Dungeons & Dragons Online: Menace of the Underdark Preview

Eschalon: Book II

Publisher:Warner Bros.
Release Date:2012-06-25
  • Massively Multiplayer,Role-Playing
Platforms: Theme: Perspective:
  • Third-Person
Buy this Game: Amazon ebay
At any time, a character can switch to another adjacent destiny that they've unlocked and begin advancing through it, with one major caveat: bonuses and abilities granted by a destiny can only be utilized when it's the active destiny. This roadblock can be circumvented through the use of fate points, however. By earning fate points, a player can unlock "Twists of Fate", which are essentially open slots that can house abilities from an alternate destiny. There are a total of three Twists of Fate available to a character, so ultimately you could have access to one entire destiny tree and a trio of abilities from other destinies. If a player goes that route, however, the three abilities they choose must be from the two lowest tiers on the destiny trees. Should they find that isn't sufficient, they can instead use their fate points to upgrade a previously unlocked Twist of Fate so that it can gain access to tier 3/4 and tier 5/6 abilities, though obviously this comes at the expense of having less total accessible abilities from other destinies.

As another source of acquiring power, the expansion will also feature the Eveningstar Challenge Pack. These challenges will function exactly as they do in House Cannith, but there will be entirely new goals to achieve. For example, one will feature a tower defense scenario where the party will be protecting a fortress and ballistae from waves of enemies, while another will feature an arena battle in the Underdark that's hosted by a red dragon. Do well enough in the ensuing battles, and the red dragon will enter the arena himself to become your final adversary. And, of course, all-new challenges means that there will be all-new epic loot to trade your earned ingredients for.

There are a few changes coming to the base game with the addition of Menace of the Underdark, too. First up is a revised UI that uses a slick silver design and adds an extra dose of accessibility to the game's various menu screens through the use of a large ampersand button in the bottom left corner of the screen. On top of that, loot drops are going to be kicked up a notch, with +1 and above enhancements showing up as early as the Catacombs and more effects showing up on randomized loot (a robe I looted in the Beyond the Rift quest had five different effects attached to it, including damage resistance which many of you will recognize as a named item-only effect previously). Drop rates are also going to see some tweaking - in particular, the team promises me that the epic ingredients within the Update 13 quests should drop a little more frequently. And while the team hoped to get the tree-based enhancement overhaul implemented in time for the expansion, the reality is that it won't quite make it onto the live servers until sometime soon after its release.

Ultimately, I was quite impressed with what I saw of Menace of the Underdark. The art design is considerably different and is a nice change of pace after spending so much time in Eberron, character builds are getting a significant amount of extra depth with the addition of five new levels and epic destinies, there are at least a dozen new creatures for us to do battle with (including new dragon types!) across three separate adventure packs, three larger-than-average wilderness zones, and a new set of challenges, and you really can't go wrong with a storyline that pits Lolth and Elminster against one another to determine the fate of two interconnected worlds. If you're an MMO fan or simply a Dungeons & Dragons fan, there are certainly worse ways to spend your $30 this June.