Now that the server merges are complete and the new communities start to come together, in some cases alongside new allies, in others against new foes, I wanted to take some time out and talk a little about what's coming up in the immediate future.
This starts with the next major game update, and with it some great new game-play and a host of new game-play updates and new features. The update is currently available on the test servers and we've been making good progress on getting it polished up and ready for the live environment.
I have enjoyed playing through the new Xibaluku dungeon with the dev team over the last few weeks and I wanted to share a little more in terms of what you can expect to see coming your way when this dungeon hits the live servers. Xibaluku is a six person instance for level 80 players found in Thunder River. That much we have already said in previous information, so more importantly - what does it play like?
With Xibaluku we have challenged the developers to make the dungeon an even more dynamic, interactive and challenging encounter for players that will stand up well to replay. I think the game-play we introduced with Ymir's Pass in the previous update cycle raised the bar in terms of the fun factor of the new content and we wanted to take it even further with this dungeon.
Xibaluku contains up to a dozen boss encounters, some are essential to progress, some are completely optional but all have been designed to try and provide a really dynamic and changing experience in the dungeon. Some of the bosses may even appear with different abilities or in different forms across different visits! I also say ‘up to' a dozen because not all the bosses may appear on any given single play through, some are rotated in and out, and there are even two very different end encounters in the dungeon. Which end boss you get will depend on factors relating to your progress through the dungeon itself (and no, I'm not going to provide any spoilers here as to what those factors are!).
Many of the encounters take the game-play challenge up a notch and require you to not just consider the boss itself, but also to consider the environment around you, and even to perform other challenging, even platform style, actions during the boss fight. I think the team has done a fantastic job on focusing keenly on the fun factor in this dungeon and I am really looking forward to what you all make of it!
Another major change that's on the horizon with the next update that I wanted to mention in this letter are the new PVP resources. This new game mechanic means that after this update PVP Battlekeeps must be made from special resources harvested in the Border Kingdoms themselves. Open world PVP is a game element that many of you have said you enjoy, but we wanted to introduce more reasons for you to take the fight to the open spaces of the Border Kingdoms and give you meaningful resources to fight over. Want to restrict an opposing guild from building up their resources, and head off a challenge? Now you have the ability to do so! We will be keeping a close eye on how this element plays out and are prepared to continue to tweak and adjust the resources and their locations as we continue testing. We firmly believe that continually looking to add more meaningful goals for PVP is very important and we will continue to work on this area of the game over future updates!
Open world PVP is also only one flavor of the PVP available and we are also taking steps to make sure that the instanced PVP battles are also more accessible. The next update will bring with it a better sign-up process that should allow people to find games much easier, and result in more frequent games.
That's just a few of the new changes and features that will be introduced with the new update. Remember you can check out the test servers for full details of what's coming up, including full provisional update notes on the test server forum.
Last, but by no means least, the Direct X10 version is also starting to shape up nicely. While we aren't going to allow it hold back the deployment of the rest of the update we are hard at work ensuring that we concentrate on optimizing the DX10 features and making sure it's ready to launch as soon as possible. A huge thanks to everyone who has given us excellent feedback from the test server, it really does make this stage of the process much easier.
In my next letter we start to cover the upcoming item and statistic changes in a lot more detail. As soon as the latest update is live the attention will move to introducing you to the nature of these changes and how they will affect the game. All the core work is now done internally and we are currently working on converting all the existing items to the new system. We hope to move the items and statistics update to the test servers as soon as possible after the upcoming update is released to live.
So that's about it for this update. Thank you all again for continuing to make Hyboria an exciting and dynamic world!