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MMORPG.com Preview

Jon Wood Posted:
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Dungeons and Dragons Online Preview (Page 2 of 2)


Content

A lot of people are complaining about a “lack of content” in the game. I just don’t see it being an issue down the line. Turbine knows that you can’t just leave static content on your servers forever and expect players to keep paying a monthly fee. I’d look for fairly frequent content updates for this game. Even so, when you repeat a quest, there is some merit to it and there are new challenges for players. Try it, for example, with a different group made up of different character classes (or play a different character class yourself). This does change the feel and strategy of the dungeons pretty dramatically and lets you maximize your fun for your money.

Combat

The combat system in this game is both extremely frustrating and at the same time fun and interesting. It’s far more twitch based than your average MMORPG, and for this, Turbine has taken some flack. Personally, I enjoy the different combat style; it keeps me from getting bored. The problem that I have with this mode of combat comes in the form of camera control. When I’m trying to run around in a combat situation, and I’m worrying about blocking and attacking and moving, the last thing that I want to deal with is not being able to see the thing that I am fighting because it is under my line of vision. For example, in the opening phases of the game, they have you fighting big spiders. I found that as soon as I moved, my camera angle went bad, and I couldn’t see my enemies. It made combat more challenging than I think was intended. The camera issue really is my only problem with this form of combat. Some purists of the genre aren’t going to like it, but overall, I think that it was a good choice for Turbine.


Things I Really Enjoyed


These are the things that Turbine has done extremely well.

Character Creation (Statistical)

I feel like Turbine did a really great job in translating the 3.5 Edition Dungeons and Dragons ruleset into the game. Sure, changes had to be made, but I feel like the skills and feats give characters the level of personal diversity that I expect from almost any game that I play. It’s this aspect of the character creation process that saves the game for me, as I felt like I was making a unique character. As your character grows, so too does the level of diversity available to you.

Tone

The game, for me, really captures the essence of pen and paper Dungeons and Dragons better than any other game that has been based on this franchise. Some might say that it’s not as good as a game like Neverwinter Nights in this respect, but I disagree. Neverwinter Nights wasn’t meant to represent the feeling of PnP play. It is a video game translation. While the same could be said for Turbine’s effort with this game, the developers have been very clear on the point that they are trying to stay true to the spirit of Dungeons and Dragons.

The small groups, the instancing, and even the music (which I thought was very well done, and reminded me of music that my friends and I often put in the background while we play PnP), all lend themselves to a Dungeons and Dragons feel. For me though, the parts that deserve special attention are those where the game replicates the voice of the Dungeon Master, giving special instructions or deeper descriptions of your surroundings. The voice-over, which is accompanied by special text, really makes it feel as though you have a Dungeon Master in the room with you, guiding your adventures. Well done on this one, Turbine.

Tutorial

The first few steps that you take in any MMORPG are arguably the most important. It tells you whether or not you’re going to like a game, from UI to story. DDO’s tutorial is effective without making players feel like idiots. Specially selected and produced opening quests teach you how to do everything from solving puzzles, to fighting monsters, to swimming (which is really fun in this game as well!) and more. Your first few quests are done solo, but you spend enough time in the bar between quests to also get a feeling for how things work in the social community as well. This is a very well thought out teaching tool, and first time players, whether first time to MMORPGs or just first time to this game, will find it easy to learn.

Graphics

I have read some complaints about the Dungeons and Dragons Online: Stormreach graphics. Honestly, I don’t know how anyone could possibly complain about the look of this game. Sure, it’s isn’t WoW. WoW has its own cartoony look, which works well for their franchise. DDO’s look is sleek and fantastical (I won’t go so far as to say realistic). The sky, the water, the ground and the people that populate those places are visually impressive without being overpowering. If you are looking for a game which has graphics that I can only describe as smooth, then you might want to check out DDO.


Closing Thoughts


Dungeons and Dragons Online: Stormreach is, in this previewer’s opinion, a pretty good game. It isn’t genre-shattering, even if the developers have made choices that make it unique. It isn’t going to topple the MMORPG giant, WoW, and it isn’t going to change the industry forever. What it will do though, is provide an entertaining alternative to cookie-cutter MMORPGs. It has enough interesting aspects to appeal to both Dungeons and Dragons players and MMORPG genre players. It isn’t, in the strictest sense the traditional version of either of those things, but I think that people will find a good balance with this game.


You can comment on our preview here. You can also let your thoughts be known on their hype meter.

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Jon Wood