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It's important that I get one fact out in the open right off the bat. I'm not
a Dungeons and Dragons player. I never, ever, even once rolled a die in a
basement somewhere hoping that my pretend sword could hit a pretend monster. Pen
and paper games were never my cup of tea and they remain a pastime that I take
absolutely no part in. It was with this somewhat jaded preconception of Dungeons
and Dragons Online: Stormreach that I stepped into the Turbine booth and into
the personal space of Jonathan Hanna.

Jonathan promptly introduced me to Judith Hoffman, the executive producer on
DDO and as I awaited the onslaught of memorized press quotes and marketing
schmooze I found that my preconceptions were flat out wrong. Judith is
incredibly excited about her game and her answers to our questions were
straight-forward and delivered with such enthusiasm that it infected everyone
around her. There were times standing in the crowded Turbine booth, Fanboys and
other press clamouring for a look at the game over our shoulders that we must
have looked like nitwits with huge smiles on our faces as one of us recounted an
experience in another game that DDO had just made better.

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The game is D&D through and through with the following Eberron races
available; Human, Elf, Halfling (mmm pie), Dwarf or Warforged. Class choices
include; Barbarian, Bard, Cleric, Fighter, Paladin, Ranger, Rogue, Sorcerer and
Wizard. Multi-classing will be available at release.

DDO: Stormreach doesn't fall into the normal MMORPG grind.
In fact, I hesitate to even call it a MMORPG. The D&D background dictates
that groups are the preferred method of adventuring and that multiple groups
simply isn't an option. Players can meet up in taverns, form their groups and go
questing, just like in the pen and paper game. There are many throw-backs to the
pen and paper game that should give old school players the warm fuzzies.

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What made me a believer in this title was the combat. First, there is no
experience for killing monsters. Experience is gained by completing the quests
or missions. Being a smart player will help you more than being a "grab and
dash" player. Your mana and health pools don't regenerate. Managing your power
and resources is of utmost importance. Using your high cost spells on those
early monsters might look cool, but you won't have anything left in the tank for
the bosses at the end of the mission. Perhaps you are smart enough to figure out
a way to have the environment kill the monsters for you? Luring a baddie into a
trap is every bit as effective as drilling a magic missile into his belly, and
better yet, it doesn't use up any of your limited mana. Perhaps you prefer to
use a sword and shield to dismember monsters up close and personal? If so, you
are in for a treat. I watched as a giant reared back to take a swing at a player
only to see the player simply step back out of the way avoiding the devastating
blow. On the next swing the player raised his shield to block followed by a
quick counter-attack. Awesome!

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Travel, the bane of many massively multiplayer games should appeal to all but
the most staunch explorer. There is exploratory travel where players are dropped
into an area and part of the mission is to find the entrance to an dungeon,
etc., but the long travel times found in many MMOs won't be found in Dungeons
and Dragons Online: Stormreach.

Segway to areas, all quest zones will be instanced, which means that you and
your party have the place to yourselves. As you explore you will see text appear
across the screen as if a dungeon master were whispering to you in the pen and
paper game. Judith informed us that "Danger Zones" or areas that will allow many
players, not just the ones in your group to co-exist will also be available.

Dying will incur an experience debt, but this debt will be erased when the
player leaves the current quest.

DDO: Stormreach will use a familiar Dungeons & Dragons
ruleset painted with a Turbine Palette.

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When asked where the game would sit on the scale of interest for casual to
hardcore players, Judith said, "It's skewed more to the hardcore", but my
impression was that with a quest system for experience, rather than grinding out
kills it would appeal to the casual gamer as well. The learning curve is steeper
than some other games in the genre, but the strategic combat is going to appeal
to a lot of currently disgruntled gamers.

DDO has made me a believer. I'm excited to play this title when it launches
and I couldn't have said that prior to E3. If you enjoyed D&D, strategic
gameplay or even just MMOs in general you should give Dungeons and Dragons
Online: Stormreach a look.

- John "Boomjack" Hoskin

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

Last Updated: Mar 13, 2016

About The Author

Karen 1
Karen is H.D.i.C. (Head Druid in Charge) at EQHammer. She likes chocolate chip pancakes, warm hugs, gaming so late that it's early, and rooting things and covering them with bees. Don't read her Ten Ton Hammer column every Tuesday. Or the EQHammer one every Thursday, either.