Mega-dungeon called the Lands of the Dead coming to Warhammer Online

Darkness Falls. Those two little words conjure up amazing vistas to players that delved deeply into Dark Age of Camelot. The release of that content in that game - an enormous dungeon fraught with danger and loot, and disputed by vicious PvP skirmishes - is arguably the finest hour of Mythic's development. Hearing Warhammer Online's Jeff Hickman talk about new content that harkens back to that style of gameplay may mean a return to truely rare form for the still-struggling title.

In the same discussion with Mr. Hickman where we unveiled the new classes coming to WAR and the Valentine's Day event, he walked us through the capstone of the Call to Arms expansion. The Land of the Dead, a massive egyptian-themed zone, will be unleashed on the armies of Order and Destruction sometime around May. We have full details on the expansion's crown jewel below the cut, including why they went in this direction and what you're likely to see the first time you set foot in the zone. Check it out below!%Gallery-43282%

The dungeon/overland zone idea that you're talking about with the Land of the Dead is obviously a new addition to Warhammer, but it's something very familiar to older Mythic players. Can you talk about what brought the developers full circle to revisit this "Darkness Falls" type of content?

Hickman: Even in the Bitter Rivals event, that's really the starter to get us into this Call to Arms expansion. Even while the Slayers and Choppas are coming into the game, you're going to see hints about what's to come. There's a common theme leading all the way up to the Tomb King dungeon opening.

As for the RvR-gated dungeon concept, where there's a lot of PvE going on but it's gated by PvP combat and you can RvR quite a bit, that was something we wanted in the game from day one. While we were first developing Warhammer Online, we looked back at Dark Age of Camelot and listed out all the things that had been successful. We picked a little of this, a little of that, and Darkness Falls was one of the number one things on that list.

It was and still is today one of the hallmarks of how you can combine PvE and RvR in an interesting/calamitous/cool way. We always wanted to do a Darkness Falls-esque zone for Warhammer at launch, but it just never fit into the schedule.

We had to ask ourselves if it was part of the core of the game, and it really wasn't. But even before we launched we had a small team concepting and talking about what we would do as a Darkness Falls-type dungeon. What is it, what will set it apart and making it interesting? We went down some crazy paths. What really jumped out at us was that the Tomb Kings was already pretty close, geographically, to the content that's already in the game. It's very distinct and unique.

And I really mean that, not only with our game but if you look at other MMOs out there you don't often see the kind of imagery we're going to have with this expansion. The dungeon has been in development for a while, but the first time I saw a palm tree it was a crazy thing. Tomb Kings as an area in the lore just jumped out, though, because it's a really enclosed way of doing a great, cool little expansion. Sand and desert and pyramids and all of that crazy adventure. It doesn't have to be tied into anything – at least right now. Both realms are going to try to gain power from the Land of the Dead.

They're in search of certain things from that area ... things I won't go into too much detail on. But it becomes this perfect extension from what we've already worked on in Warhammer. When that came across the table, we said "Oh yeah, that's it." It was an easy decision once it came to it.

One of the things that players have responded positively to since Warhammer came out is that you have pushed off this new content a bit to deal with pressing technical issues. Can we expect to see more patches dealing with balancing and technology even during the Call to Arms expansion arc?

Hickman: Definitely. We have a new patch coming up pretty soon, we're calling it version 1.11. It doesn't have a lot of big-picture items, but it has stuff like tweaks to our zone domination system. Improvements on our supplemental ways of capturing zones. Smaller things but cool things; fixing all the trophies in our game. Making sure they all show up the way we want them to. Looking at how the fortresses are done and making sure we're as stable as we can be for the endgame. We have a lot of stuff coming in 1.11.

Then version 1.2 is the Bitter Rivals event. That's the beginning of Call to Arms. But alongside the release of two new classes and the start of this great series of events, we have all sorts of stuff for RvR, guilds ... actually a lot of improvements for guild rewards. We have things coming that help with mount system, though I can't say much more about that. We have things for guild rewards that revolve around keeps, and the benefit of claiming and owning one. We have a bunch of continuing RvR (especially for open world RvR) changes coming, tweaking changes we've made since launch.

We had a massive success on our hands with the influence system added to Open RvR, and we're going to continue with that above Tier 4. Right now players in the endgame are starting to fill up their influence bars in Tier 4 and going "great, now what?" We want to be able to answer that.

We have a lot of great stuff along these lines coming; we definitely don't want to let up on making the game feel better at the core even as we add new content alongside.

As a final question, unveiling Call to Arms as an expansion over a series of live events seems to be a ramping up, a grander-scope version of what other MMO developers have done in the past. Do you see Warhammer offering up all of its new content with these live-event expansions, or is there still room for box-based expansions hitting retail shelves?

Hickman: At this point we have no intention of moving away from boxes at some later date. I think that we've had a lot of success with our live events; they tie in so well to the game's lore, and even more so to the Tome of Knowledge and RvR. We can't help but look at that and go "we need to explore that more." For the next four months or so, we're really pouring ourselves into this content.

That definitely doesn't preclude an expansion in a box sometime in the future, though.

Mythic has announced the first expansion to Warhammer Online! Check out the announcement itself, the two brand-new classes coming to the game, and the enormous new dungeon/zone slated for a few months away! Plus, don't miss any of our ongoing coverage as Massively goes to WAR!