In open beta for less than a month, Dragon's Prophet still has many systems and areas to roll out during testing, and Carson expounded on some of those. He introduced the new zone of Wintertide as well as offered details about raiding. And we certainly couldn't let him go without more information about the frontier system, which encompasses both housing and PvP.
New land, ho!
A new area that convention-goers got to experience -- but the general public won't be let into until July -- is called Wintertide. This zone is where the elder dragons had their first war, and it is an area steeped in story. The scope of the land is huge, and remnants of that war can be seen throughout; Carson emphasized the scale of these first dragons by describing how "whole cities [are] built within the skeletons of the elder dragons."
When Wintertide comes to the beta server, players will also see a level cap increase from 60 to 70 and be able to participate in even more instances.
After Wintertide releases for testing in July, Carson said that the team would be moving on to endgame content and citadels. Endgame content, of course, includes raiding. However, raids in Dragon's Prophet will not be a simple 12- or 24-man affair. No, in a world of dragons, bigger is definitely better: Raid content will be geared for full guilds.
The first raid content will be set up to accommodate level one guilds; as those guilds can hold 50 players, that means that the first wave of raids will be for 50-man groups. Oh, but that's only the half of it because each player will also have a combat dragon at his or her side in the fight! Yes folks, there will be 100 entities fighting in the first raid. More raids will accommodate higher-level guilds, meaning even larger groups. Want a higher-level guild for the bigger raids and other assorted perks (like the magic flute that can call a rare dragon to be tamed)? Then you have to go out and do things as a guild!
The raids themselves will mirror the current dungeon system by offering different difficulty levels. High-end dungeons have four difficulty levels; the higher the level, the more XP and the better chance obtaining rare loot.
When can players expect to see this system make its appearance in open beta? Carson explained the hope is to start testing raiding in August.
After raiding, the next system that Carson expounded on was the frontier system -- the unique combination of housing and PvP. In Dragon's Prophet, the two systems go hand in hand because PvP is enabled only up on the housing islands. Players can flag themselves open for PvP and fight other flagged players elsewhere in the game, but only the housing islands will be completely open PvP. And those islands are precisely where the territory wars will be.
Although anyone can buy land and own a house (which cannot be destroyed), only guilds will be able to capture citadels. Citadels are basically the castle that rule over a specific island. Guilds that capture citadels will be able to enact a tax on all residences on that island. Those tax funds can then be used to purchase equipment and hire NPCs to help defend the area from enemy attack, including catapults, cannons, and guards. These defenses will attack any non-guilded players who encroach on the area. Of course, if the citadel owner is not benevolent, residents may have to fend for themselves as the lord of the land hoards the money all for himself.
As in all territorial war systems, citadel ownership is apt to change hands, especially if there is no defense to prevent enemies from swooping in and taking over, but even with the purchased defense mechanisms, nothing can replace player support. One point that Carson brought up was that although unguilded players can fight on the rest of the island to help defend, only official members of the guild can actually enter the citadel to defend from within. Also, there will be a flight ceiling with citadels so that folks can't just literally swoop in from above and drop into the structure. Beta testers won't have to worry about that much anyway, though, as aerial combat as a whole will be a post-launch system,
While giving us this glimpse of the PvP and citadel systems, Carson reminded that things are subject to modification; after all, these systems, like raiding, are still under development. It is actually the completion and implementation of these systems that will signal that the game is ready to go. Carson stated, "Once we get [PvP] working and we get our raid content in, then we will be ready for launch."
Amidst all the other talk of Wintertide, PvP, housing, and raids, Carson also offered other assorted tidbits of information on the game.
He emphasized that personal housing cannot be destroyed even though it is in PvP-enabled lands, so players needn't worry about losing their equity. On the same note, players can set permissions to their house to make it a safe haven for themselves so enemies cannot infiltrate and hide in a closet to kill them when they return home.
Devs are also developing some extra things for managing dragons. One item is a collection book in which players will be able to see at a glance every type of dragon they have tamed out of the hundreds that inhabit the world. Also in development is a dragon armory where players will be able to set their dragon up for display when no longer needed/wanted as an active fighting companion. This will help players maintain their maximum of 12 dragons without having to sacrifice some of the creatures they have tamed in the past. Carson noted that players will be able to swap out these dragons and put them back into their stable to use at a later time.
A final system Carson touched on was field training for the dragons; players can visit the Dragon Lair Manager in town and set two dragons from their stable to fight against one another. During this training, there is a chance that the dragons can actually learn skills from one another, again preventing players from having to sacrifice one dragon just to give the skills to another.
We'll have a hands-on with Dragon's Prophet coming later today!
Massively's on the ground in Los Angeles during the week of June 10-13, bringing you all the best news from E3 2013. We're covering everything from WildStar and Elder Scrolls Online and ArcheAge to FFXIV's inbound revamp and TERA's latest update, so stay tuned!