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I see that Dungeons and Dragons Online is now free to play. How is that game structured? Do you create parties and travel? Or is it more free world-ish? I ask because I am looking for games to play with a group of 8-10 people and was wondering if it would be worth looking into.

Also, is the game playable without buying content? (By playable, I mean is it fun to play without buying content?)

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I heard it is good for small groups of players, so I am looking forward to answers to your question, since it would be nice to play something with 2-3 of my friends every once in a while - and a free-to-play model works perfectly for it :) –  NPC Jul 23 '10 at 15:09
    
As for how playable it is without paying, my impression is you can get plenty of fun out of levels 1-4 without paying, but after that you start having to buy a things. –  C. Ross Jul 23 '10 at 17:22
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up vote 8 down vote accepted

It's a largely instanced system, similar to Guild Wars. You instant-transport between hubs and run instanced quests out of those hubs. (If you're not familiar with instancing, it basically means you go into a private clone of an area with only your group. No random strangers wandering by.)

There are three types of areas, according to their website:

  • Quests: Instanced for 1-6 people, small area with a storyline to play through.
  • Adventure Areas: Instanced for 1-6 people, wide open area to explore, with dungeons and outposts within it.
  • Raids: Instanced for 1-12 people, more challenging quests

So, if you just want to jump into quests/raids with a small to medium size group, this sounds like a good game. If you like to solo or explore a big open world, maybe not so much.

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It should also be noted that the instances in DDO are hosted on one players computer, so you're not hitting the server when you're playing. Works great if you're all on a lan :) –  Alex Larzelere Aug 9 '10 at 18:53
    
@Alex: Can you back up that claim? Because that sounds seriously weird for a MMO, and given the asymmetry of the xDSL connections I would assume most of my European peers had been using back when it wasn't free to play, I also have a very hard time imagining this working. –  Martin Nov 25 '11 at 12:47
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To answer your question about playing without utilizing the micro-transaction portion of the game.

The game begins with you being capable of playing almost all content that you are capable of handling. This changes after roughly 10-15 hours of play where free instances become more scarce. However, just by playing and hitting certain levels of renown (gained from completing missions) you earn Turbine points to utilize in buying additional content. This gaining of free points is not fast but the keyword "free" does exist.

Playing with friends on the harder difficulies where role specialization becomes more important and having a built in VOIP for a completely free game is a blast.

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It should also be noted that the free turbine points are on a per server basis, so if you get 100 renown and get 10 turbine points on one server, you can get 100 renown on another server and you will get an additional 10 points. –  Alex Larzelere Aug 24 '10 at 18:04
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Note, also, that each character can earn the points for completing the quests. The points you earn are permanent until spent even if you delete the character. It's a lot of work but this does allow you to buy all the content without actually spending a penny. –  Loren Pechtel Jul 20 '11 at 17:34
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