A friend of mine invited me to join his group on Dungeons & Dragons Online, so the other night I logged on and gave it a shot.
My MMO background is a two-week trial of Star Wars Galaxies, and a brief stint with Puzzle Pirates. The former was a terrible bore. I really did give it my best shot – making enough to buy a speeder bike, going on a large hunt with 20-some players, even getting off-world and seeing what other planets had to offer. Unfortunately, the missions all seemed to be of the ‘kill ten rats’ or ‘harvest ten seeds’ variety; I’ll take KOTOR any day. The latter is actually brilliant, if you are into Tetris-like games. I made a little progress, and even got to crew ‘The Moose of Doom!’ But I didn’t really know anybody, and I was disappointed in how much content was for paying players only.
I figured it was worth giving DDO a shot, because now I would get to play with at least one person I’d met in real life. Prior to the group session, I’d taken a character through a few quests and pored over the FAQ so I wouldn’t be completely lost. I think I kept up okay when I got into a group. All in all, it was a lot of fun! The quests are ‘dungeon-based’ in that they take place in nicely-crafted environments and involve a sequence of different tasks. Instead of “go kill ten rats in the desert,” you get “enter the sewers, hunt down the kobolds, find the secret door, solve this basic puzzle, and escort the hostages to the exit.” And even a little plot to go with it. I’m sure it’s a ton of work for the developers, but it’s much more enjoyable (for me) than basic grinding.
Unfortunately for players like me, it seems like most DDO users are a more typical MMO breed, and are anxious to milk each quest for all its XP and loot. Being in a party seems to destroy the story-driven pace of the game, and turns it into a race to each objective that we’ve already memorized because we just played through this quest three times on hard. It’s to the game’s credit that it’s still fun like this, but for someone like me who appreciates a good story, it’s a bit shocking to see people rush through the narratives the DDO team has put so much time into.
The obvious solution, then, is to have a character I play with my friends, and another I can solo at my own pace through the game. Clearly this will take ages (as I don’t intend to spend that much time on this game) but that’s okay… even at level one, it’s an enjoyable game.
In closing, here’s a few things that weren’t well-covered by the FAQ or forum. I suppose they might be intuitive to an MMO player, but I had to figure these out:
- Taverns and Pubs are little red jugs on your map. They’re important! Find them quickly.
- Voice chat by holding the ‘F’ key, and toggle mouse-look (which I much preferred) by pressing ‘T’.
- I still don’t know how to leave a party. Is there a party window somewhere?
- The random junk you find everywhere can actually be valuable – take them to ‘collectors’ in the group areas.