Saturday, 12 September 2009

DDO: First Impressions

Dungeons and Dragons Online has gone free to play so I thought I'd have a look. I've tentatively arranged with a couple of real life friends to play an evening per week as a dungeon group.

I downloaded it and it installed and patched pretty painlessly.

I watched the intro video and I thought about hitting Esc as it presented a very stereotyped cliche. I've actually completely forgotten what it was about 10 minutes after watching it.

Character creation was straightforward. I liked it that the first choice they give you is Melee, Caster or Utility. Emphasising the role you will be taking.

It has some pre-made subclasses or the option to pick your own feats. Naturally I went for the custom class, I like to see what I'm buying as it were. I know the 3rd edition D&D rules reasonably well so the feats and skills were familiar.

I have a Dwarf Fighter. Dwarves get a Constitution bonus which doesn't matter that much since it's capped at 18 and Charisma penalty which is great because that's points you get to put elsewhere. I maxxed Strength and Con and put 2 leftover points into Dex.

After the usual creativity-killing "that name is taken" nonsense I settled for Ethelbert. Good old English name. Just don't call me Ethel, mkay?

I took Shield Mastery and Toughness as my feats and put all my skill points into Intimidate. Standard tanky stuff.

I was then ready to enter the game.

You start on a beach very like the AoC start as a shipwreck survivor. I approve. Beaches are an ideal place for a new character to begin.

I had heard the interface was tricky but it seems straightforward enough to a former WoW player. WASD - check. Click the red crosshair to hit stuff - ok. Randomly destroy anything you get a red crosshair for - can do!

The random targets turned out to have copper pieces and healing potions inside.

You get sent quickly to your first dungeon. When you enter a dramatic voice asks "Could this be Cellimas, the cleric you were sent to find?" Opposite you is a woman with the words Cellimas Villuhne (Cleric) above her head.

It's at this point my pen and paper instincts are starting to kick in overtime. I really miss not having a GM to argue with. I want to protest it's too obvious or that she must be a disguised succubus or go back to the beach and attempt to re-make the galleon I had been sailing in out of scraps of driftwood.

But it's a computer game so I wasd forward and click her.

Guess what? She IS Cellimas the Cleric! Who'd have thunk it!

As I walk up she asks "who in Khyber are you?" Now Carry on Up the Khyber is of course a classic British comedy film and any GM foolish enough to ask that in-character would be putting up with "lovely pair of melons you got there miss" sniggers for the rest of the evening.

I actually type "lovely pair of melons you got there miss." It appears in General chat whatever that is. Since no one replies and no one else has in fact said anything in it I assume it's one of those pointless chat channels you find sometimes in games that no one in their right mind uses. (Like Naxx General chat). Possibly instanced so that only I am in it.

She casts an awesome spell on me that makes me totally immune to dying until I leave the instance. I've long suspected that healers know this spell and only subject us tanks to the charade of dipping to 300/30k hit points to entertain themselves. Now I have proof!

I then had to do a climb, drop, gank and lever to open a gate. Now that's great, memories of Eye of the Beholder start to claw their way out of my subconscious.

We're joined by the rest of the NPCs including the rogue who not only has a corny London accent but promises to watch Cellimas' behind for her. Watch her behind! Geddit? Melons, missus, melons.

I run up to a door and swing my axe at it. The door has a lever next to it and my questhelper is telling me to use the lever to open the door. Not my axe. So sorry, got distracted there.

You go in and there's a very cool ambush. I really like the combat because you get numbers and a skull killing blow system when you hit stuff. Like -13* only * is a skull. Naturally the NPCs take all the credit for killing the monsters even though I got skull after skull. I didn't find any loot on the bodies but with a cockney rogue in the group what can one expect?

At this point I notice my hit points are 21/37 and are not regenerating. Lucky I can't die. We enter a room and there's a clickable hit point recovery shrine. OK, it's different. In fact it seems a reasonable way to support the D&D magic system in a computer game.

Next is another awesome Tomb of Horrors style trap which the NPC Rogue handles for you.

We press on and kick in a Sahuagin High Priestess. 7/37 hit points and the silly cleric is "cleansing the profane energies of the shrine" which if it was a player I'd take for going to the bathroom. Hael? Oh well.

There's a chest of treasure which is all mine, none for the NPCs at all! Yippee! Finally a suit of armour. Interestingly it takes a while to equip it, nice touch of realism.

After I've looted it Dick Van Dyke confides in me that he'd already had all the good stuff out of it before I got there. Fraggin rogues.

Then you have to use your Search ability to find a secret door. Another very cool aspect, it implies later dungeons will have you think about the dungeon layout and use Searches intelligently. (Or when bored).

You know how there's always a team talk just before a raid boss and everyone gets a little bored? If I were designing raid dungeons in DDO I'd stick a trapped secret door in at that point, bound to be good for a laugh.

I'll let the NPC Rogue have the last word:

"Tidy lasses and pints up the wazoo!" Oo er, missus!


  1. "lovely pair of melons you got there miss" sniggers for the rest of the evening.

    Which is precisely the reason I rolled on the Khyber server. The fact that the introductory quest has Sid James in Halfling form was a bonus.

    It just needed the cleric's chest piece to pop open and the Warforged to say "Oooo, Matron!" for me to snigger myself to death like the hyenas in Who Framed Roger Rabbit.

  2. Gor bloimey Mary Pawpins, this 'ere dawr is roight trapped luv a duck chim-chimeny-cheroo!

  3. Bonus ten points if you can spot the error made by the Cockney translator regarding the correct vernacular surrounding the word "knickers".