DDOU is unequivocally the best free-to-play game on the market today, and has been awarded
as such. Unlike the scores of free-to-play titles that seem to appear on the gaming scene daily, this game began as a solid AAA MMOG that didn’t quite manage to provide long term mass appeal when it first released in February of 2006. Rather than scrap the project, the team at Turbine made a bold decision in an attempt to turn things around. Their gamble has paid off, and the free-to-play model has drawn in players who might never have given DDO a second glance back when it was an aging pay-to-play game.
The game has three different levels of membership: Free Player, Premium Player, and VIP. Free players are just that – make an account (no credit card needed), download the game and play. Premium Members are those who were previous DDO: Stormreach subscribers or have bought anything in the DDO Store. VIPs are those who currently pay a $15.00 per month subscription fee.
Each level of membership has its own rewards and perks. Free players get to play without ever paying a single penny and can have two character slots. Premium members get an extra two character slots (total of four), can read and post on the official forums, and have access to Turbine customer service. The VIP program not only grants you access to everything in the game (classes, races, adventure packs), ten character slots, top tier customer service, and a shared bank slot, but it also grants you 500 Turbine Points each month to spend in the DDO Store however you see fit. To see a comparison list of all three membership programs, click here
I don't care how you break it down; the value of DDOU is immense.
Lasting Appeal87Very Good
This is a tricky category to score. I could ask a hundred people this question and the ensuing results would look like a Family Feud game board. Survey says? If you’re a player who enjoys grouping, this game’s appeal will last a very long time. And with Turbine adding new content regularly, there’s no telling how long you’ll be enjoying yourself. I've said since DDO first launched that if you had a group of players who got together to play regularly, this would be the perfect MMOG. The game's transition to a new payment model hasn't changed that belief. If you tend to do a lot of soloing in your gaming life, then the appeal of DDOU will wear off sooner rather than later. Even with hirelings, there's only so much of the content you can complete by yourself without getting bored.
Pros and Cons
The biggest pro for DDOU is the price. By far, this is the best free-to-play game on the market today, so if you're one of those who are happy with the free content (and there is a *ton* of it), there's no bigger pro I can give you. The game has plenty of quest/adventure variation. The addition of a virtual Dungeon Master to your gaming session makes your adventures feel more personal. Integrated voice chat is the final touch that brings everything together.
The items available in the DDO Store are nothing to sneeze at either. Build characters with 32 points in starting attributes (compared to the standard 28), buy tomes to increase all your attributes by +1 or +2 (level restrictions do apply), and even more, including new classes
and races. Healing potions in particular are invaluable and purchased a lot at higher levels. Along this line, there are few puzzles which can't be solved with the use of potions from the store. In case you didn't bring a player or hireling with high strength, for example, often you need only buy a strength potion on the fly from the DDO store to be able to turn that stubborn valve.
The cons of the game are pretty simple to pick out. Those not comfortable with the combat scheme may have some initial issues. Those players can either work to become comfortable with the system, leave the game altogether, or find another class to play that fits their style better. Since the game is virtually all instanced except for towns, if you're not playing with other players, the world can feel relatively lonely.
If you're on a tight budget, looking to relive the Dungeons & Dragons pen and paper adventures of your youth, or just looking for a great MMOG to try out, Dungeons & Dragons Online: Eberron Unlimited deserves your serious consideration. With the game's new free-to-play model, there's no reason not to download it
and give it a try. There's plenty of free content to play with and if you find you enjoy the game, you can buy more content, characters, and more in the DDO Store. If you really like the game and want to experience everything it has to offer without breaking the bank, you can pay a monthly subscription to get access to everything for free along with getting a monthly allotment of Turbine Points to spend in the DDO store however you wish.
Dungeons & Dragons Online: Stormreach may have been an aging experiment that didn't live up to the dreams of players around the world, but this new incarnation called Dungeons & Dragons Online: Eberron Unlimited is shaping up to change the face of free-to-play MMOG gaming in North America forever. All in all, it doesn't get much better than this.
- Game Name: Dungeons & Dragons Online: Eberron Unlimited
- Review Date: January 4th, 2010