The last area I had to get into with the new Expansion, Menace of the Underdark, was the Demonweb and its quests. The quests themselves are pretty straightforward as far as things go. You’re in there to try and stop Lolth and reacquire some magical objects and to do that you have to get through her hoard first before you take on the goddess herself in the raid. You’ve got to navigate her Demonweb to get to those quests, and the area has messages from her like the Drow City had from the Priestess and The King’s Forest from Elminster. One of the monkey wrenches Lolth’s realm throws at you is that the path to the quests is almost never the same. The rocks from other worlds that make up her plane are held together with bridges made from spider web and these change from one load into the area to the next. While you might have a good idea where the quests are, as I actually did, it might still take an hour to navigate to the quest itself between figuring out how to get there and fighting off her minions. I was reminded that Lolth’s messages aren’t necessarily new with this expansion as the House Cannith area back in Eberron used these for its explorer area as well, but it is nice to see this carried on again as they add a bit more flavor than just running around finding explorer points.
There are three quests you have to do out here before you can do the raid, but you have to also have done every quest in the chain before it as well starting with Lords of Dust back in Eberron. It is the longest quest flagging I’ve ever seen them do for DDO, but at least you don’t have to run a pre-raid each time to get into it. The Deal and the Demon has you working with the Yugloth, a group of mercenaries in this realm who were fighting the Devils in Eberron. You have to navigate to assassinate the Demon Kishnaurac and get the orb for the Spell Weave. There’s a tricky thing with mercenaries, though. Trial by Fury gives you three options to get through it: a trial of Wits, a trial of Strength, or you can do both for more experience before you have to take on Grulemith the Goristro. This was actually my favorite of the three flagging quests in the Demonweb. Reclaiming the Rift is deceptively easy, at first. The War Wizards have come up with a way to stabilize the rift between Eberron and Faerun, but you have to fight your way there first, of course. Khaszlokhar is guarding the Rift and he sends wave after wave after you giving you only a short time to breach his barrier and try to stabilize the Rift by giving some of your hit points over to it. The last part was pretty insanely rough, especially if you don’t realize how fast you have to click that rift.
I would love to talk about the raid, however at the moment no one can run it. There have been some major issues with it and while they opened it for one day, Turbine quickly closed it again. I’d love to talk about it, but not having actually played it, I don’t feel I can. So how about Epic Destinies and Epic Levels? If you don’t buy the expansion pack, the good news is you do get Epic Levels free. Epic levels just up your hit points, all skills you’ve invested in, spell points, and give you a few extra feats as you level up. The Epic Leveling is really about what you get in the tabletop version of the game as you go, the Epic Destinies are the gravy. Set up a little bit like Enhancements work in the Heroic levels, Epic Destinies are tailored to each class, but you get a few options. There are tiers you have access to based on the class you’re playing, some with two options, others with three. You can pick between these options to level up that destiny, unlocking base abilities in it as well as picking options to make you stronger in different ways. You’ll only get 24 points for each destiny, which will not unlock everything in that destiny so you’ll have to pick and choose what you want. As you level up, depending on the destiny, you branch out on the tree, so you can jump to another destiny tree that’s not based around your class if you level up the right destiny to level four. You also get access to three abilities that you’ve spent points on, not granted ones from destinies you’ve unlocked and leveled. It’s an interesting way to make those Epic levels far more fun and gives end players something to work on unlocking by making getting experience worth it again.
I’ll come right out and say it: Druids are not my favorite class. They’ve always read to me as this cross between a Ranger and a Cleric and when I was younger I didn’t get into that tree-loving forest dweller stuff so much and wanted to either shoot or maim. Why oh why I never thought of their shape change ability before I don’t know, because that would have hit on my little werewolf fanboy inside and I probably would have been asking for them sooner. The class itself in DDO plays a bit like the Favored Soul crossed with an Artificer. You can spec out to do combat or to cast like the Favored Soul, but it has a bit of the Artificer to it as well as you get a permanent pet that you can summon and levels up with you, on top of the one you can summon through Nature’s Ally. It feels like one of those classes where it pays to stick to one thing and not generalize too much as it’ll hurt you in the end game. Overall I like it so far and it’s definitely an interesting addition to the game, but I’m already seeing people in later raids who’ve not specced out right and wipe on raid bosses that they should be able to take a few hits from if they went melee. I’ll go out on a limb and say Druid should not be your first class.
So that’s it for my previews of Menace of the Underdark. My overall review is upcoming, and hopefully by the time I have it done that raid will be fixed and some more bugs worked out.