Dungeons and Dragons Online: Stormreach
Dungeons and Dragons Online: Stormreach recently celebrated its third anniversary. It has seen some significant changes along the way, and warrants a first and second look by anyone with even a slight interest in the Dungeons and Dragons universe.
Dungeons & Dragons Online: Stormreach, from Atari and Turbine takes the classic pen and paper role-playing game off the table and onto your PC as a MMORPG. Players assume the role of an adventure who has set sail for the mighty continent of Xen'Drik, to the city of Stormreach. Players strive to achieve glory, wealth, and fame as they battle through the unexplored reaches of this untamed jungle. It will take the strength of many adventurers allied together to conquer the challenges that lay in their path.
Storyline and Player Emersion
DDO is set in the world of Eberron. This world is rich in lore, especially surrounding the dragons of this world and the Giants of Xen'Drik. The continent use to be the home of the advanced Giant civilization until they became reckless and unleashed powerful magics that threatened to destroy the world. The Dragons of Xen'Drik took action, destroying the Giant civilization. Thus, Xen'Drik collapsed into what it is now, a place of ruins and artifacts of great power, with danger lurking around every corner. This is where the player begins their journey, as an adventurer arriving on the shores of Stormreach to search out these glorious treasures. The game play consists of a considerable amount of instanced battles that emerse the player into the storyline of the mysterious city, as well as the wilderness surrounding it. The instances (or dungeons) can be done alone, or the player can choose to group up with others for them. The game does a good job of delivering the feel of classic D&D for those players who have played the table top game. However, they have streamlined it enough so that, if your new to the game, you will not be totally lost. You will see many of the famous sites and battle some of the more notable creatures from the D&D worlds while working your way through the game.
Gameplay and Mechanics
The recent revamp to character creation has streamlined the process. Before, if you were not familiar with the D&D 3.5 rules you could sit for hours wondering which was the best way to spend your ability points. In my opinion this is a great improvement to help people who have never played D&D be able to pick up this MMO and have fun from the very start. The play mechanics are simple and follow along the lines of most conventional sword and sorcery MMORPGs in that there is an ability bar that can be used to hotkey items and abilities to help the player in their adventures. The ability to do things such as search for and disarm traps as you adventure through a dungeon make this game a lot more than just a hack and slash type - It forces the player to really consider how to approach a situation. Another great feature of this game is the fact that all new content is sent as free modules and updates that you download as you log in. There is no need to buy several expansion packs to stay current as the game progresses into higher and higher levels.
The graphics of DDO follow along the lines of most pseudo-realistic sword and sorcery type games. In an attempt to make players and items look more realistic, the developers created choppier gameplay, higher system requirements, and were ultimately not that successful in their original endeavor. While graphics setting can be changed to allow to higher quality, the game still fails to convey either a mystical or realistic feel and falls somewhere in between.
Overall, this game is a good MMO for anyone who has ever played D&D and wants a PC game with that distinct flair. The revamps of the character creation and the ability to solo dungeons has made it much easier for new players to enter into the rich community this game has developed. I have played this game for some time and enjoy my hours spent in the world of DDO: Stormreach.