons-and-dragons-online-module-8/">video of the fling mechanic</a> on this feature's main post.
Another example of Dungeons and Dragons Online and the unique ways the game flows you through the game is this Drow Scorpion boss. A mixture of Vulkoor-worshiping Dark Elf and arachnid, this creature is almost unbeatable via straightforward bashing. Those triggers at his feet, though, are a way to ensure his defeat. The trick is that he needs to be kited away from the puzzle surface or he'll flip the triggers just as easily as you. If you do choose to fight the boss, the puzzle become progressively easier ... until eventually he can be destroyed.
Though this boss isn't a brand-new model, the Monastery and other dungeons in Module 8 feature a number of new monsters. The 'mockery monk' dark elves are one such model, a common opponent in this Drow stronghold. They've flensed the flesh from their bodies - the better to terrify you. There are a number of new models scattered throughout the other dungeons, including Frost Giants, heavy use of White Dragons, and the Paragon Kobold Archmage.
The loot from these challenging new encounters is equally impressive. New armor models will be added to the game, like this Dragontouched armor the monk is sporting. Module 8 will also add the new 'armor runes' system. These magical fobs are obtained from high-level chests, and can be slotted into your armor to provide additional benefits. There are several types of runes, and they're randomly found in Module 8 chests. Look for them all!
From the jungle and the Drow Monastery to the depths of an arctic landscape, all in one module. The continent of Xen'drik allows the developers the freedom to address any landscape they want as the magic-wracked terrain could be ice cold and snowbound one minute, and a scorching desert just a mile up the road.
After the extraplanar weirdness of the Shavarath devils storyline, the developers thought it was time to bring things back around to the traditional fantasy tropes of giants and dragons. Here, the massive white dragon players will have experienced in the newbie zone is under attack by a band of frost giants!
Turbine's developers used the ice, snow in extremely unique ways here in the depths of this icy mount. In order to access further areas of the dungeon, you'll need to fight giants over the sheets of ice. Their weight will shatter the crystalline barrier and allow you to progress. This ultimately culminates in an icy labyrinth at the heart of the dungeon, the chilled bastion of the dragon's lair. Players must navigate the maze as quickly as they can so that they can participate in the dragon-on-giant battle royale.
What follows, once you reach the dragon, is an immense showdown between your frost giant opponents and the great wyrm herself. The goal of the dungeon is to save the dragon and her eggs. It's therefore critical to avoid dropping AoE spells on the massive reptile ... especially fire-based spells. As long as you make it clear through you're actions that you are there to help, the dragon won't attack you ... yet.
Once the fight is at an end, you're faced with a choice. The dragon will thank you and allow you to leave ... but it's also possible for you to take her on in a titanic battle of your own!
With the dragon slain, these immaculate chests and the dragon eggs will become accessible. Dragon slayers get the best rewards, of course.
This chest is in an almost-unreachable location. We wanted to make sure to point it out, as apparently a monk with a 'truly jacked' Jump skill might be able to make it over here. Grab the Dragon's toothpick and this wintery dungeon becomes much, much easier.
Here are a few quick shots of some other biomes included in the expansion, including the ...
The kobolds, the designers noted to us, are a race they have a great fondness for. Since their importance in early levels is somewhat diminished with the New Player experience, they've been reintroduced a bit in the Module 8 high-end content. Watch out for that Paragon Archmage!
As great as the new content is in Module 8, it's fantastic to see a new character creation aide and the robust New Player experience. Be sure to check out <a href="http://www.massively.com/2008/10/16/dungeons-and-dragons-online-module-8-the-new-player-experience/">Massively's guide to these new game elements</a>, or head back to this feature's main post to see our videos. Happy Dragonslaying!