Monday, July 9, 2007

Dungeons & Dragons Online - Revisited

Maybe "revisited" isn't the right word to use since my first visit was so short. I tried DDO during beta. Looking back, I believe I went into it with my preconceived MMO notions on how things should be. I remember thinking it was just a city with doors and nowhere else to go. To some extent that is still true but I've got a different take on that now. More on that later.

For those playing LOTRO, the character creation might look somewhat familiar. While I can't speak for the males, several of the female hairstyles are identical to LOTRO. The faces I believe are prettier in DDO. So I was happy enough with the few models I chose for various characters.

I rolled a paladin and initially I went with the stat and skill choices that Turbine suggested. I got to level 2 and was feeling somewhat gimpy so did a bit of reading on the forums and rerolled and am currently level 4 (there are 14 levels). While in other MMO's your starting stat choices are somewhat forgiving and can be made up for later, from what I can tell so far in DDO, one or two points here and there make a huge difference.

I had no prior knowledge of DDO whatsoever, so seeing terminology such as saves and throws was a bit confusing at first. I look at a piece of armor and aside from the AC number, really have very little idea of what it all means. But with a little bit of studying up, I'm beginning to get a better handle on things. However, I imagine this can be intimidating for many new players. While I like researching things, many (including my husband) do not and would rather be able to dive right in.

Once nice feature of DDO that you don't often see in MMO's is multiclassing. From what I gather, many of the classes gain little benefit from sticking purely with that class, so it is very common to pick up skills from other classes. While my paladin so far has remained "pure", my husband's rogue has picked up one level of paladin to gain one specific skill, and it has already made a noticeable difference to his damage output.

Back to what I said earlier about my changing perspective. When I decided to give DDO another go, I came in with the mindset of looking for the fun rather than picking it apart. I love a good dungeon. In most games I would spend a good chunk of time running across the open plains to get to a dungeon. While seeing the vistas on the way is nice at first, eventually it's just in the way. This was especially apparent in LOTRO. Some days I felt like half my play time was spent on a rented horse to get somewhere. So putting it in that perspective, the city with doors concept is not such a bad thing. Log in and get to the dungeon right away. That's not to say there are no outdoor zones at all. I just haven't gotten high enough to see them yet.

I liked dungeons in EQ and EQ2, not so much in WoW and really dislike them in LOTRO. But I love them in DDO. There are traps and hidden treasures to keep a rogue busy. Mobs aren't overwhelming, so it can be done with a small group. Also, mobs don't just stand there. They hop around trying to dodge you and trip you (a good reason to work up balance skill). And sometimes you need to use different weapons for different types of mobs. And of course there are treasures to be found. And every party member who clicks on the chest gets a few things reserved just for them.

Now for a couple things I don't like. I've come to the conclusion that Turbine has a love for adding nuisance mobs to their games to annoy the heck out of their players. In LOTRO it was those flies that follow you everywhere and debuff you, as well as the several variety of mobs that submerge under ground in the middle of a fight, regenerating health while you stand there waiting for them to pop up again. In DDO it's oozes. They spot you stealthed even though they are at the other end of the hallway, and you must not use swords on them or they will split in two. But their worst offense is they destroy your weapons. After one fight, my weapon was reduced to 8 durability. So you must carry several weapons on you. This results in high repair bills and permanent durability reduction to your weapon. I've gotten in the habit of buying 1 copper clubs off the vendor, switching to that weapon when the oozes attack, and then destroying the club when durability runs out. The fight lasts a little longer with the crappy weapon but saves lots of money and aggravation.

The other is the perceived lack of community. Most of the current players have been at it for awhile and have not been very welcoming to slightly clueless, poorly geared new players. The general chat channel is silent. There are no friendly waves or hugs being passed around. So we have not grouped with anyone else as of yet. Duoing is possible but difficult and I'm always thinking how much more fun the dungeons would be with a nice group of people along.

One of the tooltips that popped up mentioned that you can enter several instanced versions of the city if the population warrants it. Not sure if the population was ever high enough for more than one instance but that is not the case currently. It had me wondering why they didn't take the Guild Wars approach of having just one server. Since they are already set up for multiple instances, just seems there might be a little more life to the game done this way.

So, in summary I think if you can find a good guild or have an existing group of friends you play with, DDO can be a heck of a lot of fun. We've been spending more hours gaming than we have in a long time, so obviously we're enjoying it. If you're on your own and want to go solo, it can be done but it will be a struggle and not sure how enjoyable that would ultimately be.

I'm still subscribed to LOTRO, although I haven't played in two weeks and my DDO trial runs out in a few days. At this point, I still don't know what I'm going to do. Likely I will still hold on to my LOTRO subscription for awhle in hopes of I don't know what, and might still pick up DDO as long as we continue to have fun with it.


Cameron said...

You need to get yourself a Muckbane for those oozes. I believe it's a drop from the chest of a rare spawn in the Durg's Got A Secret quest in the harbor, and it's a +1 Club with Ooze Bane (1d6 extra damage to Oozes). It's quite handy. I got one the other night and love it.

I've actually found the community to be surprisingly helpful and welcoming. You just don't see it because everyone talks in voice chat, so there's no general chat.

I've gotten lots of tips on game mechanics, strategies, where do get cool items, and even unsolicited gifts from people (since money is obscenely common at high levels) just by getting into pick-up groups using the LFM utility and chatting with the members.

Glad to see you're having fun. My trial is up and I'm buying it tonight! If you see Khorm the Ranger on, send me a tell and say hi! :)

Bildo said...

Sounds like a lot of fun. I remember it fondly back when I tried it. It was nothing if not different.

Hope it helps tide you over until the new stuff comes out!

Aspendawn said...

I redid Durg's quest and did get that Muckbane. Still hate oozes though! Will keep an eye out for Khorm.

Just ordered two copies of the game so plan to continue with it for awhile. The new stuff seems so far off so I might need to pick up a new hobby between now and then. :)

Rattleshirt said...

Hubby and I played with a few RL friends and enjoyed the game for the most part.
After a while, some of the more glaring flaws grated on us, but I think lack of content was what got us to quit (that was pretty early on, there have been content patches since we left). Turbine devs expected players to take weeks on clearing dungeons that in truth took hours only hours.

There was also a lack of class diversity -
Everyone was a Cleric hybrid of some kind - otherwise, healing was pretty rough.

Never-ending Slimes really got on our nerves too.

The instanced dungeons and cities were a nice concept to help with server loads and keeping down lag. At release, there were often 4 to 6 versions of the starter city - making coordinating with friends a little interesting if you weren't already grouped.

I've always thought fondly of Turbine - our group always says that if they upgraded Asheron's Call 1 graphics to AC2, we'd go back in a heartbeat.

I kick around the idea of restarting my DDO account now and then, but haven't yet.

Aspendawn said...

I wish I had played Asheron's Call in it's hey day. I tried it a couple months ago for just a few days but was feeling quite lost and clueless.

I've heard a lot of people say they would love to go back if they had upgraded graphics. I was ok with the landscape graphics but boy the player character models sure could use some help.

Heather said...

I tried the DDO trial but gave up on it pretty quickly (this was recently). It was a fun game, but it wasn't worth spending money on for me. I think in trying to create an archetypal D&D "feel" they instead created a stereotypical one. If dungeons are your great love I can see why that would be a real draw. I've found I actually really prefer outdoor play for some reason, so LotRO is perfect for me.