It’s time for my third (and final) breakdown and review of Dungeons and Dragons Online (DDO). Today’s piece will focus on the end-game of DDO, something that I have accumulated much experience with, but by no means have mastered. For those of you joining the party late, you can read my other articles by clicking Levi’s 2 Plat.
First let’s start with how one goes on a raid in Dungeons and Dragons Online. Most raids, at least the higher level ones, require some sort of flagging. Flagging can be equated with gating, or attuning – basically you need to complete some quests or objectives in order to get the quest required to do the actual raid. These of course range in difficulty, but with no apparent indication of how tough the raid will be. For example, obtaining what you need in Gianthold (level 13+)for doing the Reaver’s Fate raid is just a boring painful grind, but the raid is one of the easiest. Some raids you still have to flag for each time you do the raid, which is really annoying – luckily many were changed or are quite older raids and not ran as often. Overall I don’t have a big problem with flagging, it can push the storyline of the raid by working up to it. The only major downside is when you can find plenty of groups doing the raid but not the flagging.
Next we get to the loot! As I mentioned before in part two, in DDO players receive loot from chests, usually the named loot on a raid will of course come after you’ve finished the final stage or boss. Each person in the raid has a chance to get some of the raid loot in a chest, but there is no saying it will be useful to you. These items are primarily going to be bound to you, but the good news is that before you loot the item, you can assign the item to someone else in the raid so they can loot it. I’ve found that a lot of DDO players are pretty generous, probably because they know that there is just no benefit to them looting something they can’t use and someone else can. So going on a raid with a bunch of veterans can be nice – they may have all the loot and pass you what you want.
A simple example of a chest.
This brings me to my next part: Why would people keep doing raids that they don’t need any of the loot from? With most raids, every 20 times you complete the raid you get a special set of rewards to choose from when you turn in the finished quest. These rewards can have the raid items, as well as a really good chance to get the better tomes. A tome can add 1-4 points to one of your stats. This change is permanent and this amount is counted when checking for things like stat pre-requisites for certain feats. Tomes do not stack with each other, so you can only gain at max, the highest tome you have used on that stat. The problem I have with this 20 completion system is that there is of course a raid lockout timer. After completing the raid, you cannot do it again for another 2 days and 18 hours. So in a nutshell, it will take even the most dedicated player at about 2 months before they can accumulate 20 completions. That’s a long time for me; I like to work for my achievements but I feel like this system just takes the control away from me and slaps me with a huge handicap. Plus, it’s kind of a boring method of rewarding players. It seems like just a motivation and time sink for players to keep running content over and over… and most of these raids are really boring.
Boring and Simple:
In DDO, there are many raids that players partake in, even if they were released long before the level cap was raised. This means that raids that used to cater to (for example) level 16 players are being done by level 20 players. Because DDO only has a small range of levels, when the cap is raised, all the old loot does not become obsolete. So, that being said, I can fully understand that what is now a very easy raid may have been quite a bit more difficult. That still does not excuse the fact that pretty much all the raids I have experienced have been extremely bland and easy. Let’s me first mention that I am, in general, not a huge fan of raiding in any game. But I have still have had some good times doing so in the past. Unfortunately, the raids in DDO are just so simple, basic, and bland that they don’t really provide me with any sort of satisfaction or challenge. Let me give you one example:
This is by far the most run raid in the entire game, because you acquire items throughout the raid that you can use for crafting (more on this later). As such, you can run the whole raid, but not complete it, and do it again to get more materials. This raid consists of 5 parts which I will outline and summarize below:
- Spend about 7-8 minutes beating on non-moving, non-fighting portals that spawn in the area. You move from one to the next, hit them for 30 seconds, and move on. The few mobs that come out of the portals are generally one shot by a caster.
- Everyone is put into a maze type area and everyone will move down to the south center of the map and drag all the aggro down there for killing it. The maze isn’t actually a maze, but at first glance it’s the best way to describe it. Then your raid has 4 mini-bosses to deal with. What you get is random, out of I think 9 different ones. Your goal? To kill all 4 mobs almost at the same time, or in rapid succession otherwise they can respawn. Probably the more common place that raids fail, almost exclusively when there are several new players that aren’t cooperating, but super easy now because everyone has done it so much.
- Everyone gets ported into a room with a floor puzzle, after doing your puzzle you have to get water from a fountain and bring it to any solved puzzle. I like puzzles, but unfortunately players are either really good at them (from experience or using an online solver to help) or are really bad and apparently lack the ability to alt-tab, dragging the process out. Overall an extremely easy stage though.
- Fight a few trash mobs and then kill the boss affectionately referred to as “Hairy.” How does this boss fight go? Well, you stand around him and auto attack… and that’s it. There are some flying swords that tickle a little, and if you take too long to kill him you’ll have to clear a few more trash mobs before he re-appears, but yeah, you just stand there and smack him, not much for strategy.
- In short, you fight the same 4 mini bosses again that you did on stage two. You don’t need to time their deaths, but almost all groups will save one of them because there are these fountains that you can run in and out of for 5 minutes to very slowly get your spell points and health back. They save one of these bosses by having one player get their aggro, and everyone else making a circle around the mob. The mob can’t get to the player, so just stands there doing nothing. Then 5 minutes later when the healers have got their spell points back you kill him and then fight Hairy again! Oh joy, and the fight is basically the same as before except now there are no tickling swords and no trash. Stand there and auto attack boys!
I hope you get the point, even if you haven’t done this before, that it is extremely simple, boring, and quite easy. Compare this to let’s say the Professor Putricide fight in World of Warcraft (WoW) where everyone needed to be on their toes, dodging, avoiding, moving and combating each new thing thrown at you and you will find that the raids in DDO are just as I have described them: Bland, unchallenging and unsatisfying. I should mention I am not a huge fan of WoW, but I cannot deny that WoW has done a great many things quite well. I gave you an example of the Shroud, because it is run the most and honestly it’s not all that different then the other raids. Many of them are shorter, but still just consist of standing around a boss and beating on it for 2 minutes. It’s a level 16 raid too, so I am sure it was harder back in the day, but even the higher level raids I have done are not a challenge, and are not interesting.
I really wish I had taken a screen shot before I TRed (more on that below) to show you how boring it is to fight him.
Let’s move onto something that is hardly ever grindy or boring in MMOs, Crafting! Okay, I should probably turn my sarcasm off for this one, but here goes, and introduction to DDO crafting. In DDO there really aren’t trade skills like you see in most other MMOs. Instead, there is one sort of basic crafting in which you can barely augment items you already have, and the rest of the crafting is completely based upon the content you are doing. For example you craft Greensteel items by getting things from the Shroud, and in general the Twilight Vale content pack. In another pack, you would get different things to craft or upgrade different items. There is almost nothing that connects one sort of crafting with another. The basic gist of the DDO crafts I have experienced? They take a lot of time and are pretty boring, but are often very powerful and required. The good news, most of the ingredients for various crafting can be traded.
The most basic crafting device.
Once you hit level 20, you can start doing certain quests on Epic difficulty. However, you are expected to be very well geared before you do, so much in fact that I have not done any yet out of fear of being the weak link, though probably my fears are unfounded. Because of my lack of experience within epics, I interviewed a few people in game that had done quite a bit of them, and I will paraphrase their thoughts here. In short, Epics are just the same old quests you did before, except the mobs in them are much higher level. They can be hard, but unfortunately it sounds like they are just the same old DDO, albeit with slightly different (but no less boring) strategies that are just ways in which to use the game mechanics to make the fight as boring and easy as possible. Got a bunch of mobs in the doorway? Let’s have four players block the door, and have the wizard or sorcerer stand back and drop a firewall. The mobs aggro the caster, but they can’t get to them, so they stand in the fire and die. Yawn. Of course there are rewards for doing epics, you can get tokens for upgrading certain items, and you can collect items that allow you to upgrade an item you could get from the dungeon on regular, into an epic version of the item. So in short, some epics can actually be difficult, but it really isn’t very different then other aspects of DDO.
As I explained in part two of my review, there are a few different ways to respec one’s character, and the most extreme of those is the True Reincarnation (TR). When you TR, you start over at level one. You can change everything but your name and your gender, and you start over from scratch as whatever you have chosen to be. The advantage of TRing is that you get some additional points to put into stats, and you gain access to past life feats. There are two types of past life feats, those that are passive, and those that you actually have to use a feat slot to get. The passive ones are automatic and you get them for every class you have ever gotten to 20 with on that character. They can stack up to three times, so if you get to 20 and TR three times all playing the same class, you’ll have that classes passive feat stacked three times. The active feats take a feat slot, and range in their usefulness. There is one final thing you can achieve, and that is a passive feat for having a past life in every class. I don’t know anyone who has done this, it would certainly take a lot of time and effort. When you TR, it takes more experience to level, and then the second time you TR it takes even more. I believe that any additional TRs beyond the second just take the same amount as required by the second TR. Why do people do it? Some want the extra points, the benefits of the past life feats, the neat little symbols next to your name that shows other player’s that you’re a TR, and some are just bored. You get to keep all your items, stored in a special bank that you can take things from but not put things back. You do lose your count of completions, your raid flagging, all your favor with the various factions, any tomes you have used and basically everything but your loot. I have just started my adventures on my newly TRed toon. I did it because I wanted to try a different race, I was a little bored, and I am such a sucker for advancing my character by (almost) any means possible.
This wraps up my review of DDO, though if something really striking changes I may have to write about it. There are a host of changes, fixes, and new races in the highly anticipated next update, coming between October and November. I hope you’ve enjoyed my exhaustive review of the game, but I think I will be focusing more of my future attention to topics that span across games instead of just one.