I played a few more hours of Dungeons and Dragons Online over the weekend, continuing to start over from scratch since I couldn’t get to my previous characters after the switchover to Standing Stone Game. It’s kind of a relaxing game for me right now because it requires no thought or effort. I just click, click, click and look at the pretty pictures on the screen as they go by.
The last time I wrote anything about DDO pre-dated this site, in 2010. At that time, I wrote: ‘The game really “feels” like D&D, with a dungeon master voiceover, tricks, traps and even a 20-sided die roll on the screen.’ Nothing much has changed since then, except I feel like the pace of level advancement has gone up considerably. I’m almost to level 3 already, which if I’m not mistaken is further than I’ve ever gotten before (there are only four “ranks” in each level now, whereas I feel like there used to be a lot more-in 2010 I reported that I was level 2, rank 11). The initial starting areas look and feel almost exactly like I remember them.
Overall I like DDO but for some reason I rarely ever think about playing it, which is kind of a shame because there is a lot to enjoy. It’s particularly great if you enjoy playing MMORPGs as if they were single-player games. :)
I’d like to say I’m reading and absorbing all of the quest text, but it’s an old game from before the time of scaling font sizes, so I can barely read it. I can’t find any way to improve that, other than running the game in an older resolution. It’s very average D&D-style fodder anyway, although at least they threw in a dragon and a mind flayer at the beginning to spice things up a bit (you didn’t actually get to fight them though).
I love that the “quests” are all little self-contained story instances, much like miniature D&D campaigns. It’s a very story-driven kind of game, and easy to play in very short bursts.
I love that they tell you roughly how long the instances will take before you start.
I love that you can select a difficulty for the quest instances.
I love the Dungeon Master voiceover when you go through the instances.
I like that the instances contain secrets and traps and chests and puzzles like I remember from D&D. It’s not just fighting.
I like that wilderness zones are instances, somewhat like Guild Wars 1. There’s no pesky players running around in this MMORPG to ruin your immersion!
I like the “recall” button at the end of instances to get you out of there quickly.
I don’t like the D&D ruleset hehe. Everything seems nonsensical to me. Once upon a time I felt there was an order to the D&D rules, but now they’ve stacked and duct-taped and patched so many needless complexities into it that I just don’t even know what I’m seeing anymore, not to mention the changes to make it work as a computer game. Fortunately, it’s almost entirely hidden from my view as a player. At this stage (level 2), I just click, click, click and keep going through the instances.
I don’t like the combat too much. It feels too much like a Diablo-style game. I’ve gotten around the constant left-clicking problem by mapping an attack key, so it feels more like a “normal” MMO, but still, I don’t like that there are dice-rolls controlling whether I hit or miss. It’s off-putting to swing at something, clearly hit it several times in a row, but still not do any damage, because the dice roll says you missed. That kind of thing should only be in turn-based combat games.
I don’t much care for having to break every barrel in sight on the off chance that there might be something valuable in them.
Inventory management. It’s bad. Although I kind of like the “list” view which at least categorizes and sorts things, instead of leaving them all jumbled in an unsorted grid of tiny icons.
The sound effects are a bit weak. It doesn’t have very much in the way of environmental sounds, so I never feel like “I’m there.” (Sound is more important to me than visuals for immersion purposes.) This is another unpleasant side effect of older games.
The colors in the game are extremely washed-out. It’s almost like playing an Asian import! Just kidding. But not really.