I have built three characters up to level three in Dungeons & Dragons Online: Eberron Unlimited (DDO for short). It’s taken me a week and considering how slow levelling is in DDO, I believe I’ve already spent more time with it than with any other MMO.
I first visited the game some time ago but decided to re-visit it now that it had become free to play. It’s been fun so far. The opening area is well built and written and there’s a good sense of adventure in the proceedings. You get to explore the island and do something fairly epic despite being a first or second level adventurer, including saving a community and facing a grown dragon.
I never really understood the appeal of MMORPGs before playing with my wife. Exploring the game world and our characters and working on our teamwork just brings that much more depth. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, considering that these are supposed to be multiplayer affairs. I’ve been saying for years that MMOs just aren’t for me, and I’ve been doing it wrong all this time. Seems like such an obvious thing. I really (really!) didn’t understand how much of a difference it would be to play with company. I’m not sure if I’d be happy with just online buddies, but playing side by side with someone in the same room is just great.
That said, I have enjoyed my time soloing my paladin and ranger characters much more than soloing in other games. A part of the charm is the very familiar D&D framework, albeit adjusted for real-time gaming. I have all the races and classes I know and love, and I get to fight all these iconic D&D monsters.
Is DDO a substitute to playing pen and paper D&D, which is also something I long for? To a degree. The same themes and mechanical lures are there. I honestly don’t miss the ability to do whatever I can imagine within the context all that much, but I do miss my own imagination. I don’t like being shown what Eberron looks like, when it’s considerably more high fantasy than I what always imagined my D&D to be. I like my characters, but I don’t like all these cartoon characters with funny names around me – although there are many awesome characters, as well.