Dungeons & Dragons Online leaps into The Forgotten Realms with its first expansion


The Forgotten Realms is as classic a D&D setting as they get: a lost realm related to our own where magic runs rampant, deities are active, and--well, just imagine most any classic RPG game you've played and you'll see hints of The Forgotten Realms' influence. And Update 13 is finally bringing it to Dungeons & Dragons Online, which is still offering it's brand of flexible free-to-play options to the masses. I recently sat down with the game's Executive Producer Fernando Paiz to talk about what the upcoming content will look like in DDO's first-ever expansion: Menace of the Underdark.

First up: how will this be connected to existing DDO content, since they exist in different realms entirely? Through the preceding update, and events held at the launch of the expansion, the worlds of Eborron and Forgotten Realms will be connected to one another, allowing players to travel between the two. Level 20 players will be able to travel to Forgotten Realms on their way to the new level cap of 25. There, they'll find the mysterious Drow (dark elves) as well as their Spider Queen Lolth. Another update to the leveling process that Paiz teased is that Turbine's revamping the enhancement system, which currently allows you to tweak your character's stats in small ways, with the goal of updating the advancement system for players as they reach the Epic levels.

While quite coy about what Forgotten Realms will specifically look like for players, Paiz was able to talking about the new class being added: the Druid. Well, it's not completely new to players familiar with D&D, as the Druid is the final "core" class available in the tabletop universe to join DDO. And it sounds terrific: a versatile caster, with a spell for any occassion, the Druid will also have animal companions - first introduced to DDO awhile back with the Artificer class- and will be able to shapeshift into different animal forms to take out the enemy up close and personal.

Once I wiped the drool of my chin, I got back on track and continued to pester Paiz about how this connection between the two realms would be made. It paid off and Paiz spilled (at least part of) the beans. Update 13, to be released at "the end of Februaryish", will set up the story for this bonding of universes, and will also give veteran players a chance to earn a cosmetic (non-combat) pet. While there will only be a few of these pets at first, Paiz added that the number available would grow over time. Sounds like we could be in for a very cool high-level quest chain that has us help connect these two worlds.

As my interview time winded down, I asked Paiz what question he wished he was allowed to answer most, but can't. He thought for a second and told me, "I wish I could tell you about Big Scary Monsters."

So there you have it. We're headed into the Forgotten Realms--which I've been anxious for DDO to move into for years--and there are going to be some "Big Scary Monsters (tm )" waiting for us there. Bring 'em on!