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Menace of the Underdark Preview

Michael Bitton Posted:
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Last week, we sat down with the folks at Turbine for a tour of Dungeons & Dragons Online’s just launched Update 13: Web of Chaos and forthcoming Menace of the Underdark expansion. We already gave you a peek at Update 13: Web of Chaos, and today we’ll be sharing with you the details of Menace of the Underdark.

The launch of Menace of the Underdark will represent a pretty significant event for Dungeons & Dragons Online, as the expansion will bring the game into the popular D&D setting of the Forgotten Realms. Today’s launch of Update 13: Web of Chaos will serve as a prologue for the expansion, explaining just how the essentially separate dimensions of Eberron and the Forgotten Realms are connected and why players will be continuing their adventures in Faerûn. The basics of the way Turbine is tying the two settings together involves the Forgotten Realms’ deity, Lolth, who is coordinating with the Spinner of Shadows, her aspect in the world of Eberron, to acquire certain shards of power only found there. This whole scheme and the events that ultimately play out as part of Update 13 result in the creation of a portal from Lolth’s lair in the Demon Web into the world of Eberron, and players will eventually cross through this portal (and the Demon Web itself) in order to get to the Forgotten Realms.

The main chunk of content in Menace of the Underdark will be comprised of three new adventure packs: the King's Forest, the Underdark, and the Demonweb.  While these adventure packs will be premium content intended for players level 20 or higher (the new cap is 25 in Underdark), you won’t have to be level 20 to begin your adventures in the Forgotten Realms. The ‘Web of Chaos’ storyline introduced today with the launch of Update 13, which serves as a pre-requisite to entering the new Forgotten Realms hub city of Eveningstar, will be available at base level 16. Eveningstar itself will also feature new (scaling) challenge quests for players in the level 15-25 range.

Even if you aren’t completely hot on all the new storylines, Underdark’s introduction of the fan-favorite Druid class will offer players the opportunity to experience Dungeons & Dragons Online’s existing breadth of content in an entirely new way.  The Druid is a shape-shifting class with access to a number of new and unique spells, as well as arcane and healing magic. Currently, Turbine is confirming Druids will be able to take on the wolf and bear forms, though there may be more by launch. I was able to play around in wolf form briefly as part of our tour, and I can say it looks to be a promising change of pace. You’ll gain access to a number of new abilities while in animal form... However, if you’d rather stay in your own skin, you’ll also be able to command a variety of animal companions that you can level up and customize.

While we didn’t see too much of the Underdark expansion on our tour, we were able to mess around with the new creature companions, which are basically non-combat vanity pets that you can dress up with gear and equip with a variety of tricks for them to act out. For example, I was able to place a collar on my wolf pup and get him to play dead (quite convincingly, I might add!).  The first three creature companions will be available exclusively to those who pre-order the Underdark expansion. All pre-order customers will have access to the Demonweb Spiderling companion, regardless of which of the bundles they pick up (more on this later), but if you want access to the Wolf Pup or Onyx Panther cub, you’ll have to pony up the extra cash for the pricier bundles.  While the initial set of creature companions will only be available as part of these pre-order bundles, Turbine plans to add many more new creature companions to the DDO store in the future.

Turbine has also been working on some new technology for the Underdark expansion which will allow for the development of a number of new dragon types. We saw a new version of the game’s existing red dragon, but we were also treated to the spectacular sight of some massive new green dragons that will be awaiting players brave enough to face them. I really can’t emphasize massive enough; these things were ridiculous. In fact, we were told they might have to be scaled down a little bit from what we saw.

Before we wrap things up, it’s also important to note that Turbine is doing something pretty neat for VIP subscribers. DDO VIPs will gain access to the Underdark’s Druid class and challenge quest content at no extra charge, even if they do not purchase the expansion.

Dungeons & Dragons Online: Menace of the Underdark is now available for pre-order and will go live on June 25, 2012. Gamers can select from three different bundles, including: the Base Edition ($29.99), the Standard Edition ($49.99), and the Collector’s Edition ($79.99). 

Be sure to check out the official Dungeons & Dragons Online: Menace of the Underdark website for a full list of pre-order bundles and bonuses.


Michael Bitton

Michael Bitton / Michael began his career at the WarCry Network in 2005 as the site manager for several different WarCry fansite portals. In 2008, Michael worked for the startup magazine Massive Gamer as a columnist and online news editor. In June of 2009, Michael joined MMORPG.com as the site's Community Manager. Follow him on Twitter @eMikeB