Dungeons & Dragons: Online has had a successful run as far as massively multiplayer online RPGs go, enjoying five years of success and an incredibly seamless transition from a paid product to a free-to-play powerhouse. But the game’s brightest days are still ahead, according to Turbine, and while we're usually quick to dismiss those types of claims for aging MMOs, we can't help but believe it in this case.
Today, the developer announced that the game would be getting its first paid expansion this summer – and it’s a doozy. The expansion finally connects Dungeons & Dragons: Online’s Ebberon campaign setting with the beloved Forgotten Realms setting, home to Neverwinter, Bauldur’s Gate, and, of course, the Underdark – the location for the expansion.
With Turbine’s history of massive, free updates for Dungeons & Dragons: Online, we figured that the expansion, Menace of the Underdark, would have to be big, but we never expected it to be this big. Menace of the Underdark will bump the level cap by five – which, considering how DDO’s leveling system works, is actually like bumping it by 20 in any other MMO – diving head-first into Dungeons & Dragons’ epic levels.
Players will be exploring the drow-controlled territory of the Underdark where they’ll be doing battle with the different evil factions under the control of Lolth the Spider Queen as she tries to end the world in some manner or another. Turbine is keeping her actual plans under wraps, but did say that it – whatever it is – is the cause of the worlds merging.
Above: Concept art for Lolth looks acceptably sexy/creepy
Above-ground (or on the Material Plane or whatever because the Underdark isn't technically underground), players will find themselves settling in Eveningstar, a small village in Cormyr in the northeast of Faerûn. So far, Turbine hasn’t gone too far into the details as to what the gameplay will be like in Faerûn proper, but it has said that this is only the beginning of its delve into the Forgotten Realms campaign setting.
With this update will come a new class, too, and it’s one fans have been clamoring for since DDO launched over five years ago: the Druid. Druids will be the MMO's first shapeshifting class, letting players change their form to different animals depending on the situation. They’ll also be able to have an animal companion of some kind, just like the Artificier class’s Iron Defender.
And though it will be a full, paid expansion, Turbine plans for it to fit neatly into its free-to-play model, meaning it will likely be available in bits and pieces for those interested in digesting Menace of the Underdark via microtransactions when it's made available this summer. Be sure to check back for more news as it's revealed, as we'll be following this game's transformation between time, space, and dimensions closely.