Dungeons & Dragons Online Heads to the Underdark in 2012
Dungeons & Dragons Online had a pretty big year in 2011. They introduced challenge dungeons, which gave players an RTS-like collection game to enjoy. They also released Updates 11 and 12, which added more challenge dungeons, new adventure packs, two new raids, and the artificer class. All in all, that’s a heck of a year. Assuming the Mayans are wrong and the world doesn’t actually end this year, DDO fans should be very happy with what Turbine has planned. Last Friday, we sat down with DDO Executive Producer Fernando Paiz to get a little bit of information about what’s coming later this year.
The first big thing that’s lined up for DDO is Update 13. Set to launch around the game’s sixth anniversary (DDO originally launched February 28, 2006), update 13 will bring players a free adventure pack, a new story line quest series, and one brand new feature: Creature Companion Pets. These non-combat pets will be obtainable in-game and through the DDO Store. Initially, there won’t be a large number of these pets, but Paiz says that many more will be introduced as time goes by.
Now, if you haven’t wet yourself over getting pets, there’s some even bigger news on the DDO front. This summer, Turbine is releasing the first ever premium expansion pack for Dungeons & Dragons Online. It’s got all the usual perks of an expansion. The level cap is going up to 25 (if you haven’t played DDO, level 25 is roughly equivalent to level 80 or so in a typical MMO), and Paiz says that his team has planned out “an agressive pace of updates” after the expansion comes out. Interestingly, we were told that one reason that Turbine was moving forward with a full DDO expansion is the success that the LotRO expansions have had in a free-to-play environment.
The new expansion is titled Menace of the Underdark, and it represents a step into a new land (literally) for DDO players. They’ll travel through a drow-created portal from Eberron and end up in a town called Eveningstar in Faerun. The expansion will allow players to adventure through areas of Faerun as well as into the Underdark itself, where they’ll confront the evil drow face-to-face.
As if all that excitement isn’t enough, Paiz also told us that the expansion will include the introduction of a much-requested new class: the Druid. Druids will be based almost exactly on the tabletop D&D class. They’ll have the ability to assume different animal forms, they’ll have pets, and they’ll be available separately from the expansion pack. “Druids are not a prestige class,” said Paiz. That means if you want to make a new Druid, you’ll be starting from level 1. If you’ve been waiting for DDO to have a druid before you started playing, it looks like you’ll have plans for Summer 2012.
I asked Paiz if this shift into Forgotten Realms signaled an abandonment of the Eberron setting the game has had since going free-to-play. He replied that DDO is “absolutely not abandoning the Eberron setting.” Instead, this foray into Forgotten Realms is an example of the wide variety of new content that Turbine is hoping to bring to players as they move forward with DDO.
Without question, this looks to be a huge year for Dungeons & Dragons Online. A new update and an expansion are big news, but going to the Underdark? That’s enough to pique the interest of any D&D fan. Stay tuned to GameFront for updates on the new content as it draws closer to launch. Until then, you better make sure your drow slaying swords are sharp.
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