As the granddaddy of all things RPG, Dungeons and Dragons, or D&D as it is lovingly referred to by fans around the world, has given us another world to adventure in and build new relationships.
Dungeons & Dragons Online: Stormreach was developed by Turbine and launched in February of 2006 as a Pay to Play MMO the game launched with limited success. As the MMO landscape was quickly changing and new MMORPGs were being released, almost daily, DDO quickly saw it’s member base dwindling. On the verge of being shut down, Turbine made a gut call and DDO changed it’s model to Free to Play in September of 2009. A move that paid off. With a new name Dungeons & Dragons Online: Eberron Unlimited and now a Free To Play MMO, DDO saw it’s player base grow quickly. Since its initial launch DDO has seen the level cap increase to 20, and over 14 content updates that range from newbie areas to end game raids. The June 8th update even include a memorial to Gary Gygax. With a high number of active players and a great tool for finding players to adventure with, DDO does not leave one searching long for adventuring parties. Download size is about 1.7 GB and the game is based upon the Dungeons & Dragons v3.5 rules
Creating Your Toon
Once on the character creation screen a user will have many choices. The games character creation walks the user through a series of steps. First one must select if they wish to be Melee, a Spell Caster, or a Specialist. Melee has 3 free options (Fighter, Barbarian, Paladin) and 1 paid option (Monk). Spell Casters also have 3 free options (Sorcerer, Cleric, Wizard) and 1 paid (Favored Soul). The Specialist at this time has 3 free options (Ranger, Rogue, Bard). The next step is to select a path which will adjust your statistics based on the path and also give certain feats that accompany each path. One can also customize their own path to suit their own personal style. From here one will select their race. With 8 total races (4 free and 4 paid option) there is a ton of variety. Each one providing more stats adjustments and racial feats. Finally, the characters look can be chosen, with 100s of options to choose from, the character customization is second to none. For those who do not with to spend their time tinkering with every detail, there is a randomize option that can be utilized.
On to the Adventures
Once your have finished adding that Mohawk and turning your hair lavender. The game starts quick. You are thrust into the tutorial of the game that will walk you through all the basics. I must say Turbine has done an excellent job with the graphics, and with the initial release of the game being a pay to play, there was some cash put into the initial development, graphics and interface. Expect to be immersed immediately, the graphics will pull you in, even if not set to the highest settings. Now that the ohhhs and ahhhs have past, one will find themselves on a beach and presented with the option of taking the tutorial. I must say, the tutorial is done well and for players that are new to the game or to the genre it does an excellent job of giving a player all the basics needed to move around and interact with the world. One nice feature for those that choose to skip the tutorial is that they are not shut out from the rewards of the tutorial. So, if a player is moving on to their second toon or has an understanding of MMO’s in general and chooses to skip the tutorial, they are immediately presented with the reward options that would normally come with the completion of the tutorial.
After completion of the tutorial, or choosing to bypass the tutorial, your character is thrust right into the village of Korthos. It is very easy to find quest givers and jump right into game play. The majority of the game is mission based and each mission will take you to an instance type map. Not to say there there are no open areas to just grind, but they are not the main focus of the game. With each mission will send a player to a specific area to complete a set of tasks. Once there and the choice is made to enter the instance, difficulty options are presented to the player, 5 options to be precise (Casual, Normal, Hard, Elite, Epic.) A solo player can most times get through the first 2 or 3, but the more difficult the setting the more monsters and dangers, but also the greater the rewards. Looking for a couple extra players who are on the same quest can really pay off in experience and gear upgrades. Additionally, finding these groups in some games can sometimes be a chore, but with DDO one of the great features of the game comes in the party system. When you start out there are a few questing options available to your character. Most solo characters can get through the first few options pretty easy, but if you want the big rewards, then there are bigger dangers. For this you will want to find friends to help.
Free to Play over Pay to Play
Should I pay? This all depends on the individual player. The majority of the content is available to free players. There are limitations to the number of characters you can have and also to the type of characters you can create and races you can use. Some of the class and race options are pretty cool. There are still some content limitations, and gameplay limitations, but many of these can be unlocked through the cash shop. The cash shop is loaded with options, everything from hirelings to potions to skipping the first 3 levels of gameplay, and even an items to speed experience gain. With so many options if DDO is your game of choice, then spending a little cash in the shop will probably happen, if for nothing else, but the few convenience items that make in-game life that much easier. For those who wish to skip the cash shop altogether DDO also offers a VIP account at 14.95$ per month, VIP’s have access to all content and all gameplay features.