There were lofty expectations for developer Turbine (Asheron's Call, LOTR Online) and their latest MMORPG, Dungeons & Dragons Online: Stormreach. They had a famous franchise with a tradition of successful RPGs to live up to, as well as the high bar set by successful MMO contemporaries World of Warcraft, EverQuest, and Guild Wars.
Hardcore fans have wondered what new experiences DDO would offer over the oft compared Neverwinter Nights series. If you're looking for a graphically rich world with a new campaign setting and challenging, real-time combat, then DDO could be worth a look. After reading these reviews, however, you might conclude that the solo options, the more frequent and higher leveling, the library of downloadable modules, and the free online play of NWN is time better spent.
EuroGamer (80/100) summarizes DDO's battle system nicely: "Fighting isn’t simply ‘hit the auto-attack button and occasionally buff your character’. Depending on your character’s abilities, you can roll, sidestep, jump and block, all of which affect how hard you are to hit and how much damage you do. Where WOW is like Connect 4, a solved game, DDO is not always predictable and relies on you swinging, dodging and blocking at the right times."
GameSpot (75/100) explains the lack of PvP and solo-friendly play: "The point of the game is to play through and enjoy successive quests together with several other players like you. This isn't a game for those who prefer or expect the option to be able to play solo, though it makes quickly finding a player group quite easy."
1UP (65/100) has a more sobering description of party creation: "The bottom line is that it's tough to keep a group together for very long -- even a group that works well together. The instanced missions are static and don't scale to party size (though you can select one of three difficulty levels when entering a dungeon) so you need to have a decent-sized party to succeed. Further, you need a well-rounded party to succeed and/or get the most out of a quest."
GameSpy (60/100) expected a more immersive world: "The sense of scale is elusive: every time you do leave Stormreach (or delve into its belly), your party gets its own private instance of whatever mission you're in, which locks you away from the rest of the playerbase. There's no travel time outside of the loading screen, and while excessive journeys are by no means fun, their complete absence really does a lot to shrink a world."
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