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My Review of Dungeons and Dragons Online


Judge Hades

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Dungeons and Dragons Online: Stormreach

 

Where to begin this little review I feel that I should share. Lets start with the packaging in which the game came in. Now I bought the game for $49.95 USD and the first thing I noticed was the cheap paper sleeves. Atari is ever so disappointing in that regard and was expected. It had a fairly thin manual that talks about the superficial aspects of the game with a lamenated keymap with a city map on the opposite side. Overall the game's packaging was fairly uninspiring.

 

The install process had no major hiccups to mention and I was able to get my account up and running fairly quickly. Once that was done I picked a server and started to create my character. Being a well versed Dungeons and Dragons gamer there were a few things missing from the options. First off the character races that were available was very limited given to the wide variety that the Eberron has to offer. Frankly the only Eberron specifc race that is in the game is the Warforged. Where are the Shifters, the Kalashtars, and the Changlings, Turbine? Hell, they didn't even have the basics such as the gnome or half elf.

 

Well, the ability to govern your appearance of the races that were there was decent enough. There were quite the number of options for facial features, hair color and what not. The only thing that was missing along those regards was the ability to have varying height and weight, but I guess that wasn't to important to the Turbine developers.

 

There are a quite a number of classes available but it too was lacking in what is available to the Eberron setting in which this game is based on. For the basic classes there are no monks and druids within the game and Dungeons and Dragons Online even lacks the Eberron specific class, the Artificer. I also learned that this game lacks 0 level spells for clerics, wizards, and sorcerers. So far the game seems incomplete in my eyes, but I continued and created my first character... The typical Halfling Rogue: Skarlos O'Kelley.

 

Once that was done I immediately found myself in the "newbie zone" and the first thing I noticed was the GUI. The GUI wasn't flashy and flamboyant but it was customizable in which where I can place it on my screen. That is one feature I very much liked and once I place them were they should go, in my ever so humble opinion I continued on. It seemed to use the typical WASD movement with space bar for the jumping, and shift WASD allows the character to Tumble if he or she has ranks in the skill and has a overall positive number (after ranks, DEX mod, and arnir penalties).

 

The Combat of the game is in real time and very twitch based, but if you are quick on mouse, it shouldn't be to hard to master the basics to keep your character alive. You can block attacks with a shield or with your weapon, so in case the enemy does hit it will do reduced damage and if you have the right feats the damage is even less. You can also shield bash opponents, make use of tumbling, and unlike other MMORPGs facing becomes very important when dealing with foes. For being twitch base it has a lot of variety and strategic if you are grouping. Also enemies, if alerted to you presence will run back to tell their friends then come to chase you down. Kobolds are very crafty in this game.

 

The graphics is what I expected and decent enough to work in the environment and with keeping it to the medium to medium high settings I had next to no lag while jumping, tumbling, swimming, and climbing around. The music of the game is of typical fantasy fanfare that fitted with a fantasy setting. Nothing terrible but nothing spectacular either. The ambient sounds were apt in the various locations you might find yourself in. It also makes good use of EAX if you have multiple speakers. The one thing that caught me off guard was the narrator. Like a real DM he describes certain rooms and uses wierd voices when he is speaking for a NPC. Its not like Neverwinter Nights when Aribeth is voiced instead think of a over dramatic male DM trying to voice Aribeth instead. It may not be as immersive in story telling but it is done in classic PnP DnD style, for better or worse.

 

The action of the game itself is set up in adventure instances. You go and get a quest and then go to the location where the adventure takes place. The first one in the "noobie" zone teaches you basic character controls and is skippable if you wish. Once in Stormreach there are a set of instance adventures that you can either do solo or form a group. Now the experience system is different from baseline DnD but after playing through the game it works quite well. It takes 10 times as much experience to go from level to level and there five tiers each level in which you hit. At each tier you gain an "action point" in which you go to a trainer of your class and spend. You can buy 1 special ability out of a small number based on your class and race. Not a bad way of doing it to slow down progression while still give the player a sense of accomplishment.

 

After the 3 to 4 "noobie" instances which you may or may not want to group for the instance adventures increase in difficulty. Solo gameplay is possible but not always viable but there are quite a number of different adventures one can go on. If you die you do respawn at a specified location, more than like at a tavern or if you are grouping they can take your "soul stone" to a ressurrection shrine. There are usually one rest shrine and one resurrection shrine in an instance. During the course of the instance you can only rest once, to my experience. It keeps the adventure being too easy but you can leave at any time. If you do leave or respawned out of the instance when you return you do incur an experience penalty which is understandable because you often come back fully rested while those who defeated do not often respawn.

 

The city of Stormreach seems to be claustrophobic for my tastes and while there are plenty of locations to explore here and there is a progressive aspect to it for there are quests you need to take no matter what to have access to other parts of the city.

 

As a MMORPG the quality of the actual adventure more than often depends on the company that you keep but this isn't the typical MMORPG where level grinding is a must. Certainly there is the opportunity to level grind if you wish to but the more you do a single adventure instance the less experience you recieve. Level grinding is the boring path in gaming anyway so why bother? There have been a number of bugs and such since its release and add to its incompleteness it feels that Atari and Turbine released this game before it is really ready, but it seems that Turbine is determined to give their game full support and increase its content over time.

 

The bottomline it is a nice diversion while waiting for Neverwinter Nights 2 or tired of the usual MMORPG grinding that is found in World of Warcraft and Everquest 2, but don't be blind to the faults of the game for there are many.

 

This game rolls a 14 on the d20.

Edited by Judge Hades
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:) Good question. I'll put that in.

 

In case you didn't want to read it again...

 

"The Combat of the game is in real time and very twitch based, but if you are quick on mouse, it shouldn't be to hard to master the basics to keep your character alive. You can block attacks with a shield or with your weapon, so in case the enemy does hit it will do reduced damage and if you have the right feats the damage is even less. You can also shield bash opponents, make use of tumbling, and unlike other MMORPGs facing becomes very important when dealing with foes. For being twitch base it has a lot of variety and strategic if you are grouping. Also enemies, if alerted to you presence will run back to tell their friends then come to chase you down. Kobolds are very crafty in this game."

Edited by Judge Hades
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Sounds good. Better actually than most MMORPGs I've read about lately. How much are the monthly fees?

 

Also, do you know if they are going to add extra content in the future, and if so, what are their intentions on this?

 

And, ahem. You mentioned facing is important. But there's no facing that I know of in D&D except for flanking purposes, right? So, is the ruleset significantly changed from the pnp one? Are those changes good?

 

PvP?

Edited by 213374U

- When he is best, he is a little worse than a man, and when he is worst, he is little better than a beast.

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Monthly fee is $15 USD a month, less if you pay ahead.

 

There is additional content being released in April and another content release in June. From what I have hear they are adding in more quest instances, raising the level cap, putting rumors have it that they might be adding some of the missing races/classes that wasn't in the base game.

 

I do think that there is flanking, but usually when I am in combat I am to busy trying to defend myself than to take a good look at the numbers but it does seem that the critters (if facing more than one) try to get into flanking positions and if you have two rogues flanking you, you will most certainly get sneak attacked.

 

No PvP as a whole and what PvP that does happen appears to be a bug at this time. It is rumored that PvP will be introduced later but nothing official from Turbine.

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I just have to get my head around this concept...

 

Hades bought a MMORPG? HADES bought a MMORPG??

 

I never thought I'd see the day...

 

Maybe hell will freeze over one of these days.

:blink:

 

With that out of the way, it was very informative. I have a couple of questions:

 

How does character creation work exactly? Do you get feats (at the beginning)? How do you distribute Attribute points?

 

Have you managed to reach a full level? If so, is multi-classing indeed in? How does multi-classing work with the tiered levels?

 

Since it's a game with a monthly fee, do you feel the fee is warranted? What is there to do in the game besides going on quests? If the game wants to have longevity, there needs to be stuff for people to do after they've completed all the quests there is and have reached max level.

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You start off picking a race and class. They even have a movie bit so you can get a quick overview of the class. Once that is done you do the appearance of the character then you work on stats.

 

Stats are point buy like in NWN but you have 28 points to spend instead of 30. After that you assign skills and you pick feats. It is pretty much straight forward. Then it checks if the name you have chosen is already in use. Everyone has to have a unique first name and they do have naming policies so don't expect to call yourself Drizzt or Alf the Cateater, or some crap like that and keep it.

 

As you gain experience you go up tiers. 1.0 is the base and as you go up to 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, and so forth you gain action points which are spent to get minor abilities. Once you gain enough experience to actually level you can, when you get to a trainer. Multiclassing has the same restrictions as normal. No lawful barbarians, no non-LG paladins, and so forth. I beleive there is a limit of 3 classes but I could be mistaken on that.

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and the Changlings,

Dealbreaker.

 

I'm not getting this game now.

I'm sure all the extra races and classes wil be added in due course, as additional content / expansions.

 

that's the point of expansions: giving the player what they wanted but couldn't have ... :D

OBSCVRVM PER OBSCVRIVS ET IGNOTVM PER IGNOTIVS

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OPVS ARTIFICEM PROBAT

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