Nov 112013

Update 20 Preview
Hipster casters were into armor and shields before they were cool

Tomorrow we get Update 20. Feedback has been fed, Lamannia updates have been upped. Time is up, put down your pencils.

Depending on when you read this, you _may_ still have 24 hours to make sure that any characters that need a Raiders Reward Box will get one. Hurry up and get a raid in on each one!

Plenty of time for one last leisurely stroll through the latest Lamannia release notes, knowing that this is at least 99% of what we will be getting tomorrow.

I’m not doing a line-by-line walk through, that is the stuff of DDOCast, and thank the gods Patrick is here to do that for us. This is more of a dramatic reading. Picking and choose which aspects to emphasize, and which to ignore.

In other words, my personal impressions. Enough preamble; off we go.

On Eberron

Talbron Tewn is in House Cannith near the Marketplace Entrance. Speaking with him will grant and teleport you to the quest: Brothers of the Forge (previously known as Whence Was I Born).

Yes, a new quest, in Eberron rather than in Faerun. Most surprising, it was only March that Tolero told us that new content would be aimed at Forgotten Realms exclusively at least for awhile. Apparently it was a short while.

New Eberron content gets two strong thumbs up from me, way up.

Five stars out of five.

On Reincarnation

The most heated topic since the introduction of Free To Play, the originally-announced plans for this feature are almost unrecognizable in the version that we will be getting. Instead of a rewrite to Heroic Reincarnation, we will be retaining the system we have now (called True Reincarnation), under a different name but otherwise unchanged.

Epic Reincarnation has been reworked from its original requirement that everyone run Sagas to instead being pretty much like Heroic Reincarnation. You’ll earn a new currency (of course, every new system seems to require its own currency) on completion of epic quests. Accumulate enough and you can buy the necessary Epic Heart of Wood.

There are other requirements for Epic Reincarnation having to do with capping XP and also another kind of XP called “Karma” (of course, every new system since level 20 seems to require its own type of XP). One can earn an Epic Past Life each time. Epic Past Lives give minor advantages (+1 to this, +1 level to that, etc) but one does not have to use a feat to take full advantage. Their active components are toggles rather than feats and one may have one active toggle from each Epic Destiny sphere.

Iconic Reincarnation completes the reincarnation work being released in Update 20. System-wise, it is the same as Epic Reincarnation except one must be on an Iconic character and there is no Karma requirement.

The new reincarnation system gets two thumbs up from me too, although not as enthusiastic as the previous topic. I like the new system, and I like that Turbine listened to their players when we all revolted against the original proposals.* But I am not in favor of adding yet another new currency and especially not in favor of yet another kind of XP. I think these things add unnecessary complexity and lead to accretion of unusable garbage in player inventory. But more than that, it becomes yet another game system with its own inherent bugs and code maintenance burden, and I can’t imagine why that is a great idea.

Four stars out of five.

* I was unsettled by the quick and thoughtless response to the Great Wayfinder Bridge Sit-In that we heard at the end of DDOCast 309. I can see the irony that Turbine was already making the changes we were protesting to get without any of the designers even knowing about the protest, hah ha that is funny.

But even so, it seemed callous and unthinking to disregard and casually toss off something that so many people put so much effort into. Hundreds of people spent several days parking their characters in a static instance to make a point and most of Turbine didn’t even know? That is bad isn’t it? Isn’t that the kind of thing that everyone at Turbine _should_ know? And include in their thinking?

On XP Changes

Experience is being adjusted in a couple of different ways in this update.

  • Experience per quest is being modified, sometimes up, sometimes down, on a quest-by-quest basis
  • Experience needed to earn Heroic Level 20 on second and third lives (and later lives) is being reduced by about 10%

I always assumed that Turbine assigned XP to quests based on what they felt was appropriate for the quest length and difficulty, balanced with their desire to get everyone to play all the content.

But no, apparently, the game was coded to assign XP per quest based on a formula? Or had the experience and favor awards tied together somehow? This could have been rather cool and very Dungeons & Dragons-like: the tabletop version of the game has a formula to convert monster Hit Dice (later, monster Challenge Rating) into experience. Did Turbine have something similar in place?

Regardless, whatever it was, it isn’t now, and XP can now be manually assigned without changing anything else, giving Turbine the flexibility to entice us into and/or away from specific quests as needs may dictate.

I give this two thumbs sideways. I just can’t get all worked up about it one way or another.

Two-and-a-half stars out of five.

On Eldritch Knight

Arcanes are getting a new Enhancement tree. Both wizards and sorcerers will be able to sink points into a new set of melee-emphasized abilities and defenses. The tree is heavy on allowing casters to wear limited armor and carry a shield as a trade-off for spell points. The tree is light on advantages other than the armor & shield thing.

But that is itself pretty advantageous, so much so that my hagglebot/sorcerer has been in armor and shield all along and until now has happily lived with the downsides of that equipment. Until now.

This will be a popular tree, especially for Warforged arcane tanks. One can get some of the best abilities from the tree pretty cheaply, meaning this one will get cherry-picked by casters that are not looking to melee as well as those who take a deep dive into the tree specifically to support melee capabilities.

Eldritch Knight gets two thumbs up from me, I have two characters that will be reworked to take some of these abilities as soon as they log in. I understand the point of those who think that Turbine added this to try and balance classes, and I understand why a lot of players think class balance is unwanted in DDO. But Eldritch Knight is a real prestige class even in the tabletop version and in fact, is a better melee build in tabletop than it will be in DDO.

Five out of five stars.

On Sagas

Now that the Reincarnation system will no longer utilize Sagas, they remain something that is purely a bonus, rewarding effort that you will already have to put in (and have already been rewarded for doing).

A happy extra bonus, redundant but free.

One thumb up and one thumb down. I like free XP or renown or whatever as much as the next guy, and the system does encourage people to play all of the content. Yet, for all the effort that went into creating this system, I’d like to see it actually adding something to the game. And it doesn’t, it is just free more-of-the-of-same. If the whole Saga system went away tomorrow, would anyone  notice? It seems like a waste to me, something that ought to be more than it is.

Maybe in time they will grow it out and use it to add something to the game that is not there already, but … well … Turbine does not have the greatest track record when it comes to building out existing systems.

Two stars out of five.

On Bugfixes

Almost 40 miscellaneous bug fixes plus another couple-dozen enhancement fixes plus another dozen monster manual fixes.

No, it is never enough. But it is a better/longer list of fixes that we sometimes get in an update. I wonder, how many bug fixes could be put in an update if there was nothing else in the update at all? Hundreds?

I’d put two thumbs up for that! Way up!

See you in update 20!

🙂 😀 🙂

  8 Responses to “Update 20 Preview”

Comments (8)
  1. Personally looking forward to the new House C quest & the Eldritch Knight. Everything else, not really bothered 🙂

  2. But when will they announce the time for the update? 🙂

  3. Lots of Little Things that aren’t new things but still make you go, “Oh!” Like getting a +5 Tome from Nyx on 5000 favor. That’s worth running everything. I like the XP updates; most boosts were for quests that were way tougher than normal but little added benefit (like “The Weapons Shipment”).

  4. I’m still waiting for more/better fighter enhancements *cough* for TWF *cough* *cough* for THF *cough* *cough* for ranged *cough* (I think maybe I’m coming down with something…might be contagious, too…). Kensei is fine – if you want to specialize; Stalwart is fine – if you use a shield – but alas! for many like me who DON’T do either, we’re…um…you know – that thing – that thing that you’d be if you were attached to another object by an inclined plane wrapped heliclly around an axis…

  5. Now Geoff, you’re not so naive as to be unable to read between the lines and see what Turbine is really saying about the Wayfinder Bridge Incident, are you? Of course they knew what was going on! But they can’t be seen to have capitulated to customer demands, so they claim they were working on these changes all along and knew nothing about any “protest” or suchlike.

    • Listen to the DDOCast. You are giving them too much acting credit. Also too much Machiavellian plot credit.

      The truth in this case is bad enough, no need to search for something worse.

  6. I’m actually really excited about the concept of a melee wizard. I might make one just to see what’s what with that tree 🙂

What do you think?

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