It’s been a few months since we took a peek at DDO and in that time, based on community feedback and the server merges Turbine are doing, we’ve decided it was time for a second look at Dungeons and Dragons Online. JR Sutich re-reviews the game in this new article.


WarCry Review: Dungeons and Dragons Online
Developed by Turbine / Published by Atari
Article by JR Sutich

imageIt’s been two months since I last wrote about Dungeons and Dragons Online, so I think I’m about due for an update. Since I began playing, I’ve gained three levels, joined a guild, and discovered that being a broke newbie is no fun at all.

As I’m writing this, the servers are being merged from a total of fourteen into five servers that will be left after August 6th. I don’t see this as a sign that DDO is in trouble, I see it as the same number of people that were playing 4 or 5 months ago are still playing. They are just spread out on fourteen servers. I think that consolidating the players will make finding groups much easier and make the game more enjoyable for everyone who logs in.

After I wrote the first review, it became apparent that I had missed some of the obvious features and qualities of the game. These omissions were pointed out in forum posts not only here at WarCry, but on the official DDO forums as well. I looked over the information and advice that was presented and found that a great deal of it made a large impact on the way I played the game.

imageFirst off, I stopped using Auto-Attack. I can see where taking a more active role in fighting improves results and makes it more interesting. The next step to making the game more fun was joining a guild. Having others online who are willing to do quests or answer questions made a lot of the difference. Getting run one time through Waterworks on Elite got me Level 3 and I had easy access to The Marketplace.

I had gotten to Level 4 when I noticed something interesting. That total Favor (not Faction, Favor) number that I had been obsessing over wasn’t as big a problem as I had believed. Sure, I still think that the whole idea of making Drow and 32-point builds unlockables is a poor one, but I had managed to get 270 out of 400 necessary for the extra race without much trouble at all. I hadn’t even completed all of the quests listed for Level 2. The only chain quests I had done were Catacombs and Tangleroot on Normal, and the Waterworks run on Elite. Getting 400 Favor is nothing to worry about. I should have it by the time I hit Level 6 or 7. Now, working on getting 1750 Favor might take a bit more effort, but I no longer see it as a horrible grind. It’s still poor design, but not game breaking.

Quest repetition isn’t as critical as I thought. A player really does only have to do a quest three times, once on each difficulty setting. After that, running it to get loot, or for a couple more times to get a chunk of XP is the only reason to go back inside. I found myself running a few quests quite a bit over and over only to try to make some money.

imageThis is where I discuss the economy and how it appears to be broken. As a new player, I’m broke. Bad. Current Balance: 722pp. Here’s the problem before me: Money means nothing at all in this game. The most worthwhile and desirable objects in the game are not bought or sold for cash. They are traded for. And even if you buy that critical piece of loot, after you get all that you need, you no longer have anything to spend your money on. So established and very wealthy players do what everyone does when you have boatloads of extra MMO cash, they twink the hell out of alts. For a newbie this makes things difficult as all of the low level gear on the Auction House is either priced so ridiculously high as to make it unattainable or priced reasonably enough to bid on but guaranteed to lose during a bidding war with an uber rich player. The game needs money sinks. Starting a new character and decking them out in sparkling gear isn’t a sink, it just keeps the money in play.

I’m continuing to have fun playing Dungeons and Dragons Online and I can’t wait until I get a few more Levels and can run some of the more challenging quests and maybe even take part in a few raids. I should be writing a final part to my adventures in Stormreach around the time I hit Level 10 or 12. Now onto the review type stuff, again.

Graphics
The graphic quality of the game is still great. I did get to see some of the outdoor areas and the landscape was highly detailed. I got my face eaten completely off in Searing Heights and I didn’t see as much as I’d like but Tangleroot Gorge looked great.

imageSound
I mistakenly identified Gary Gygax as the voice of the DM. Turns out he’s not the main voice. It’s not really important since they are both lacking and I shut the DM audio off as soon as I figured out how. However, it should be noted that Turbine needs, and I cannot stress that need enough, needs to make Push-to-Talk the default setting once Voice is enabled. The one thing that makes me loathe grouping with anyone not in my guild is getting to hear random player guy’s respiratory status, marital status, offspring status or homework status updated into my ears every one to three seconds.

Quests
I see now that repeating quests isn’t necessary. If a quest gives good XP, I will do it a couple more times if I need to in order to get my next action point or if I want a specific loot item.

Combat
imageTurning Auto Attack off makes the game more fun, period. I was also able to get Sunder and Trip to work better since so many informed me that they are better used against targets with low Strength, like Casters. As my BAB increased and I was able to get weapons with To Hit modifiers, my misses in combat became almost non-existent.

Economy
Broken. Not sure what to suggest as a fix other than huge money sinks at higher levels, which sounds great since I’m not at the higher levels. Bribing for Favor perhaps? Paying cash to remove XP debt? Right now the game is suffering from an almost Diablo II-like problem where items are now the real currency due to rampant inflation.

Overall
I have been spending 5-10 hours a week in the game at the times I was able. Oddly enough, due to a lot of outside real life reasons, DDO has become the game that I am playing the most. Any game that your girlfriend thinks you play too much must be doing something right.

Pros and Cons

  • Exciting Action-based Combat System
  • Mouth-breathers
  • Again, Graphics look great
  • Economy gone wild


Comments? Let’s hear them.

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