DDO: Stormreach: Module 3 - Demon Sands Preview
Sleepy clumped around the marketplace, glaring at the Warforged lounging around the place. I put on my headphones and called in. After some initial technical difficulties (with the telephone) I entered the call and was greeted by James Jones, Executive Producer; Kate Paiz, Producer; Derek Flippo, Design Manager; Joseph Barry, Associate Designer and David Eckelberry, Lead Systems Designer as well as a couple of others who wandered in and out. Well, that answered my unasked question, "Why a conference call and not in-game chat?" Without further ado, we grouped up and were off.
Current players were given the chance to tour the new module in September and once again over the past weekend. MMORPG.com was invited to a preview tour conducted by members of the development team.
"The Menechtarun is a vast desert that sprawls across the western reaches of Xen'drik. In ancient times, the Menechtarun was ruled by a tyrannical Wizard-King and his demonic servants. Today, these lands are home to rugged settlers, barbaric gnoll tribes and a sect of fanatical drow and scorrow called the Vulkoorim, or the 'Chosen of Vulkoor'. The Wizard-King himself is long dead, but his ageless servants have flourished, giving rise to another name for this region -- the Demon Sands."
Although the region is instanced for your group, and I was warned that you do require a group, it feels like the vast landscape in any other MMORPG. The Menechturan Sands is an encounter based region with a variety of named mini-bosses. It is meant to be explored rather than conquered like all other dungeons to date. We wandered over the sands, down canyons and picked up encounter quests as we neared areas where various NPCs spawned.
Our next stop was the Spiral of Vulkoor - the largest and longest of the dungeons - home to Eberron Drow and Vulkoorims, a humanoid / scorpid cross. As we ran around the dungeon killing things while trying to talk, asking and answering questions, taking screenshots and notes, we bumbled around having fun at the same time.
"Isn't it lucky we can't die?"
"Man... I can't hit this thing!"
"Immunity is nice."
"Hey Sleepy. Why don't you talk to her. She won't talk to me. Maybe she likes dwarves better," the told me.
I stepped up. Ohhh... kay... so they want me to trigger her. Does she death touch, I wondered? Then I remembered that I was immune. After a short conversation, it was time to play. What a nasty. She teleports and calls minions to her aid, then all of them hurl spells and fire bolts at you from afar. She finally teleports back down and whacks you with that tail of hers.
"Man... if you stand too close you can be laying down half the fight."
"Move her will you guys?"
With my PAX report, I made mention that spells could be dodged by clever player action, so I specifically asked about spells that tracked. In particular, Magic Missile since by definition, it "never misses unless prevented by magical means" the answer was that they were still looking to "make sure that combat will be fair."
In PvP play, players will not gain nor loose XP. The reward for participating in PvP is fun and out-of-game fame in the shape of leader boards (and a redesigned website) which will be launched at the same time as the module release.
The first was addressed by continuous content releases by Turbine and this is the third major Module release to date. The second was addressed by introducing solo missions and solo options for some dungeons, the third with Demon Sands and the vast outdoor, encounter based Menachturan landscape.
The sneak peek at release notes are already released on the official website and those wanting to take a second look at DDO... do. You may find yourself pleasantly surprised.