1. Put aside your MMO expectations
I'm betting that, for most people, DDO is not their first MMORPG. And because of that, we have a parade of gamers rushing into this title with flawed (for DDO) training, reflexes and expectations. I believe that this is the primary reason why some gamers have such an adverse reaction to DDO at the start -- it's really not like other MMOs, and it takes a little time to get the hang of it.
For example, your mouse buttons are swapped from the normal MMO setup to allow for manual attacks (trust me, everyone spends their first day swinging her weapon into empty air when they're trying to click on something). Your health and spell points don't regenerate in dungeons. You don't get XP for each mob killed. Mobs don't drop loot (well, collectibles, but not loot in the conventional sense). Most of the world is instanced. And you're going to need to group, a lot, and be OK with that.
So the sooner you get past your bias and expectations and allow the game to properly train you in the ways of DDO, the happier you'll be. Every DDO player goes through this readjustment, and he'll tell you that it's not too bad and goes faster than you'd think.
You never know -- you may actually end up liking how DDO handles the genre over your typical MMOs!
2. Sign up at myDDO.com for the lottery
Do you like free stuff? Do you like free stuff that costs real-world money to buy in game? Me too, me too. So you really shouldn't hesitate to head over to myDDO.com, log in, and then go to your personal page (myDDO.com/USERNAME). All you have to do at that point is click on the lottery button (left-hand side) and check the boxes for your characters. It's really that easy.
Similarly to myLOTRO.com's lottery, myDDO.com's lottery offers you daily opportunities to win cool stuff for your character, and some of the rewards are awesome. I've gotten hair styles, potions, health-healing ham, henchmen, guest passes and more just from routinely checking in and entering the lottery. You don't win all the time, but you do win often enough to make it worth your while.
3. Learn to hate Jeets
Jeets is the very first NPC you'll see in DDO, an annoying halfling who shrieks "Oi, you ain't undead, are you? Say something!" at you in a nasally tone until you finally click on him. Then it gets worse, because you discover that you have to follow this perverted thief through the tutorial until you thoroughly hate his guts. It's the fun kind of hate, however, as in "Welcome to the We All Hate Jeets Fan Club!"
It's hard to properly explain why he's that special brand of aggravating that got the attention of the entire community, but I'd easily put Jeets in the top five most famous DDO NPCs (if I were ever to make a list, and I won't unless I run out of column ideas by late August). Later on in the game (around level 18 or so), you get the special "privilege" of diving into Jeets' mind, which will scar you for life.
4. Rearrange your UI
As much as I am one of Turbine's fans (I power them!), I cannot lie: the DDO
user interface is poop. It's something they're working on for a future update, but I've hated this UI ever since launch, and that distaste has not lessened since. It's visually unattractive (especially the icons), arranged all crazy-like, and has elements (like the giant globe that shows a picture of whatever you're already looking at) that make no sense.
So I always make a point of rearranging the UI when I start a new character, and this involves dragging elements to their standard MMO locations: map in the top-right, my health in the top-left, target selection top-center, and quests middle-right. You probably also want to expand the hotbar to two or three bars total, and drag some of the lesser-used icons (like diplomacy or sneak) away from your precious 1-5 buttons.
Of course, as I do this Jeets is jabbering away ("Speak to me!"
) and I dearly wish that Turbine would grant me the power to kill an NPC once and for all. Power Word: Shut Up, Jeets.
5. Smash barrels, loot drops
Get your destruction on like Donkey Kong
in that first day and smash any barrel, crate or sarcophagus you find. Not only will this grant you a special XP bonus if you destroy enough of them per dungeon, but they'll occasionally drop cash or potions. The money is negligible, but many of the potions are worth picking up, especially in the early game. You can never have too many healing, armor, jump, swim, protection, resists and cure pots on you. It's a good way to create options for situational hazards at a point in the game where you have few skills and abilities at your disposal.
6. Make it a priority to get to "sunny" Korthos
Back in the early days of DDO
, when men were men and halflings the laughingstock of all, the game had an entirely different tutorial and newbie area. Frankly, it was dry, dull and not just a little bit frustrating to navigate. Fortunately, Turbine fashioned a completely new starter experience with Korthos Island, guiding players through the first few days of the game without overwhelming them. It helps that you get lots of useful loot and a level or two out of it, too.
However, the new area is not without its drawbacks; namely, it's confusing to new players because there are two versions of Korthos Island (dubbed "snowy" and "sunny" Korthos) that separate first-level characters from each other. While you can talk to people across both versions and see them in the LFG function, snowy Korthos players can't group with sunny Korthos players. Think of snowy Korthos as the initial version of the zone that transforms into sunny Korthos later on.
The very first time you play DDO
on an account, you're asked to go through the full snowy Korthos experience. This can be done by completing the following quests in order (and yes, they can be soloed): Heyton's Rest, The Storehouse's Secret, The Cannith Crystal, The Collaborator, Redemption and (shudder) Misery's Peak. Once you finish (shudder) Misery's Peak, you'll be in sunny Korthos for good -- as will any subsequent characters you create. Because of how it works, there are generally more people available for grouping in sunny Korthos, so it's in your best interest to get there and then catch up on any quests or quest difficulties you may have missed on the way.
Sound too complicated? Fine, there's a couple easier ways of going about it. One is to simply run through the initial tutorial mission and complete it, then delete your character and roll a new one. The new character will be flagged for sunny Korthos and you'll be golden. Another easy option is to talk to Valeria Sinderwind at the docks, choose "Skip the Korthos Island story-line" to head to the harbor, and then come back to Korthos. Viola! You should be soaking up the sun!
Next week: Pet-less rangers and other