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First Impressions

First Impressions of DDO

I've been waiting for DDO for quite some time now. It's actually been quite some time, before I even heard they were creating DDO. Playing Dungeons & Dragons in the kitchen was always fun when I was younger, but as I got older, the harder it was to get schedules to work out so you could actually play D&D with my friends.

After awhile we started playing MMORPGs online, which was much easier since you didn't have to go anywhere. But they were NEVER D&D. I still couldn't create my rogue with skill set I liked, and live and breath the D&D World.

Until now...

I will admit I was a bit sceptical of what could be done to submerge me into a D&D setting, after playing many other online RPGs. All the benefits you get from online gaming, seemed to just go against what D&D was. For instance, the GM. Time and time again you hear about how it's not cost effective to have a personal GM for each group. Luckily Turbine took a different route, and created ways to make it feel like you had a GM with your group, and if you don't think the GM messages work, just wait till you're reading them, and trying to figure out if they are a trap, or a treasure.

Another aspect of online games that goes against the Pen & Paper version, is the amount of fighting you do. When you get together with your friends and play a module, you'll have a few fights, or atleast it's much easier to say, "We rest for 8 hours", than to actually do it in an online persistant world. With the addition of spell points, and rest stones, I think turbine has solved this problem. I still get the action I desire from online games, and yet I also get that since of the importance of every single hit point. I still remember running through a dungeon with only 3 hitpoints, and battling many monsters, just wondering if I could make it alive. It was exhilarating.

Now, onto my one play session. I was in the first stress test, and played from the moment I got home, till ate in the evening. I tried out a few characters, but ended up playing a warrior for the most part. I love the combat action with the mouse. To be able to swing my sword with each click, was really something unique. I haven't mastered the skill of blocking yet, but when I do, the denizens of Stormreach had better watch out! I tried a few missions solo, and was successful with one, but after that, I saw that a group was going to be needed. So, I headed to the nearest tavern to recruit some worthy allies.

There's an nifty feature when you are looking for a group that displays a token above your head. It makes it very easy to see who is looking for a group. There is also a detailed search feature that you can look for a group, or players to join your group. Complete with a notes section that makes it easier to let people know what you are looking for.

With these tools in hand, I started asking around for adventures that needed the same quest I was looking to do. After a few minutes I had found three others that wanted to join up with me. We introduced ourselves to each other, and talked a bit about what we thought about the game so far, and everyone seemed to be very happy so far.

We left the tavern and went to go find the quest that we all had decided to do. Once there, we all entered and looked around to see what was before us. I won't go into detail about the dungeon, so I don't spoil this quest for anyone else, but I will tell you about some of the things that I enjoyed along the way.

There was one point where rogue shouted for us all to freeze! Well, I guess one of the first mistakes was that I was leading the party along the way as the warrior, instead of how we would have normally had the rogue out front with a 10 foot pole in the old days. Anyways, not being able to stop in time, I set off a trap and nearly died. I backed out in time, and the rogue disarmed it for everyone else. I was not 10 minutes into a dungeon, and already at about half health. Things were not looking good, but it was some of the most fun I've ever had online. You can be sure I let the rogue lead after that point too.

At one point, the rogue and I wandered off from the main group into a side passage we wanted to investigate. The rogue saw a treasure chest, and started to open it. Something bad must have happened because bars came crashing to the floor and locked us in with a bunch of kobolds. We died, but it was one of those "HOLY COW" moments, when something happens that you just never expected in a million years. We've been trained by the first online games to how things normally flow in a dungeon. You might want to forget everything you have learned at this point.

We ended up finishing a few more quests adding in other players, and having some leave. It was always easy to find people to join us, and we always seemed to have the classes we needed. Even at times when we didn't have a Cleric to run with us, we seemed to manage fairly well. My whole goal during the stress test was to see how far I could get, and test out these mini levels (as I like to call them). I did fairly well, with getting to the real 2nd level by the end of the night. I thought it would be much tougher, but it really wasn't that hard to do, and all the mini levels really seemed to go fast.

And that was my evening. After training up my skills and looking at my character sheet some more, I logged off, with a sigh. I can't wait to go back to Stormreach.

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June 5, 2008