E3 2005: Level Up
Mazes & Monsters Online
Product: Dungeons & Dragons Online
Company: Turbine Games
Date: 05/24/2005
Avaliable On:

Even if they?ve never played it, anyone familiar with the world of RPGs has at least heard of the great-granddaddy of all Role Playing Games, Dungeons & Dragons. It?s not surprising that Turbine has decided to make a Massively Multiplayer version of this classic table-top game. Called Dungeons & Dragons Online: Stormreach, it contains some welcome twists on the classic MMORPG design.

First off, here?s a little information for die-hard D&D fans. The game will make use of the 3.5 ruleset and will be set in the campaign world of Eberron. If you aren?t already familiar with D&D, none of this will likely mean anything to you, so let?s move on.

To begin with, aside from the enormous hub city of Stormreach, all dungeon and adventure zones in D&D Online will be fully instanced. Every combat experience will be hand tailored for your group, and no one will be able to interfere. In another extremely interesting, and welcomed as far as I?m concerned, twist, you will not receive experience points for killing monsters. Rather, you will gain experience by completing the specified objectives during an adventure. Because of this, people will not be rewarded for simply staying in one spot and killing the same monsters over and over again. Instead, people will actually need to work their way through dungeons.

True to the original game, there will only be 20 levels in the game, but each will be a very significant increase in powers and abilities. Turbine has done their best to ensure a level 5 character in their game will accurately reflect the same power as a level 5 character in a normal D&D game. Another tidbit that will only make sense to current D&D fans, Turbine will offer 50 points of advancement across the 20 level curve.

Character creation seemed similar to the table top game. Some of the races Turbine has announced are human, elf, halfling, dwarf and warforged. Some classes are fighter, ranger, wizard and rogue. I?m sure cleric will also be present.

What really got my attention more than anything were the interactive environments offered. Turbine assures us that there will be many ways to accomplish a dungeon?s objectives depending on your party makeup. After all, a large part of the fun of the original was the great flexibility that came with a game that existed mostly in your imagination. Turbine is going to try it?s hardest to make sure players have as much freedom as possible in this regard.

One example I was given was a trap that involved two spinning blades coming out of walls, like something out of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. If you have a rogue in the party, you can disarm the trap, otherwise you can memorize it?s pattern and sneak your way through. The best part, traps can hurt monsters too. The boss of this particular dungeon was easily dispatched when it was lured into a gauntlet of flame-spewing walls.

Turbine has its work cut out for it, making a game that will appeal to both D&D fans and non-fans alike. So far, it?s looking to be a very interesting game, with some fresh, new design ideas to keep us all intrigued.

Alucard aka Stephen Triche

GameVortex PSIllustrated TeamPS2