Found a quick bullet review I did for Dungeons and Dragons Online

I posted this back in Feb on my guild’s forums… found it while I was looking for what I wrote about WoW and lack of moral choices a la single player RPGs… thought this DDO beta review might be interesting too. Yes, beta… but I did play the final release, too, and getting to the next district and level 6 didn’t really change my mind:

Let me start by saying what I didn’t like:

1. Repetitive locations. It makes sense in that it all takes place in a city, but all the warehouse/sewer quests get kinda repetitive, scenery-wise. Admittedly, we mostly just had experience with the starting location, the Harbor, and only got to level 3.

2. No RP. None in the existing player base, though this might change if they set up specific servers to be RP servers, and once all the cheap-ass 14 year olds get filtered out since they would have to pay for the game. Instead, everyone was running around doing their own thing. A couple of times people invited me cold. I kinda like talking to people before partying with them… Now I know I’m not myself a huge RP player, but can’t we have a little civility or just a simple “Hi?”

3. No outside events. There is a gorgeous city. It is big and nicely detailed. Yet, all there is to do is run around to the various class trainers, taverns, and instance locations. Look at WoW in comparison, you can watch various NPCs interacting with each other, you can stumble upon a monster while running TO your quest area, etc. DDO seems like a very 2D world that is purely set up as a stage for your heroes. Once you leave the stage, the NPCs and monsters do nothing…

4. No incentive to explore or do other things besides instanced quests. Sometimes I want to just see stuff and explore. One of the great design decisions of WoW I think is that you have to run around to get herbs, ore, etc. and to fill in your map. There is no incentive in DDO to explore the cityscape. You can swim in the harbor, for example, but why bother? In WoW, I can swim near Ratchet and actually find monsters to fight and clams and crates to loot.

5. No PvP. This by itself is not a bad thing, as I don’t do much PvP in WoW anyway, but the fact that there are no world events in DDO makes me wish there was SOMETHING to do outside.

6. No solo content. It is very difficult to do quests on your own unless it is a quest that is lower level than you. This wouldn’t be so bad, except that all the ones lower level than you are ones you’ve done to get to the level you’re at. You can repeat quests on harder difficulty levels (there are 3) but I find that rather tedious. I want to see NEW stuff!

And now what I like:

1. Traps. They actually fit into the environment well and they actually make sense and they actually have a good visual representation rather than some abstract concept of traps… It was great hearing Detton yell out “Trap!” every once in a while and then waiting for him to find and disarm it. It added a lot to the feeling of you-gotta-stay-on-your-toes.

2. Dungeon atmosphere. In addition to the traps, the newness of it and the fact that lots of times monsters appear out of nowhere because you failed your spot check makes it a lot of fun getting immersed into the dungeon delving experience. Also, despite the repetitive use of map objects, no two quests felt the same.

3. Party dynamics. Different character classes have different experiences. A rogue might see those monsters. I didn’t (Cleric/Paladin). Each class has a unique role to play in the party which is great.

4. It’s hardcore. At one point, Thannin (Gryph and Dett’s cousin) and I were victims of the Blind spell. My god, ironically it was figuratively an eye-opener. Our screens were blacked out. The spell in DnD doesn’t go away until removed by the counterspell or healed by a potion or scroll. In other words, we were pretty much useless for the rest of the quest which I thought was amazingly harsh yet totally cool.

5. Combat. It is fun! It feels much more visceral than WoW since you have to move around to hit the monster if it is moving around. And it will be moving around because you will be moving around trying to dodge its blows. And NPCs and monsters actually have collision detection and a bounding box! No more running THROUGH a monster then turning around to get to its backside.

So, overall… I would not play this game by myself because of lack of solo content. I probably would not get it in the hopes of meeting people in the game who I find cool enough to party with because I just don’t relish the idea of wading through the impolite players to get to the good ones. In other words, I would only get this game if enough of you all got the game. If that were the case, the hours spent playing this game will be a lot less than the hours spent with WoW because I’d only play when others were playing and when I don’t have WoW commitments. AFAIK that leaves what?…like maybe Saturday?

I would be willing to buy it and play it for a month and then not subscribing. In that month, I’d be willing to try to get as much out of it as possible. I’m more interested in doing quests I’ve never done, so grinding the difficulty levels of the quests doesn’t really appeal to me. I’d rather do as many of them at the lowest diff level as possible.

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