As you are reading my review please consider that I have played DDO since the beta. Not the beta for F2P either, we're talking 2005. I only downloaded it on steam because I discovered I could multi-box that way but 99% of my hours playing this game are not on steam. Yes, this reminds me I need a life bad because I realized I have 440 steam hours as well at this time.
First I must say I have a bitter love/hate relationship with DDO. I am a huge PnP D&D fan and have been since I was a kid. The quests in DDO are second to none. The way it blends classes and makes rogues feel like a real class is simply amazing and gameplay is simply fun. To date it's one of the best combat systems I've ever used and I have played a LOT of MMO's. Since it's not heavy PvP it's one of the games you can max the graphic settings out and realize it was designed very nicely and not be gimped. I have level capped so many characters and honestly if you know how to build a character in real D&D you'll have a huge advantage over other players. I've never had a character I felt was anything less than spectacular and have always felt emerged in my characters. Though I feel strongly about all my characters, the artificer (one of the semi-newer classes) has really created one I enjoy. As I said, I've got a love hate relationship with this game and even though as of now I no longer really play the game, this was my favorite game of all time and I regret the actions of turbine that made me decide to leave.
Now, on to the reason why I don't recommend this game anymore. Also why after bringing everyone I know and game with to DDO, they all left too. I'll spare you the trial and error details as this game has been forced to change and evolve. Despite many of those changes coming too late after they've lost tens, maybe even hundreds of thousands of players. All of these changes were not enough to drive me away (for good anyway). Many people left because of things that were later fixed like the lack of ability to solo or lack of content. Issues I don't find so much in the current game if you're a subscriber, but that's where it ends and the problem begins.
Turbine has apparently gotten VERY greedy. As they've become short staffed, under budget, and now owned by big brother warner they've gotten outright insane with their cash shop and try to leech every player for everything they can. I'll start on this with their subscription plan. Lets just say if you don't have this they will punish you. You're availability of content will start off good up to level 6 and by level 15 become almost unplayable. I always subscribed for this reason but even as a subscriber you're punished because you lose all the F2P players to group with and run the paid content. They have "guest passes" but seriously, how long will you go paying peoples way into groups with your wallet before that gets old? (answer, not long). Beyond content you're also unable to open dungeons at higher than normal difficulty until you've completed the lower ones. This wouldn't be so bad except the bonuses for "Bravery streaks" (playing content first time on elite @ level) are huge and you miss soooo much experience not being able to do it. When you suffer from the lack of content F2P players have losing 50% of your potential experience just doesn't feel right.
Now even this is not enough to push me away. So I kept playing and yes in time I will admit I dumped thousands into the cash shop. Yes, thousands of dollars and no, not paying to win because those options came later. We're talking buying buffs for my guild ship, buying guest passes, buying friends and family content to run with me, buying expansions, buying character classes, unlocking storage, character slots, and so on.
Yes, that's right, even if you are a subscriber, you still have to pay for access to expansion content. You still have to buy certain character classes and so much other stuff it'll drive you insane. Yeah, you can live without it but you will feel the pressures of not having it. For example, F2P players don't get shared account storage. This game has tons of "Bound to Account" gear that you can pass to other characters on your account, but only through that storage.
This was not enough to deter me, so I gamed on! Emptying my wallet into a game that got MUCH more expensive after it went free to play, I still loved DDO and couldn't stop playing. Then they added the hard core cash shop content. Books that add perma experience boosts per character, supreme stat tomes that don't exist in game and getting them the hard way would be a fortune and take forever, and eventually, the ability to buy levels. Yes, that's right, you can "buy" levels.
It started with "vet status" to start at level 4 instead of 1. Then the new vet status lets you start at 7. However you take these level boosts on an airship and you can access the cash shop before taking them. You can buy all the cash shop exp buffs and instead of starting at level 7, you end up over level 8. This becomes a big deal because there is a cash shop item a level 8 character can use that makes them level 16 and gives them gear! Now, you can buff up hard, cash shop some more and instead of 16, end up level 18+ well on your way to 19 (maybe even with new stuff end up 19?). So for a game where you true reincarnate at level 20, you can start the game around level 19!? Talk about Pay to Win? I spent years leveling my characters now people can start off almost ready for TR? Regular levels cap at 20 before you hit epic levels that only go to 28. Which by the way you can't ever see without paying. Not only do F2P players not get access to the epic destiny feature, but there's almost no free to play epic content.
By the way, even this wasn't enough and I played on! Figured it would at least bring some noob high level players to run content with (it didn't). Then the game killer for me came. After tolerating my favorite game becoming pay to win, they drew the last straw for me. DDO has had astral diamonds (cash shop currency for in game purchases) for years. You use them often for ship upgrades for your guild. There are few other things they could be used for, but nothing game killing. Then they did it, they added "astral shards". Astral shards, much like diamonds are cash shop currency. However they are everywhere. Need a buff? You can buy one. Want free stuff? Toss dice rolls for free stuff with it like craps. You name it and it has astral shards now and the big winner... the astral shard auction house! (seriously, wth!?).
Now games like Diablo 3 (which blows hard) have a real money auction house, so what's so bad about this? Well, in diablo 3 big brother Blizzard takes a cut, then gives the money to the seller which you can then do what you want with. With astral shards, your real money auction house only makes them money. They take a shard cut from your sales, give you the change, you use it to pay for in game micro transactions (different and in addition to cash shop).
So Turbine wants you to subscribe for $15/month (I paid $99/year as better deal).
Pay for new content even though subscribers are supposed to get it as part of their deal.
Then drop buckets in the cash shop.
And now buy astral shards to pay for everything in game with micro transactions including the auction house.
(yes, it has made platinum almost worthless)
In game point rewards too small to do much with. You can buy very little.
I'm sorry to my beloved DDO.
I still visit from time to time, but I cannot play this game anymore.
I decided originally as punishment for their greed, Turbine could not have any more of my money.
Now I see a fraction of what F2P players see.
As free to play, the game is not worth it.
Sadly, this is the most expensive F2P game I've ever played.
Although if you're a true D&D fan and have buckets of money to spend and not care.
This otherwise would be an amazing game second to none.