Last week I had the pleasure to learn that Redoubt Operations #1: Fires over Kalago and Redoubt Operations #2: Wrath of the Imperium had been nominated in the 2009 Mission Architect Awards for Best Villain Group and Best Villain Story, respectively. (I’m not quite sure why Redoubt Operations #1 got misspelled, though.) In any case this news was the highlight of my week last week. Unfortunately, complete victory was not to be as “Internship in the Fine Art of Revenge” won Best Villain Story and “Blight” won for Best Villain Group, but still even being nominated among the thousands of other entries is incredible. Now, here’s to hoping my two arcs can manage to get a Dev’s Choice out of all this. Cross your fingers.
So after reading my previous article on the subject of free to play, or Premium accounts, in DDO you’ve decided that you want to go the free to play route or premium account route in DDO. However you’re not sure what is available, what there is to do, and how to make your free to play experience better. That’s where this article comes in. Today we’ll be discussing which quests are free to play, what sort of favor you can get out of them, and how you can roll that favor over into Turbine Points using Free Player and Premium accounts in game.
To begin with here is a chart detailing exactly what quests are available to you for free. Next to each quest is the amount of favor you can gain on the quest by completing it on elite difficulty.
Free to Play Quest Index with Favor Listing
|Level 1||Level 5|
|The Store House’s Secret||6||The Lair of Summoning||9|
|Stopping the Sahuagin||9||The Depths of Doom||9|
|Sacrifices||9||The Depths of Discord||9|
|Redemption||9||Archer Point Defense||9|
|Necromancer’s Doom||6||Taming the Flame||15|
|Heyton’s Rest||6||Level 6|
|The Collaborator||12||Ruined Halls||12|
|The Cannith Crystal||6||Redwillow’s Ruins||15|
|Level 2||Purge the Heretics||12|
|Walk the Butcher’s Path||12||Mirra’s Sleepless Nights||12|
|The Sunken Sewer||9||Gladewatch Outpost Defense||12|
|Stop Hazadill’s Shipment||6||The Forgotten Caverns||12|
|Stealthy Repossession||9||Dead Predators||12|
|The Smuggler’s Warehouse||9||Caged Trolls||12|
|Retrieve the Stolen Goods||9||The Bounty Hunter||15|
|Recover the Lost Tomb||9||Level 7|
|Protect Baudry’s Interests||6||The Tear of Dhakaan||21|
|Missing in Action||9||The Pit||27|
|Misery’s Peak||12||Gwylan’s Stand||18|
|The Miller’s Debt||2||The Graverobbers||15|
|The Kobold’s New Ringleader||12||Level 8|
|Information is Key||12||The Xorian Cipher||21|
|Garrison’s Missing Pack||12||Stromvauld’s Mine||15|
|Durk’s Got a Secret||12||Stormcleave Outpost||18|
|Defend Haverdasher||2||The Paths to Madness||9|
|Bring the Light||6||Haunted Library||15|
|Level 3||Caverns of Korromar||15|
|Where there is Smoke||9||Level 9|
|The Swiped Signet||12||The Church of the Cult||15|
|Redfang The Unruled||9||Level 10|
|The Kobold’s Den: Clan Gnashtooth||12||Tempest Spine||18|
|The Kobold’s Den: Rescuing Arlos||12||Sykro’s Jewel||15|
|Home Sweet Sewer||2||Level 11|
|The Captives||9||The Spawn of Whisperdoom||18|
|An Explosive Situation||2||Made to Order||18|
|Ven’s Trail: Ven’s Fate||9||The Enemy Within||24|
|Ven’s Trail: Clan Tunnelworm||12||Dreams of Insanity||18|
|Rest for the Restless||9||Level 12|
|Proof is in the Poison||15||A Relic of the Sovereign Past||21|
|Freshen the Air||9|
|The Depths of Despair||9|
|The Depths of Darkness||9|
|The Camber of Insanity||9|
|Number of Quests||79||Total Favor Possible||916|
In general these quests are those that ae “Standalone”, meaning they’re usually not part of a large series or they aren’t tied to a large area outside Stormreach. (EX: Sorrowdusk Isle, Threnal Ruins, etc.) To those new to DDO you might not be familiar with what favor is, and why this is important to you. Favor is a lot like faction standing in other games. Each quest in the game is being presented by one of the factions within Stormreach. Completing a quest for them gives you a certain amount of favor with that faction and when you reach certain milestones of favor with each faction you get certain benefits, and when you reach certain milestones of total favor you receive some benefits as well, like Drow Access, 32 Point builds for new characters, and Favored Soul access. But favor now provides more than just those benefits. Now in module 9 favor is also the mechanic that awards player free Turbine Points in the DDO store. This is important because, as a free to play player, unless you intended to buy adventure packs with your own money you are going to need favor to get free Tubine Points to take any quests over level 12, not to mention you may need to buy leveling sigils if they haven’t dropped as quest rewards for you in time.
There are two kinds of awards that are given out for favor. The first award is for reaching a total favor milestone with one character on a server. Once you’ve reached the milestone with one character on that server you cannot earn that reward again with another character on that server. The second award is a per-character award that is granted for every 100 total favor reached with every character you create.
Favor Milestone Turbine Point Rewards
|Once Per Server|
|Total Favor||Turbine Points|
|Once Per Character|
|Total Favor||Turbine Points|
As you can see from this chart, if you plan to earn as many favor points as possible what you’ll need to plan to do is to make characters on all of the available servers in the game. As you can see from the first chart you can only earn a total of 915 points of favor from free quests. Doing that with one character on one server is going to earn you 150 Turbine Points in Once Per Server awards and 225 Turbine Points in once per character awards for a total of 375 points, though you would be earning points faster if you stopped at 500 favor and moved on to the next sever, at least until you ran out of new servers to make characters on. How much is 375 points? Well The Vale of Twilight, a good area to goto when you are level 12, costs 700 turbine points, and VIP subscriptions get 500 a Turbine Point stipend a month. There are a total of 6 servers available. Let’s say you have a free player account instead of a premium one. That means you have 2 slots per server. If you completely maximize your favor on all six servers on each of your two slots you’ll gain a total of 3,600 Turbine Points. That’s enough to purchase The Vale of Twilight, The Devils of Shavarath, The Ruins of Gianthold, The Reaver’s Reach, and The Restless Isles to give you all the quests you need to reach 20. If you at one point spent money on the game, giving you a premium account, you would gain four slots total meaning using only free quests you could gain a maximum of 6,300 favor, just 4,345 points shy of being able to buy all the adventure packs. Also remember, any adventure packs you purchase are going to give you more quests which mean more possible favor for you to access.
What is all comes down to is how much time you have to spend to actually gain this favor to get the turbine points. To reach that maximum of 6,300 favor you’d have to level up 24 characters to level 12 across all six servers, or by finding high level players willing to run you through all 79 quests, on elite, for each of those 24 characters. If on the other hand you’re happy sticking to the selection of free quests above only intend to buy items to allow you to gain more quests past twelve then you may find a happy medium. Picking up The Vale of Twilight and The Devils of Shavarath will give you quests to get you to 20, and picking up The Reaver’s Reach and The Ruins of Gianthold will expand that quest selection. Just don’t forget to plan to buy some leveling sigils along the way.
With Dungeons and Dragons Online Eberron Unlimited now in the world of free to play there has been a lot of talk about how the benefit of each price structure stands up to the other. For those of you unfamiliar with the Free to Play model for DDO Unlimited the way it works is that there are three types of accounts, VIP, Premium, and Free. In this article when we talk about free to play we’ll be referring to Premium accounts, which are those accounts that were at one point subscribers or any account which has purchased Turbine points. Here’s the quick rundown on how those accounts types compare to each other.
|DDO VIP||Premium Player||Free Player|
|Turbine Points||500/month free||Buy||Buy|
|Classes||All included free*||Basic, can purchase more||Basic, can purchase more|
|Races||All included free*||Basic, can purchase more||Basic, can purchase more|
|Adventure Packs||All included free||Some free, can purchase others||Some free, can purchase others|
|Character Slots||10 free, can purchase more||4 free, can purchase more||2 free, can purchase more|
|Shared Bank Slot||Included free||Can purchase||Can purchase|
|Customer Service||Full||Full for 45 days||Self-service online|
|Official Forums||Read/Post||Read/Post||Read/Limited posting|
* Select races and classes may still require the use of game mechanics to unlock for free
Got all that? Good. Now in this article we’re going to assume that to a player with a free to play, or premium, account the main cost to them is going to be purchasing adventure packs, leveling sigils, classes, races, and extras like the shared bank tab. Character Slots aren’t going to be considered a primary concern for price because the number of character slots a player would want to have is highly subjective. We are going to assume that being able to reach level 20, and being able to join any party’s quest, regardless of were it is, being able to try all the races and classes, and having the bank tab are something that most players are going to find worthwhile to have. We’re also going to assume that US Dollars is the unit currency that you will be using to make any purchases. Before we begin, let’s review the VIP subscription prices as a basis for comparison.
VIP Subscription Prices
|Months||Price||Price / Month|
Now free to play players aren’t going to be making their purchases directly in USD, but instead in Turbine Points, or just points for short. Now while it is possible to acquire points by earning favor, we’re going to assume that points spent throughout this article are points that have been purchased in the DDO store. That makes our first task to determine the exchange rates of points to $1 USD. Below is a chart detailing the point packages available and how many points per dollar spent is actually received in the purchase. Included in the chart are two 5000 point packages that are not noted as being standard, and at the time of this writing cannot be purchased in the DDO store. To explain their presence on 9/12/09 Turbine sent out an email with the statement, “Limited Time Only! Get 5,000 points for $49.99. This would normally be priced at $54.99. Best. Deal. Ever.” In their DDO Store Guide the 5000 point package replaced the 3300 point package and was listed as being on sale for $49.99 and that package was listed as having a regular price of $54.99. This package was avilable only on 9/12/09 and 9/13/09. On 9/14/09 the 5000 point package was removed from the DDO Store and the 3300 point package returned, and the DDO Store Guide was later edited that day to have the 3300 point package replace the 5000 point package once again. As you’ll see in this chart, the 5000 point package has a better exchange rate, even at $54.99, than the 3300 point package at $38.99. It’s currently unknown if the 5000 point package is intended to return frequently, though sales in the DDO store are fairly common, something we’ll get to later. Either way, these packages are included in this chart and later charts for players who may have stocked up on points during this weekend sale, and as a point of reference in case the 5000 point packages make a return.
Turbine Point to USD Exchange Rate Analysis
|Turbine Points||USD Price||Points / $1||Notes|
|5000||$54.99||90.92562||Price reported as “regular price” for 9/12/09 Weekend Sale, disappeared on 9/14/09|
|5000||$49.99||100.02||Sale price of pack for 9/12/09 Weekend Sale, disappeared on 9/14/09|
So now that we know what $1 is worth in points for each pack we can begin to convert the Turbine point prices you see in game into what their actual cost in USD is. Now first we will analyze what I consider to be the biggest sink of points, adventure packs. Adventure packs are a big sink of points because typically parties don’t make a party based upon if the pack is free to play or not. Now the “Grouping” listing under the social panel is supposed to tell free to play players if a quest is in a pack they havent’ purchased by replacing the listing of classes needed with a large “BUY NOW” sign, but this hasn’t been working consistently. It also requires the party leader posting the looking for members listing to enter the right quest in the looking for members listing, just putting the quest series in the comments won’t work. Needless to say spending time getting ready for a quest only to realize you can’t go is embarrassing and frustrating. Below we have two tables showing the cost of all the adventure packs currently available and their price in USD depending on which package of points you decided to get your Turbine points from. The first table shows the adventure packs at their regular price. The second table shows those same adventure packs at their sale price. Sales in DDO are generally %25 off the regular point price of any item, and with any decimals dropped. The current sales at any given time can be found in the “Today’s Deals” section of the DDO Store. Obviously Turbine can, and has, offered sales at different values, such as 20% for XP Boost Potions for the 9/12/09 weekend sale, but for this article we’ll assume any sale is the common 25% discount. The adventure packs are listed from low-level to high-level in the order they appear in the DDO Store with lower brackets given preference if the adventure pack is listed in more than one bracket. Once an adventure pack is bought it is applied to every character on that subscription and never needs to be purchased again. Owning an adventure pack allows a free to play player to purchase guest passes for that adventure pack also.
Adventure Pack Costs – Regular Price
|Adventure Pack||Points||400 Std||900 Std||1500 Std||3300 Std||5000 Std||5000 Sale|
|The Sharn Syndicate||350||$5.47||$4.66||$4.43||$4.14||$3.85||$3.50|
|The Necropolis Part 1||250||$3.91||$3.33||$3.17||$2.95||$2.75||$2.50|
|Dungeon: Devil Assault||150||$2.34||$2.00||$1.90||$1.77||$1.65||$1.50|
|The Ruins of Gianthold||995||$15.55||$13.26||$12.60||$11.76||$10.94||$9.95|
|The Demon Sands||850||$13.28||$11.32||$10.76||$10.04||$9.35||$8.50|
|The Necropolis Part 2||350||$5.47||$4.66||$4.43||$4.14||$3.85||$3.50|
|The Ruins of Threnal||550||$8.59||$7.33||$6.96||$6.50||$6.05||$5.50|
|The Vault of Night||800||$12.50||$10.66||$10.13||$9.45||$8.80||$8.00|
|The Restless Isles||600||$9.38||$7.99||$7.60||$7.09||$6.60||$6.00|
|The Necropolis Part 3||350||$5.47||$4.66||$4.43||$4.14||$3.85||$3.50|
|The Vale of Twilight||700||$10.94||$9.33||$8.86||$8.27||$7.70||$7.00|
|The Devils of Shavarath||650||$10.16||$8.66||$8.23||$7.68||$7.15||$6.50|
|The Reaver’s Reach||350||$5.47||$4.66||$4.43||$4.14||$3.85||$3.50|
|The Necropolis Part 4||850||$13.28||$11.32||$10.76||$10.04||$9.35||$8.50|
Adventure Pack Costs – 25% Discount
|Adventure Pack||Points||400 Std||900 Std||1500 Std||3300 Std||5000 Std||5000 Sale|
|The Sharn Syndicate||262||$4.09||$3.49||$3.32||$3.10||$2.88||$2.62|
|The Necropolis Part 1||187||$2.92||$2.49||$2.37||$2.21||$2.06||$1.87|
|Dungeon: Devil Assault||112||$1.75||$1.49||$1.42||$1.32||$1.23||$1.12|
|The Ruins of Gianthold||746||$11.66||$9.94||$9.44||$8.81||$8.20||$7.46|
|The Demon Sands||637||$9.95||$8.49||$8.06||$7.53||$7.01||$6.37|
|The Necropolis Part 2||262||$4.09||$3.49||$3.32||$3.10||$2.88||$2.62|
|The Ruins of Threnal||412||$6.44||$5.49||$5.22||$4.87||$4.53||$4.12|
|The Vault of Night||600||$9.38||$7.99||$7.60||$7.09||$6.60||$6.00|
|The Restless Isles||450||$7.03||$6.00||$5.70||$5.32||$4.95||$4.50|
|The Necropolis Part 3||262||$4.09||$3.49||$3.32||$3.10||$2.88||$2.62|
|The Vale of Twilight||525||$8.20||$6.99||$6.65||$6.20||$5.77||$5.25|
|The Devils of Shavarath||487||$7.61||$6.49||$6.17||$5.75||$5.36||$4.87|
|The Reaver’s Reach||262||$4.09||$3.49||$3.32||$3.10||$2.88||$2.62|
|The Necropolis Part 4||637||$9.95||$8.49||$8.06||$7.53||$7.01||$6.37|
As you can see the price of all the modules isn’t too out there. Assuming you bought all your points from the 3300 point package you could buy every single adventure pack in the game at $125.77, a little less than a 1 year VIP subscription, and only $94.24 if you were willing to wait for those module to come on sale. And if you had stocked up on points during the weekend sale and bought the adventure packs on sale you could get them all for $79.74, slightly more than a 6 month VIP subscription.
Now adventure packs aren’t the only cost the free to play player is going to incur. Each character a free to play player has starts out only being able to access levels 1 to 4 instead of 1 to 20. To be able to reach levels 5 to 8 they need a copper leveling sigil, 9 to 12 a silver one, 13 to 16 a gold one, and 17 to 20 a platinum one. Unlike adventure packs which the free to play player will only need to purchase once ever each character the free to play player has is going to need leveling sigils to advance so these can often be considered a fee for having a character above and beyond actually having the character slot. Leveling sigils may be received for free in the course of playing as quest rewards. The lesser value the sigil the easier it will be to find with copper sigils easy to acquire and platinum sigils very difficult to acquire. Below are the tables for the leveling sigil costs.
Leveling Sigil Costs – Regular Price
|Leveling Sigil||Points||400 Std||900 Std||1500 Std||3300 Std||5000 Std||5000 Sale|
|Copper Leveling Sigil||120||$1.88||$1.60||$1.52||$1.42||$1.32||$1.20|
|Silver Leveling Sigil||180||$2.81||$2.40||$2.28||$2.13||$1.98||$1.80|
|Gold Leveling Sigil||240||$3.75||$3.20||$3.04||$2.84||$2.64||$2.40|
|Platinum Leveling Sigil||300||$4.69||$4.00||$3.80||$3.54||$3.30||$3.00|
Leveling Sigil Costs – 25% Discount
|Leveling Sigil||Points||400 Std||900 Std||1500 Std||3300 Std||5000 Std||5000 Sale|
|Copper Leveling Sigil||90||$1.41||$1.20||$1.14||$1.06||$0.99||$0.90|
|Silver Leveling Sigil||135||$2.11||$1.80||$1.71||$1.60||$1.48||$1.35|
|Gold Leveling Sigil||180||$2.81||$2.40||$2.28||$2.13||$1.98||$1.80|
|Platinum Leveling Sigil||225||$3.52||$3.00||$2.85||$2.66||$2.47||$2.25|
So in conclusion the free to play player can basically be expected to be charged a fee of $9.92 for each character they create, or $16.95 if that player needed to purchase a character slot for that character. (See below for character slot pricing.) That’s over a month of VIP subscription! Also remember, if you delete a character and re-create them you’ll need to pay the $9.92 for new sigils for the new character all over again. For some people this isn’t going to be much of a big deal, but for anyone who plans to create a lot of characters this is going to be a big problem. One more thing to note, if you have a VIP subscription and level your character to say, level 8 on it, and then let your account go back to a premium account that character wouldn’t need to purchase a Copper Leveling Sigil. Leveling sigils only stop you from going to a trainer and training up your level. Once you have that level the game is at least nice enough not to take it away from you.
Finally there’s one section of fees that I consider to be a big part of the cost of getting your free to play account “up to snuff” as it were, and that’s those little extras like the Drow and Warforged races. Now in the interests of being fair remember that you can still get the Drow race as a free to play player by getting 400 total favor, and the favored soul class by getting 2500 total favor. Also important to note is that additional character slots increase the number of slots you have across all six severs, not just one. As with the previous entires these are going to be posted with a regular price and 25% discount price. A small disclaimer though, none of the items on this table have yet to be discounted at all so there is no way of knowing if they ever will, or at what discount they will be offered at.
Account Options – Regular Price
|Account Option||Points||400 Std||900 Std||1500 Std||3300 Std||5000 Std||5000 Sale|
|Shared Bank Tab||1495||$23.36||$19.92||$18.93||$17.66||$16.44||$14.95|
|Favored Soul Class||795||$12.42||$10.59||$10.06||$9.39||$8.74||$7.95|
Account Options – 25% Discount
|Account Option||Points||400 Std||900 Std||1500 Std||3300 Std||5000 Std||5000 Sale|
|Shared Bank Tab||1121||$17.52||$14.93||$14.19||$13.24||$12.33||$11.21|
|Favored Soul Class||596||$9.31||$7.94||$7.55||$7.04||$6.55||$5.96|
As you can see, some of these are pretty expensive, with the shared bank tab running a whopping $17.66 all by itself with the second biggest purchases being the Drow, Favored Soul, and Monk classes at $9.39 each.
Now then what does all this mean? Well if you’ve been paying attention there’s been a number totals on each chart. So now we come to the time to add everything to reach the true cost of what it costs to get the entire DDO package through Turbine points. Note that in the tables below Account Options does not include Character Slots, which is accounted for in it’s own entry.
Grand Total using only the 1-4 Character Slots granted for a Premium Account
|Item Name||Points||400 Std||900 Std||1500 Std||3300 Std||5000 Std||5000 Sale|
|Adventure Packs and Account Options||15120||$236.25||$201.44||$191.42||$178.64||$166.29||$151.17|
|Sigils for Character Slots 1-4||3360||$52.52||$44.76||$42.52||$39.68||$36.96||$33.60|
Grand Total with slots 5-10 purchased to be equal to the VIP Account
|Item Name||Points||400 Std||900 Std||1500 Std||3300 Std||5000 Std||5000 Sale|
|Adventure Packs, Account Options, and Sigils for Characters 1-4||18480||$288.77||$246.20||$233.94||$218.32||$203.25||$184.77|
|Character Slots 5-10||3570||$55.80||$47.58||$45.18||$42.18||$39.24||$35.70|
|Sigils for Character Slots 5-10||5040||$78.78||$67.14||$63.78||$59.52||$55.44||$50.40|
As you can see from the Grand Total charts if you’re happy with slots 1-4 you’ll be looking at a total of $218.32, which is about equivalent to 1.5 years of VIP subscription. And if you want slots 5-10 you are looking at a total of $320.02, or 2.2 years of VIP subscription. Remember that this is only taking into account one server. You’d still have to buy more sigils for characters on new servers, though luckily the character slots apply to all servers. Also remember that the VIP subscription is going to give you 500 points every month just for subscribing, which can be used for the purchase of adventure packs, items, etc. that the free to play player is going to generally have to pay for out of their own pocket. Note however that to actually buy something the VIP subscription gives you access to you need let the subscription run out since the store won’t let you buy anything you already have access to from the VIP subscription.
So there you have the actual cost of what the free to play, or Premium Account, option in DDO is really going to cost you. Needless to say after I did this analysis I decided to stop buying adventure packs and instead switch to the subscription model as there is no guarantee the game will even be open long enough to justify the cost of purchasing everything a la carte, and I’ve become used to having a diverse quest selectiion and all the account options. For those of you who want to stick with the free to play options, check out the article following this one where I tell you how to get the most out of your Free Player or Premium account in DDO.
As some of you may not know, I have a bit of an artistic side. Hours whiled away drawing in my free time have more recently transitioned over to doing a little bit of graphic design here and there. Not too long ago I did a new signature for my guild the Paragonian Knights in the game City of Heroes. I call the signature design “Hologram” and here are a few examples of that design for your viewing pleasure.
Dungeons & Dragons Online, or DDO, goes Free to Play today. This is a game that I’ve enjoyed in the past and now that it’s become a free to play game I’m enjoying it once again. I was part of beta and have been playing since the first as part of the head start. And while I enjoy the game for being filled with hand-crafted plot-driven dungeons filled with traps and diabolical enemies rather than the random collection of enemies that fill most MMOs, the shortcomings of game have always been some glaring obvious, making this a game you have to willing to forgive the rough spots to enjoy.
First, after playing 4th edition for over a year the problems with 3.5, which DDO is based on, are even more orbvious than they were in the past. DDO has had to do some major tweaking to get the system to work, especially at higher levels, but the troubled core still shows. The biggest problem is that you’re enslaved to requiring a cleric. Thankfully there is some effort to try and alleviate this with the Favored Soul class from the Miniatures Handbook, but it’s still a major problem. In contrast in 4th edition the cleric is also part of the class role of leader. All the classes with the leader role have different strengths and features but they all have some things in common, some healing and abilities that largely benefit the party as a whole being one of them. It’s designed so that a party can do well with any of the leader classes, be they Bard, Shaman, Artificer, Warlord, or yes, even Cleric. In DDO you can’t just say, “We’re good, we’ve got a bard,” because bards aren’t made to cover the leader function like they are in 4th edition. So that means if you want to go adventuring you must find a cleric for your party. (Or maybe a favored soul, but the class is brand new.) This is a real drag on trying to get anything done, and generally all this seems to do is make it so clerics are tired of being hounded to join teams and make themselves anonymous. Goody.
The other problem is that your classic problems with some of the martial classes are alive and well in DDO. Unlike 4th edition where your Fighters, Barbarians, and Paladins all play very differently from each other in DDO they’ve got a lot in common. Now DDO does a lot to fix this by using their enhancement system, a system of which some of it’s ideas seem to have made their way into 4th edition, such as all the racial themed feats we see in 4th edition. So the problem isn’t as bad as straight 3.5 would be, but it’s still there. My 4e Paladin definitely feels like more of a Paladin than my DDO paladin feels.
My other big problem with DDO is that the idea of “Free to Play” seems to be pretty subjective. Now granted Turbine isn’t totally out of line here. But leveling sigils per character? I mean it’s nice they added them as in-game loot but was that really needed? And paying for modules is pretty damn expensive. If you buy all of them you’ll have bought a few years worth of subscription time for a game that probably doesn’t have many more years left. Still, I’m glad it’s in the way that it is, but I don’t think this model is going to appeal to people looking for a free to play game. I think it’s only going to appeal to old players like me who play occasionally, allowing us to come back on when we feel like it without turning subscriptions on and off.
So that’s pretty much my take on the warts on DDO. There’s other problems too, like the visual design is pretty un-inspired and doesn’t use the Eberron source material to it’s full potential. Compared to LOTR it’s clear DDO got shorted when it came to development, though I can’t say why. Maybe Turbine didn’t think having the license to make a D&D MMO was too profitable. Still the game does posses a great gauntlet-style combat system that makes battle fun and exciting, and adventures feel exactly like that, adventures. Add in voice chat and you’ve got a great recipe for some fun. I just wish it got the polish it needed.
Mr. Captain Man has just completed his review of Redoubt Operations #1: Fires over Kalago on the official City of Heroes forums. With his permission here is a copy of his review posted here on the Depot for your reading pleasure.
Redoubt Operations # 1: Fires over Kalago, Arc ID 1297, by @Andromeda. Very long (1 small, 1 unique, 2 medium maps). 48 plays, 4 stars as I start. Description tells of Impervium deposits in Africa sparking tensions. An organization called Redoubt is asking for help from superhumans. There’s a link to a ‘Virtueverse’ link. I put that in inverted commas because up until I googled it 10 minutes ago, I had no idea what the Virtueverse is (hit my 57 month vet badge this week folks ). For anyone out there who doesn’t know what it is, it’s a ‘library of fan created original content for the City of heroes MMORPG virtue server’, according to the ‘about’ section on http://virtueverse.com. So it’s an RP thing, then
Now, although my home server is Freedom, I’m not averse to the odd bit of roleplaying. I popped over to its site to see if there was anything I needed to know to better enjoy the arc, but it warned me that it was basically a huge spoiler article. It was related to a few more articles, namely one
After seeing all that without reading it I am in somewhat of a conundrum. Do I play through and then read, or read first and then play, or just play?
I opted to start playing, and if I was getting into any difficulty, then I knew where to go for a chichewan phrasebook or the shoe size of Emperor Surtr or what have you.
Oh, the arc is lvl 20-35, so I’ll be using Tommy Atkins, my lvl 31 MA/SR scrapper.
“Africa. The last time I was in Africa was durin’ the war. No, not that war, the WAR. World War II. Before I ended up ‘ere, o’ course. Yeah, I did a bit of me service in Africa. Course, that was North Africa, in Tobruk on Operation Crusader. Never bin back…until last week…
“A mate of mine at the UN, Paddy O’ Toole, put me in contact with a Lieutenant Commander Gilgamesh of a UN sub-organisation called REDOUBT. Stands for a mouthful, an’ no mistake. Peacekeepers, they say they are. Needed a bit o’ superhuman muscle ter ‘elp ‘em with a problem in Southern Africa…seems some country in the interior discovered Impervium deposits, ‘an…well, where there’s bubble there’s trouble, as me mam used ter say. The Prime Minister ‘ad bin kidnapped by a bunch of Sky Raider mercenaries workin’ fer a Separatist group.
“They were keepin’ ‘im in a cargo ship in a place called Kbamba bay. Prime Minister Sizwe was in that ship, an’ I ‘ad ter get ‘im out. Fair enough…Gilgamesh couldn’t ‘ave read me file very closely, ‘e seemed ter think I wasn’t used ter extraction missions…I’d soon put ‘im straight…
Mission 1: Rescue Prime Minister Sizwe
“After a long, dull plane flight, I was chucked out over Kbamba Bay at 20,000 feet. Makes my eyes, water, does free-fall. Still, it’s quicker than usin’ a chute, an’ over water there’s no need really…keepin’ an eye on me target ship was the difficult bit. After I’d ‘it the drink, I surfaced and swam ter the ship…a quick shimmy up the anchor chain an’ a little bop on a guard’s noggin’, an’ I was in…
“I squatted on a gantry an’ ‘ad a dekko at the interior of the ship…
“Raiders everywhere…sneakin’ through was goin’ ter be difficult. Fightin’ me way through shouldn’t be too ‘ard, though – there’s only so many bad guys you can fit on a ship, after all…I took a deep breath an’ piled on!
“You ever bin on a picnic with jam sandwiches, an’ the news gets out ter every bee in a ten mile radius that grub’s up? That’s what I felt like. It was nuts! They must ave bin getting’ danger money for this lark, cos they weren’t bein’ shy about ‘avin’ a go, I can tell yer. I usually goes fer the engineers first, before they can activate those bloody force field generators, but with this amount of goons it was difficult even pickin’ em out of the masses! An’ with the bloomin’ teleporters jumpin’ in and out addin‘ ter the chaos, mostly I just kept me ‘ead down and biffed anything that was close…
“I worked me way through the ship, buildin’ up a sweat, an’ after wadin’ through a sea of Sky Raiders, I found the PM. ‘E was in a spot of trouble, looked like. I soon ‘ad ‘im out of it. Once the bad guys were snoozin’, I checked ‘e was ok, and we started ter make our way back ter the exit…
[The PM says ‘did you hear that?’ to give a heads up to the ‘Enemy Infiltrator’ spawning back on the way, but I’m not sure exactly what ‘that’ is lol.]
“We jogged back through the ship, but soon found our way blocked by some newcomers…geezers in purple armour, either robots or armoured humans, I’m not sure…but they were in our way. I told Sizwe to lie low while I dealt with em. They were a bit tasty, I don’ mind admittin’, an’ half way through the fight a load of their mates turned up! It was a bit dicey for a while…
[Yikes! The initial spawn wasn’t too bad, but then the ambushes arrived! I had to leave the PM there whilst I retreated to recover. I didn’t die, and Tommy loves ambushes, but it felt slightly wrong in terms of the plot to leave the Prime Minister there while I ran off. Technically, they could have grabbed him and had it away on their toes before I got back. Not much you can do about that, though. I’m not suggesting removing the ambushes, anyway.]
“…but not too dicey. After that, it was a short jog to the exit, and the extraction team took Sizwe off me ‘ands…
“Gilgamesh said that the purple blokes were members of a group called The Mechanius Imperium…how come bad guys always choose the stupidest names for their gangs? With a header like that, you’ve gotta expect an Emperor somewhere, right? Self-proclaimed, I bet.
“Anyway, Gilgamesh was worried about the civvies in Kalago’s capital, Lilongsa. Seein’ as ‘ow I was already near, I offered ter go an’ lend an ‘and…
[The briefing etc could make a little more of the fact that I’m already in Kalogo; it seems to suggest that I’ve left there?]
Mission 2: Save the Citizens of Lilonga
“Gilgamesh gave me a file on the Maniac Imperium, as I call ‘em, an’ it turned out they were robots. The group sees itself as an ‘emergent nation of AIs’, it said in the report. I didn’t think much of their diplomacy so far.
“Lilongsa was a madhouse. Gunfire, the screams of energy weapons…the Redoubt heli swooped in low and dropped me off in a position on the edge of town…I ‘opped over a wall and jogged down an alley, then popped me ‘ead out…and ran into a patrol of the purple robot blokes engaged in a full on barney with some sky raiders! Straight into it, as usual!
[oops lol. I saw three mobs a little way away, thought I had CJ on, leapt at them, and SJed way over them and into a massive battle between the MI and the SR!]
“So there I was, neck deep in rampaging robots and the bloody Sky Raiders. I was spoilt fer choice fer targets! The raiders were easy enough, buncha woofs the lot of em. Those robot buggers were a bit ‘arder ter deal with, but, well, when yer bin through D-Day…
[That fight was fantastic. It felt like Rikti Invasion, the sheer number of mobs around me. I was hovering around a quarter health for the last half of the fight. Great fun]
“After that, I took a breather and surveyed what I could see of the city…it was a warzone…I could see a civilian off towards the central square; hiding from the battle…I loped down the slope and into it again, fighting my way to her through the marauding machines and the mercenaries squabblin’ over the territory…bloody bastards, the both sets…why can’t people be left alone ter live their lives, eh? Some little country wins the geological jackpot, gets a chance ter make summink fer itself, an’ the jackboot ‘ordes comes crawlin’ outta the woodwork. Makes me bloody angry…this robot ‘nation’…no home country of its own, so it thinks it can just take one from someone weaker, eh? Not if I’ve got anything ter say about it…
“When I got near to the civilian, I nodded to ‘er ter stay down, an’ cleared an area around ‘er. When she was relatively safe, I ‘ad a think about what ter do with ‘er…I couldn’t take ‘er with me, it was too dangerous. I told ‘er ter keep ‘er ‘ead down, an’ I’d try ter clear a bigger area…those bloody metal sods ‘ad got me right wound up, I’d be ‘appy ter put a dent in their army…
[Tommy’s angry enough to Clear All, and I’m having enough fun to stick with it too.]
[On a more serious note, the rescuees stay where they are after the rescue. I know there’s an issue with hostages on outdoor maps, but it still looks a bit odd for them to calmly stand hands on hips after rescue with more mobs in sight. Maybe you could do something with their dialogue and animations that would help?]
“Street by street…yard by yard…through the shattered ruins of people’s ‘ouses…me fists pounding metal, me knuckles bleedin’, the stink of oil an’ the screech of servos…they found out what ‘appens if yer mess with one of Monty’s boys!
“…I rescued more civilians that afternoon, but not enough…the damn robots and the raiders didn’t care about the civvies in the way of their bloody fight…
[The battles that are spotted around the map are great, but I wish the trigger distances for them were shorter; often I’d see them happening in the distance but they’d be over by the time I’d fought my way to them. Have you filled the map with as many as you can? Is it possible to trigger more from rescues?]
“Eventually, I stood, pantin’, atop a pile of mangled metal an’ dead raiders, sweat drippin’ off me brow an’ blood drippin’ off my fists…this district of Lilongsa was reclaimed…
[I enjoyed that mission, but I think the atmosphere of a city under total attack could be enhanced if the briefing/debriefing made a little more reference to other heroes and/or Redoubt rescuing other civilians in other sectors of the City. I rescued I think 6 civilians, which is a little small scale for what I think you’re trying to suggest. Top fun all the same]
“After that I sat in a medical tent whilst a medic bound me poor knuckles…but I didn’t ‘ave a very long rest. Gilgamesh was on the blower; two of the civilians I’d rescued weren’t civilians at all, but Imperius robots. Two ‘alves of a gestalt wossname, ‘e said. I didn’t pay much notice, tell the truth…I was knackered. But I was the closest superhuman ter the firebase where they were, and they’d started teleportin’ in more Mechanius troops. That firebase was where the Prime Minister was…Well, it wouldn’t ‘ave bin the first time I’d ‘ave rescued a prime Minister twice in one day…time was pressin’, so I got me skates on…
Mission 3: Reclaim Redoubt Firebase 572
“Bloody ‘ell, this was a tall order…I ‘ad 90 minutes before the timelock on the base central core opened an’ the Metal Empire forces could swarm the place. I ‘ad ter get ter those two agents who were teleportin’ the troops in…I wasn’t sure ‘ow many floors there were, an’ there was no way I could sneak through…I ‘ad ter plow me way through them, one punch at a time…So I buckled down an’ started plowin!
[lol 90 minutes, and the briefing seems to suggest that it’s going to be a Clear All…Once I’m inside, the Nav instruction is to Defeat a boss and then Defeat Remaining Enemies…I’m clearing as I go anyway, but I wonder how much time I’ll have. From the looks of the map it’s not a big one]
“As I fought me way onward and upward through the base, I played the wheelbarrow game…yer know what that is? It’s a game ter make borin’ work go by faster…say yer got a hundred bricks ter move, an one wheelbarrer, that takes 20 bricks. Yer load it up, and move the 20, and while yer on yer way back yer think ter yerself ‘alright, I’ve moved 20 out of 100, which is a fifth of everythin’an’ I’ve got 80 left, which means I’ve already done a quarter of what I’ve got left, an’ if I does what I’ve already done, namely another 20, then I’ll ‘ave 60 left, which is only 3 times as much as what I[‘ve done already…’ – yer get me now? All that thinkin’ takes time, yer see, an’ before yer know it there’s another 20 gone, an’ you ‘ave ter change all the maths, an
that takes more time…
“Anyway, while I was deckin’ them metal bastards, I was thinkin’ ‘it takes me around…4…5…6 seconds ter take out one of these metal gits, so that’s 12 a minute, an’ I got 90 minutes left, which is just over a thousand…I ‘ope there ain’t more than a thousand of ‘em in ‘ere’…”
[The maps not too big at all…on the third floor, after about 15 minutes, I find the EB. I’m glad of the generous time limit now, because she takes a few trips back to the vendor for inspirations…]
“I finally emerged from the last elevator to find the main mare and her company tooled up and ready for aggro. The door was there, tickin’ away…She was a big bird, this one…and packed a wallop too…Still, as Benny ‘ill says, I like em big! She was a bit of an ‘andful, but I gave ‘er a spankin’ in the end…I ripped one of ‘er arms off, an’ was about ter beat ‘er about the face with it when the bint teleported away! Then, though, polishin’ off ‘er mates was easy peasy…well…relatively…After that, I just let meself slide ter the floor an’ wait fer the doors ter open…maybe there was a cuppa on the other side of the door…
[Quite a hard fight, that. I’m wondering if there’s going to be a Big Bad in the end mission that’s worse than Kali…if there is, I might have problems ]
“Well, there was a cuppa, thankfully, an’ I needed it after that bird’s little love taps, but it was awful, and at any rate, the Redoubts techies were all over me like a rash askin’ question’s an’ naggin’ me fer intel. I directed ‘em ter the wreckage of the bird’s arm…then I ‘ad a kip.
“An hour later I was woken by Gilgamesh. They’d been able ter isolate a location from somethin’ in or one the arm, it seemed. The location of the Animaniacs base. An’ they wanted me ter go in an’ close it down fer good…there was a teleport node in there that’d need smashin’ inter bits, fer starters, an’ the leaders of this assault too. In fer a penny, eh?
Mission 4: Thwart the Mechanius Imperium Invasion
“Underground. That’s where the base was…under flamin’ ground. I’m built fer caves, me, on account o’ bein’ so short. I made me way in, an’ almost immediately bumped into that bloke from the ship.
“‘E was a bit put out ter see me, an ‘is mood got worse when I smashed his face in! ‘E called fer ‘elp, the big pyjama, so I smashed their faces in too. I’d only bin in there fer 20 seconds! Gordon Bennet!
[lol I had to use all my inspirs up on that ambush, but it was worth it. Rather an unexpected event so close to the entrance, but not unwelcome.]
“I ‘ad a little stretch after that, an carried on…the mechs got a bit thin on the ground fer a while, which was nice, but then I found a cavern with some of ‘em torturin’ a sky raider. I’m no friend of mercenaries, but ‘e was a human, I guess, so I sorted him out. ‘E offered ter ‘elp me, but I left ‘im behind whilst I scouted ahead. In a huge room, I found the teleport node thing. I tell yer, those tinmen did NOT want Tommy ter smash up their toy…waves of the little buggers kept swarmin’ inter the room…fist fodder, they were…
[actually, the ambushes would have been a killer but for the happy fact that the node was conning purple (lvl 35), and so I was easily able to take its destruction slowly, and so not get all the ambushes at once. Higher levels who can one or two-shot the node would get all the ambushes at once, which might prove a handful. As it was for Tommy, each ambush was just right. The fights were tense but not too hard.]
“With ‘er teleport gzmo in bits an’ one of ‘er arms missin on account o’ yours truly, I was pretty sure that that bird would be more than peeved at me…I set out ter see if I could make ‘er day a bit worse…
“…and sure enough, when I found ‘er, she ‘ad a look on ‘er face like a bulldog chewin’ a wasp. I went back ter the Sky Raider an’ asked if ‘e’d like ter give ‘er some payback, ‘an ‘e was in like a shot. We made our way back ter where she was, and the both of us went at her at the same time…
[I’ve got a full set of inspirations, and Captain Klink. Hopefully, he’ll be able to tip the scales…]
“What a pain in the jacksie that metal bint was! ‘Er lost arm didn’t seem ter worry ‘er none. It was ‘ard goin, really. Klink put up a good shuftie, I gotta be fair, but it was touch an’ go fer a while…when she started flaggin’ she called fer her mates, an’ we ‘ad ter retreat around the corner so’s we didn’t get swamped. Once she was back on ‘er own, though, it was just a matter of time…
[Klink did help a lot, but I had to be careful to let him take the agro off me, and he also needed a bit of management cos he’s only a lieut. The ambush looked set to wipe us out tbh, but I think we were saved by pure luck; she seemed to stop attacking us for a little while, and I took care of the ambush whilst she sort of stood there. Odd.]
“Well, that was that…the Redoubt squads flooded in, an’ Klink was carted off ter be interrogated. With the Mechanius fought off, Kalago looked safer. The Raiders withdrew from the place too. With a little bit ‘o luck the country could get back on its feet again…an’ I could go ‘ome…for an actual proper cup of tea…”
Right. This is a good solid arc that gave me a load of fun, basically.
Positives: The Sky Raiders were perfect for Tommy, really, and your customs could have been designed with him in mind. The customs also look really nice and their bios are detailed. The maps were well received and the objectives were appropriate. All the various text fields are present. I especially liked Missions 1 and 2.
Negatives: There were a few very minor typos here and there. Kali was a little bit annoying, taking just a very little bit longer to down than would have been perfect. And the civilian evacuation mission needs a bit of tweaking IMO.
Overall, though, a solid arc that Tommy and I enjoyed very much. I’ll be playing the next one on the basis of this.
I thought about what rating I felt it deserved for quite a while. The arc, as I said, was very enjoyable to play. However, the story itself, and the writing that delivers it is not quite up there with the stuff that has really grabbed me by the balls and/or the heart, and so I couldn’t grant a 5 I’m sorry.
If we could rate out of 10, it would be on the cusp of 8 and 9, and I’d be moaning about not being able to rate out of 20.
As it is, I gave it 4 stars because although the playing was funfunfun, the feeling wasn’t totally there.
Suggestions: I think mission 2 is where you could really sink the Player into the personal disaster of a city of civilians under attack. Those hostages you rescue are a bit faceless tbh, and giving them more emotionally engaging dialogue could really make it stand out more as an emotional experience as well as a great gaming one.
Story Description: After their bid for control of the nation of Kalago has been thwarted by Redoubt and their heroic allies, the Mechanius Imperium focuses its ire squarely upon the forces of Redoubt as First Emperor Surtr declares total war against them.
Story Arc ID: 269283
Author’s Global Chat Handle: @Andromeda
Length: Very Long (5 missions)
Level Range: 30-50
Mission Status: Final
Designer Notes: Redoubt Operations is a dramatic team-oriented mission arc series following the exploits of Redoubt and their nemesis, the Mechanius Imperium. These two original organizations, set firmly within the City of Heroes universe, are both comprised of robots and androids of all types, but have startlingly different philosophies that set them against each other. Which one will be victorious and influence the minds of machinekind for generations to come, and which will be lost and forgotten, a passing fad of their race’s infancy? Only time will tell.
This arc series aims to provide an interesting storyline that is fun to play through as well as read, to provide players as much fiction as they are willing to read while still keeping the basic plot points succinct enough for even a casual player to be able to follow along, and to always keep the player the main focus of the events in the missions while still expanding on the overall story line.
To accomplish this task the Unofficial Handbook of the Virtue Universe is used extensively to provide information about the different characters involved in the story, form the biggest character to the littlest. Information on the arc series itself is posted there, as well as pages on Redoubt, The Mechanius Imperium, their leaders, their solders, and any other characters or organizations involved.
However to enjoy this arc series reading none of this background information is required. The bare minimum of information in each arc is provided in the enter and exit popups of each mission. More fiction is then provided in conversations with the contact, clues, and dialogue in the missions.
Players will take on the role of villains who have agreed to assist First Emperor Surtr of the Mechanius Imperium in his master plan to take revenge on Redoubt in exchange for “something they desire”.Players will be engaged in such fun tasks as blowing up buildings, kidnapping world leaders, inciting a civil war through fabricated evidence, and crushing the stalwart defenders of peace and prosperity under their heel. Contains two elite bosses and one arch-villain.
In-Game Keywords: Ideal for Teams, Custom Characters, Drama