Dungeons and Dragons Online: A Second Look at DDO

Dungeons and Dragons Online started the hybrid F2P revolution and has since added tons of new content and features. Jeffprime ventures into the world of Eberron to give DDO a second look.

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We’ve been taking a second look at many games recently here
at Ten Ton Hammer. Most of those second looks were undertaken to see
how the games had changed and if they were worth going back to once
they made the decision to go free-to-play ( href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/co/features/editorials/a-second-look">Champions
of Conan
Now it’s time to look at the game that started the revolution
of the hybrid F2P/paid subscription model sweeping the industry: href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/ddo">Dungeons
and Dragons

Let’s begin with a little bit of background information.
I’ve been a lifelong gamer, playing everything from video
games to board games. However, one of my favorite style of games is
pen-and-paper role-playing games. I started playing Dungeons
and Dragons

way back in 1981 (when it was known as Advanced
Dungeons and
!) and have since
continued playing to the present day. When Dungeons
and Dragons
was announced, I was
therefore eager with anticipation over finally playing online in the
game world that I had spent so much time adventuring within my
imagination. While I was initially disappointed that the game setting
wasn’t Forgotten Realms (or Greyhawk), but rather Eberron, I
eventually came around and embraced the setting.

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The latest class for DDO: the

I thought that Turbine did a good job of capturing the feel of
the pen-and-paper game, and had made good choices in tweaking the
mechanics for online gaming. My gaming group spent many hours
adventuring in Eberron, but we eventually drifted away to other games
over time. When the new model was introduced, I decided to return to DDO
to see what changes and additions had been made to the game.

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biggest difference in Dungeons
and Dragons Online

is how you choose to play the game. Turbine introduced a hybrid
subscription model that ranged from free to the paid monthly
subscription that we’re all familiar with. There are three
levels of subscription in DDO:
free, premium, and VIP. Free players have two character slots, limited
gold capacity, and limits on chat, auction house posting, forum
posting, and in-game mail. In addition, there are many adventures in DDO
that are unavailable for free players as well as some character races
and classes. If a player wishes to get access to these classes, races,
and aventures, then they must purchase them from the DDO

Premium players are players who have purchased Turbine Points, the
currency you use to buy things from the DDO
Store. They do not have limits on forum posting, auction house listing,
or gold capacity. They also receive a total of four character slots.
Like free players, if they want access to certain races, classes, and
adventures, then they need to purchase them from the cash shop.

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It burns!

members are those who pay a monthly subscription fee to play the
game. They get a total of ten character slots and full access to
adventures, races, and classes. The exceptions are favor based races
(Drow) and classes (Favored Soul and Artificer). (Currently, the
Artificer class in only available through purchase, but Turbine has
stated that, in the upcoming Update 12, players will be able to gain
Artificers through favor.) VIP players also get 500 points per month to
spend in the cash shop.

Does this mean that a player can play the entire game for free? The
answer to that is no. You will eventually want to spend some money to
buy various adventure packs, which are groups of themed adventures
bundled together. You can gain free points to spend in the cash shop by
gaining favor, but you’ll have to grind like a madman for a
very long time to get enough points to buy more than a few adventure
packs. This talk of buying leads us to….

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and Dragons Online

going to their hybrid model, microtransactions came to the game in the
form of their cash shop. The store contains many items for sale,
including experience boosts, vanity items, tomes to enhance stats,
hirelings, adventure packs, gear, and more. The prices are, overall,
pretty reasonable, and there is always a sale of some kind going on.
The best feature of microtransactions in DDO
is that when you purchase a class, race, or adventure pack, it unlocks
for your entire account on the server you are on. If you wish to level
a bard after playing a rogue to end-game, you’ll have access
to all the adventure packs that you’ve purchased. This is a
welcome change from the cash shops found in Eastern games, where items
are bought only for a limited time or for a single character.

Content and Gameplay

is key to online games, and Dungeons
and Dragons Online

has been steadily adding new
content since their change. Turbine has added new races (Half-Elf,
Half-Orc), new classes (Favored Soul, Artificer - start making those
new builds!),
new areas (Lordsmarch
Plaza, House Cannith), and new adventures. So far in 2011, Turbine has
released three updates, with href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/ddo/gamescom/2011/update-11-preview">Update

being the most recent. A fourth
update, Update
, is expected towards the
end of the year.

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Half-Elves are hot...

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...while Half-Orcs are

has also added an Epic setting for their adventures. Now
level-capped players can go back and play earlier adventures, but with
a difficulty that will suit their demi-god status.

Gameplay hasn’t changed much, except for the addition of
hirelings, guild housing and rewards, and crafting. The
meat-and-potatoes of the game is still adventuring in instanced quests
and wilderness areas. I absolutely love the fact that you can get a
quest, spend 30 seconds walking to the entrance point, and then going
into your adventure. I hate with the fury of a million suns having to
spend a lot of wasted time running to where I need to go to do a quest.
I still get nightmares of Stranglethorn Vale in World
of Warcraft

spending 15 minutes flying on a griffon to get to another zone.

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are an awesome addition to DDO.
These adventurers-for-hire
are used to fill out a group if needed and will accompany you on your
quests. You can purchase them from the cash shop or purchase them from
in-game vendors. The difference between purchase types is that you can
only have one hireling active from an in-game vendor and you must
summon them from the entrance of the quest. If you purchase the
hirelings from the cash shop, you can have as many as you wish and can
summon them anywhere within a dungeon.

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Buying a hireling.

like hirelings as they fulfill a basic need. If a friend and I only
have an hour to play for the night, we don’t have to waste
time trying to get a group together. We can grab some hirelings and hit
the dungeon right away. While hirelings are useful, they do not fully
replace having a player take that party slot.

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brought crafting to DDO.
Before this introduction, there was
only the very limited crafting of perhaps adding a small bonus to an
item by using a Stone of Change. With the new crafting system, players
can create their own items. The crafting method in DDO
is that you can
strip essences off a magic item in the crafting hall. You then create
shards of differing magical effects from the different essences.
Lastly, you combine the shards with a blank item (say a sword, ring, or
piece of armor) to create your new item. There are three schools of
crafting and players can learn all three.

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Doing some crafting.

interesting feature of the system is that you don’t learn
recipes like you do normally in other MMOGs. Here, you can see all the
choices available to you, but each recipe has a level associated with
it. You can try to create an item using a recipe higher in level than
your crafting level, but your chances decrease as the level gap widens.

The crafting system is decent, but a trifle cumbersome. The best
feature is that it allows players some flexibility in creating magical

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and Dragons Online

has added quite a bit to the game since
going to their hybrid free-to-play model. Is the game worth going back
to? My answer is definitely yes. Even if you only want to play for
free, you can play for quite some time without spending a dime. I would
recommend buying adventure packs as most of the really good adventures,
especially higher level, are not free-to-play. If you keep a sharp eye
out for promotions and sales, you can easily stretch your gaming dollar.

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Traps in a MMOG? Madness!

are still some weaknesses in Dungeons
and Dragons Online
First, PvP still blows.
It’s essentially dueling and team skirmishing at the present
time. There are also no rewards for playing PvP; it’s just
fluff. While I normally don’t do much PvP, I
wouldn’t mind seeing some improvements by having different
scenarios and perhaps vanity items or such given out as rewards. There
also needs to be more end-game content for players. Update

has added
some much needed end-game content (as will Update
but end-game
players could definitely use more.

Overall, DDO
has become a
stronger game since it changed to the hybrid
F2P. There have been additions to gameplay and lots of new content, and
Turbine has done a good job of pumping out new updates on a regular
basis. I can’t recommend the game enough. How can you not
love a game where a rogue gets regular party invites because
they’re actually useful? Only in DDO,
my friends. Grab some
friends and do some dungeon crawling, but keep an eye out for traps!

To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our Dungeons & Dragons Online: Eberron Unlimited Game Page.

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