For as long as stories have been told, there has been the reoccurring theme that light and darkness are enemies, and the light must fend off the dark. Brought into the Dungeons & Dragons universe, and suddenly the story goes from a myth or legend into a true battle between good and evil, in which the lives of everyone on the material plane hang in the balance. In the latest expansion of Dungeons & Dragons Online: Shadowfell Conspiracy, the developers at Turbine have brought this epic story to life, bringing the war between light and darkness into the Forgotten Realms campaign setting, alongside new iconic heroes to help bring the fight to the shadow realm's doorstep. This past Friday, I was given the opportunity to walk through DDO's latest expansion with Senior Producer Erik Boyer, and got to see what makes Shadowfell Conspiracy awesome.
For those of you who are following along at home, until this point DDO has taken place in the Ebberon D&D universe, which is different in many important aspects from the Forgotten Realms. While I'll readily admit that I was skeptical of how Turbine would incorporate two campaign settings in the same game without breaking the plot or mechanics of the game, I was pretty impressed by the careful implementation of the mechanic. The two worlds are connected via the Underdark, where Drow rule and the dark spider goddess Lolth reigns supreme. A portal was discovered in the Underdark, which is a mid-level zone, allowing players to pass between worlds only if they can gain access to the portal, meaning they'll need to fight some bad guys along the way. Once players have gained access to both worlds, however, they'll be able to choose which world to zone in to when they log in.
The first thing that turned me on to The Shadowfell Conspiracy was the first thing I sat down to do: making a character. The Shadowfell Conspiracy is introducing a new type of hero into the DDO mix, called the Iconic Hero. When the expansion launches on August 19th, there will be four iconic classes for players to explore, but for my walkthrough I was only able to play the Bladeforged Paladin, which was A-okay with me. The Bladeforged Paladin is a Warforged melee combatant with an extremely apt name. They are akin to normal Warforged, but have been created by the Lord of Blades, a powerful leader of Warforged independence, and a raid boss from the last DDO expansion. The Bladeforged are his personal shock troopers, but in line with his philosophy, permits his troops to leave his service and go adventuring on their own. The Bladeforged are decked out with all kinds of sweet razors and blades on their face and body(I even saw a razorblade mohawk!), and begin play at level 15 (as all Iconic Heroes do) after being brought to life by the Lord of Blades. The Bladeforged Paladin reminded me a lot of Death Knights from World of Warcraft, but with a distinct flavor difference in that they are capable of multi-classing and forging their own destinies separate from what the Lord of Blades has in store. The Bladeforged Paladin wields a greatsword and fights with a powerful gritty strength, slicing down his enemies by the wave. The tactics and fighting style of a Bladeforged Paladin quite different from normal Warforged heroes, and this is well represented through their animations and play style in game. This gratifying and unique take on character conception doesn't just apply to the Bladeforged, though. Each of the Iconic classes in The Shadowfell Conspiracy promises to have its own interesting mechanics and lore to make it look and feel like a truly distinct hero in the massive crowd.