Song of Druid's Deep adventure pack
The four new adventures with Song of Druid's Deep begin with an outbreak of a disease in the village of Eveningstar. The war hospital is overrun by patients who are exhibiting signs of nasty plant infestation. We're not just talking a poison ivy rash, folks -- think "roots crawling into bowels and taking over internal organs."
First things first: We went into the war hospital and were asked by the doctor to check out the patients and find a few ingredients for a spell. Easy enough, right? Of course not; this is a CR 17+ quest. Nothing is easy.
Behind closed doors in the war hospital, patients are turning into plant zombies and the walls are running... green... with the spread of the plague. Lockpickers have the option to jimmy open extra doors to aid a few of the lesser affected, but otherwise it was straight on to a mini-boss fight and the aforementioned ingredients.
"One things plants don't like is fire," Grove cackled as she lit them up with a traveling sphere of flames.
The hospital's healer then sends you to a different section, where "Patient Zero" (not his real name) is staggering about. After introducing him to magical weedwackers, we took him down and discovered that he was a local fisherman.
Guess where we went next?
If anything, the fisherman's lodge was even more overrun by the infestation of dangling plants and angry plant zombies. Even worse, we bumped into one of the fierce new monsters of this campaign: wood woads. Think of these as the "tanky" tree mobs, sort of like a fat guy wearing bark instead of sweats.
In the basement of the lodge, two big secrets were revealed. The first was a surviving member of the Harpers
, a major troubleshooting organization that's well-known in the Forgotten Realms setting. Turbine worked closely with Wizards of the Coast to bring the Harpers into the game. Of their membership is a certain wizard by the name of Elminster, although we didn't bump into him save for a loading screen.
The Harper showed us a secret tunnel where the source of the plague hid. Turns out that there's a grumpy dryad back there, and her appearance triggers a tough boss fight. When the dryad is hurt enough, she retreats back to her source tree, and players have a limited window to kill both her and the tree.
Also, there's nothing like a bear attacking a tree, right?
With the dryad out of the way, you'd think that all would be well, but we were only two quests into this four-quest pack. The big question remaining is who was behind the beginning of the plague, and that would lead us deep into the King's Forest for the answers.
Skipping ahead to the last adventure, we jumped into the forest where plant zombies, spellcasting wisps, and the first appearance of enemy Druids lay in waiting. It's not a happy forest that you're in, by the way. It's the deep, deep forest, where the trees are exceedingly old and tall, and where most people never return if they dare visit.
Our goal was to find the DDO
version of Stonehenge, and with it, the mastermind behind this whole Scary Homes and Gardens attack. To avoid too many spoilers, we didn't quite get to the end of the whole affair. Liu said it should take players around 30 to 45 minutes on their first run-through to complete.Ruin's Keep Challenge
We briefly discussed the new Ruin's Keep challenge. This fort, tucked inside the King's Forest, continues to be under attack by various nature monsters. The new challenge asks players to defend a war wizard who is establishing defenses for the fort. Because players are in a fort, they have the option to repair the fort's previous defenses for the fight (if they want to).
The challenge is 10 minutes long, and is playable between levels 17 and 30. You can choose to play it solo, with a couple of friends, or with a full party. Turbine's worked hard to tune the scaling for the challenge; Liu says that this is the best the team has done in scaling thus far.Monster Manual
Be they lowbie or highbie, all players are able to experience the awesomeness of the monster manual with the update. "We wanted to be very evocative of the original D&D sourcebook," Liu said. "It has different categories of monster types. It gives a general description of the monster as well as hints about how to deal with them."
As the name suggests, the manual is a list of creatures in DDO
, categorized by species. Within the pages, players can seek to complete two varieties of achievements for each mob: exterminate deeds (kill 500 minotaurs or 3000 minotaurs, different tiers) and hunter deeds (which breaks it down by type, such as minotaur warrior vs. minotaur chieftan).
There are a variety of rewards for completing these achievements, from XP to concept art to additional creature companions. If a page is fully completed, players will unlock the mastery deed for that monster, allowing them to see the mob's hit point counter in combat.
"We think a lot of our more detail-oriented players will be interested in it," Liu said.
The monster manual is currently broken up into three volumes. The prologue is more of a sampler, with five generally low-level monster types available to everyone for free. Volume 1 is available to all VIP and premium players but is inaccessible to free players right now. Volume 2 is available to VIPs and purchasable for the rest. Apart from the prologue, the volumes contain 10 monsters apiece.
So will there be a volume 3 soon? "That's the direction that we're going," Liu hedged, "but we don't want to give away when it's coming out."Bits and pieces
Before getting off the phone, we asked what classes the devs personally played. Grove said she's been recently into the Artificer, although she says it takes some getting used to shooting from two hands instead of one. Liu, on the other hand, has always had a soft spot for his Elven Ranger, which he specced into a dual-wielding Tempest.
As for the Menace of the Underdark
expansion and its reception, Turbine was unable to provide any numbers on sales (Warner Bros. keeps a lid on these things). So is there any indication that a second expansion might be in DDO's
future? "No comment at this time," Liu chuckled.
We want to thank Turbine for taking the time to show us how agriculture can go so very wrong.Massively's not big on scored reviews -- what use are those to ever-changing MMOs? That's why we bring you first impressions, previews, hands-on experiences, and even follow-up impressions for nearly every game we stumble across. First impressions count for a lot, but games evolve, so why shouldn't our opinions?