Choose My Adventure: Dungeons and Dragons Online already does so much right

    
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Well, well, well. Consider me pleasantly surprised. I wasn’t really sure what to expect when the voters told me to kick off my Dungeons and Dragons Online adventure, but things have been far more enjoyable than I anticipated.

I suppose that’s a result of my own minor assumptions going in to this game. I always sort of pictured DDO as the sort of bastard child of Standing Stone Games while the studio continued to groom and prop up Lord of the Rings Online. Instead, I’ve found a pretty similar level of gameplay enjoyment that I recall having from LOTRO – which is to say, some of that aged old MMO funkiness.

There’s this sense that games from this studio have this kind of signature feel to them. A distinct look, a distinct form of combat, a distinguishing presentation that’s just… very SSG, for lack of a better word. DDO has this same sort of feeling to me, and it was a welcome change of pace for me. It was comfortable, bringing me back to when LOTRO first launched.

Of course, that’s that game and this is DDO, and while the bones of both games look and feel pretty similar, there are things that this game is doing that make it stand out. For one, the combat feels just a tiny bit more involved owing to the fact that I can enter mouselook mode, which makes swinging my weapon feel more like I’m swinging my weapon. Skills are basically little extra boons that enhance or supplement my holding down of the left mouse button, which is very nice. Also, the time-to-kill in this game feels like I’m actually using a sharp weapon against things – not too long, not too short.

In fact, about the only demerit I can fault for my chosen Paladin class is that the sound effects have another SSG signature – unimpressive, tinny, and underwhelming noises. Never has a sword fight sounded more boring.

As for the game itself, most of my time was spent on the opening island, learning the ropes and going on a little guided adventure. The story was a nice little self-contained affair much like the sidequests of an Elder Scrolls Online instead of part of some grand overarching narrative, which I actually appreciate. I also liked that, at one point, I had to go into an open wilderness and find NPCs myself instead of blindly following a glowing minimap pip. Not to say that all quests in DDO are without that, but the break from the breadcrumb trail to find my own way was refreshing.

About the best thing about DDO for me so far, however, was how very much more like D&D it feels. There’s a dungeon master narrating things (though that voice changes a few times for some reason), which brought me into the fantasy of playing a game of D&D through the lens of an MMORPG. Much as LOTRO does set dressing right, DDO really feels like an experience that’s vastly closer to the source material than Neverwinter.

At least, that’s what it feels like for right now. Time will tell if these feelings persist.

There are a couple of things that feel a little weird to me so far. Right now, I’m not really earning levels so much as points that I can use in an Enhancement Tree. I’m apparently seven ranks in to level 1, which is kind of weird. It might have been explained to me in a tutorial that I blipped through, but it’s a weird choice. It hasn’t stalled my progress yet, but I can’t help but worry that axe might fall on me.

Regardless, I’ve had a grand ol’ time playing this one, enjoying being a paladin and slicing up sahuagin and cultists. It’s not been the most original of adventures, but it’s been a fun one.

As of right now, I’ve got off of Noob Island and arrived to the location of Stormreach, which presented me yet another pleasant surprise in the form of a wealth of things to do next. This leads us rather conveniently into our next set of polls!

As suggested by you fine folk, I made sure to collect my free bundle of quests that’s being offered, which probably accounts for the number of things that are available for me to try out from Stormreach. That said, I wouldn’t be against perhaps seeing if there are things on Stormreach itself to do, so that’s poll question number one:

What quests should I take on next?

  • Stormreach stuff. Let's see what this new island has to offer. (89%, 492 Votes)
  • Go someplace else. Leave your suggestions in the comments! (11%, 61 Votes)

Total Voters: 553

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The second poll is probably more for the regular players, but I wanted to ask it anyway. One of the commenters from last week suggested to put all of my points in the Knight of the Chalice tree, but I would be remiss if I didn’t perhaps pick the brains of any regular DDO players. Thus, poll question two:

What tree should I follow?

  • Knight of the Chalice. Go for the offensive build. (52%, 290 Votes)
  • Sacred Defender. Tank it up. (17%, 93 Votes)
  • Vanguard. You're holding a shield, might as well use it better! (32%, 179 Votes)

Total Voters: 562

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As usual, polling will wrap up at 1:00 p.m. EDT this coming Friday, July 10th. I find myself having the comfortable problem of looking forward to playing more yet needing to wait to see how the polls shake down, so here’s to some more enjoyable adventures in the very near future!

Welcome to Choose My Adventure, the column in which you join Chris each week as he journeys through mystical lands on fantastic adventures – and you get to decide his fate. Which is good because he can often be a pretty indecisive person unless he’s ordering a burger.

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Neurotic

Careful now, Chris, you might end up drawing me back in to DDO too. :D

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lostkoss

BTW… the level up icon is showing above your characters face and hp bar in 3 out of the 5 pictures you posted. Time to find the trainer :-)

Also, to me it starts to feel more like D&D at higher levels. Soon you will start getting blinded, and paralyzed and killed by death rays, but you will see the terrible roll you made on the saving throw while it happens. (Rolls are also recorded in the combat log)

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Robert Mann

DDO is one of the few MMOs that do dungeons as more than just “Grab enemy and smash.” Which will always leave it as a pretty neat game, in the current field.

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Ben Stone

Add another vote for ‘Keep on the Borderlands’ its one of my favorite quest chains. Also, join a guild and go get those guild buffs from the airship. It will make your life a lot easier.

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fester1

This looks like a game I would like to try. The game seems solo friendly to start with. Does this continue for the rest of the game or is grouping compulsory?

Bad experiences with pugs over the years have left me wary of them.

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Levon Kalalian

You can totally solo 98% of the content in the game – basically skipping most raids and a handful of quests that are not solo friendly.

If you’re new to the game you can just run everything on Normal level to learn the mechanics and quests. Over time as you improve your quest knowledge, gear, and past lives you can start cranking up the difficulty to increase the challenge and reward.

I have been soloing since I returned to the game in Oct 2014. I wanted to do something new this year, so I have started grouping on the Hardcore server for fun. There isn’t much to be afraid of pugging in DDO these days – but I would definitely recommend soloing for a bit to try and learn things yourself.

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fester1

Thanks for your reply Levon, just downloaded on Steam. Had a look at the freequests promo and there’s a huge list of free content! Should keep me busy during the pandemic.

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Ben Stone

The community is pretty friendly, but doing things in an experienced group can ruin the experience of doing a dungeon for the first time I have found. They rush through to the end and you miss out on all the cool secrets, puzzles and discoveries. Once you’ve done a few lives its fine to just join groups and plow through, but its well worth experiencing everything slow and steady the first few times.

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Ben Stone

You can definitely solo almost everything, except end game raids really. You hire companions who help you out too. Not every dungeon is possible with every build, some will require a trapper if you want to do it at a higher difficulty setting, and some are a struggle for melee characters if there are lots of ranged mobs. But there are so many choices for leveling dungeons that you can always find something that suits your build.

Mostly I have just been duoing with my partner, and reincarnating and trying a new build. Every time you reincarnate it sets you back to level 1 and you get passive bonuses for your past life race or class. Will keep you busy for a long time even if you have no interest in ‘end game’.

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Robert Mann

You can even solo some of the group quests, with hirelings. It’s a little more involved, but you also have the advantage of the hireling being able to port over to you.

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Sykes

Also, if you put in the coupon code “DDOfreequests” in the store, you unlock almost all of the adventure packs for free for SSG’s current promotion. It opens up way more options for where to level, and unlocks several hundred bucks worth of content permanently.

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Roger Melly

Also level 4 characters on different servers and do the first 3-4 Dungeons until you get 50 points on each then get the first two expansion packs for free as well .

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sophiskiai

Adding my vote to those suggesting the “Keep on the Borderlands” 8-adventure mission chain, so you can compare some of the newest low level adventures to some of the oldest! Includes another wilderness area, where you can farm the rare bosses to get a mount (80% faster movement in public areas and wilderness areas, not slowed by shallow water) if you want.

After which you should be level 3 or 4, and I’d suggest trying out the “Lost Gatekeepers” 5-adventure mission chain in the Gatekeeper’s Grove (another set of very new adventures).

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sophiskiai

Meant to add – Stormreach isn’t an island, but a huge multi-district city (the Harbor district takes you up to the Marketplace hub district) on the coast of a massive continent. Most adventures take place in or near Stormreach, but some take you further afield to other parts of the continent, different continents, or different planes of existence (including Ravenloft at level 10ish, the Forgotten Realms at level 15ish, and adaptations of various classic D&D modules (of which “Keep on the Borderlands” is one) set in Greyhawk or in Blackmoor).

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memitim

I would follow this path, the newer quests have a not unnoticeable jump in quality.

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Shawn Fink

I would love to play this, but after spending yesterday trying to get it to download past the dreaded 88% mark, I give up. Not sure why I am having to go into MSCONFIG changing things, turning off my firewall, turning off my antivirus, to run a game (that still never ran).

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memitim

You don’t need to mess with anything, just leave it running and eventually it will get past that 88%, it takes a long ass time, up to 4-5 hours for some people which is frankly unacceptable in 2020 but once it’s done it’s done…at least until they drop the next patch which might take 30 seconds or another hour to update…so yeah the launcher is a joke but the game is pretty decent once you’re actually in.

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Bruno Brito

Knight of the Chalice. 2Handers got a huge buff with the new Two-Handed Fightning, and KotC gets Bastard Swords as favored weapons. You WILL want to play that.

But yeah, DDO is great. I have a lot of fun with it. My only regret is rolling a Barbarian and not a Paladin.

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MolleaFauss

DDO is a fun little unique gem. Every adventure or adventure pack is it’s own little “raid instance” (or set of raids) with puzzles to solve, monster to kill. Even as low as level 2.
It is D&D in the sense that you just don’t hoard the “best in slot” wequipment because if you play on higher levels, you want the specific equipment for that raid (electric resistance, deatblock, … you name it). You need the best in slot, in the sense that you need the best for that particular instance (and this is where inventory space gets tight, unless you play casually and just don’t care as everything is reasonably easy).
If you’re rank7, then you’re avtually level 2 rank 2. Every level, as in &D level has 5 ranks. You get enhancemente points for 4 ranks, then you need to visit your class trainer (or if you want to multiclass “a” class trainer) and get a level of that class.

Oh, and try the Knight of the Chalice with a 2hd weapon. After a recent revamp if hits like a truck, esp against evil enemies. You finally see numbers not far from a wizard or a tempest ranger.