Six years after it was first launched, Dungeons & Dragons Online finally gives players a chance to explore the Forgotten Realms.
If you know anything about Dungeons & Dragons, it's likely tied to the Forgotten Realms campaign setting. The vast majority of the games, novels, and most widely loved ephemera the game has produced take place within that setting, so it was a somewhat baffling move when developer Turbine Inc. opted to set Dungeons & Dragons Online within the newer (albeit less beloved) Eberron universe. Luckily for fans of "classic" D&D, the newly announced first expansion for the game allows travel to the hallowed lands seen in such classics as the Baldur's Gate series.
From this morning's PR blast:
Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and Wizards of the Coast unveiled today Dungeons & Dragons Online®: Menace of the Underdark, the first expansion to the award-winning free-to-play massively multiplayer online roleplaying game (MMORPG) developed by Turbine. Menace of the Underdark launches in the Summer of 2012 expanding for the first time into the beloved Forgotten Realms setting and the vast subterranean world of the Underdark, an increased level cap, the new Druid class and much more!
"2011 was a year of growth for Dungeons & Dragons Online as we celebrated our fifth anniversary and completed a successful launch of the game in Europe," said Fernando Paiz, Executive Producer of Dungeons & Dragons Online. "2012 is going to be our biggest year yet with a wealth of new content throughout the year including the launch of our first expansion pack. We are very excited to expand into the Forgotten Realms setting with a whole new storyline, level cap increase and the new Druid class!"
As per usual for MMO expansions, the feature list seems tailored to long-time players. That new Druid character class should be a welcome site to all D&D fans who get off on scampering through the woods and talking to ethereal wolf spirits, while the newly expanded level cap will offer players a chance to hit level 25 (and thus, "Epic" status -- which is kind of a big deal).
More interesting than the above however, is what the press release fails to mention. The Forgotten Realms setting has decades of awesome content available for the developers to tap into. Personally I've got my fingers crossed that players might encounter a certain scimitar-wielding Drow Ranger, if only for the chance to pet Guenhwyvar. Confession: I've always wanted to scritchy-scritch an Astral panther behind the ears.
Oh, and in case you weren't aware, D&D Online is one of those "free-to-play" MMOs that is so popular with publishers these days. If you want to join the game, simply head over to the official site, offer up some personal details, download the client and get ready to metatextually determine your fate via twenty-sided die.