Senior Editor Chris Tom went on an in-game tour with Turbine's Dungeons & Dragons Online team as they rolled out one of their biggest updates yet in Update 7: Half-Bloods.
Whenever I think of what makes an MMORPG "great," it's easy to pick out the obvious categories: unique content, sharp graphics, fun game play, the list can go on and on. Surprisingly, however, if you were to really consider what keeps players in their favorite MMORPG (and, if found lacking, can also be one of the major reasons why players quit in droves), a lot of the time it can be something as simple as having frequent content updates. Take, for example, Turbine's Dungeons & Dragons Online and the huge success they have had over the past year. While many would attribute this to DDO's free-to-play shift, I'm certain that at least part of its growth can be attributed to the fact that this reborn MMORPG has received a startling six content updates since last year.
Turbine's latest offering, which is going live on Wednesday, October 20 for VIP Members and October 22 for non-VIP members, is Update 7: "Half-Bloods." Featuring a brand new low-level 12-player raid adventure, two new half-blood races (hence the title of the update), and a free level 12 adventure pack, in addition to a pile of new UI updates, Update 7 promises to be one of DDO's biggest and brightest content additions in quite some time. Eager to show off their new goods before this update hits shelves, Turbine invited me along on an in-game tour with Eric Boyer, Producer, and Fernando Paiz, Executive Producer.
For many players, one of the best things to come with Update 7 is the addition of DDO's two new playable races: the Half-orc and the Half-elf. It's clear that a lot of time and effort were put into making the Half-orc and the Half-elf enjoyable to play, but not so overpowered as to break the game. Half-orcs do take the prize as DDO's strongest melee class, with a +2 to strength racial bonus, but their real draw is that they are, hands down, the most customizable race in all of DDO. There just happens to be a lot you can do with them, including what sort of tusks you want them to have. Half-elves don't get quite the level of customization that Half-orcs get, but they more than make up for it with their flexibility. Noted for being the race that players will enjoy tinkering with, the Half-elf can choose from both the human and the elf enhancement lines, as well as gaining the unique feat, Dilettante, which allows the Half-elf to equip gear from other classes.
Update 7 brings a lot of content to the table and, surprisingly, most of it seems aimed at DDO's lower level demographic. Their newest 12-player raid adventure, "The Chronoscope," allows players to time travel to when the Devil invasion of the market place took place. This is done by traveling back in time, as players attempt to discover where the old market performer, Nat Gann, went. Interestingly, the raid was originally tuned for level 6 content, although there is an epic setting like most other dungeons, giving level 20 players the opportunity to challenge themselves. This marks the lowest level raid adventure in Dungeons and Dragons Online, and the team hopes that it will serve as a great introduction to the world of DDO raiding.