Dungeons And Dragons Online, Again, For The First Time

I bought and played Dungeons and Dragons Online towards release, and discovered that it was a pretty decent game. The AD&D 3.5 mechanics were translated into a surprisingly-faithful system that also pulled a real-time quasi-arcade mechanism. What was actually delivered in terms of core gameplay was actually both fast paced and conveyed a certain spirit of Dungeons and Dragons.

(Dungeons and Dragons Online Gamespot footage.)

Unfortunately, it didn’t really feel like a MMORPG. While Dungeons and Dragons Online had an excellent mechanism for finding players to team up with, the actual game was heavily instanced. There was no real compelling feeling of a unified world, instead you would go and perform instanced dungeons.  Time and time again you would do these, because chances are the people you meet would need to do them to complete missions even if you already have done them before.

That the dungeons were of excellent quality with randomizing elements is beside the point: while Dungeons and Dragons Online was a pretty decent game, it was never a $15/mo game.  It never had that MMORPG-like appeal, even if it was a pretty decent fast-paced RPG and Dungeons and Dragons conversion in and of itself.

(A fellow sharing my excitement over this transition.)

So I’m actually quite excited to hear that the game is in the process of going Free To Play. You can get into the beta right now if you have a Fileplanet Subscription (or likely even if you have a DDO subscription) and see what they’re offering.

I’ve played a little bit of it, and I feel a great deal like I am indeed meeting Dungeons and Dragons Online again for the first time. This is how the game really should have been at release: no strings attached play, just log in and go for it, and if you decide you want to get some additional goodies then dig out your wallet and buy em’.

The payment model is detailed here, showing that you can choose to pay $15/mo if you really don’t like the idea of micro transactions. Some of the things you can purchase include additional character slots, classes (Monks and Favored Souls are currently considered additional), modules (sets of extra dungeons), shared bank slots, ect.

An interesting thing I’m noticing about The DDO Store is that the vast majority of the micro transactions are permanent – you really can escape having a subscription in all cases except for special consumables (e.g. special healing potions).

Dungeons and Dragons Unlimited is leaving beta August 4th. The beta, of which I’m currently a part (and the NDA is dropped) will wipe its characters at that point.  In this move to going free to play, I would like to see a lot more mainstream MMOs follow suit, but Dungeons and Dragons Online in particular should really benefit from this transition as the game was practically designed for it from the start.

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