15 minutes of DDO went about as well as expected

The good: DDO still remembers my beta account, though not the characters. It also remembers my two box set accounts, though again not characters. Seems to have forgotten those were paid account, odd…

The bad: Everything else.

Before character creation I was hit with two cash shop references, and during character creation again 2-3 times. Once a character was created (with the same option the game had in 2005, because really, who has time to update something as trivial as your character (or the graphics in general, which look like DF1 at the lowest setting when DDO is maxed) when you have cash shop items to produce?), I was treated to a nice “buy this in the store to get ahead” loading screen.

The first NPC I talked to in the city? Buy some content. Wheee, glad you guys placed that guy first. Great first impressions and all that, right?

Moving past that beggar with his hand out, I found another NPC with an icon above his head and loaded into his mission, smashed left-click in what is still perhaps the MMO genres worst combat system, and got some reward after 5 minutes. During said mission I was also showered with magic items and other whatevers. Clicked finish and was loaded back into the city.


I will say this; DDO is still probably the best F2P MMO out.

About SynCaine

Former hardcore raider turned casual gamer.
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26 Responses to 15 minutes of DDO went about as well as expected

  1. Jenks says:

    The last line made me laugh out loud, thanks.

  2. I think NWO smashes DDO in terms of game play, but yeah first thing you’ll probably get is a cash shop popup. :P Surprised you actually play / used to play DDO though. Maybe they did a cleansing of inactive characters to free up names?

  3. evehermit says:

    I’ve been playing DDO for 3.5 years now – not because it would be the game I would pick myself, but because that is where my RL gaming group has settled. I just went back through all my point and expansion purchases, to find when it was averaged out it came to around $15 a month. (The Group buys / runs every adventure and party permutation, with several nearing the end of completionist paths.) I don’t see the demands for purchases since over time I have made them all. It is a game I can give or take, but its not a bad way to get together with friends and have a somewhat relaxed laugh. It certainly doesn’t take the mental effort to be competent in it that EVE does.

  4. bhagpuss says:

    Given this blog’s history with the Eurogamer-style nine hour review, I think you just broke my irony meter.

    • Anti-Stupidity League says:

      It’s like watching Tobold playing Eve.

    • SynCaine says:

      I’ve easily played well over 100hrs of DDO, a decent portion of that post-F2P.

    • Rammstein says:

      Wandering the internetz without opting for a ruggedized irony meter is a waste of a perfectly good irony meter.

      I decided to try DDO once, I didn’t even make it to character creation before I quit. I don’t think that would be particularly ironic even if I were a game reviewer by profession. Game reviewers don’t review every game that exists, and if a game fails to make the cut of games that even get reviewed, then they don’t make the cut. I wouldn’t have an issue with said game reviewer releasing a list of games he would not be reviewing, and even why. As long as you don’t call a nonreview a ‘full review’, where’s the problem? Did Syn call himself a professional game reviewer somewhere, and I missed it? Did he get DDO as an assignment from his boss?

  5. lothirieth says:

    The best f2p MMO out? Have you forgotten about Rift? That’s pretty harsh to be saying DDO is better than it.

  6. lothirieth says:

    forgot this bit.. DDO is made by Turbine.. who has been destroying Lotro as well and yes, can’t seem to muster up more modern graphics. DDO being a fail is to be expected just by looking at who makes it.

  7. I have tried a few times to get into DDO and have always failed. And it isn’t just the Turbine-isms… awkward character models, poorly drawn and unresponsive UI, and so on… nor is it the cash shop thing. Theoretically, the idea of selling modules and that thing should be a win for me. I like the idea of that. But somehow the whole package never comes together for me.

    Neverwinter, which in many ways is DDO2, similarly hasn’t really struck a chord with me. I have been persisting because our regular groups has been playing it, but I won’t log in outside of group time. I haven’t made an alt to race ahead, as happens with games I get into.

    I just don’t find the games compelling. There is something about just running dungeons without the context of an over-arcing story that falls flat for me. I will clearly put up with the Turbine-isms and the free to play with its hand out all the time, because I played LOTRO all summer. But I find the LOTRO story and environment interesting and I do not feel like I am just running dungeons so I can run more dungeons or gaining levels just so I can gain more levels.

  8. Red says:

    If you want to play a decent free to play game, give Path of Exile a shot. It’s everything that diablo 3 should have been with a pay shop that doesn’t current give you an advantage during game play.

    • Mobs says:

      PoE is sooo good. Especially since official release. As addictive as you remember oldschool hack and slashes were. The abilities tree is bananas in it’s complexity or simplicity, depending on what you want to make it.

  9. As I explained in other comments, the “cash shop options” in character creation are either expansion content or stuff that is unlocked in the game and you have the option to unlock early via payment. It’s just presented in a way that allows you to buy the options individually without leaving the client. Whining about having to pay for expansion character options in DDO is like whining about having to buy “Mists of Pandaria” to play a Pandaren Monk. Because, obviously Blizzard is a greedy corporation out to sap weak-willed idiots who want to play with Pandas and their insidious free-to-play model. No, wait, it’s a subscription game; your arguments are invalid.

    Also, what’s that “first NPC” you ran into? If you started an entirely new character, you would have been in Korthos Village and there’s one cash shop references there only after you complete the first series of quests; and, it’s actually a deal where you spend 5 points to get a quest reward that’s normally worth 195 points. Every quest in the harbor, the next zone, is available for free as far as I remember. So, I’m curious what NPC it was that you’re referring to since I’m fairly sure none exist to the entirely new player.

    Anyway, I hope you’ll look forward to my Darkfall review where I whine about not being able to play because I didn’t want to buy a box, and how the models in some images I found online look worse than the ones from the first version of RuneScape. That’ll be about as fair than this “review”.

    • SynCaine says:

      Remember I’ve been playing DDO since beta, so I can create a lvl 4 character directly rather than play through the same tutorial yet again. Once you get off the ship, the first NPC tries to sell you something.

      Also, prior to F2P, when you went to create a character, you didn’t get cash shop walls. Everything you had access to you had access to, and what you didn’t (Drow I believe) was tucked away and references as a future reward. The F2P model forces the game to throw what you are missing (now far more than previously) in your face. Just another ‘bonus’ of the business model. Same goes for the loading screen ads, a F2P ‘bonus’.

      And that’s really the point everyone here is making; F2P might get a few more people to bother downloading your game, but that comes at the expense of your design, be it big stuff like selling power, gimping character creation, or changing the game to be annoying if you don’t pay; to little things like “Willie Mays here!” ads during loading screens.

      If you have no choice you have no choice; but if you do, the subscription model allows you to design a better game for the players. Takes being a solid game to begin with to make that possible however, and if an MMO is F2P, it’s not.

      • Ah, so, your experience isn’t exactly the experience of a new player. You imply the game bombards new players with ads.

        Anyway, the first NPC you should have talked to is Bellwether Bill, who gives veteran status characters a free weapon. The next NPC down the stairs is Kupper Nickel, who takes you to the Demon Sands adventure area In other words, you were trying to enter what’s the equivalent of a small expansion; also note that if you had subscribed, you would have been able to access that content without a gate, just like in any other subscription-based game.

        And, this is the problem. You refuse to give this game a fair try. You claim subscriptions are superior, but when given the opportunity to subscribe you just dive into the game without paying a subscription. You bring our knee-jerk reactions into the game and don’t stop to see the parallels between business models.

        For example, what happens if you go up to content you don’t own in a subscription based game? If you don’t own “The Burning Crusade” and go to the zone to Quel’Thalas, it stops you with a message. Your precious immersion is broken either by there being an portal you can’t enter, or a location where other people disappear where there appears to be no door. A game that DARES to let you buy access to the location from within the game instead of making you go to an outside website or drive to a store to buy a physical box is horrible,

        Again, you’re just used to the way subscription games work where they bar entry to expansion areas and make you jump through hoops to get access if you want to just play the damned game. A game that does the exact same thing but allows you the convenience to buy access à la carte is scary bad wrong and just being greedy and trying to take your hard earned monies. Somehow, only having the option to pay for access for the entire bundle somehow makes the game inherently better.

        Personally, I kinda like the ability to buy an area for about $9 (keeping in mind that that Demon Sands is one of the biggest and most expensive areas). You can bring the price down to about $5 if you buy points on sale and wait for the content to be 30% off like I did. As I said before, I’ve paid about as much as someone who bought a subscription might pay through the years I’ve played. The difference is I could stop paying and I’d still have access to my characters. I like that.

        Anyway, Syn, you’ve built up enough bluster and reputation for hating free-to-play that I know that my words are falling on deaf ears no matter what. Your history with DDO means that you’re blind to the way the game uses the business model in a beneficial. A shame, but it means this is no longer a conversation and just two people typing at each other over the internet. So, this likely ends my adventures commenting on these articles.

        One last thing, prior to the free-to-play transition DDO did, in fact, show you the unavailable Drow race on the character select screen. At least it did during a press event. So, your memory seems to be faulty. Maybe this will plant the seed of doubt in your mind that maybe your perceptions aren’t always accurate.

        Hope springs eternal.

        • SynCaine says:

          The argument that “if you had subbed, it would be all better” not only makes my point (a sub clears up a lot of the F2P garbage that was added in as part of F2P), but isn’t even 100% true here. I’d still see the infomercial load screens, I’d still go without some of the cash-only ‘conveniences’, and I’d still be playing a game where the devs make changes not to make the game more fun, but to drive more people to the store by making the game WORSE.

          Sorry, I’d rather pay a sub to a sub game and not deal with all that crap.

        • Antivyris says:

          Okay, let me just clear something up here, because it always ticks me off just a little bit when people talk about a game they don’t know.

          First off, the only way right now you have just Vanilla is your never played past that. You are not a new player. You can get BC, Wrath, and Cata for 20$. That makes ALL of BC 5$. (This goes off of BC and Wrath being 5$, and Cata being 10$). That’s less than your single “Zone”. I would argue the 20$ of content is far above and beyond any of the purchasable content equaling 20$ that you eluded to. 10$ if you wait for a half-off sale, that happens at least every 3 months.

          New players purchasing the game for 20$ get all the way to Cata as well. Blizzard has this concept of “older” content being cheaper. When an expansion ends, it goes half price. All previous expansions are added to the standard wow. So, when Warlords of Draenor comes out, Mop will be added to that 20$ pack.

          This leads me to believe you are trying the free version only…but, oh, wait, ALL races are in the free version now. You can go to the blood elf faction city even if you never purhcased BC. Again, nice attempt there, clearly your information is incorrect and out of date. This leads me to believe you are using 2 year old data, and don’t see a reason to verify anything you say.

          Also, your demon sands expansion costs 950 turbine points. I can’t buy 950 points, the two tiers are 600 points for 7.99 or 1600 points for 19.99. So, for two zones I get three expansions and the default game.

          To buy all the classes, the points came out to 13350 on the wiki. Feel free to clarify if that is wrong. Also, on the DDO page currently, to get enough points to buy all the classes, I would need the $200 deal on that page. And that’s just to even try new classes. If I want to try a class in wow, I just load up starter for free and get all the classes to 20.

          So, please, stop using WoW from 2-4 years ago as your comparison against current things, it just makes you look bad.

        • Antivyris says:

          Also, just a clarification. Currently, if you had vanilla wow, I was wrong. When you log in, you’ll find you have all the way to cata, they upgraded every old account, so no, you wouldn’t have to buy the expansions if you were a returning player, except for MOP.

          Also, when I said ‘Try a class’ I mean ‘Try all the classes. Without that clarification, it looked like I was saying you had to buy all the DDO classes to try one, which wasn’t my intention. I was pointing to want to try all of them, which would take that 200 buy in.

        • I know I said I wouldn’t reply, but I can’t help myself.

          Syn, no, the fact that you can subscribe to DDO proves my point: there is no meaningful difference between game design for free-to-play compared to subscription games. The fact that you can subscribe to DDO and play it just fine even though it is a free-to-play game shows that they don’t have to compromise the game design to include free-to-play, contrary to what you have said repeatedly.

          Yes, some companies will compromise the game design, I never disputed that; however, that’s the same whether we’re talking about free-to-play, subscriptions, or anything else. And, games that compromise the design tend not to last very long. DDO has been free-to-play for about as long as Darkfall has been launched (if we politely ignore Darkfall‘s downtime before “Unholy Wars”.)

          Antivyris, you grumble about people talking about games they don’t know, then you go on and do that very thing. Your total is wrong because you added in the bundles, so you’re trying to buy some of those races three times. Also, some of those races and classes can be earned in the game, just as they could be before the free-to-play transition. If you absolutely must have every character option before you even make a character, yes, you will spend a lot of money. But, it gets cheaper if you wait for 20% off sales and wait for specials on Turbine Points. So if you wait for sales and are willing to actually play the game to earn the unlocks, then you will end up spending less than three month’s subscription to have every single character and class option.

          Or, you could just pony up $15 and have a month’s access to the races and classes that are unavailable to free players.

          Think about it this way: Turbine sold lifetime accounts for LotRO. What I’ve done is essentially buy a lifetime account for DDO, but instead of having to spend all my money up front I bought it in pieces when I wanted to, after I tried the game and found out I really liked it. Given the enjoyment I’ve gotten out of the game, it’s been a good investment for me.

          As for the price of WoW’s expansions, there’s a reason why they have to give away the older content at such a cheap price: because they are essentially worthless the way the game is designed. So, they essentially make you pay a lot more for new content that they will make worthless with time. BTW, this is a perfect example of how the subscription + expansions business model “compromises” the game design.

        • SynCaine says:

          “Syn, no, the fact that you can subscribe to DDO proves my point: there is no meaningful difference between game design for free-to-play compared to subscription games. The fact that you can subscribe to DDO and play it just fine even though it is a free-to-play game shows that they don’t have to compromise the game design to include free-to-play, contrary to what you have said repeatedly.”


          If I sub, do I still see infomercial loading screens? Yes.
          If I sub, is the cash shop still arround annoying paying customers? Yes.
          If I sub, do I still play the version where they change the game to get people into the shop? Yes.
          If I sub, do the devs stop all focus on F2P aspects and only design content to increase the value of the sub? No.

          Sorry, a F2P MMO with a sub is still a F2P game; flawed.

        • Rammstein says:

          ” BTW, this is a perfect example of how the subscription + expansions business model “compromises” the game design.”

          No, it’s perfectly possible to charge a subscription, offer expansions, and not have the expansions obsolete the old content. EVE does this. I thought EQ did that too, to some degree? Never played EQ, but that’s what I seem to remember hearing about it. As far as I can tell, you’re pointing to one mistake made by WoW and slavishly imitated by all the WoW-clones, and wrongly deciding that this defines the entire genre of sub games.

          The same would follow in reverse, if I could just find one cash shop MMORPG that was a good MMORPG and where I thought “this MMORPG really does work better with a cash shop than with a sub”, then that would largely disprove Syn’s claim that MMORPG’s must be sub-model to be good. One example would reduce his claim to “It’s hard to be a good cash-shop MMORPG”, two or three would demolish it completely. (Although his claim would survive intact in a historical form: from year X to year Y, no one had yet figured out how to make a good cash shop-MMORPG) ((Also, I think his claim is destined to become historical at some point soon no matter what, as even if someone doesn’t create a great f2p-cashshop MMORPG, the companies will continue to create payment schemes which blend and confuse the initially clear-cut payment models until his pronouncement will be undercut from the front by said confusion, by a game which has a sub model, plus an F2P option, plus EVE’s plex system, plus etc etc etc…we’re already a good deal down that path, as seen in these threads.))

          I understand that you think DDO is such an example, a good cash-shop free-option MMORPG. Two problems with your arguments for that: 1. I don’t think DDO is commercially successful, so that disqualifies it. And no, still existing is not proof that it is commercially successful, that argument has been thoroughly refuted already. 2. As someone who’s never played DDO, your descriptions of why the game is good make the game sound perfectly horrible. You’ve undertaken the Sisyphean task of convincing someone who’s tried a game and dislikes it, that he should actually like it, and you’re really really bad at doing so. Three words: agree to disagree.

        • Rammstein says:

          p.s. You guys should consider joining me in not using the word F2P anymore, you both use the word to mean ‘cash shop’, which is quite obviously opposite from the literal meaning of F2P. As the payment models evolve in complexity and morph into strange hybrids, sticking to such an Orwellian category is evidence of some severe cognitive dissonance. As I’ve said before, the game which is constantly broadcast as being the (non-mmorpg) F2P success, doesn’t seem to actually refer to itself as F2P, which I find quite meaningful.

        • Xyloxan says:

          “p.s. You guys should consider joining me in not using the word F2P anymore, you both use the word to mean ‘cash shop’, which is quite obviously opposite from the literal meaning of F2P.”

          That’s an excellent point, Rammstein. Thinking about it, it’s actually illogical to call them FTP while their business goal is, obviously, to extract as much money as possible from as many players as possible.

        • Antivyris says:

          Notice I said “Feel free to clarify”.
          You did not, however, expand on the costs at all. I’m going off their cash shop page, which from what you are saying is not designed in the least bit to be friendly to a money saver.

          How much does it cost to unlock every race at the start?

          And am I the only one that finds it a little sad that I can’t find that info out except from someone who is playing?

  10. Anonymous says:

    ” The F2P model forces the game to throw what you are missing (now far more than previously) in your face.”

    You mean just like the World of Warcraft loading screen that reminds me to buy Mists of Pandaria and play a cool monk?

    • Antivyris says:

      You mean the tips that you can disable?
      Can you disable the F2P cash shop popups? Nope

      Also, the loading screen line is random, and doesn’t know if you have it or not. Good try though.

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