In a recent foray back into DDO, I’ve played a solo character I created on a whim at some point in the past – a character that was conceived as an experiment with a ranged/sniper type character. As a very sporadic player of the game I do not claim to have that much in-depth knowledge of character builds, especially with the new enhancement trees that revamped the character customisation system back in August 2013.
This character is a Bard/Rogue (currently level 3 Bard/ level 2 Rogue). In any case, my main yardstick of whether a character works is the practical relative effectiveness of that character. Running dungeons that I’m familiar with, I can gauge a sense of whether the character feels weak or strong to play compared with the Paladin main that I played for my longest stint in-game.
At level 5, he is mostly active in the Marketplace area of Stormreach. Common foes are kobolds, hobgoblins, troglodytes and vermin (i.e. oversized spiders and scorpions). Solo play imposes a certain need for some flexibility: a pure ranged character would be difficult to play as there’s no heavily armoured ‘tank’ characters in the party to block monsters from rushing my sniper. So although I’m concentrating somewhat on boosting his ranged attack abilities, and greedily collecting different types of bows and crossbows accordingly; he inevitably also has a few pairings of swords, maces and short swords in various magical flavours to suit different challenges.
Just like the Ranger gameplay in the more modern Neverwinter MMO, this character switches between a bow and paired swords with ease to face threats as they present themselves. It’s an extremely pleasing gameplay style actually. The choice of ammo matters a lot in DDO, at least at lower levels – having some arrows of goblinoid slaying makes very short work of any hobgoblins or their ilk. Likewise he carries arrows of reptilian slaying will one-shot kobolds and nearly slay any troglodyte outright. So the magic of his weaponry really gives that sense of being the deadly ranged assassin.
Solo-gameplay is pretty sub-optimal in DDO, but I play it for a different challenge from soloing in other MMOs. It strikes me as being a MMO that, for solo gameplay at least, really shows the benefit of planning and preparation. Having enough ammo of the right kinds, thinking about what resistance potions I should take and the variety and quantity of self-healing items I should pack are all choices that I can make to make solo-play easier for specific quests. If you play the game as a group such preparation is beneficial but hardly as essential. It’s a very intense kind of gaming, I suppose closer to the FPS/stealth modes of console games than a standard MMO experience.