More thoughts on Dofus


I wrote up my initial thoughts on Dofus over here. Here I am back with more pictures and a final report on why it didn't gel for me. Whilst I would love to write a totally unbiased review of Dofus, I don't think I can. I will try to highlight my experiences of how it works, and how it can be used so you can make an informed decision as to whether it is your kind of thing. Keep in mind that my opinions will be coloured by the fact it didn't grab me hard enough to make me carry on.

The first thing to say is that you can almost certainly get a good experience from playing Dofus as a free-to-play user. Pay-to-play (about US$6.90/month) gives benefits: better drops; no limits on professions; certain drops only accessible to pay-to-play; certain areas only accessible to pay-to-play. This lets you try before you buy.

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Playing a character in Dofus requires choices very, very early. You must, first of all, choose a character class. There are many quite varied classes from offensive tanks (Iop), defensive tanks (Feca), archers (Cra) to summoners (Sadida), prospectors (Enutrof) and even time magi (Xelor) as well as healers (Eniripsa) and others. Within these classes there are a limited style of powerful ways to play - for example Iops are classically Strength based, but you can build an agility based Iop quite well. Trying to make a hybrid is, however, much harder. You make these choices pretty much after the first monster you kill. You choice of statistic to maximize will affect the equipment you aim for, the abilities (called spells, but they include the attack forms for the "warrior" classes) you choose to train and much, much more. This is, in some ways, a benefit: it can make playing the characters fun, and contributes to the ability to retry the character with a different statistic to see how it works.

However, this focus on statistics almost straight-jackets your character. For any character that uses Strength (and there are many) you are likely to start with as much of a Young Adventurers set as possible, then move on to a Gobball set, since that is the set that primarily drives strength. This makes everything in that line incredibly expensive. Buying the most expensive pieces for the armour sets that you are supposed to have for level 21 onwards will cost you more than you've managed to make by this point in the game.

This is where I started to lose the will to play the game. I started reading, carefully, between the lines of the Dofus wiki. The chances are good that your first character will have a number of mistakes. Fortunately, you can have up to five characters on the same log-in. Thus you can learn from the first character, pass items and money along easily, and have a far better second character. But, even if you follow the wiki you will find your first character will start to struggle for money, items, etc. If you read the wiki carefully you will find people talking about having characters that max out their earning potential so they can buy whatever they need. You don't create a character so much as a team -- an earner, a higher-level trailblazer, a lower level "strong" character in that field, and then a couple of others to play as well. Of course you don't have to do this. But if you are serious about playing you will end up following this route to a greater or lesser extent. This isn't what I want to do to be honest.

This brings me on to my next personal beef. I know it is a problem I have with many of the MMORPGs and, indeed, many solo computer-based RPGs. As you will notice, if you look for my other posts on Massively, I'm a Second Lifer through and through. That said, I do play table-top RPGs as well. In Second Life, I don't play a role per se. (Although I don't look as good in real life sadly.) In terms of personality and skills at least Eloise is me. If I wax philosophical a moment, I am simply telling the story of my life in a new place. In a table-top RPG I create a character and a role, but it is part of a story. In a game like Dofus I am creating a story without a context. There is no story I'm working towards, and there is no personal improvement, no advancement in the story of me.

Dofus isn't a game you can bot. That said, it is a game where you can be told with a fair degree of accuracy just where the best place to be is for a given level, and probably even how to grind a given statistic as things get more focused. Where is the impetus to generate another character? At level 5 you will be killing tofus at tofu corner; at level 10 you will again head to the fields and kill demonic sunflowers; at level 20 it's back to killing gobbals again. That said, I dipped into RuneScape and I got even more frustrated with that, so if I was forced to choose one or the other thing, I'd be back into Dofus. So, Dofus does do some things well.

Character death is handled well. You start with 10,000 energy. Each time you get killed you lose some. There are a few expensive ways to restore energy, which you can get access to as a free to play or a pay to play character. If you have energy left, you simply get teleported home with all your equipment. Losing equipment and having to rebuild an inventory each time you die (such as in Runescape) is rough for new players.

I find I'm liking the division into a "combat level" and a "professional level" structure that Dofus offers too. Rather than every character having every skill (which does make sense on some levels, I admit) there are a limited number of useful skills -- each tied to a profession. Lumberjacking might get you Bow carving. You can choose your skills (I suggest you do so carefully) but then you must grind them.

There is no in-combat healing unless you have a healer-type character on hand to cast healing spells. This drives me mad in tabletop, but I find the eating/drinking mid-fight in other games irritating. Close fights become more about the supply of potions than your tactics, or the strengths and weaknesses of the characters involved. Congratulations to Dofus for avoiding this particular pitfall. I suspect playing an Eniripsa is a very fast way to make friends in Dofus, however. That ability to generate healing in a fight can be a real boon to your combat monster colleagues, and you're guaranteed a share of the experience!

Overall, I find I like the Dofus engine and rule system -- well mostly. It certainly does better than many others. If it had a discernible storyline, I'd still be there chasing the story down. Sadly it it doesn't and thus I'm not. But don't let that stop you having lots of fun!
This article was originally published on Massively.