DDO is a very rich adventure. I’ve spent many, many hours and have not yet explored every quest or raid. I’ve certainly not discovered every little secret or chest. In short, there’s plenty for me yet to enjoy.
But it seems to me that, for many (especially with parties) the aesthetics of the game (the scenery, the backstory, puzzles and optional battles) are often eclipsed in favor of immediate gratification. Loot. Experience points. Levels.
There is something to be said for going slower. I know I’m an old bastard in the gaming world. (“Back in my day, we played games that had ONE pixel! And we LIKED it!”) Yet, how can most players just fly by or through quests without enjoying what DDO is: A virtual world turned art form.
There are plenty of quests to cite to show the programming beauty as well as the thought given to gameplay that weren’t designed with zerging in mind. To start, enter “The Captives” quests (Level 3 or so) and you are near a stone bridge under a radiant sky, with a small lake below. The beauty of this quest made me stop a bit in awe before beginning the obligatory orc slaying.
Another well-designed quest is the Delera’s Tomb chain. It epitomizes “dungeon” but places bits of backstory (specifically, the symbols of the Sovereign Host (who you interact with in the “Relic of a Sovereign Past” quest) and the history (and politics) of Delera I. Seeing her great-great granddaughter elsewhere as a Coin Lord tells you her progeny are not to be trifled with.
Speaking of Coin Lords, The Lordsmarch quest series are heavy in detail and ornate styles, while the Reign of Madness chain is Lovecraftian-chic, great loot for the puzzle-wise and just plain bat-$#!! CRAZY, with the madness of Xoriat brought to view in…icky, squishy, macabre detail.
Of all the quests, I yearn to visit in full the Necropolis series. Aside from the damned obvious need for the Devout Handwraps for a few Monks, the ponderous issues with a few quests have gotten in the way of simply going out to do some undead slaying. I’m sure I’ll get a guide from the guild sometime. Syncletica and Lynncletica (light Monks) would completely rule there.
I want to level my toons as anyone else. But I also want to enjoy what the game offers. So, often I play alone, sneaking with my rogue or ninja. Stealth brings a new challenge in itself: Complete the mission with as low a kill count while with as much loot and XP as you can get. Sure, Conquest bonus is nice, but completing the optionals lets you take in (at least once) the detail that the developers have provided. The joy of beating the traps and moving past whole armies of evil is often more interesting than a kill count.
There are some quests so poorly designed or ponderous that you wished you could zerg through. We know what these are. Perhaps the XP isn’t great, and the best item in its loot table is a +3 Dull Spoon of Lesser Ooze Bane. Maybe the quest is buggy. On these quests, it would be great for the developers to review them, expanding or rewriting them to improve their quality.