PAX Day 2: DDO: Secrets of the Artificers



Day 2 PAX: DDO Secrets of the Artificers

By Darren Henderson (DizzyPW), OnRPG Editor-In-Chief

Lord of the Rings Online wasn't the only big draw at the Turbine booth this year. Dungeons & Dragons Online will be unleashing one of their largest content updates to date on September 12th, known as the Secrets of the Artificers. The first order of business was being shown the latest class of the DDO Universe, the Artificer.

The Artificer is a tough being to pidgeon hole with typical MMO terminology. Maintaining a healthy mix of rogue, arcanist, and Megaman, The Artificer can keep any opponent guessing in combat. They feature a new mechanic as well, a permanent pet that levels up independently from the master and can be trained to fill different rolls depending on how the Artificer equips them. Although the pets are labeled as homunculus, they look more alike to robotic hound dogs rather than Full Metal Alchemist antagonists. These pets are fast moving and very powerful, so don't expect this to be only a cosmetic addition to the class.

The Artificer itself is a confusing little character with a random bag of tricks that combine to form a type of zone control defensive specialty. By combining local area fire turrets with a runic magic based charge shot (that shoots more balls of energy the longer you stay still to charge), you get a class that rules over any dungeon choke point with vicious aptitude. Their pet becomes the ideal lure for bringing foes into your premade death traps and blasting them to bits! However if pressured by an enemy and forced to kite, the Artificer losses much of its effectiveness.

After a detailed walk through of the new class, I was introduced to the House Cannith Enclave, a city that rivals the size and scope of just about any town in MMO history. For comparison I would perhaps point out that it was roughly the size of the capital cities in Warhammer Online, but with much more densely packed content to explore and less open space. Recent innovations in the server technology has allowed for the implementation of moving platforms as well. This not only makes the city feel more dynamic and alive, but will surely lead to more challenging platforming elements in future DDO dungeon instances.

DDO's crafting system has also been reworked to allow players to craft all the way to level 150. For those worried about falling behind in crafting skill on their new Artificer, I was told by the developers that they will be starting off with a base level of crafting in all areas to give them a 1-up on other classes seeking profession advancement! While talking about crafting and customization, players will be glad to hear that character face accessories have now been graphically implemented into the game. As such putting on goggles and various helmet accessories will visibly change the look of your character, and you will have the option to show or hide your equipment to ensure the look you prefer.

The new dungeons being released tell an epic tale of cyborgs rising up against their 'fleshy' masters and an internal struggle in the House of Cannith as to how best to deal with this rebellion. In the end it will take you into deep winding dungeons with difficult puzzle solving elements and some of the most intricately played boss battles in MMO history. The culmination battle against the Lord of Blades (who I am told is a very big deal in DDO lore) forces teams to think on their feet. A central runic power source will fire off every few minutes, permanently powering up the Lord of Blades should he be inside the radius when it fires. Conversely, should a member of your team receive the ray of power instead, you can gain additional buffs that you most certainly will need to complete this battle.

While half of your team focuses on leading the Lord of Blades and his robotic terminator squad on a rabbit hunt through the boss room, the other half must move from corner to corner of the room destroying a series of pillars that will eventually destroy the runic system being used to grant the Lord of Blades infinite power. This is just a little preview of one of the three new dungeons being unveiled on September 12th so don't miss out.

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