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.