Temple of Elemental Evil in DDO
On Wednesday March 25, Severlin, Steelstar, Knockback, and Cordovan from the DDO team posted a video on YouTube to preview the upcoming Temple of Elemental Evil quest from Update 25, which should be coming out sometime in April.
The first thing i noticed while watching the video is that it looks phenomenal. Each new piece of content that gets released has more impressive graphics than the last. Better lighting effects and background details help keep this game fresh after nine years. i can tell you from personal experience, the look of DDO has developed a ton since those early days. While by comparison to new games that launch all the time, the graphics might not be up to their caliber, i still think it’s a great looking game with excellent gameplay.
One of the things they show early in the video, which i was a tad disappointed to see, was another new crafting system. This one involves using mushroom mats gathered in ToEE to customize new, unique weapons, armor and gear. Already in DDO, there are at least a dozen other crafting systems like green steel, alchemical, thunderforged, dragontouched, altar of insanity, Cannith crafting and so on. Years ago, i purchased a gargantuan ingredients bag and i fear even that may reach its limit.
In a forum thread, Steelstar offered some insight into the reasoning behind new crafting systems vs. expanding existing ones, and while he does make good sense, i can’t help but feel like there are better solutions to those issues. i’ve played a lot of MMOs, and they seem to be able to include crafting without having a dizzying array of different ways to do it. In DDO, since there are so many of these different systems, several of them have grown to be essentially useless over time, and yet still the mats drop and clutter your inventory. Take the altar of insanity stuff, for example. At the time it was introduced, there were some pretty nifty effects you could add to the various items from those quests. But anymore they’re just junk. Not only is there better lootgen stuff, but even if there weren’t you out-level their usefulness so quickly. What you end up with is a bag full of adhesive slimes and brain samples.
From the preview, ToEE looks to be a huge quest. In fact, it’s actually broken up into two quests, available in heroic levels at seven and epic at 30. Based on what i saw in the video, they look gigantic. i think this could be somewhat of a drawback, though. If they are a huge as they seem to be, it could take a significant amount of time to complete just one part of the quest, which i think could deter people from running it due to not having that much time to invest at once. On the other hand, it could also lead to parties splitting up, which in the tabletop version of D&D typically spells disaster. But DDO is a different animal altogether, and folks are used to soloing things a lot. i could envision a lot of “okay you take the air temple, i’ll hit the water temple…”
What i thought while watching the video was that it would be neat if they broke up the quest into several shorter quests. For example, the temple grounds, each of the four elemental temples, and then finally the main one with the BBEG fight at the end. That might have given more opportunity to create content, and it would be neat if there were named items in each quest flavored for their location.
One of the developers commenting on the preview video talked a bit about the lore of ToEE, and how it’s a place that is often utilized by various factions of evil that take up residence there. This made me imagine another sort of design scenario that would be really cool – if the inhabitants and goals of the quest changed over time depending on how many times you’d ran it, or possibly randomized between a list of different possibilities upon entering.
Like Haunted Halls of Eveningstar, ToEE is based upon a classic D&D module, something i really hope they continue to do in DDO. There’s tons of awesome, classic adventures that i would love to see in DDO, especially the Expedition to the Barrier Peaks. A quest inside what turns out to be a crashed alien spaceship would fit nicely in the Eberron setting, i think. Unlike Haunted Halls, the map for ToEE looks like all the other content in DDO instead of appearing like a graph paper map. That is one of the coolest things about Haunted Halls, and i hope they change the map before U25 to be more like it.
Part of the story in ToEE involves “mysterious remnants,” which were introduced to the game when they tweaked the recent Champion Monster system to provide unique rewards for defeating them. In ToEE, a new faction called the Gatekeepers are collecting these fragments, as well as Falrinth, a major bad guy boss in the quest. i’m curious to see what the connection is between the remnants the players collect and ToEE, and i’m holding on to mine in case there’s a neat interaction with them inside the quest.
There’s also a new Monster Manual coming out with U25, which is awesome. i love the inclusion of Monster Manuals in DDO, and i hope they continue developing them. This new one has mindflayers added, along with mummies, orcs and a few others. In the video, i spotted a few new types of monsters for existing Monster Manual entries too, like gargoyles and earth elementals, so that will be fun to get closer to some of the benchmarks.
Speaking of monsters, though, ToEE doesn’t have any brand new monsters that i’m aware of; i think they flat out say there are no new monsters at all, which is a bummer.
A glaring omission are myconids, the fungal humanoids from D&D who feature prominently in ToEE. The devs in the video make mention of how they are not included, which is disappointing. Especially since they realize enough to address their absence, why not put some time into creating them? Even if they were just reskinned creatures of another sort with some different abilities, it would make a lot of players happy to discover some new monsters. The devs give a pretty weak answer to a viewer question about myconids and how they ought to be in there since the BBEG is Zuggtmoy, the Demon Queen of Fungi. They say she’s a demon queen, so that should give a clue as to the types of monsters that will accompany her. Nice try, devs, but us players want to fight mushroom people!
The end fight against Zuggtmoy looks to be rather exciting and somewhat raid-like. The chamber where the fight takes place is very large, and there are nice graphical effects of glowing motes floating through the air. But they’re deadly, too. The motes are actually spores of Zuggtmoy, which can cause continuous damage throughout the battle.
Overall, i’m definitely looking forward to U25 and Temple of Elemental Evil. Any new content is good, and this looks to be another terrific quest like Haunted Halls of Eveningstar. By the time it launches, i’m sure there will be other bells and whistles added, too. The location of the quest also lends itself to some intriguing possibilities as well, being neither in the Forgotten Realms or Eberron, if i understood the devs comment correctly. Could we be seeing yet another world to travel to, which i believe would be the World of Greyhawk?
Temple of Elemental Evil will be free to VIP players, and of course available for Turbine Points in the DDO store. Cordovan mentioned that the cost will be comparable to Haunted Halls, but no exact cost is available right now.
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