After marking the 15th Anniversary of the long-running MMORPG Dungeons & Dragons Online, Standing Stone Games has released Update 49. With this update comes a new adventure pack, quality of life changes, game performance, and significant improvements to the bow and ranged combat system. Read on for the details.
Peril of the Planar Eyes
The first significant addition to the game courtesy of Update 49 is the new adventure chain titled Peril of the Planar Eyes. Adventure packs provide additional content for players to do adventures in, and as Dungeons & Dragons Online (DDO) uses an instanced mechanic (i.e. every quest is a s unique and private instance for each person or party that enter it), the regular addition of new adventure packs keeps the game fresh. Past adventure packs in DDO include versions of classic tabletop modules such as Keep on the Borderlands and White Plume Mountain.
The update was announced as going live on DDO's official Twitter account:
— DDO Unlimited (@DDOUnlimited) April 21, 2021
As with other adventure quest chains in DDO, Peril of the Planar Eyes earns Favor with a particular patron faction. In this case, it is Eberron’s scholarly Morgrave University. The University has discovered a bunch of extraplanar eyes, which are magical artifacts that hold potentially world-shaking power. The heroes must travel different locations in the continent of Xen'drik, the central area where most of DDO's stories take place.
All the quest givers for Peril of the Planar Eyes can be found in the Lordsmarch Plaza area of Stormreach. The quest chain involves 4 distinct quests:
- An Element of Chaos – granted by Thaddeus Donbury, which involves exploration of the Ancient Sulatar Shrine into the depths of an Elemental cave.
- Eye Know Whodunnit – granted by Alban Kimble. As the title implies, this is a detective-style investigation, where evidence against suspects are gathered.
- Seizing the Dawn – granted by Fain d’Phiarlan. Another exploration quest, this time involving rock climbing and figuring out the puzzles in the correct sequence.
- Beautiful Nightmares – granted by Electa Poole. The characters must enter the dream realm and escape. Another puzzle solving quest with some hefty combat for good measure.
All the quests in Peril of the Planar Eyes have 2 challenge rating versions: a Heroic level 12 and a more challenging Epic Level 32. Aside from gaining favor with Morgrave University, finishing the quests leads to new named loot for players to farm. Among these are a series of Clubs with the Fusible and Malleable title. These provide significant boosts to magic and spellcasting. Crafting Fusible and Malleable gear was introduced since Update 7 and can be conducted in Lordsmarch Plaza by accessing the Cauldron of Sora Katra.
The Peril of the Planar Eyes can be purchased from the DDO in-game store for 650 DDO points.
Quality of Life Adjustments
Aside from the addition of the Peril of the Planar Eyes adventure pack, Update 49 patches the DDO game for improvements. Among them:
- In the introductory adventure in The Grotto, the NPCs Jeets and Celimas will now give longbows as possible choices for players at the beginning and end of the quest.
- Clerics can now use Spell-like Abilities (SLA) while the character is moving.
- Animation changes that affected Druid forms (bear and wolf).
- Older loot from the previous quests in Lordsmarch Plaza have been updated to properly scale their power level. Note that this updated loot is not retroactive and will not change the existing versions that players have already acquired prior.
- Raid loot in the recently released Feywild expansion can now be acquired by trading in with Raid Runes.
- Minor corrections made to previously existing issues. Among them providing correct bonuses, tooltips updated to present accurate effects, updated classifications and typing such as morale, insight, and quality bonuses.
Doublestrike and Doubleshot
One of the most common complaints of Dungeons & Dragons Online is the occurrence of lags. Lag spikes are not uncommon, which disrupts enjoyment of play. In an effort to address this problem, the game’s dev team is focusing on streamlining and reducing the number of calculations that occur under the hood.
As part of this effort, one of the most significant modifications with Update 49 is with the Doubleshot and Doublestrike mechanics. Doubleshot and Doublestrike are passive abilities that proc based on a percentage. When they trigger, it causes an additional melee or ranged attack to apply, as appropriate. Although this is the explanation is simple, this involves multiple calculations. Although individually negligible for the computers running the game’s servers, it all adds up.
With Update 49, Doublestrike and Doubleshot will no longer proc as separate follow-up attacks. Instead, they will double the damage dealt. Generally, this will mean that damage spikes when Doubleshot and Doublestrike trigger will be higher. For instance, if before your melee attack dealt 100 damage and Doublestrike triggers another 100 damage, it will instead deal 200 damage. To reflect this change, a new icon will appear on the floating indicators when characters are attacking. The icon looks like two swords crossed together. Note that Doubleshot and Doublestrike damage can also critical hit, thus higher damage numbers will likely be seen than before.
On the other hand, this means it will be only part of a single attack. If the attack misses, so will the Doubleshot and Doublestrike miss. This is currently a divisive change, as some character builds in DDO rely on hedging their bets through multiple attacks. This is the case for builds that try to make another effect to trigger, such as paralyzing and armor reduction. More attacks are better for these builds, as each additional attack is an opportunity for the desired effect to proc.
This change will also significantly impact builds that are centered on taking advantage offhand Doublestrikes. As part of the change, Off-hand doublestrike has been removed from the game mechanics. Instead, when Doublestrike procs, the Off-hand strike can also double the damage it deals. Off-hand strikes will still be treated as a separate attack, however.
Ranged combat with short bows and long bows have long been considered inferior to throwing weapons or crossbows in DDO. This is due to bows having lower damage and longer animations than the other ranged options. Update 49 seeks to improve bows to make it line up with other ranged weapons.
One very significant change is adjusting DEX to automatically being the relevant stat for the bonus damage. Previously, bows did not receive any bonus damage from the character’s stats natively, requiring other effects as with feats like Bow Strength (which allow STR bonuses to be added).
In addition, a new animation has replaced the old bow animation. This animation is significantly faster, reducing the gap between attacks. Faster attacks mean higher DPS. Other enhancements for bow combat include the following:
- Point Blank Shot increases all bows’ Critical Threat Range by +1. Meanwhile, Combat Archery now raises the Critical Modifier of bows by +1. Thus, a bow with a critical profile of 20/X2 wielded by a character with both these feats will be treated as having a 19-20/X3 critical profile.
- Rapid Shot Feat now adds 1.5 X Base Attack Bonus to the characters’ Ranged Power when wielding bows.
- Manyshot has had the most obvious change. The new wording for the Manyshot feat now reads as follows:
Manyshot: Bow Attack: Ranged Bow Attack: Expend one charge to fire three arrows in quick succession. You have +1 Critical Threat Range and Critical Multiplier with these shots. Each of these shots can Doubleshot. 2 second cooldown. This feat gives 3 charges, you regain 1 charge every 12 seconds you don't use Manyshot (Requires a Longbow or Shortbow to use). Passive: You gain Doubleshot equal to 1.5x your Base Attack Bonus with Longbows and Shortbows.
These changes aim to increase interest in using different builds and classes that use bows as their primary weapon. Prior to the update, the only viable bow wielders were Rangers (and to a lesser extent Fighters and Monks).
Update 49 went live on April 21, 2021, but required a hotfix due to bugs reported by the player base. Although tested on the Lammania test server, the bug did not come to the surface until the patch was applied to the live servers. After the hotfix on April 22, these particular bugs that occurred have been resolved and the DDO Game Worlds are active.
Dungeons & Dragons Online is currently running the Hardcore Season 4 for 3 months. Future updates include an adaptation of the classic module, The Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh, projected for a summer 2021 release.