John McDonald

Blogging about politics, life, and the web

DDO is a Free and Decent Dungeon Crawler

October 2nd, 2009

I haven’t played too many online RPGs since I spent way too much time with Warcraft, so I was understandably hesitant to try something new. WOW had a whole bunch of problems at the end game, but it can summarized with two major complaints:

  • Raids are designed to be epic, but the reality of putting one together isn’t what I would call “fun.” Its much more like work.
  • You never finish paying for the game. Not only do you pay a monthly fee for connectivity and “new content,” you also have to buy $50 expansion packs every year or two. Of course, the expansion packs also mean that your character and gear is suddenly obsolete, and anything you worked for in those painful raids is out of date.

But eventually, my friend talked me into downloading and trying out Dungeons & Dragons Online.  The core game is free, but there are some optional features and alternate quest lines that are available for a fee.  So I have some limits on how many characters I can have per server, or what races & classes I can sign up for, but you’re able to play most of the game without paying a penny.  You can even earn points in the game that are able to be spent in the online store.

If you want the premium content, you can pay for the regular cost of the game and have it all unlocked.  If you want specific premium content, you can buy just enough points to make those purchases.  If you’re cheap and/or patient, you can just earn them slowly in the game and eventually unlock new bonuses.

About DDO itself:

The game is based on Dungeon’s & Dragons 3rd edition rules.  This is always nice because its kind of familiar and doesn’t require starting all over with a brand new spell & combat system.

Characters are free to multi-class, as well as assign enhancements, feats, and other talents at the time of advancing a level.

All experience is earned through quests, but there are a variety of quests available from the start of the game.  If you don’t know where to look, it can be hard to find ones of the appropriate difficulty level, but if you’re willing to repeat quests a few times there’s no problem leveling up past the bottlenecks.

The dungeons themselves are fun.  At least on the normal level, you can go in and mess around and have some fun without worrying too much about death.  At harder difficulties, you can have as much of a challenge as you can handle.

Don’t have anyone to group with? Don’t worry – you can contract hirelings for an hour at the cost of one or two hundred pieces of gold.

My first character was basically a hack and slasher, but as a ranger he has a variety of ways to go about doing it.  Not only does he shoot down enemies with a +1 composite longbow, he’s also a whirling beast who dual-wields axes in melee combat.  If outnumbered, he can also sneak past his enemies or surprise them from behind…

DDO online is a fun dungeon crawler that doesn’t require the time commitments and mass organization of WoW.  Maybe things will get that way toward the higher levels, but for now its nice to run through the newbie zones and check out the various dungeon mazes.

If you’re in to online RPGs but Warcraft is getting old, be sure to check out DDO here.  You can start playing today, no credit card – or any payment – is ever required!


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