The guys at Massively have cranked out a hands-on preview of Turbine's upcoming Module 6: The Thirteenth Eclipse update for Dungeons & Dragons Online.
After a quick dip in the moat around Eberron, we were teleported up to "The Vista," the highest point in the next exploration zone (one of the devs bragged that he'd slowfallen all the way into the lake from up here), and the folks from Turbine explained that players would be clashing with devils even before they entered the raids and instances of the Vale of Twilight. They wanted to make sure, they said, that players knew how to fight the devils before they ever entered the raid. That way, the raid itself would be more about communication between the players rather than just mindless fighting.
We were then teleported to a gnoll treehouse in the zone to do a little hack and slash. ("We love gnolls," said Kate. "We find them to be a good popcorn monster.") Along the way we chatted about spells and where they came from. Turbine wanted to faithfully recreate some D&D spells, but not all of them could make the cut-- Earthquake was listed as one that they "had to pull at the last minute because we just couldn't get the experience quite right. But we hope to bring it back in future modules." And I was shown two new spells for Module 6-- Trap the Soul, and the explosive Sunburst, as a huge ball of fire engulfed not only the unsuspecting gnolls, but the entire party and the environmnt as well.
After having lowered the Gnoll population, we headed into the new Shroud instance itself. As you may have heard, the Shroud has five stages, and each stage is modeled after influences that will be familiar to any longtime videogamer. The first stage opens on a Giant ruin full of ramps and platforms, with four skeletons in front of the party, each labeled as the "red warrior, green elf, blue valkyrie, and.. well, if you don't know what the reference is yet, you haven't played Gauntlet enough. The skeletons each have a legendary, lootable item on them that can only be used in the instance, and the devs said this was one of the ways they wanted to not only allow casual players to play a high level instance, but also to make it clear that "equipment is not a win button"-- good gear won't get you as far as thought and communication in this instance.