Monday, July 19, 2010

Pondering DDO Veteran Status

DDO is running a special where a different item goes on sale for 50% off each day in July.  This coming Sunday will discount the "Veteran" account status to 498 Turbine Points ($5 at the 5K/$50 exchange rate).

To Buy or Unlock
Veteran Status allows new characters to start at level 4 (more significant than it sounds because the DND ruleset caps out at level 20, I'd guesstimate that we're talking about something like 5-10 hours of solo play).  This option can be unlocked on a per-server basis by earning 1000 favor, but I'm not entirely satisfied with that approach for several reasons. 

First, I'd have to earn 1000 favor - my highest character so far has 300, and it gets slower and more difficult as you go because it's more difficult to solo the hard difficulties of upper level quests. 

Second, I'd have to focus on a single character instead of messing around with alts, which is the opposite of how I've been playing the game so far (and would probably require more content purchases, since I've focused on lower level content unlocks to date). Moreover, any alts I create in the mean time would not have access to the Veteran unlock, so I'd want to do that sooner rather than later. 

Third, the unlock version is limited to a single server, and I have characters on all seven servers. 

Finally, I'd quickly bump up against the character slot limit (you get a total of 4 if you've ever paid) if I was trying to roll all my alts on the one server where I hypothetically had Vet status. 

But is Vet Status a Good Thing?
Overall, I'm reasonably convinced that it makes more sense to pay to unlock the Vet toggle if indeed I want it. So do I want this unlock?

My original reaction was that this seemed like a silly thing to pay for.  Level four doesn't take that long to earn, I might still want to go back and complete some of the lower level quests for gear (you get a lackluster starting package of equipment) and favor, and, ultimately, why does it make sense to pay to get out of playing the game?

The thing that has me reconsidering is now that I actually have a fair number of charaters in the level 3 range with 50+ favor (in fact, only one of my 15 characters has made it past the level 3 wall).  I've seen the content enough times that having the option of starting with higher level stuff sounds more appealing. 

There's also the matter of the poor scaling of the Dungeons and Dragons Ruleset.  Whether you're planning to multiclass or just a late bloomer, there are any number of reasons why a low level DND character might just be too fragile and not so fun to play.  If you start out four levels ahead of the curve, you get to skip past some of the less pleasant short term consequences of longterm decisions. 

Lastly, there's the difficulty of re-specing characters.  This too can be blamed on the ruleset, but that does not make it less irritating.  Of my 15 attempts at characters, a dozen are not worth playing beyond their next favor award because of character decisions that did not work out so well.  With Veteran status, I'd be able to take new alts on a test drive and immediately pitch them (or do a delete and re-roll "respec") without having to sink a fair number of hours into seeing whether my crazy new idea even works. 

I haven't made a final decision yet (I have until Sunday, since that's when the sale is), but I'm leaning towards taking the discounted paid unlock.  I'm going to spend more money on the game eventually (things like the Half Orc race and the new Red Fens AP are going to cost more points than I have, and sound like they'll be worth the money), so the main opportunity cost is that this would clean out my existing point balance.  Even so, discounts of 50% don't happen that often, so I won't cry too much if I miss a 30% sale on a single adventure pack because I spent the last of my points on this upgrade (assuming I don't earn more while trying out new alts).


Anonymous said...

If you have the points and you want it, then I'd say go for it whilst it's cheap.

There's only so many times I can handle grinding Korthos, certainly.

Especially if you're not bound to one server.

Good luck and have fun!

Brian 'Psychochild' Green said...

Huh. I was pretty sure I didn't want to buy veteran status, either. But, your arguments are persuasive.

I've been playing a lot of characters with my better half. We play LotRO together, but we met playing D&D in college so I got her into DDO as well. We've been running some characters through Korthos so she gets a feel for the different classes, etc. We'll pick a nice set of complementary characters (one with Rogue abilities, one with healing).

Your point about skipping some gimp levels resonates with me. I was playing a Ranger/Rogue with high Dex. I picked Rogue at first level for more skill points, but that prevented me from getting Weapon Finesse until 3rd level since I didn't have the +1 BAB at first level. Therefore, the first two levels just sucked for me. :P The character was a powerhouse once I got to third level, though.

On the other hand, I'll probably want to go run through Korthos for the nice gear and favor, as you point out... So, not sure how much I'm really "saving" by buying veteran status. Added to the fact that if I get veteran status, it'll be less useful if my better half doesn't also get it, so we're looking at twice the money spent, ultimately.

Damn you. :P

Brian 'Psychochild' Green said...

I forgot to mention that my better half and I were playing on a bunch of different servers to try out characters, a cheap and easy way to get up to the 25 or 50 favor bonus for a few extra free points. So, I have lots of characters scattered across servers, too.

Magson said...

I have vet status that I bought with the points when it was on sale a while back and I can't imagine being without it anymore.

Your point about skipping past "gimp levels" is spot on. I've got a wizard/rogue that took wizard stats but level 1 as a rogue. Level 1 was a chore, level 2 wasn't much different, except now I could at least use martial weapons with Master's Touch (before it got nerfed in this last update), but still.... until hitting level 4 overall and gaining my 2nd level spells, it was pretty rough. I would LOVE to have started at 4 on that character and skipped all that grind.

Oh yeah, I did. That character was on Thelanis server, but I joined Ardwulf's Tuesday night group on Argonessen after getting vet status and... wow, it was much nicer to start at level 4.

The starting equipment you get for any character is a basic +1 set or armor appropriate for your class, a +1 shield if your class can use it, some spell components if you're a caster, some Thieves' Tools if you're a rogue, and a nice flaming weapon of your choice. The scimitar is especially nice since it's a 1d8 scimitar, not the typical 1d6 it should be.

And you can go back and do Korthos for favor any time you want. Can't do the initial tutorial dungeon anymore -- in the last update they made /death send you to the Marketplace now -- but you can do all the Korthos things. You can even get a 2nd set of the noob stuff, so if you're a monk and it gave you the DEX stuff for a rogue, you can go get something else if you're STR based instead.

Vet status is VERY worth it. FWIW, if you roll a vet and then go run Korthos for favor you'll also gain level 5 before you're done, while blowing through it all easily since you outlevel it and have a much nicer weapon that you "should" if you start there.

So... level 3, maybe 4 if you found some noobie pugs, vs level 5, all favor from doing it on Elite, 2nd set bonus of gear if you want it. And yeah, the ability to test and see if builds are gimped without taking the time to level it up to 4 or 5 is quite invaluable as well.

I'd say absolutely go for it.

Yeebo said...

I didn't know that was going on sale this weekend. I'll probably pick it up as well. Even if you go back and do old content for gear, all that XP will start piling up at level four instead of one and get you to the later parts of your build all the quicker.

My only hesitation is that I suspect I am going to hit a wall somewhere after ten. Solo work is getter ever more painful the higher I go.

Brad said...

I bought vet status when it was on sale awhile ago for the reasons that have already been mentioned, and am glad I did. I still went back and did the Korthos quests for the favor and to pick up some additional equipment (like the featherfall cloak, etc.).

I'm a slow leveler - been playing since March, primarily with one character and still haven't hit 1000 favor. The fact that it gets veteran staus on all servers was a big part of my decision. I figure that with a sale like that, I can go through the Korthos quests much more quickly and regain the points from favor quicker, so it effectively saves me time, and pays for itself to some degree through favor farming.