Dungeon Love

I am addicted to Dungeons and Dragons Online.  There, I said it.  Even with Siege of Mirkwood just having launched, I want to play more quick hits of Dungeons and Dragons Online.  Last night I chose to spend the 20 minutes I had to murder a tribe of kobolds rather than log in to Lord of the Rings Online for a skirmish or so.  For me, that’s the beauty of Dungeons and Dragons Online: quick flavorful bites of MMO play.

I know there are plenty of super-dedicated Dungeons and Dragons Online (“DDO”) players, but its best fit for me is as an MMO supplement.  More and more, I find that all I want to play are online games.  I find no joy in games like Dragon Age anymore, even though at a younger age I was a Final Fantasy et al. fanatic.  DDO comes across on many fronts.  It is action-oriented.  It has persistent advancement.  It is squarely an MMO.  It allows for small chunks of play.  And, now it is playable without a subscription.

I am hesitant to call the game “free.”  Sure, a solid 10+ hours of gameplay are free, but I have and will spend money on the game.  I will just be spending it at a pace I feel comfortable with.  A service is nice, but I really like the feeling of true persistence – a permanence, if you will.  I like feeling like I have a stake in the game beyond access granted from the payment of a monthly fee. I digress…

For me, DDO is best as a piece of the puzzle.  My way of gaming is to have a library that scratches specific itches that need conditioning.  Lord of the Rings Online is my center of gravity, and rightly so.  Like a vanilla-tasting, keystone to the MMO genre it scratches a lot of itches.  But, not all.  DDO is the game I now play when I want to quickly run into a warehouse and Ginsu a pack of zombies surrounding my holy visage instead of running up to one even-level mob and mindlessly punching through the skill cycle.  It’s the game I play when I want bite size inclusive stories rather than world-spanning epic quests (complete with travel times).

There are some things I hate, like: (1) how there are 4 magnitudes of coin (10 silver = 1 gold, etc.), but prices and auction house prices are shown in only the lower three magnitudes, or  (2) how I might have to advance a quest, but the quest tracker / minimap arrow doesn’t explicitly let me know that I have to return to that dude to advance it.  But, overall it’s a well polished MMO.  DDO is not for everybody, but I don’t see any reason why any MMO gamer “looking for something exciting to do” wouldn’t try out DDO.

I feel like I am doing a disservice here.  I don’t want to review DDO (and I don’t like reviews anyway, I like bulletpoints), but I want to give someoverview of the game.  I hope that I have, though, in other ways than ‘here is how skills work,’ ‘here is how quests work,’ etc.  I will be more than happy to answer specific questions in comments.  And, I will still leave with one last bit of advice.  With character creation go with a pre-made path until you are comfortable with builds on the official forum and the game itself.  If you get hooked, like I was, you will probably want to start over.  Otherwise, just follow the path.

the Ridleyest thing I’ve ever heard

17 thoughts on “Dungeon Love”

  1. I play but honestly I feel like every choice I make is a mistake because I’m just not sure where I want to go in the game. Color me lost in the fog.

      1. Picking skills and classes and races and armor and …

        Anyway, how is solo Rogue gameplay? I love picking locks and disabling traps.

        1. DDO has a bit of “No class is an island” for soloing, but any class can solo.. rangers, paladins, war-forged arcane casters and monks probably have it best, having self-heals (eventually) and reasonable DPS.
          rogues, barbarians and fighters do well, but need to carry pots, cleric hirelings, or pick up a level of something that lets them use cure wands with out a “use magic device” check (and even then carrying cure disease and blindness pots is recommended).
          clerics heal well, and with good choices in feats and equipment, can solo very well, but otherwise suffer from lack of DPS.
          non-warforged arcane casters are typically glass cannons and should generally be in a party of some kind.

          multi-classing is not for the inexperienced and comes with a host of potential downsides (particularly complexity of leveling decisions and “pure class” snobbery in parties). should you be willing to take the chance, these are (just two of several) decent “beginner” combos:

          pro: high dps with sneak attack bursts, access to a small selection of divine spells (and most of the good wands with no checks), great sneaking/hiding, trap findng and lock picking abilities and (depending on the mix of levels) plenty of skill points.
          cons: middling HP, lower AC than most melee types, keeping 2 good level-appropriate weapons on hand gets expensive.

          pros: good HP, good AC, reasonable-to-excellent damage output, self-heals and buffs, plenty of feats available, vastly reduced expenses for adventuring.
          cons: poor skill points, ease of self-gimping with feat choice overload, somewhat conflicting “vital” ability scores.

          at level 5+ soloing gets more and more unfriendly, and after 10 you may well never solo again.

  2. How many hours/levels are you into it, and are you playing mostly solo?

    I’ve now hit a literal brick wall three times with DDO right around level 4-5, each time for slightly different reasons, but all stemming back to the combat engine feeling too fast for me.

    It’s not a bad game, and actually does a lot of things really well, but after a bit I just can’t get past that the core of the game, the combat, is really nothing more than click-click-click, without the satisfaction of Diablo loot. (Loot is terribad in DDO IMO, as you can always buy grossly overpowered gear in the AH, stuff you won’t see for a few levels)

    1. I am just about to hit level 4. I would say I mostly solo/small group. That’s one reason I didn’t want this to be an outright review was b/c I hear the game does change/mature/what have you quite a bit from 1-4 to 5-10 then again at 11-20.

      And, trash = treasure. I love the loot system. I love that I can get off noob island and go get cool +2 shit right away. None of that silly working my way up the colors. Yeah, I really like not having a loot pinata on every single kill… at least for this game. Not all the time.

      Anyway I am Obrimos on Argonessen if you see me on, give me a holler.

      1. I’m not asking for loot pinatas, and I did not really realize this until my fiance mentioned it, but when it’s been over a week of constant playing between a single item upgrade (and the upgrade is a questionable upgrade at that), it takes the fun out of opening yet another chest or getting quest rewards. We did not hit that wall in the docks, but the dungeons in the marketplace were 99% vendor/AH stuff. Not a gamebreak on its own, but combined with combat getting stale around the same time, and it really left us wondering why we are logging in.

        1. Yeah, I guess it’s what you are looking for. I have not had a single upgrade in all the Harbor missions because off of newb island I went to the AH and bought +2 stuff. I am hoping that as I get higher levels I will start seeing more varied weapons like +1/reptile bane and what not, but I just got done with the harbor. Going to the next explorable area.

  3. It is pretty dang addictive, was doing Mindsunder runs till 3:30 AM today, half asleep and barely keeping up with the group. Fast-paced combat, but with lots of hidden stuff for dungeon crawling exploration, surprisingly deep game. Breath of fresh air after a year of radiance and LI grinding…

    Level 11 is about right as far as the big shift in gameplay. Solo quests really dry up and you’ll likely want to start buying Gianthold/Vale around then for some fresh content. I know it’s all about grouping, but it’d nice for Turb to fill in with some solo questing for those slow hours when you can’t find a ungrouped cleric.

    ~~Degu, 19 Bard Pincushion of Argo

  4. I too enjoy it for perfect SHORT bursts of action that let me get one more tick leveling up my ultimate badass warrior/mage/rogue/what-have-you.

  5. I love the game. It’s not one I play a lot, but it’s one that I’ll likely always have installed. They also have a much better chance of earning my gaming money than *any* sub game, precisely because of the pacing and flexibility.

    No, it’s not completely free, but neither am I opposed to paying for great product. Hmph, I work in games, it’s bad form for me to not support my fellow inmates.

    As to the game proper, I’m playing completely solo, a Ranger/Fighter/Rogue custom build designed for soloability and experimentation. I’m no min/maxer, but neither did I want to stick to the Path. I’m too nonconformist for that, despite the very real potential to gimp myself. With freedom comes the ability to fail, eh?

    So far (late level 3), I’m doing just fine for Normal and most Hard content, and loving it. I purchased Stranglethorn Vale, and am looking forward to tooling around in the jungle. Between that and the steampunky main city, I’ll be plenty sated for adventure for a good chunk of the forseeable future.

    Bottom line, it’s just fun to play. Loot is just a means to an end. DDO is fun to *play*, which is all I’m really looking for.

  6. I really like DDO. I played for about a year when it first came out. But I never found enough time to feel like it was justified spending the money.

    Now, with it free, I love just jumping in and doing whatever. I’m even more enthused than ever to spend money to buy some store credits to just play around some more. I guess I like the lack you must pay every month whether you play or not. The way it is now, if I’m in the middle of a dungeon and I gotta run and take care of something at home? No problem. Just quit and come back to it later. I don’t feel guilty or stressed about what will happen to my characters.

  7. Leaving DDO aside, you really hit the nail with the online/offline comment. Dragon Age was my most recent attempt to play offline and it really hasn’t worked. Indeed, I haven’t really been able to engage with an offline game since I first played EQ all those years ago.

    Somehow just knowing you’re in the same gamespace as other people makes the whole experience more “real”. I compare it to how much more enjoyable it is to read a book at a cafe table or in a pub than on your own at home. The internal and external worlds feed off each other, and online the process becomes even more complex.

  8. Actually, i’d like to point out that if you look on the forums for DDO that people have come up with ways to grind Turbine Points for free. You get about 25 points per 100 favor, and it doesn’t matter what character it’s on, so people have come up with which quests to go for the fastest to get best favor runs. Some have even figured out how much it would take to buy all packs (which when bought apply to your whole account for good) and other items. So it can be totally free, if you don’t mind grinding or spending more time just to get it that way. Me, i prefer to spend money on something i enjoy, and want to show my support to them for what they are doing, but i don’t hold it against those who feel the other way.

  9. You summed up my thoughts exactly on DDO and having a “gaming library” as you put it.

    My current gaming library includes Lotro (Founder/lifetime member) and DDO (been playing again since it went free to play).

    I think I finally reached burnout on Lotro in the last few months. In fact, since SoM was released, I’ve played it more out of obligation to keep up with my friends than because I was truly excited to play. Instead, in the back of my mind the whole time is, “I really want to be running a dungeon or two in DDO!”

    It really is a brilliant and polished game that lends itself to jumping into and out of in spurts. But, at the same time, what else I like about it and I’m sure frustrates others is that it has many layers of complexity. You can enjoy it without peeling back any of those layers but it’s the digging through the layers that really makes it such a great game to me.

    Despite what some posters have implied, the combat is not the same ol’, same ol’ as you get higher. The game tempts you to learn better tactics and use all the skills in your classes’ arsenal to continue to be successful. This is what I love. Most games get to the point where you learn a skill rotation and, barring a few tweaks here or there, you stick to this rotation all the way to top level. If you don’t, observe, learn and adapt, then yes DDO can become quite difficult, especially solo. But trust me, it was way more difficult in all facets back when I first played when it launched in 2006. Now, it is well balanced and provides many methods and avenues to get enjoyment out of playing it.

    As for the “gaming” library”, I’m planning on adding STO to it to add that scifi spice that’s been missing since Tabula Rasa closed down. Variety is a good thing!

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