Dungeons & Dragons Online Skips Through Time with Update 7 – Half-Bloods

Dungeons & Dragons Online has had a great year since it converted from a traditional subscription to an incremental transaction-based MMO. While players can play for free using lots of the included content, the ability to pick and choose adventure packs and earn game store currency through play seems to have revitalized the game.

On October 20th, Turbine plans to launch the next major update to the DDO world with Update 7, creatively titled Half-Bloods. As one might guess, the biggest marketing feature of the upcoming expanded content is the addition of two new playable races to the Eberron setting – The versatile Half-Elf and the brutish Half-Orc. While we had some details on DDO’s future thanks to a video interview at PAX 2010, last week I had a chance to actually log in and experience the new content first hand.

The two new half-blood races will be purchasable content available through the DDO Store. They offer a little cosmetic variety to the existing classes as well. Long time players are likely excited to play something a bit different and next to new classes, I can’t imagine anything more interesting than a Half-Orc with an axe to grind. Along with the new races Turbine also promises some new feats and enhancements will be available for purchase for most of the regular classes, as well as the addition of Bard and Favored-Soul hirelings.

These expanded options are nice, but people play games for adventure right? If that’s the case, we’ve got some good news for those people. Along with Update 7, Turbine is rolling out a new free questline and a for-pay 12-man raid. I had an opportunity to play through the entirety of the free questline during my demo and to my surprise, instead of a high-level grindfest the developers are introducing a new mid-level story surrounding the emissary of the monster kingdom of Droaam.

As you’d expect of a kingdom of monsters, not everything is quite on the up and up. The Droaam contact, a lithe medusa is now present in the hall of the Coinlords. Suspicions are high and the players are tasked with investigating rumors of monstrous buildup on the coast outside of Stormreach.

There are three public quests in this tale for level 12 players. The new areas feature some new foes not yet seen in this way in DDO, and culminate in a pretty epic set battle. Player groups will need to strategize and think to defeat the quests’ ultimate foe as Orcs and Minotaurs threaten their very survival.

Aside from the public content, Update 7 also features a new 12-man Raid instance. The new raid is focused on 6th level parties but should prove a challenge even to groups with a two level variance. This raid concerns a bit of time travel and the involvement of magic wielding tieflings, a mind flayer and some devils. Not the sort of content players familiar with D&D might expect 6th level characters to face. Like most of the focused raids in DDO, coordination is key. There are a few elements of puzzle gameplay and the Raid offers a few hours of fun with a climactic battle at the end.

Between the Droaam content and the new time-traveling raid, fans of DDO have some great content to pick up when Update 7 launches. Still, the coolest thing I experienced in my demo was the upcoming Halloween-centric Live event. Endless Night, the fall live event, features a server challenge that tasks players with collecting parts of the risen dead in a haunted cemetery.  The event features two stages and once enough players have turned in evidence of pushing back the undead horde from Stormreach’s graves, the true fun begins with a summoning ritual and an encounter with a Spectral Dragon who is not content to just lie down and let the players send him to his final rest.

The live event rewards participants with a number fo fun drops that follow a ghoulish theme but those who complete the second part fo the adventure gain a Spectral Dragonscale that can be cashed in for some pretty interesting unique loot.

Dungeons & Dragons Online Update 7 launches October 20 for VIP members and becomes available for free players to buy in the store on October 22nd. The Live event will run around the end of October (the exact dates aren’t set just yet) for a limited time. You can find out more at the DDO website. Before you run off, be sure to look through 61 exclusive in-game screens from Update 7 below.

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