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Dungeons & Dragons Online Review

Dungeons & Dragons Online review

Developer: Turbine

Release Date: 2006

DevilsMMO MMORPG Review

by Matt Blain

Many things come to mind when deciding on whether or not a game is worth the time to play, although some games are harder to decide on, especially when very little is known. With more and more games coming out each year, that choice is only getting harder and the discernment is that much heavier, with more options and so many factors to take into consideration.

One of the most reliable aspects is that of renown, as it is often an important factor within the games themselves. Renown is often something that can be enticing, especially when there is praise from like-minded gamers. Combine the renown of companies such as Turbine and Atari with the historical mystification of the infamous fantasy adventure game, Dungeons & Dragons (D&D), and the impressively intriguing Dungeons & Dragons Online is the result.

Dungeons and Dragons Online MMO Review Dungeons and Dragons Online MMO Review

Immediately it made an impact and many fans of the original game were glad to experience the faster paced mass-multiplayer version. Since it was official re-released as free-to-play in September of 2009, three years after the initial release, Dungeons & Dragons Online (DDO) has only elevated itself in the MMORPG realm. Although there are definitely some similarities to the infamous pen and paper game, there were also quite a few changes that needed to be made, mostly to the game-player, in order to maintain a smoother MMO flow. The changes that were made were necessary to provide for the morphology and architecture of online gaming and there does still remain a very exclusive Dungeons & Dragons feel to the game for player's to enjoy.

Dungeons and Dragons Online MMO Review Dungeons and Dragons Online MMO Review

What needs to be first understood is that there is a long history behind what has inspired the online version, DDO, to be developed. Originally created in 1974, the paper and pen game Dungeons & Dragons exploded into the market place and has since remained the best-selling RPG. It has since continued to be one of the longest running games with estimations of well over 20 million people have participated in D&D action. Since its creation, the game has experienced several changes, mainly within various sections regarding the rules and game-play mechanics, but it has nonetheless remained highly popular throughout.


For the most part, the alterations and change increased the games value and acclaim, re-defining certain portions, adding onto the core, and innovating into a further established masterpiece. The game itself was extremely ground-breaking, with such intricacy and so many options for player's to partake. It was designed so well, in such fashion of intrigue; an open world concept with so many features for players, including unique character development instilled and a co-operative adventure system. Many developers and gamers have claimed D&D to be a major inspiration to many other online RPG games, as well as a whole skew of spin-off or similar-style games were released shortly after it was originally created. After several years of continual domination of their market, the decision was made to being the gaming experience to the world wide web.

Dungeons and Dragons Online MMO Review Dungeons and Dragons Online MMO Review

In 2006, after two years of development, from many of the same people that then went on to also develop Lord of the Rings Online, the release of Dungeons & Dragons: Stormreach was made official on the 28th of February. Keeping to tradition and named after the same concept of updating major content to the game, Modules were released periodically, with minor updates being released between each Module.


In total there were a total of 8 different Modules released before the renamed and re-marketed Dungeons & Dragons: Eberron Unlimited was implemented. Several significant additions and modifications were made at this time, including the most significant of them all: the game changing from monthly subscriptions to free-to-play. The method of updating content was also changed with this release, as they were now called Updates and given numerical recognition. This release was officially titled Update 0: Dungeons & Dragons: Eberron Unlimited, with the next release being called Update 1: The Path of Inspiration.

To date, there has been 11 released Updates with a 12th being announced for release in the near future. Originally there was a form of 'level cap', although it didn't pertain to original subscribers as part of their redress from the switch to f2p, with players needing to purchase items to level up, but in Update 3 new free quests were implemented and those items were removed altogether. Not only are new areas, items and quests released, but new classes become available as well from time time as the developers continue to find ways to provide content for their community.

Dungeons & Dragons Online review

Dungeons and Dragons Online MMO Review Dungeons and Dragons Online MMO Review

Nearly every Free-to-play game still requires more than just advertisement income to operate and continue developing, thus there is usually some form of shop incorporated. Not only does this provide an economy that benefits both the game and the player, but it also enhances the gaming experience, as shops provide further weapons and items for the players to use. As soon as players make any purchase in the shop, they are given a pay-to-play status and can enter into areas only accessible by that type of player.

The shop provides quite a large selection for players to purchase, so combine that with the items that can be collected throughout the game and there is a very wide range available. There is information on the site regarding the store, and ways to purchase turbine points and such, but the actual interaction with the store is done in-game. Certain changes had to be made in order for the game to make the transition to the online gaming platform but then once again to free-to-play, but DDO still remains true to its roots, providing a strong and unique D&D presence that can be felt from the beginning of the journey up until the very end.

Regardless of the changes made to the game-play, their is much that still remains true to the core and it continues to provide an exciting atmosphere. Visually, this game is highly appealing, especially since this brings the fascinating world into 3D for player's to enjoy and experience. Of course, there does include certain popular aspects found in many MMORPG games, a unique, traditional appeal exists here. There is crafting and players are given many interactive options throughout, all of which include a Dungeons & Dragons intrigue.

Dungeons and Dragons Online MMO Review Dungeons and Dragons Online MMO Review

Based on the D&D 3.5 Rules and set on the continent Xen'drik, which is from the Eberron campaign setting, the game-play is enticing and the world is elaborate. There is much to enjoy with the classic feel of Dungeons & Dragons converted into a 3D action-packed MMORPG, with of course the necessary alterations needed to make the game efficient for online play. The most significant changes of course being the transition from turn-based combat into real time combat. This did in fact result in some modifications made to certain aspects of the D&D 3.5 Rule-set, for example they increased combat possibilities and gave character's higher stats as part of the compensation.

There are many differences, all of which were well thought out before being implemented and all of which have since benefited the overall experience of the game. Player's team up in groups to battle against a wide variety of NPC's called Monsters, which include enemies of the same races that are available to player's when selecting their own character. Not only is there currently a large number of different types of foes to face, there are more and more added as time goes on.

As the game goes on and the more quests that are completed, special items and spells are granted to players to access, as well as special classes and races that become available. At one time for completing quests, there may be parties of up to six players, usually consisting of at least one from each of the class groups; Melee, Magic and Cleric. Progressively the quests become more intriguing and the journey becomes more difficult. The quests are narrated by the classical Dungeon Master, who in the table-top games used to serve as the games referee and storyteller, but also maintained the setting while controlling the inhabitants of the world they are in. Since so much AI can be put into the game and each can be individualized, the Dungeon Master remains an individual but only giving narration for quests and at key moments throughout. With that being said, players combat in a wide variety of environments, indoors and out, which of course includes a large number of Dungeons.

DDO players will still be able to enjoy the extensive development process as they always have in D&D fashion. The customization of characters was one of the major components of the original game, as the imagination of players was given limitless potential that provide a complete uniqueness available for each character that was built. In the online version, the developers didn't stray away from that importance, giving players close to unlimited access in their character creation process, with the vast and vivid character development also being a principal factor throughout the gaming experience.

It was revolutionary and the thrill of that aspects continues today with players will still be able to enjoy the extensive development process as they always have in D&D fashion. There are six races for players to be able to use, four of which are free; Human, Elf, Halfling, Dwarf, while two need to be purchased; Warforged and Drow Elf. There are eleven different total classes, although two of them also need to be purchased to be used. The emphasize on player building is not only highly involvement in the game, but it is necessary if players plan to succeed and be potent. Customizing is key, but doing it correctly is also incredibly important. There is much to customize, both at the start, but also continuously throughout. Anything related to your character will be important in the realm around you, thus the stress of proper development is in tact.

There is much to see and much to do in Dungeons & Dragons: Eberron Unlimited and Turbine has definitely created a fun-filled, action-packed game for MMORPG fans, but especially for fans of the classic Dungeons & Dragons.

This game was highly anticipated from the get go, with such a large following to begin with, it was only expecting a large number would make the merge to the internet and since that time, the majority have not been disappointed. With such a large community they have continued to strive for satisfaction but pouring out new content that broadens that game, enhancing the already captivating role-playing phenomenon.

Dungeons & Dragons Online review

The Conclusion

Impressive graphics add to the mix and provide substantial 3D visual display with an interactive and enchanting world for players to appreciate and enjoy. To conclude my Dungeons & Dragons Online review "This is a highly recommended game and if you haven't had the pleasure of enjoying the paper and pen game, you will most likely enjoy the transformation."

Matt Blain
© 2011

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