DDO has launched Module 8: Prisoners of Prophecy. Along with a graphics engine upgrade, a new wilderness area, and some high level dungeons, they have added the following:
- Enhanced New Player Experience: To support a more story-based and friendly introduction to the game and make DDO more accessible to players unfamiliar with the 3.5 Edition rules-set, we have created a completely new starter experience. Players will now have the option to create well-built characters based on their play style without needing to assign any stat or skill points, or select any feats or spells. Subsequent characters created on the account will have the option to skip the tutorial, and will gain relevant XP and rewards as if they had completed it.
- Introducing Hirelings: Hirelings is a huge new system designed to improve the solo play experience in DDO by letting players contract henchmen to help them in their adventures. Hirelings are player controlled NPC combatants with a given class, level and personality that can be contracted to aid a player in the dungeons of Stormreach. Players can contract with one Hireling of their level or lower for a few hours at a time, or until the adventure they are playing is complete. This massive new system will be introduced to players through a series of live in-game events after the launch of Prisoners of Prophecy.
Although I had heard of D&D, I had never played it and was not someone familiar with the rules and the die rolls. I had to do a lot of reading to figure out how to set up my character. My husband wasn't too keen on DDO during our trial, particularly since we really couldn't duo anything past the first few dungeons. But I enjoyed it enough to subscribe for a couple months afterwards. I did join in on some pickup groups of experienced players whom had already been through the dungeons so raced through them rather quickly. I really felt like a noob in this game though. If I could have convinced my husband to join me and perhaps join a guild, I think I might have enjoyed it for awhile. So I think the new player experience change is a good thing, making the game a little less intimidating for those unfamiliar.
The hirelings system seems to be the new trend. Considering we couldn't duo, not sure how well a hireling will benefit a soloer unless the game has changed since I played. But I'm curious enough to see how well it will work for a duo. I'm going to resubscribe at least for a month to see these changes firsthand and maybe I can convince the other half to finally explore it with me.
I'm not sure at this stage of the game if it's enough to bring in players. But their timing is pretty good. There's a lot of discontent right now with the new releases this year, so some will likely at least be willing to try it.