Aug 022013
 

Leaving Eveningstar (image provided by Turbine)

Leaving Eveningstar (image provided by Turbine)

Wednesday, Anne and Sig Trent of DDOCast and I were included in a press tour of DDO’s new content area, the Stormhorn Mountains. I’m going to share with you those parts that I remember.

This article is going to be missing key items like the names of the quests, certain key images, that kind of thing. It is not just because I am trying to avoid spoilers (although I am), it is because I am really bad at reporting. But more on that in a separate story.

On the other hand, my lack of skill means that you can read this entire article without spoiling very much except a few visual descriptions of some of your opponents. Nonetheless, if you are the kind of player who doesn’t want to see anything until it is being played for the first time then stop now, this article is not for you.


Our journey begins in Eveningstar, at the long bridge out of town. There is an entry point here to the Stormhorn Mountains, a new Adventure Area.

The first impression one gets on entering the wilderness is one of size. It is big. Really big. According to Turbine, not as large as Kings Forest but much taller, and the vertical nature of the area is immediately and visually apparent.

The next impression is one of color and detail: the sky is a richer blue, the trees are more detailed and realistic, even the grass is more alive and filled with a variety of wildflowers. It is a beautiful place to be.

A beautiful wilderness (image provided by Turbine)

A beautiful wilderness (image provided by Turbine)

It looks like nothing I’ve seen in DDO to-date. It reminded me of Lord of the Rings Online more than anything else. Quite beautiful.

We were introduced to our tour guides, a Purple Dragon Knight who I assumed to be a sword and board fighter (I did not have to assume the sword and board part) and a Shadar Kai that was dual-wielding daggers. A rogue. They were interesting to watch but both seemed light on DPS. It didn’t matter, they were in god mode and could not be killed, maybe the extra time it took them to dispatch enemies was intended, giving the narrator more time to provide commentary.

And off we traipse, wilderness bound.

The new Adventure Area is available both to Heroic and Epic characters and plays at levels 19 or 29 (I think I heard that correctly, my audio was not very helpful). Like other recent wildernesses it contains random encounters, which will be a mix of fighting and puzzle solving.

A good article would have

an image of a satyr here.

But instead you are reading this article.

 

We quickly meet a group of satyrs who challenged us to a dance contest. Apparently we could have just fought them but why? You can dance if you want to.

There were other encounters too. Lots of Orcs, newly redrawn orcs with different bodies (based on the larger-chested 1/2 Orc model) and faces that would look more “orcish” if only “orcish” were an actual word.

 

Orcs! Now with more orchishness! (image provided by Turbine)

Orcs! Now with more orchishness! (image provided by Turbine)

Some of the orcs were in forts, there were a couple of forts that needed storming. What a cool and unexpected tactical challenge, interrupting your wilderness area explorations, suddenly an orc fort.

It’s even fun to say. “Orc fort”.

There were other vibrant encounters with other new monsters. Harpies. Griffons. At one point we were attacked by pseudo dragons!

Harpies (image provided by Turbine)

Harpies! (image provided by Turbine)

Hostile pseudodragons
Hostile pseudodragons

There was a lot of talk about improved monster A.I. and, if I am remembering correctly, “swarming”. But it sounded all mumbly to me and I have no idea what was said. Sig seemed pleased so I’m going to assume it sounded good.

Perhaps inevitably, the tour encountered a real full-sized dragon. I heard the narrator mention that the technology behind dragons meant that they each had a unique look; frankly I think that is exactly appropriate for dragons.

A Dragon seems required
A dragon seems mandatory at this point of the tour

At some point we transitioned into a quest. I didn’t notice when it happened, because I am just not very attentive. Nor do I have any idea what the name of the quest might have been. Something questy I am sure.

There were people in it, bad people, doing bad things. I remember that.

The only thing I do remember about the first quest would be more spoilery than I would want someone telling me. So I’m keeping it to myself.

And then, suddenly, we were out of the quest and back into the huge – huge! – wilderness area. I asked if one had to traverse the wilderness to reach the quests: yes, but only once in entirety. Like the King’s Forest, there are NPCs available that will act as shortcuts once you’ve done (something, I couldn’t hear what, but I assume it was reach some specific point in the wilderness area).

Some more wilderness, and then we were off on another quest. This one I noticed right away, the color palette and feel of the dungeon was unlike anything I’ve seen in DDO. The quest takes place deep inside a glacier, and it had a real Dungeon Siege vibe; lots of aqua and royal and purple, light filtering in from above, that kind of thing. Very different, and very pretty.

The glacier quest

This image of the glacier quest really does not do honor to the place. It is quite beautiful. Consider this a hint.

I am looking at my best screenshot of the event but I think I will keep it to myself, it shows the end of the glacier quest and it is too spoilery. But my oh my is it nice to look at. Double kudos to the Turbine artists who worked on the end sequence. Wow.

All of this, quests and wilderness, are available in Heroic and Epic versions. Level 19 or 29 if I heard correctly.

I asked how Turbine intended Iconic level 15 characters to reach the new content if they began on Eberron. There were several answers: create the character on Faerun to begin with. Use the Spinner of Shadows quest series to transverse the worlds. I stopped listening because there was nothing new there. But suddenly there was a launch page, character selection, the screen one sees when they first log in, but it had two new buttons on it: Eberron and Faerun.

Apparently one can toggle their characters between worlds while selecting the character? “We had an idea that it would emulate live gaming, where you figure out what character you want to play and then select a module you want to play them in”.

I put that in quotes like it was actually said, I have no idea what exactly was actually said, but that is an accurate paraphrase. Probably.

Then the screen changed again, this time to a cavernous new area with statuary and sunlight streaming in through colored glass. This new area, the Hall of Heroes, is “is an area between worlds”, they said, but that seems cryptic and mysterious to me. It is not housing, I know because I asked. We were talking about character selection and the ability to traverse worlds, I assume it is related, but have no idea exactly how. Whatever it is, it looked cool.

The Hall of Heroes
The Hall of Heroes

So there you have it, the first-ever DDOGamer DDO content preview. Not much of a preview I’m afraid, but in spite of my lousy reportage I can tell you this: it looked fun. I am very excited about actually playing in the new area, not just seeing it but playing it.

I can’t describe it to you but I can anticipate it. And I do. See you there when Shadowfell Conspiracy comes online.

:) :D :)

  One Response to “Walking the Stormhorns: A DDO Preview”

Comments (1)
  1. You should really hop on to Lama for (possibly) some of your answers on transporting between worlds. I’d mention what I saw here, but I can’t…yet (that pesky NDA is still active).
    ;-)

    PS – still haven’t seen traces of your presence on Cannith lately. Just sayin’…
    ;-)

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