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Games Day '09: An overview of the Land of the Dead


You've heard us talk about it, you've heard us discuss it, and it's now time for us to tell you exactly what it's all about. Land of the Dead is not your father's MMO dungeon -- it's a dungeon that is something more than just a dungeon. It's an entire zone filled with activities and sub-dungeons, all culminating in an epic instanced dungeon that features a face off with the first leader of the Tomb Kings himself, King Amenemhetum. (Try saying that five times fast. Heck, try saying that one time fast. Not even Gabe Amatangelo, one of the chief designers, can say that name properly. He got close to it though during his Games Day presentation.)

So how do you get down to test wits with the Tomb Kings? What public quests and objectives are scattered throughout the zone? What changes and improvements are coming with this addition to the game? Read on warriors, and find out!

With the final release of Land of the Dead, the 4th tier of Warhammer's gameplay will begin to reward both factions with resource points. As a side either locks down zones or kills players and scavenges their bodies for resources that can be turned into a quartermaster back at their main city, their resource meter will rise. Once it reaches the top, that side will claim control of the Land of the Dead and begin sending airships down to the brand new zone.

Control is a big aspect of this zone, especially since losing it puts players of the formerly controlling side into a nasty position. When you have control, you have the ability to respawn within the zone at places like your base camp, at the entrance of the dungeon, etc. When you don't have control, pushing the respawn button will send you back to your main city, regardless of who kills you. So, when the enemy faction gains control of the area, get ready to watch your back as they begin pouring into their side's base camp, eager to slice off your head. Players will be able to fly down to the zone via any flightmaster in the game as long as they meet the minimum requirement of rank 25.

Once a side gets control of the area, the resource gathering pauses for both sides for 30 minutes so the new controllers can get a foothold in the territory. Don't fret though, as the non-controlling side won't lose any resources they may have already gathered, giving them a head start in the next resource gathering round.

The content of the Land of the Dead is mostly geared to players of rank 40, but sharp-eyed readers will already notice that I mentioned the minimum rank to get into the zone is rank 25. Why is this, you ask? Well, any player entering the zone will be bolstered to rank 36 in order to engage the content effectively. And for those of you who enjoy powerleveling, you'll enjoy this little note -- lower ranked players will get experience as if they were their lower rank defeating these rank 36+ monsters and players, not the experience a rank 36 would get if they were defeating these enemies. This makes going to Land of the Dead very lucrative for lower level players tired of the tier system.

The entire zone is split into two parts -- the Necropolis of Zandri and the Tomb of the Vulture Lord. The Necropolis is where most of the action will take place, featuring the base camps of both sides and 18 neutral realm public quests. In the middle of the zone, splitting the Order and Destruction camps, is a giant Nile-esque river filled with poisoned water. Editor's tip: Don't go in the water like I did. It hurts. This basically turns the entire zone into a giant V, with the Tomb of the Vulture Lord sitting where both sides of the V meet. It also keeps the enemy from immediately rampaging your base, as there's horrible poisoned water in the way of a straight march.

"Land of the Dead is designed with an action RPG mindset -- there are certainly twitch-based skill button mashing parts to it, but all of these encounters involve much more movement and platforming than quests have in the past."

The public quests in the zone have been designed to all feel very different from one another, and the staff routinely emphasized that they are like different levels of a console game. They're all also soloable, as Mythic has learned that public quests are not so fun to do when you're the only one doing them. Land of the Dead is designed with an action RPG mindset -- there are certainly twitch-based skill button mashing parts to it, but all of these encounters involve much more movement and platforming than quests have in the past.

An example of this type of design in the public quests shown is the Carrion Vulture public quest. While the quest starts off with the easy "kill 30 carrions" design, phase two elevates into destroying the vulture's eggs. This would be easy if they weren't hidden upwards in the nests on the cliffs. Certain vultures will pick you up when attacking you, taking you back to their nests to feed to their young, or just drop you to your doom. Once on the cliffs, you'll be platform jumping your way from nest to nest, trying to figure out the best way down so you don't die and you destroy as many eggs as possible.

Public quests offer their standard loot bag rewards, given out by the "Vegas" style contribution/roll system, but they also offer glyphs upon completion. These glyphs get you access into the next level of content that the Necropolis has to offer, the lairs. If you think of the public quests as trash pulls, then the lairs are the bosses of the dungeon. Doing the right set of public quests will let you access one of these instanced bosses, who also offer their own set of "console-esque" mechanics. A prime example is the battle with one of the lich lords who teleports around his tomb from one spot to another. The catch is that the sandy floor of the tomb is filled with a thick black disease fog that you can't touch, forcing players to walk around on fallen pieces of ceiling and columns to get to him. Defeating the boss will clear your obtained glyphs, so don't worry about dying and then being unable to access the lair. Your glyphs won't clear until their corresponding boss dies at your hands and you get the loot.

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