Thursday, May 6, 2010

Played lately: DDO

Posting has been a bit slow (i.e., absent) because I was out of town over the weekend (in Sante Fe, NM). Going from 6000 feet and light snow to 85 degrees at sea level in one day when I came back was absolutely surreal. Since getting back, I've been putting more time into Dungeons and Dragons online. I now own every race and class apart from Favored Soul, and most of the low level content packs. My main, a drow elf paladin, is sitting on the cusp of level 6.

Paladins are a solid solo class in DDO. They wear plate, hit like trucks, have very good saving throws [think resists in a typical MMO], and by level four have a lot of self healing abilities. In the great bulk of instances, I can get by without using any consumables at all. For the really gnarly instances Paladins can also use wands of cure medium wounds, which are abundant and inexpensive on the auction house. I have been able so solo several long encounters meant for a balanced party on normal without resorting to hirelings.

My goal in the game is to see how far I can get without repeating any content, and without using hirelings. That means I am buying a lot of content packs, but that's OK because it also means more for my alts to do whenever I start raising them. The one instance I've broken that rule with is the one where you can get Muckbane. Muckbane takes zero damage from oozes [mobs that will trash your weapons very quickly if you engage them in melee, destroying them altogether if you aren't careful], and is a low level rare drop I consider nearly essential. If you follow this walk through, you can make a run for it in around ten minutes. It took me three tries.

My favorite content pack so far is Three Barrel Cove. It contains a huge outdoor area with tons of objectives. The two dungeons I've been through in it are also some of the most unique I've encountered in DDO. It's a bit pricey at 650 points (roughly six dollars at the best exchange rate), and is challenging to solo (likely impossible without hirelings for some classes).

Despite the fact that it's rumored to suck, Catacombs was a close second for me. A bit combat heavy, but I enjoyed the storyline a lot. For a melee class blunt weapons area nearly required, some of the mobs are practically immune to slashing weapons. The quest chains it contains are great for a short burst of fun.

In my experience, purchased content packs are noticeably better than most of the free content. DDO is free-to-play by definition, but I suspect it would be pretty grindy without premium content. Which is pretty much as it should be, Turbine isn't a charity organization after all. I feel like I've gotten a good value for the money I've spent so far. Regardless , the first three or four levels are absolutely free, and that is more than enough playtime to figure out whether the game is for you or not.


  1. Ah, DDO. Another game my computer has taken a dislike to. I do enjoy my time in there. Glad to hear you're having a good time. Having such a variety of quest available sounds like a great thing.

  2. @Anjin: the engine that DDO uses formed the basis of the LoTRO engine. Sounds like your rig doesn't something about Turbine's in house engine. That's too bad.

  3. I've had the same impression of the quality increase of the paid content - if feels much better than the free stuff.

    3BC was actually the one low level AP that I've skipped, and I don't know that it makes sense to pay for it now given that I own everything else (other than Necro 1, which cannot be soloed, and the single quest Devil's assault) in hat level range. Ah well.

  4. @Green Armadillo: I like TBC because it's a good change of pace from a lot of the other content. It's a large outdoor zone that uses a bright color pallet. However, I wouldn't say it's so much better than the other low level zones that it's worth going back and getting at this point.

    It's pricey, and doesn't seem to be very popular based on player activity. It's also pretty iffy as to whether most classes can get through the dungeons solo.

    For example, one of the dungeons is a long volcanic cave complex with a lot of exploration, puzzles, and traps . You can absolutely expect to screw up and take damage from traps and missed jumps your first time through. And if you can't pick locks (or knock), there are zero healing shrines you can get to in it. If I hadn't been carrying around a wand of cure serious wounds, I never could have made it to the end.

  5. Your description of Paladin sounds interesting. I follow your blog and had planned to be trying out DDO by now. My hardware, however, has had other ideas.
    I hope to start downloading this week.
    OK, I have to know... what is a "hireling"?

  6. @Jomar: it's an NPC that you can hire to accompany you on a mission. For example, if you are playing a tank and need a healer, you can rent one. Havn't messed around with them much yet.