Land of the Giants

We take a tour through Dungeons and Dragons Online's 17th update: Return to Gianthold

There are many tales in Dungeons and Dragons Online. In Return to Gianthold, the 17th expansion for Turbine’s veteran MMO, it starts with a betrayal between two powerful races.

Long ago, a dragon leader known as The Truthful One slew the Stormreaver, leader of the giants. Seizing the moment, he transformed himself into an undead dracolich, sundering the giants’ civilization. Though several ages have passed, the Stormreaver has returned, thirsting for vengeance on The Truthful one and seeking adventurers to lend their aid.

Keeping me on the safe path between Giants, Dragons and other looming perils were producer Athena Peters and Digital Communications Manager Leo Tan. Between them, they revealed what lies in wait for heroes willing to accept the Stormreaver’s call. 

This isn’t the first time that players have been invited to explore the ruins of Gianthold, as Peters explained. “Gianthold’s one of our older quest packs, but also one of our most popular.” The team also wanted to offer players a change of scenery, following the release of Menace of the Underdark in June last year.  “What we decided, after being a year in the Forgotten Realms area, was to go ahead and hop back into the Eberon content a little.”

Returning to Gianthold, it’s clear that the sharp peaks and craggy passes were the site of an epic battle. The remains of both dragon and giant are locked in time, petrified into their surroundings. It’s through this area that players are invited to quest, with random encounters ensuring that they’ll always find something new to defeat. The adventure area scales automatically with group size, making it suitable for both heroic soloists and parties of up to 6.

With giants roaming the pathways and dragons circling in the sky above, it’s easy to forget that there’s a story behind all of this. Both the Stormreaver and The Truthful One have scattered journals throughout the landscape, taking the form of either a broadsword struck into the ground, or a giant’s skull impaled on a spike. The journals are narrated, allowing you to take in the lore while butchering bands of roving monsters.

The Ruins of Gianthold were previously designed for level 15-16, but Update 17 adds content for level 25-26, providing veteran players with more to explore. On completing the quest series, a new raid opens up with a chance to take down The Truthful One.

Alongside Return to Gianthold, Update 17 also includes a new loot system. Starting at level 8, players will find dungeon rewards that include color-coded augment slots. These slots can be filled with matching gems that improve particular stats, making it possible to tweak gear to suit your own needs and play style. As Peters explained, “While our crafting system is great for the player who loves to get down to the nitty gritty about creating a weapon for their particular uses, for those players who want to be out in the world, running around and killing things, they want to be able to just pick up a weapon and automatically customize it the way they want it.”

Introduced in Menace of the Underdark, the Monster Manual  also gets an update, with Volume 3 being released as part of Turbine’s 17th content wave. Picking up this in-game tome will reveal secrets about the foes you’re sent to dispatch, as well as offering rewards for doing so. Astral Shards, experience points and two new companion pets are all up for grabs by completing the various achievements listed.

The Monster Manual provides a tie between the original table top role-playing game and its online cousin, with several references being drawn between the two. It’s intentional, as Peters explained that there are several players who hop between both. “When I first started playing DDO, our table top campaign was moving to different parts of the country, so it was a great way for us to play D&D together. And nobody has to be the dungeon master!” She went on to describe how Turbine has several staff-run campaigns going at the moment.

Return to Gianthold is available from the DDO Store for 950 Turbine Points. VIP Members get access to the content free of charge, as do veteran players who picked up the Ruins of Gianthold pack previously. Volume 3 of the Monster Manual is available for 595 Turbine Points, but is also free to VIP Members. Both content packs are available now.

Gareth “Gazimoff” Harmer, Senior Contributing Editor


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