Monday, May 23, 2011

As one door closes...

...Another opens.

I've uninstalled WoW from my hard drive, and cancelled my subscription. In its' place, I've installed Dungeons and Dragons Online. I've been playing it for the last three hours or so as I type, and already I'm able to tell that with this game, although I loved Survival, I'm going to be able to get at least a good part of the playstyle that I'd always wanted from Surv.

My class in DDO is a Half-Orc Tempest Ranger. Rangers in DDO are a true melee/ranged hybrid. At the time of rolling, I had 17 base strength, straight out of the gate, and was also given a large two handed axe with a fire enchant during the starting quest, as well.

I'm now running through the early quests two shotting literally everything, and even though ranged combat is supposed to be the weakest element of DDO, I think I've figured out a way to get around that. Half-Orcs have very high base strength, and although Dexterity (the equivalent of Agility in WoW, roughly) is usually the stat needed for ranged damage, Tempests get a skill later on which allows us to use Strength as our ranged stat.

I do a little (though not much, truthfully, because I got a very nice repeating crossbow as a quest reward) more damage melee than I do at range, but I can shoot when I need to, for getting casters or other mobs that I don't want to get so close to, that they can damage me. So I have a lot of versatility. Rangers can even wear shields, although I am not going to do that, because as a Tempest, once I get the skills for it, I will be dual-wielding. Tempests apparently have two hand specialisation that is even better than what Fighters (the Warrior equivalent in DDO) get, but they're still quite a bit stronger than we are, as well. Still, I'm doing just fine as my own tank right now.

Rangers aren't a pet class in DDO, but I'm that much stronger melee, that I really don't need a pet; although it is possible later on to get spells which let me summon one for ten minutes or so.

DDO is a completely PvE oriented game; there's no PvP at all, at least that I know of. The instances can also be run either solo, with a human group, or with NPC hirelings, and the difficulty level is fully adjustable. Payment options are equally flexible; you can either pay a monthly subscription, (which I'm doing) or pay for Turbine Points at the DDO store, which seem to allow content to be unlocked on a per-transaction basis, although the initial content is free to play.

I've subscribed for an initial three months, as I said, and I much prefer subscribing than gated microtransactions, because a subscription means I immediately get access to everything up front, that someone doing the initial free-to-play would have to spend a lot more money for, on individual points. At $30 for three months, it's 30% cheaper than World of Warcraft, as well.

DDO's graphics might seem a little limited to some, but I like them. It uses the classic 70s style of fantasy art, as also seen in Age of Conan. They not long ago added support for DirectX 11 though, and I had to actually put the settings down to DirectX 10, because my video card started running at 85C.

If you've been upset about the direction WoW has gone in since Cataclysm, though, DDO is at least worth a try, I think. I'm very happy with it, and while it comes across as non-mainstream and a little old school, that is exactly what I was looking for. It might be your cup of tea; it might not.

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