DDO: instance scale (and Karazhan)

We played another session of our new Dungeons & Dragons Online trio earlier in the week. In that time we managed to quickly wrap up the final quests on the Isle of Korthos and to transition across to Stormreach city proper.

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The last dungeon, Misery’s Peak, is singular in the early experience because it showcases what a dramatic scale the game’s instances can take. The design of the instance truly gives the impression of delving deep into a whole system of caves beneath a mountain. Cavernous chambers, with multiple layers accessible by ramps, are contrasted by tightly sloping passages.

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The next zone for the game, the Harbour, is the most constrained perhaps. Adventures there are mostly confined to the sewers and the warehouses found in that district. Getting lost was a problem for me when I played DDO originally – the dungeon maps were often larger than I was used to and distinctly non-linear!

My first proper MMORPG, World of Warcraft, has/had some stellar examples of sprawling instance design – Blackrock Mountain, Maraudon, Uldum – to name but a few.  Many dungeons are smaller, “corridor” dungeons. A model of dungeon where a few groups of trash mobs are scattered between each boss fight with no real choices of order, direction or approach. That’s probably a good thing as the contrast in scale makes the very large dungeons noticeably that more impressive. Back in DDO the sewer and warehouse dungeons that follow Misery’s Peak are claustrophic in contrast so it’s natural to look back at those caverns with a renewed wonder.

Definitely not a linear corridor...

Definitely not a linear corridor…

It has just been announced at Gamescom, that the first patch post expansion (7.1) for Legion will include a revamp of the Karazhan raid as an epic 5-man ‘almost-raid’. That announcement definitely has me interested – Karazhan was one of the first raids I ever took part in towards the very end of the Burning Crusade expansion era.

The original was a masterpiece of intricate and lore-rich design (as a non-raider I won’t comment on the boss-fight design merits). If the pattern follows from Cataclysm and subsequence revamps of 5-man dungeons by Blizzard, it is likely to be a lot shorter and more linear than the raid was (12 boss fights across a sprawling multi-level map). But the location and lore offer Blizzard the materials to produce a very interesting and non-linear new dungeon so perhaps the devs will keep some sense of scale to this iconic location.

 

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