DDO Unlimited will offer free play with no time limits, level caps, subscriptions or credit card information required. Like other free-to-play MMOGs, players can simply create an account, log in and begin playing, but in DDO Unlimited gamers will get an extra bonus: Points that can be earned through adventuring and then spent in the "DDO Store," where players can buy customization items, premium adventure packs, convenience items and more.
Players who want unlimited access to all Dungeons & Dragons Online content will still be able to purchase subscriptions, which will include a monthly allowance of Turbine points, priority access to servers, the full range of classes and races, additional character slots and more. The DDO VIP subscription will cost $14.99 per month.
"You are absolutely under no obligation to purchase anything from the DDO Store in order to play and progress in the game," the DDO Unlimited FAQ says. "While the store offers items of convenience, content, and character customization, there is no substitute for the glory and rewards that await you in the dungeons of DDO Unlimited."
There will be some content restrictions for free players, who will have to pay for access to the Monk class and Warforged and Drow races, and will be limited to the "Stormreach and vicinity" areas in the game. Free players will be given two character slots and use the standard login queue, and will also be subject to limitations on chat, auctions, mail and gold storage.
I've always been more of an Abeir-Toril man myself and I was disappointed when I read that Turbine was using a new realm for D&D Online, but I'm more than happy to take a stroll through Eberron if someone else is footing the bill. The DDO Unlimited beta began today and the game is scheduled to open to the public this summer. For more information, go to DDO.com.
UPDATE: Codemasters, which operates Dungeons & Dragons Online in Europe, has clarified that the free-to-play model will only be available in North America. "For the time being, DDO Europe will not be assuming this new business model and the European DDO game service will remain a monthly subscription-based game with all new content created available to all subscribers, as has been the model up until now," Codemasters said in a statement.
"As the beta progresses we will release more information regarding the future plans for EU players," the company said.