Thursday, July 9, 2015

First Impression of D&D Online (A Few Years Late to the Party)

I know it's been out for a while now, but my son and I recently began playing D&D Online, and I wanted to share some random thoughts.

My background with MMORPG's is scant: I spent some time MUDding in the 90's, and between 2009 and 2012 I casually played WoW, repeatedly advancing characters near max level, then losing interest before experiencing the real meat of the game, as seasoned players described it.

I personally prefer tabletop games to video games, mostly because of the freedom they afford a player; but getting a group together can be tough, and MMORPG's allow one to play through adventure scenarios without having to align the schedules of 4-5 of their friends.

Anyway, here is my first reaction to DDO, albeit years behind its emergence:
  • Free-to-play is nice, even with some features disabled. Whether missing features will get in the way of a fulfilling experience remains to be seen as we spend more time with it.
  • The video game seems very true to the D&D ruleset. I was mildly delighted to see encumbrance being monitored, and weapon stats listing die types and modifiers. I would like to see alignment affect the outcomes of a character's decisions, though.
  • DDO seems to offer less free exploration than WoW. Terrain loads on demand, rather than in real-time as in WoW. I'm guessing this is one reason why DDO requires far less storage, and that's a trade I'm willing to take.
  • The interface can be a little clunky. Icons on the hotbar are pretty small, and it took a while for me to get acquainted with weapon sets and other aspects of inventory management. I still can't figure out how to use the heal skill. There is no in-game tutorial for skill and feat usage that I have noticed to date.
  • So far, quests are more fun than in WoW. Quests are more dungeon-based than fetch and escort-based. Lore is tightly written, and quests follow a strong narrative. Having a DM narrate some of the action brings some of the tabletop experience into the game. Dungeons aren't all hack-and-slash; the monotony is broken from time to time with puzzles.
Final word: I'm enjoying DDO, and I plan to continue doing so until the limits of playing free get in the way of my enjoyment of the game.

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