Review by mastodonian05
"A Very Different MMO"
Dungeons & Dragons Online (DDO) was launched with certain ideals in mind, including very little focus on solo play, very little focus on PVP, very little focus on grinding, and smaller server populations to promote community. Now, right there you'll see virtual opposites of almost every other MMO on the market today, and that's why the people who love DDO continue to praise it as the best of the best. That's not to say that Turbine hasn't adjusted some of those things in order to appeal to the mainstream MMO crowd, as they have. There is solo content now, there is minimal grinding for special rewards, there is limited PVP, and they recently merged servers to make grouping easier. They still, however, provide the most unique MMO experience available today.
You'll notice this the minute you begin looking at character creation. There are currently 6 races (with 2 more on the way) and 9 classes (with 2 more on the way), which may not sound like much, however because of multiclassing there are an incredible amount of combinations that are all viable characters, and all very different from each other. The stats, feats, skills system also allows for a great deal of customization that allows players to create outside the box of traditional MMO character roles. Your cleric doesn't have to be a "healbot", for example, and can be a warrior cleric using destructive and powerful magic and be a front line warrior instead. Rangers are often seen charging to the front of a fight with a weapon in each hand, slashing and stabbing instead of hanging in the back firing off arrows. Which brings us to the combat system, and what a combat system it is. The active combat of DDO is unmatched by any MMO out today, bar none. This isn't "click on bad guy and wait for your PC to do his stuff", this is heavily twitch oriented and takes into consideration flanking, surprise, etc. each time you swing. The combat feels more like an FPS than an MMO, taking considerable skill and practice.
DDO's content was a point of contention at launch, however with almost every month a new release since then (some large, some small, but all with new content) they have certainly bridged the gap. A player starting today would have literally hundreds of quests, adventure areas to explore, and even 5 raids to conquer. Notice too, the quests in DDO are not like many quests in other MMO's, they are considerably more immersive than "go here, kill this guy, and bring me his stick". Each takes place in an instanced environment, meaning no one can "camp spawns" or "ninja loot" you. It is you, and your party, and that's it going into each quest. Quests range from some that should take you 15-20 minutes to quests that could take you up to 3 hours your first couple of times attempting them. Grouping is still highly encouraged, and the way experience points and levelling is set up you gain no real benefit from solo'ing, as you get the exact same experience as part of a 6 man group as you would by yourself. One of the best aspects of grouping is the integrated voice chat, allowing everyone in the game with a mic to suddenly find themselves in a private party voice chat with the members of your adventuring group.
If you're looking for another WoW type experience, this is definitely not it. If, however, you're looking for a game that offers a completely different experience, DDO is certainly worth the trial time. In the near future, additions like Guild Housing and Crafting will continue to present a more complete experience and cater to the different players' and their preferences as well.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 08/22/07
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