Dungeons & Dragons Online was for a long time one of those MMOs that I came back to time and again ever since its launch in 2006.
It’s now 2023 and it’s been at least six years since my last visit to Eberron, so I figured it was once again time to revisit.
What re-sparked my interest in the game was actually reading a presentation on the sale of Daybreak and Standing Stone Games that stated that the monthly active player numbers for DDO were nearly 50.000 players. It’s not the biggest population, but more than big enough for an MMO community to prosper.
DDO is a 15-year-old game and when it comes to graphics it’s definitely a bit dated. That is what happens to most MMOs though and I can think of only World of Warcraft when it comes to the older generation of MMORPGs that have been able to successfully update its graphics in any meaningful way.
If we wanted good graphics we would be playing AAA titles right? Not decade-old MMOs. We play those for the story, community, and gameplay, which we will soon get to.
The graphics in DDO are certainly good enough to get immersed in the world and once you get going you’re not paying much attention to the graphics being a bit outdated.
Speaking of immersion, having a dungeon master narrate your adventures really adds to it! Even low-level adventures are narrated. As an avid Dungeons & Dragons fan this is one of my favorite aspects of the game.
The music is very moody as well, with some great sound effects on top. At times you will only hear monsters in the distance, or doors opening in secret rooms.
DDO has managed what very few games have in terms of itemization, gear feels important from the start.
Every quest also feels at least somewhat important. These two factors make every moment feel like a real adventure in DDO, as opposed to the standard MMO recipe of having the player repeat similar quests again and again until max level.
Much of DDO is instanced which takes away a bit of the feeling that you are exploring a whole new and open world. On the other hand, these instances are very well designed and provide a real sense of adventure and fun, especially when enjoyed with a group of friends, much like the pen & paper version of D&D.
Building your character is a huge aspect of DDO, with almost limitless options as you can level multiple classes, and choose feats, skills, spells, and enchantments. You can even reincarnate and come back stronger in a new life.
All this may seem confusing at first, and building a perfect character seems almost impossible. While this might seem negative to some players, for Dungeons & Dragons fans it likely isn’t, as the game is more about the adventure and less about min-maxing.
DDO was known for being tough on solo players in the early days after it was released, especially at higher levels. The game has softened up a bit since then, and if you prefer to go it alone most of the time you will be fine, especially if you hire a hireling to help you on your adventure.
All the various options when building your character along with the vast range of different items make it possible to be very strategic when it comes to combat. Rushing into a room and hacking away might not always be the best approach, so sometimes you might need to lay a plan on how to defeat your enemies.
The end-game in DDO like in most other MMOs consists of getting better gear. The reincarnation system adds a unique feature though as you will always be able to reincarnate in some form and become more powerful.
As I mentioned earlier, DDO doesn’t have the biggest population. But around 50K monthly active players is enough to find some friends to play with.
Is DDO P2W?
DDO does have an in-game store, but I wouldn’t call it pay-to-win. Items from the store can certainly make your adventures easier but I never felt like there was anything that I had to buy.
Who Is DDO For?
Dungeons & Dragons Online is still a great MMO that more players should try. It’s great for casual players or a small group of friends who want to be able to quickly log in and experience an adventure.
It’s also great for players who like having many options to customize and build their character.
If you are curious about DDO, I would say give it a go. For being a 15-year-old game, it is still on par or better than many modern MMOs.