The October update (number seven) to Turbine’s Dungeons and Dragons Online is lauded as the biggest update yet for the game. Update seven also marks the first anniversary of Turbine launching the free-to-play / subscription hybrid model for the game and Turbine has planned a slew of new features for it.
Since their change to the Hybrid Free / Subscription / Micro-transaction model, DDO has had six major updates, five premium adventure packs and one free adventure pack.
“The hybrid model is about choice,” said Adam Mersky, Director of Communication at Turbine. “DDO is mostly instanced which makes the hybrid model very easily implemented for the game.”
That DDO has doubled the number of subscribers since the launch of the hybrid business model is testament to what an easy, pain-free entry can do to entice players to the game.
“DDO is the game of choice of former WoW players,” Adam informed me, “And our PAX promotion is promising to be our biggest sales day ever.”
“We’re constantly improving our game,” said Fernando Paiz, Executive Producer of DDO, “We have an UI update with this update which includes better sorting and searching ability in inventory and auction house, both by category and text search-string.”
Other upgrades include graphics on DX 11, and we see some great water and lighting effects. The look of the UI has also been improved and better AI for hirelings will also please players.
This seventh update launches Half-Orcs and Half-Elves as playable races. Respectively the physically biggest and strongest of player races, and the most versatile, the Half-Orc is also one of the most varied in appearance, the tusks and the facial tattoos bringing additional customizable features. The Half-Elf is able to use both human and elven items and with the Dilettante feat, will be able to use a “splash” of a past life abilities for the main class, such as the use of cleric wands by a warrior.
“In terms of appearance, Half Elves will have a perpetually youthful look,” said Fernando, showing the difference between the old and wise looks of the Elf and the human. The facial shape is also in between the two.
The introduction of the Half-Orc also brings Half-Orc NPCs and mobs into DDO, and a new Medusa boss for a 12 man raid is added to the existing Devil Assault adventure pack. Players who already have the adventure pack will receive the update for free. Speaking of free, this update also brings a new free adventure pack with an in-game event leading up to the Plane of Night, a public combat zone where all levels of players will be able to mix it up, starting at level six and supporting epic mode for level 20 players.
We were then walked through the event. The improved graphics and color of the marketplace showed me how long it was since I had actively played the game. Several new free quest instances are accessed from the market place, as well as a new event. Before devils attacked the marketplace, there was a street performer by name of Nat Gann that plied his trade there. He disappeared then, and now his sister, Nell, asks your help in finding him. In accepting the quest, we are sent back in time and see the events that took place. The event that leads from there is a 12-man raid to defeat the Abishai devils that destroyed the marketplace. There are five different devils, each of a different color and each with a different elemental attack. Black, white, red, green and blue Abishai with death, ice, fire, poison and water attacks.
After you defeat them, they regroup, talking among themselves and they collaborate and form a combined Abishai devil. I would insert a Voltron joke, but won’t spoil the event for players. The combined Abishai changes form during the fight, with a short pause before it changes (I guess they have to switch to the next devil that gets to form the head), cueing players in to change gear or weapons to counter each elemental attack. The combined Abishai’s powers are also increased and each form has a nasty AE attack besides the regular elemental attack.
Coming in October, Update 7 will soon be on the test servers, and players can also look forward to the Festival of Endless Night that will be launched for Halloween. Fernando promises that we’ll see some gnarly graveyard action.