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Three Barrel Cove and Pirates!
After giving the Monk a test drive, we took a tour of the new, revised Three Barrel Cove area for a demonstration of the new Fog of War feature. This feature shrouds the terrain with a light fog that disappears as you explore the area, allowing you to better keep track of exactly where you've been. This is a big help for finding points of interest in the exploration tasks.
Part of the changes to Three Barrel Cove includes the
adventure area quests for Slayer, Explorer, and Rare Encounters. Wandering around, we were able to check out some of the Explorer tasks and came across one of the new denizens of Three Barrel Cove, the Sahuagin. These green fish-looking creatures reminded me of a Scooby Doo episode, but of course, they pack more of a punch than anything Scooby and Shaggy ever came across. Like most of the area, these creatures are meant for parties around level 5. One thing I noticed was the art upgrades to many of NPCs and monsters in the area. Orcs and Kobolds in pirate outfits really looked great. There's something about a Kobold shouting "Yarr, a pirate's life for me!" that really works.
After checking out the new landscape and monsters, it was time to visit a few new dungeons. First up was Rackham's Trial. This instance features a series of nasty tests to see if you have what it takes to be a pirate, including a rather intricate puzzle that covers every surface of the room. The object is to open a door by activating a series of levers, floor tiles and targets. Making a wrong decision can be costly. Another test - which was a blast watching the devs try to perform - was a ladder climb where one party member has to make it to the top. Did I mention that the ladders weren't always connected and you had to jump from ladder to ladder? Feather Fall is your friend.
Once we made it through these trials to become pirates, we headed off to help a another pirate in another quest. This fellow somehow decided to get himself trapped inside a cage surrounded by a massive puzzle that, again, encompassed the entire room. Make a mistake, and your pirate friend is shocked by rather large bolts of electricity. Needless to say, he doesn't like this too much and yells at you if you get it wrong. While at times you start to feel that he should be barbequed for his insults and whining, you realize that you can't complete this quest if he dies. Save the poor fellow, and experience and gold awaits you.
One detail I noticed as we transitioned between areas was the new look to several of the loading screens. Kate commented that the new lead artist was responsible for this, and I have to say he did a great job.