Monday, May 27, 2013

Shadowfell Conspiracy Causes Dissent Among Some DDO Vets

Well just as I was getting ready to fully jump back on DDO this summer, there appears to be a minor controversy brewing regarding the new expansion The Shadowfell Conspiracy, essentially the game's second expansion (following the Menace of the Underdark) and specifically having to do with Turbine's new DDO iconic characters.

From the Turbine Developer Diaries, here come the DDO iconic heroes!

What the heck is an iconic character you say? Thanks to Youtuber Pr8Dator1 we have a video detailing the new Bladeforged and Owlbear permanent hireling. (See embedded video footage) but according to DDO's developer diaries, there will be four iconic heroes: The Bladeforged, Morninglord, Purple Dragon Knights and Shadar-Kai. These start at 1evel 15 and have their own race and game restrictions. (True Reincarnation etc.) More of their stats and detailed info can be found here, but what I find most interesting is the uproar their introduction has caused in some of the game forums, especially among veterans, with at least one polarized enough to call it quits, and dramatically calling it "the death of DDO"

Essentially this is a seven year old game and in order to compete with the barrage of game options and mmorpgs out there, including that other D&D mmorpg, Turbine is upping the ante on their Forgotten Realms adventures, while re-imagining their game with new character creations, new builds and a host of other features.

Source VG 24/7 had the scoop on all the new features to the game's third expansion due to launch on Aug. 19:
  • Two New Forgotten Realms Adventure Packs — Featuring new wilderness areas with new D&D monsters, dangerous encounters and challenging dungeons.
  • Wheloon: Horrors from the Shadowfell pour into the prison city where Netherese agents conspire to forge an army out of the Kingdom’s enemies. Players will masquerade as a traitor to infiltrate the Prison City to out the agents, and fight loads of monster.
  • Stormhorns: Deep in the Stormhorn Mountains, the Netherese Empire is preparing a secret weapon to use against the Kingdom of Cormyr. Players will need to make it through the griffon laden territory and deal with harpy ambushes along with giants and other creatures.
  • Iconic Heroes: New prestige characters that start in Forgotten Realms at level 15 and feature unique looks and skills. Each of these classic D&D characters are a paragon of their race and class and feature custom gear, appearance options and new abilities.
  • Level 28: Player will gain new epic feats and spells through three new Epic levels of advancement.
Again, I am more concerned with the community reaction, and not all of it is good. Turbine asked players to discuss and give feedback on the iconic discussion thread of their forums back in October last year, but players were confused about what the discussion should entail as no concrete details about the expansion had been given at the time. "If we are not able to TR, why should we even be interested in them" chimed in one player. Blogger Gamer Geoff in his blog, posted that he thought prebuilt characters sounded like it was "dumbed down" from the existing system and had this to say: "I personally think that this is the wrong direction for the game, I truly believe it has survived and thrived precisely because it isn’t simple and streamlined. There are lots of other MMOs out there that are simple and streamlined but only one clunky, complex, Dungeons & Dragons-based DDO."

Well said, I had the same reaction when I first heard about these characters, but I am willing to give the devs the benefit of the doubt, because as I mentioned already, with so much competition and choice, Turbine has to try to keep their game fresh. Another player said it was sad that they were trying to get away from their campaign setting to focus players into the Forgotten Realms. You would not expect an mmorpg to start you off in Eberron for example, and then shuttle you off to say Azeroth.

What do the rest of you think? Are iconic heroes a mistake on Turbine's part or a good thing for DDO? 

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