I’ve just finished my coffee; it should make me last a while longer. I look at the clock, half past three. That means I’ve been looking at this website for six hours! It just looks so good though; the combat, the roleplay, the graphics, the monsters, it’s D&D Online for goodness sake! I can’t remember the last time I was this excited about a game. When I heard about D&D online, it took me approximately 15 seconds to find the website. But is it really worth all the hype?
Dungeons and Dragons has been a part of many people’s lives for many, many years. It makes you think; it can be intense, and it can make the world a better place! Ok, it maybe can’t save the world, but it is just as good if not better than every board game and beats almost every computer game I know of. But why is it so popular? The answer is simple; you can be someone else for a few hours a week. Let go of all your troubles and be Ghodrick, the half-orc barbarian and rip people apart with your bare hands; you can be anyone you want and do anything you want. Converting this to computer game is no easy task, so how have they done it?
Combat in the pen and paper D&D has evolved over the years but still stays as a turn-based, tactical and tricky thing to master; although some would say it is dull having to wait around for everyone else to finish what they are doing until you can swing your sword again. In DDO (Dungeons and Dragons Online), combat is in real time and is done in a fairly simple, but effective way. Left click to attack, right to block. This means that one click could mean the difference between life and death, not only for you, but for your entire party. As I’ve not played the game, I spoke to some Beta testers to find out how the combat felt. It still remains tactical, but because of the intense fighting system, it isn’t for the faint of heart; quick reflexes and a calm mind are required to beat the toughest foes. This means though that a few of the hardcore D&D fans may want to keep the turn-based combat in so they can take the time to decide what to do. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but there will be no room for thinking in this combat!
“Okay we want to go to that town”
“It takes one week”
*Roll of a dice* *Roll of a dice* *Roll of a dice* etc.
We’ve all been here — the tedious wait until the DM tries to work out if you bump into anything on your road to somewhere. Although this adds an element of realism to your pen and paper game, it can be a long wait, depending on the journey. Likewise, if you had to walk for a week to get to a town, I daresay a fair few people would be less than impressed. As a result, Turbine has decided that to travel, you simply ask someone to take you there and a nice little red line shows you where you travel past on your map. What this does is cut out the need for mounts and such, making the game run smoother with less of the dull walking or running from place to place. I’ve had to gather information from the website forums, so take it with a pinch of salt. Again though, this makes people upset because they want to walk around all over the place. My advice is play WoW; it’s a great game but there is plenty of running around to be done there!
If you’ve played D&D before, you’ll be familiar with the usual races: Humans, Elves, Dwarves, and Halflings. These are all scheduled for release, but with the addition of an Eberron race: The Warforged. I’m not the familiar with Eberron, but as far as I can see the Warforged are armored beasts, built to be strong power-houses and most adept at cutting people into little chunks. Most fighters and barbarians you see in game will most likely be warforged. The usual classes, minus the druid and monk, will be available to play also; although having been on the forums for five minutes, I’m surprised at how many elven rangers there are.
A lot of people have talked about how Rogues usually get the worst end of the stick in MMORPG’s; this is about to change. Rogues have a very important job to do in DDO – everything. They will search for and disarm traps; they will be your recon, scout and assassin, and depending on what stats she has, she will be able to fight as well. Every party should have a Rogue; so I have been told by nearly every Beta tester I’ve spoken to.
Every player of Dungeons and Dragons has done the ‘rat quest’ a hundred times over, but have you needed a party to do it before?
DDO has captured the feel of the pen and paper original in many ways, but one of the best ways it has done this is through questing. The question “how does DDO handle soloing?” has been asked more times than I can count (and I passed higher math!) but the answer is always the same: it doesn’t. How many people have gone through a pen and paper campaign with just one character? It would take the fun out of the game. In DDO, it’s not a case of it being fun; it’s a case being necessary. The development team has cleverly said that basically, once you reach a certain level, it should be impossible to pass a quest solo; Dungeons and Dragons at its finest.
D&D is about getting together with hearty adventurers and embarking on quests that will make your names go down in history. Nothing spoils the effect of a good D&D session than someone saying “I’m going to take the dragon on myself ‘cuz I’m a hero of legendary proportions!” In DDO, this ‘hero would get eaten alive, fast!
Everyone wants their character to look good (and maybe a little bit like themselves), and in DDO this is very possible, so I’ve been told. The character creation is a vast tool for making any face look exactly how you want it! Yet again though, this immense tool isn’t good enough for some people who want their characters to have arms too big for their bodies or legs that a giant could walk through. The look of your body will be determined by what armor you’re wearing, as it should. If you have plate mail on, your body will look like you’re wearing plate mail, and with the visuals in the game you may spend a long while eyeing up your character and wondering where on earth you could purchase that armor. . .
There is no housing in DDO, but this is not bad thing. Who wants to be sitting at home beside the fire when there are dragons to kill? You may be able to sleep a night in an inn for a night but really, please tell me who wants to sleep?
To the dismay of many, there is no option to craft items in the world of DDO. I think this is a very good idea and I’ll tell you why. Player markets are possibly the worst thing to come out of MMORPG’s. They can be helpful if the game requires you to have the best gear or if you really want the item they are selling, but again, the idea of D&D is not to be the world’s richest or the best blacksmith – it’s all about adventure! DDO doesn’t require a player to have the best weapon or armor in the game; it requires them to think and to act appropriately in the situation. It’s about skill, not money.
It’s much the same with PvP. It’s not there for the same reason; DDO has no place for fighting other members of your race for honor or just “because.” It’s all about working together.
What do I think?
I’ve played D&D for as long as I can remember, and I always wanted someone to make a good D&D game where I played one character in a party and went out adventuring. I always dreamt that one day there would be a totally interactive D&D world where my character could live and meet people, slay mighty dragons, and have people recognize who I was. I’ve been thinking a lot about what I know of this game, and the thing that I like most is how this MMO has set itself apart from the rest. Most of the elements in DDO are headed in different directions to other MMO’s; it forces you to form parties, real time combat, no mounts, and no houses. It’s a risky strategy, considering many people play MMO’s to buy houses, ride horses, and farm gold and become an almighty ruler of the game – but I think it’s a brilliant idea and a brilliant-looking game. For many people, this game will not live up to their hopes or expectations, and although I haven’t played the game yet I’m eagerly awaiting the release. What do I think? Is DDO worth all the hype? My answer is that my dream may no be longer a dream.