"stay close to the edge, don't go into the middle of the floor...", rapidly types our Cleric as we approach an apparently harmless room. But i read it to late. I've seen the sparkling chest nestled enticingly in an alcolve directly opposite our position and i rush towards it. Stupid. The floor collapses and i fall into the misty chamber below. There are bones strewn around the room and then suddenly an elite level scorpian erupts from the ground and immediately attacks me. The rest of my group - my guild mates - leap heroically into the chamber and we engage the beast together and manage to bring it down. "we can't get that chest now, there is no way back up", says the same Cleric. "sorry" i say, and imagine my character, head hung in shame, shuffling his feet. "no problem :)" says the Cleric. My Ranger searches the room and finds the lever that opens the chamber. A gloomy tunnel stretches into the distance. We heal up then move on.
This is what D&D Online is all about and when it is at its best. The game has a number of large open hub areas but the missions will almost certainly lead you underground into a dark cavern or muggy sewer. In the hubs you can find group members, hire mercernary's, prurchase healing scrolls and potions, and upgrade gear and equipment, before venturing into the dangers below. Some quests ask you to clear out an infestation of spiders/kobolds/etc, normlly with larger, more dangerous boss type near the end, whilst others may ask you to rescue a merchant's daughter or find a precious artifact. Throughout these dungeons there is the possibility of finding rare monsters with epic loot, normally only found by finding a hidden door or secret area, but only if you or one of your group has the riht skills. This is a game that rewards exploration, that encourages group play, and grabs wholeheartdly at that inner fantasy nerd that exists in so many of us.
As a solo experience this is a lesser game. You can clear same level content no problem, even an elite dungeon or two with the right equipment and merc's, but the exprience feels lonely and more shallow on your own.
The game truely shines as a multiplayer experience, which, to be fair, is exactly how the game is intended to be.
I can over look the aged graphics and tired engine for the wonderful frill of descending into the deaths of an undead crypt with a group of likeminded advnturers. Most stuff is decided on invisible dice rolls and armor/will saves just like (almost) the tabletop game, but the combat has a degree of twitch and you can dodge incoming attacks with a well timed double tap. When you find a loot chest automtic rolls take place and loot is devidied up accordingly but you can transfer items to another group member if you want to.
The community is very friendly and I was soon in a really helpful high level guild (this brings loads of perks to experience gains and buffs) and there nevr seems to be shortage of people to go questing with.
Much like LOTRO the whole game is F2P with the need to buy quest packs for additonal content or unlocks for certain race/class types. It is fair to say that you will likely need to pnd a few quid t some point to advance th whole experience but the good thing is this can be done at your leisure and if you done wan to then, well, dont.
I for one applaud this style of F2P model and for a game that provides this much AAA fun I had not issue with spending money on it - i just purchased all of the DLC for just over £14 in the sale and thats good value by any standard.
If you like D&D, fantasy, and group style play then i can highly recommend this game. If you don't or are looking for another WOW style experience then keep looking. D&D online isnt trying to be WOW or Guildwars and I am glad of that.
As an fantasy adventure maker this game is top notch and you should certainly give it a whirl - 8.8/10