DDO Unlimited – Review
From the mighty developers of Asherson’s Call and LOTR Online, comes Dungeon and Dragons Unlimited which was re-launched recently as a micro-transaction mmorpg. The game had low subscription numbers, but with the new model things are going quite good for Turbine, and for us the players also, since we now have the chance to enjoy the game free with few limits – freemium, if I may use this term.
Based on the Dungeon & Dragons tabletop IP, the game features ah… Dungeons and Dragons with some new flavors on top of it. That’s it! That’s all there is! Now you can go play it or play some other game that better suits your tastes. NO! You cannot play COD! Wait! Oh never mind…
One of the biggest differences between your average mmorpg and DDO is the combat. Here the close combat is more active, you have to swing your weapon and block, somewhat like Assassins Creed, but less spectacular. You also get to choose some active skills, based on AD&D system all over again (I hate it!), which most of them are poorly executed in terms of animation and particles, and I rarely notice when I’m using them or not. Yes, I always play a nerfed melee character.
Unfortunately the game is heavily instanced, which is bad on out-doors explorations, and good on in-door adventures – Dungeons. These are everywhere, but these Dungeons are a unique online experience. Here you find real Dungeons, with traps, triggers, mystic monsters and lore, puzzles, and narrator voice of the Game Master. Quite entertaining, I assure you. You never played something similar online or at least I didn’t found anywhere. You enter these Dungeons from Quests, or you discover them out-door and when you complete the dungeon you get a nice chest of “PHAWT LOOT!”. Each Dungeon can be completed in a party or alone on several difficulty levels which bring better rewards and it represents the main source of adventures in the game.
The graphics are good, but old age and sins of the past are catching up on the game engine and some texture, animations, effects are far from ok by today’s standards, but they are decent enough to not distract you from the gaming experience. Voices are well done and the voice of the Game Master is a creepy intellectual one which you will grow to love. The sounds and music managed not to impress me at all, but they are there and we can’t do without them.
Well that’s about it, that’s all you can do in DDO. Is it enough? Maybe for a short burst of play times, yes. Overall I find it a casual game, though you can go mad and adventure in several dungeons and get lost there for hours, alone or with friends. Sure there is a poor crafting system which I never experienced in full detail, but from what I heard only high levels can gain something out of it, you also have available hirelings similar to Guild Wars, and PVP in instanced arenas which provides small to no rewards from what I saw. So basically things we’ve done 1 million times, and they’re not worth mentioning, but I did…
While the game is free to play with some limitations, several new adventures are released each month usually for a cost around 5$ or can be bought with Favor which unlocks them, and this favor is received in game, where some hardcore free players can get most of this content free. A guide here: http://furlugedepot.com/2009/09/18/let-free-dom-ring-getting-the-most-out-of-ddo-free-to-play/
There is also a VIP account which holds an active subscription of 14.95$ per month, and gives you access to all adventures and game features.
Overall I find DDO a short but entertaining experience. Based on his instanced unique dungeons and action packed combat, I consider it fun enough to keep you busy for hours. It’s different in a good way, which is something that I can hardly say about the rest of mmorpgs we usually play or discover these days, months, years…