Olandra Brings a New Level Cap and Underwater Adventure
Yesterday, we sat down with SOE’s Todd Carson to talk about some big upcoming content additions to Dragon’s Prophet next week and later on in February and March. From new zones to new dungeons, new features, new character levels (90-94), new dragons, and even Dragon Arena where you can pit your collection against another player’s, it seems that Dragon’s Prophet is about ready for a second look. Read on for more details gleaned from our chat with Todd Carson.
It’s been a while (October of 2013 to be exact) since we last talked about Dragon’s Prophet. It’s been a quiet Holiday season for Runewaker’s game, published here in the US by SOE. But during all that quiet time, it seems the two MMO giants have been busy as could be adding to and refining their game to take in and act on player feedback.
To that end, next week a brand new PVE adventure zone is opening up called Olandra. It’s more open and sprawling, less fenced in than some of the game’s earlier zones. In fact, it’s Todd’s favorite of all the content updates so far. I moves away from the recent frozen locales, back to a lush green area with waterfalls and lots of beautiful vistas. The design goal was to get the zone to feel more exploration friendly, and less like it’s on rails. Of course, you’re still talking about a theme park progression-based game, so that sense of moving through the content is still there. But this time Todd believes players will feel a little less herded than before.
There’s also going to be a brand new initiative with this zone: the game’s first big treasure hunt. This update will introduce the first three stages of a lengthy multi-update treasure hunt that’s server-wide. Players will hunt for clues and track down items across the world, but mostly in the new zone as that’s where the content’s themed after. The goal here is to get players talking and interacting more than just in the PVP and dungeons.
The new zone, Olandra, is the crown jewel. It’ll open up the level cap from 90 to 94, with plenty of content to see players through. As mentioned above, it’s a lush, fertile, green and watery area. But the coolest thing according to Todd is the all new end-game Legendary Dungeon: The Shrine of Handras. It’s all underwater, and Todd’s aware that this might cause some player’s discomfort, but he assured me that as smooth and easy as flight feels in Auratia so too will underwater movement and combat. The Shrine’s hardest mode will guarantee stone shards used for epic gear, as well as increasing the chance of sighting the brand new legendary dragons which can only be obtained in the new dungeon.
There are all new bosses and creatures in the dungeon and zone alike, as well as a new environmental hazard in the underwater areas. Whirpools ravage the sea, and will suck in distracted players. If that happens to be you, you’re sucked into a cave that you’ll have to fight your way out from all while being slowly injured by a pressurization debuff from being so deep underwater. On top of all of that, players will now be allowed to engage in mounted combat inside of dungeons as well, which previously was restricted to the PVP zones only. Eventually they’ll be adding mounted combat to the open world, but it’s not quite ready and balanced just yet.
But wait, there’s more! Later in February, Dragon Arenas will be introduced. The first arena will just be a 1v1 match where you take your three best dragons and face them off against someone else’s top three. They fight in real time, and with zero input from you once the fight begins. It’s like what Michael Vick would do if he was from Auratia. You can set up skill use priorities for your dragons, but once the whistle blows, you have to wait and see what the outcome is. Eventually, Todd says we’ll see other match types, but for now they want to see how players respond to the 1v1. It’s also very likely that SOE will be hosting some tournaments of their own for fans… or so I strongly suggested.
At the same time as the Dragon Arenas, the new Dragon Compendium will be added. Ash has Pokedex, and you have your Compendium. It basically serves as your one-stop shop for all things dragon in Auratia. You’ll be able to see all of the game’s many dragons, which ones you have, which ones you’ve never caught, and how well they’ve even performed in the arena. Yep, let the compulsive collector in you cry out with joy.
There’s still more to come though. The Compendium patch will also see the first of a round of subtle but meaningful class changes. The Guardian and Oracle are the two classes in the game that are the most in-your-face during combat. As it stands right now, there’s little difference between classes outside of cosmetics and skills. Everyone’s basically just a DPS machine. The class changes to the Guardian and the Oracle will be the first of many steps to give more utility to each class. Constitution and Strength will be getting some buffs to make it so that those stats actually give more HP and allow you to deal more damage up close. They want a “tank” to be a viable part of the game and the dungeons going forward. Todd couldn’t say yet if this meant a healer was also incoming.
These class changes also tie into the late February early March addition of Dragon Evolution. The goal with these changes is to differentiate dragons more from each other. They’ll become a bit more symbiotic with the player. An example Todd gave was that if you have a dragon with a fire ability, and he’s with a player that has lots of intelligence, then the dragon’s fire would be effected and do more damage as well. The goal is to make it worth you effort to find dragons that suit your build.
And along with these changes, the Dragon Evolution update will give unique and special skills tied to specific dragon types. Right now, every dragon can be cross-trained with any other dragon’s skills. But there will soon be brand new and unique skills on each type of dragon that make it so having certain types means more as well, depending on what you wish to be capable of.
It certainly seems like Dragon’s Prophet is on the right track. Lots has changed with the game since its open beta back in May of 2013, and it seems to be for the better. We’ll be diving back into the title soon to give it a fair shake at a re-review, so stay tuned.
Bill Murphy / Bill is the Managing Editor of MMORPG.com, and all around goofy dork. He likes his peanut butter chunky and his coffee from Dunkin Donuts. You can follow him on Twitter and shake your head at all of his inanity @TheBillMurphy.