Trying to succinctly outline the mechanics of a large RPG is difficult enough, but add in the online component of Dofus
, and there's almost no chance for success. The highlights of the Dofus
control scheme include a "toolbar" or "dock" that appears during battle to control attacks and spells. Keyboard shortcuts are available during regular play and battle to make for somewhat less back and forth on the mouse. I found that chat sometimes got in the way of the keyboard shortcuts, but generally everything worked fine. Using chat in the game has many uses. Strategy in battle and talking to players about quests or puzzles is one. Dofus
allows you to join or create a group of players who have the advantage of private chat and easier ways to find other members of the group on the map. Groups are not the same as guilds. Guilds are a rather arcane construction in Dofus
, and either you need to find a rare item and start your own guild or join an already created guild. Guild mechanics are somewhat like those of a group, but with more benefits in terms of leveling and gaining items. You can even get married to another character, granting a few special priveleges.
One annoying piece of the game, maybe the only thing that kept coming back to me, is the amount of bruised English in the way Dofus was translated from French. Now, don't get me wrong, I think it was a major feat to have translated the whole game at all. But, especially in how quests are communicated or how the documentation online reads, I sometimes felt like I was reading Stereo Manualese rather than English. The online community site for Dofus includes a bulletin board to report errors in the game, so I expect most of the major issues will be resolved through player feedback. Another thing that any online gamer or netizen experiences at some time is rude behavior. I did come across this, and used the Dofus support line to lodge a complaint. The response was quick and my concern was taken seriously, so my sense is that Ankama won't fool around with Griefers or rude players.
The final thing worth noting is how easy it is to start playing Dofus. Dofus plays across all platforms, since it is Flash based. On Mac, I had to go download the Flash Stand Alone Player, available at Macromedia's site. Using the Player allowed for full-screen and great resolution. Otherwise, there were problems with full screen. Also, the first time I downloaded I had some trouble unpacking the .dmg file, but the solution that I found on Ankama's support page was to download the Linux version. By the most recent release, the Mac download seemed to work fine. There is no real installation, other than unpacking the components of Dofus, and upgrading to the new release was a matter of drag-and-drop. Create a login and password, create a character, and you're playing. The free account is limited to a small area of the total game world, but free players aren't crippled in any meaningful way other than being cut off from exploring the entire world. Paying the monthly fee, which at this review was about $6-$7 per month, is a worthwhile investment in my book. For the price of a latte and a muffin, you have 30 days worth of MMORPG action.
Dofus is incredibly well executed, and any fan of turn-based, strategy RPGs offline should take a look. The game is as deep as any MMO world, but has a unique look and feel that will attract many new MMO gamers. As Ankama continues to roll out new areas of the world and expands the game through special events, the player experience will be better and better. With as much fun as I've had playing for the last few weeks, I can't imagine it getting much better.