Little more Dragon Age, and some DDO F2P thoughts.

As I stated in my Dragon Age review, I was very impressed with the combat engine when, after finally defeating the first boss, one of my characters jumped on him and put his sword through the Ogre’s skull. All of this was done in slow motion, but in-game and without any delay. Yesterday as I was playing I had another such moment, although this time my guy was on the receiving end of a dragon tackling him to the ground and then clawing his face off. Again all in-game and happening while I was still able to control my party, and just another ‘oh shit’ moment. Good stuff.

Oddly a new patch is out, and I’ve had none of the issues it fixes, while it makes Normal difficulty easier. As I’m really enjoying the challenge at Normal (and with rumors of Hard being brutal and requiring some min/maxing), I think I’ll just hold of on the patch unless I come across some great need. Another bonus of D2D over Steam, I can patch when I want. (Steam forces you to patch, right?)

In MMO news, our DDO group has left the docks and started questing in the Market area, where much of the content is pay-to-play. I doubt we will be putting up the cash as a whole, because while DDO is a fun distraction, it’s just not that great. The dungeons are well designed, the graphics are great, sound is good; no issues with any of that. The problem, like I’ve mentioned before, is that the combat is too fast and fights are either mash-attack easy or insta-gib hard. You never really get the feeling that playing smart is needed, that using all your abilities is important, or that coming up with a strategy before an encounter will alter the result.

Playing both DDO and DarkFall at the same time makes me realize how vastly different two combat systems can be, even if their ‘basics’ are similar. Both games melee combat (DF ranged and magic is far more FPS than DDO, which is more similar to WoW tab-targeting) is click-to-attack, enemies dance, block/dodge player driven mitigation, and yet they don’t even remotely feel the same. DDO feels mindless, just hold down attack and wait for the mob to go splat. DarkFall is a challenge with every swing, and dodging/blocking is absolutely critical, and I’m just talking PvE here.

I’m not even sure it’s a speed issue either, DF might be a bit slower than DDO, but it’s not massively noticeable. I think the major difference is the overall length of combat. In DDO either you or the mob dies in 3-8 seconds. In DarkFall you can be fighting a decently challenging mob for 30-40 seconds, if not more. So in that 3-8 seconds of DDO combat, what good is using sunder armor or other debuffs? What good is coming up with a pull tactic when one cleave attack kills most of the enemies? And most importantly, what good is strategy when one attack hits you for 50% of your HP, with a second hit coming in 1-2 seconds?

One final note about DDO and its cash shop, which some have recently used as an example of the ‘inevitable’ F2P wave. First, let’s keep in mind that the only reason DDO is F2P is because it failed as a sub game. It’s not like Turbine was racking in the cash with DDO, and one day just decided to let everyone get a prolonged free sample. Second, while the cash shop in DDO is better than most (although you can still buy plenty of items that make the game much easier), it has zero effect on how fun the actual game is. F2P or sub, DDO is IMO just a somewhat average MMO, one that does some things very well but overall feels off. It makes a good first impression, which is why everyone is throwing around that 40% number now, but lets see how that persists 2-3 months down the line, when more players are out of the initial area and see more of the game. My bet is that F2P won’t turn DDO into an MMO success, but rather give it a nice initial boost before it returns back to it’s previous level (if not slightly lower due to how the F2P model works).

About SynCaine

Former hardcore raider turned casual gamer.
This entry was posted in Combat Systems, Darkfall Online, DDO, Dungeons and Dragons Online, MMO design, Patch Notes, Random, RMT. Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Little more Dragon Age, and some DDO F2P thoughts.

  1. Wyrm says:

    That is strange.
    I played a lot of DDO, specially with a barbarian/fighter i leveled until 16, and while some dungeon runs were exactly as you describe it, I had several runs where tactics played an important role and everybody had to know what they were doing. Irestone Inlet for example can be a great challenge when you’re lvl 3 or 4 and you also have to play smart on Shan-To-Kor. But as with everything: YMMV.

    • syncaine says:

      We did Irestone Inlet with 4 people, and basically it was just a series of smash-smash-smash fights (with a cool exploiting boat moment). What level is Shan-To-Kor?

      • Remastered says:

        If I remember correctly from last night, Shan-To-Kor is level 4-5? However, it’s not available as part of the F2P.

  2. Mordiceius says:

    They may have made normal a bit easier but I think it was only slightly. From what I have been hearing from others is that normal gets really hard later on, almost unfairly hard. But yes, the challenge is nice.

    • syncaine says:

      Last night, and I don’t want to spoil things for people so I’ll try to be vague, but I was on a certain quest chain and at one point, unless I missed something, the only way to progress was to go past a Dragon, which just completely wipes the floor with my guys. Either I need to come back later to finish the chain (which seems odd because the other mobs I was fighting along the way were very doable), or I’m doing something wrong.

  3. evizaer says:

    I basically hit the paywall in DDO at level 5 and haven’t touched it. The game does a terrible job of letting you know what content you should be doing if you’re F2P. I’m not going to sift through all the P2P quests to find the few F2P ones. I have better games to play.

    I found duoing the game to be much more fun and tactical than it seems you’re experiencing with a larger group. 3.5e D&D (tabletop style) did have a problem with its mechanics where, with a larger group, it was either fight something your level and have players getting instagibbed, or fight stuff a lower level and have all combat last 2 or 3 rounds at most. The solution to this problem is mainly great encounter design. The encounter has to have non-fighting objectives that need to be accomplished perhaps before the fight ends, so the players aren’t bored as they smash through another generic encounter. Also, terrain needs to be varied and play an important role. DDO can’t do either of these, so combat suffers a bit.

    • Remastered says:

      I agree with hitting the wall right at level 5. All of a sudden your quest options become EXTREMELY limited. Granted, I don’t know the game as intimately as most, but we could only locate 3-4 level 4 F2P quests. This after having 8-10 available to us from levels 1-3. Differentiating between P2P and F2P quests is pretty easy in that anything that’s F2P shows up as a golden trophy type icon, while anything F2P appears red with the DDO store “coin” icon attached to it.

  4. The beauty of a “free to play” game, if done right, is that there’s really no reason to delete the game. Without a monthly subscription, it’s okay to drop out for a few months and come back later when it strikes your fancy. This is the same benefit Guild Wars has.

    The other great thing about the business model is that it allows new players to get into the game easier. I suspect that Turbine will end up having more players for DDO than they did originally; whether that translates into more income isn’t certain, but I imagine it probably will. The biggest problems here is probably that the game was retrofitted to be free to play after originally being designed as subscription-based. A game that was designed from the start to take full advantage of the free-to-play business model would probably be a lot more profitable. It says something about the quality of Turbine’s developers that they were able to change the game radically without it being a disaster like other massive game changes have been.

  5. Wintersdark says:

    I have to agree about ddo. It’s entertaining, but I lost interest pretty quick due to that very problem with combats being too fast. There are no moderately difficult challenges, just faceroll or very hard. Worse, the very hard don’t teach you WHY they are hard, you just get beat down fast and hard.

    I love big challenges, very tough fights. But I need to know WHY I lost, to be able to look back and see where I went wrong, so I can plan out a better strategy.

    It’s too bad, really. I liked a lot of what DDO had to offer, but the combat just breaks the game for me.

  6. Yeebo says:

    I found the game to be quite tactical on a solo Wizard. On a character like a Pally that can simply wade in and butcher everything, less so.

  7. Song7 says:

    I know I’m replying late to this blog but I was on xfire and saw that Dragon Age took Aion’s #4 spot. I know, I know… it’s “xfire”. Still funny though.

  8. Mark says:

    Heh, you’re playing DAO. You’ve complained about WoW (and others?) and it’s microtransactions.

    DAO is one of the biggest money grabs to come out for single player games. It’s not even a possibility that you will be charged for actual content vs fluff. It’s already there, day one! With features that should have been in the normal game.

    From EA no less…I like the consistency.

  9. Abeon elite says:

    I think the ‘level 5 paywall’ mentioned above is more down to bad quest entrance layout.

    ‘The marketplace’ in DDO contains mostly paid quest from the Sharn syndicate chain.

    The individual houses contain many F2P quests, but the natural progression to the marketplace from the harbour can make the options seem limited.

    The real paywall is around level 12, but you can max out (level 20) without spending a cent. You will just end up running quests over.

    But then you could use the free Turbine points you get from favour to buy quest packs.

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