They're back! Turbine is keeping with their promised content development schedule with Update 2, the conclusion to their Dreaming Dark story arc, and ZAM was invited on another tour.
These days, it seems there is very little in this gaming world that we players can rely on to be timely and dependable. Expansions get pushed back all the time, and the new fad in MMO release dates is to set one date and then release the game three months later. Of course, we don't mind if these delayed schedules also mean higher quality end products, but this certainly doesn't mean that a consistent and reliable development schedule is not something we appreciate.
With this in mind, if you were to speak to any fans of Dungeons & Dragons Online before it went F2P, timely and consistent updates would have been the furthest adjective from any of their lips. Back then, Turbine was heavily mired in the quagmire that is business negotiations, and, despite having already completed work on the much famed (and much delayed) Module 9, it was a whopping nine months (how fitting!) before the player population saw anything on their end. Flash forward to today, however, and Turbine's consistent monthly development schedule has been one of their greatest strengths in rejuvenating the franchise, and it was with great pleasure that they invited us back to check out DDO's Update 2, and the conclusion to their two-part story arc with the nefarious 'Dreaming Dark."
To quickly catch everyone up on the story thus far, in Update 1, a group called the "Path of Inspiration" had just moved into Stormreach, but it turns out that they were really a front for the 'Dreaming Dark,' a group of creatures from the Plane of Dreams. Now, as far as evil creature invasions go, these Dreaming Dark are pretty generic in terms of their evil creature desires (does nobody ever think of the logistical problems that come with taking over the world?), but their unique ability to invade the minds of players and NPCs alike is fertile ground for some pretty neat dream dungeon crawling. This time around we met with Fernando Paiz, Executive Producer, Steve Muray, Lead Systems Designer, Eric Boyer, Producer, and Brent Walton, Content Designer, to continue our fight against the Dreaming Dark.
The tour kicked off with the quest "Eye of the Titan," where we got to hop into the memories of a giant old-school Warforged (who looked pretty awesome) that fought for the Dreaming Dark thousands of years ago during their war with the Giants (so this invasion was certainly not their first). Now, this particular robot's memories appear to be the jackpot of all memories, as we watched how Stormreaver, the hero of the giants, beat the stuffing out of the Dreaming Darks' pet Warforged and laid down an 'Interdiction Lens' to prevent the Dreaming Dark from entering Eberron thereafter.
Of course, since the Dreaming Dark has access to this Warforged's memories as well, they've quickly come to the conclusion that a situation where "your enemies discover how you were beaten the first time," is not the best of situations to get into. Because of this troublesome memory, players will find themselves whisked away in a race with the Dreaming Dark to the "Isle of Forgotten Dreams," where everyone wants to get a hold of that Interdiction Lens for a plan foiling purposes.
At the end of this particular dream, when players can grab their shwag from the reward chest that spawns, the team showed off one particularly awesome item that has a low chance of popping out of your chest. Dubbed the 'Xachosian Eardweller,' this fantastic little bug is a trinket that dwells… well… in your ear. Players can then use this eardweller three times per day to gain a spellcaster buff for one minute, but the truly fun aspect of this brain slug is that, after your buff wears off, the slug… lays eggs in your head. Hilariously enough, these eggs hatch after five minutes (severely debilitating your stats until you can recover), and players can then eat the larvae for a nutritious mana regeneration buff. In other words; wear brain slug in brain, use brain slug to gain buffs, brain slug lays eggs, eggs hatch, players devour larvae for more benefits, players get the brain slug to lay more eggs.
Getting back to the tour, after our escapades in the memories of the old Warforged, we quickly shuttled ourselves off to the 'Isle of Dreams" (where the relic was found) in search of the Interdiction Lens. Unfortunately, we arrived on scene too late, and we discovered that the Dreaming Dark had destroyed the lens. Luckily enough, however, players will find themselves able to reconstruct the lens, and here the quest splits up into a choice between a level 19 solo only quest and a group related quest - both of which lead to the reconstruction of the lens.
This finally leads to the conclusive quest of Update 2 - 'Dal Quor,' the Plane of Dreams. Here players must fight their way through hordes of the Dreaming Dark and a variety of interesting platform related challenges, until they'll be able to confront the Devourer of Dreams, the leader of the Dreaming Dark, and beat him up. Thereafter, we installed the Lens of Interdiction right in the middle of Dal Quor, to ensure that these baddies won't come knocking for quite some time.
All in all, Update 2 is definitely shaping up to be a great addition to the already robust content available in DDO. It's set to launch on the 16th for subscribers, and will be opened up in the store on the 18th for everyone else to purchase, and for fans of ear slugs and challenging content, this is definitely the adventure pack for you. Let's hope that Turbine can keep up this kind of development schedule that they've stuck with for the tail end of '09, and 2010 might just be a real comeback year for this revitalized MMO.