This fun and free MMORPG lets you get your D&D on while you hack and slash your way to adventure.
The first thing you will notice about DDO is the fact that it is of course free! You even have options to download a smaller version of game so you can jump right into it while you wait for the full version to download. You will really want to download the best graphics version of the game before you decide if this the game for you. The graphics can look very nice on the highest settings. The art style is more realistic than many of the cartoon graphics of it's free and pay to play competitors. If your system will run them, try them at max settings and you won't be disappointed.
Game play is also vastly different to most MMORPG's. The entire game is basically instanced. There is no huge open world where you'll find thousands of other players wandering around in. While there are common areas such as cities, even these are instanced. This helps to reduce lag and keep the game running smoothly. The drawback can be that you may not be in the same instance of the same city as your buddy. So you'll have to switch instances, which is quick and easy to do. The other drawback is that cities can seem more empty than in other MMO's. For me, this wasn't an issue. In fact I even preferred it. I hate the lag-fests of some other game's capital cities. Quests are also only instanced. Compare quests in DDO to doing 5 man instances in WoW. You have no FedEx style quests. All quests involve a "dungeon" that can range from fairly quick(maybe 10 minutes) to very long(maybe 2 hours). Most quests can be solo'd but some are much easier with a group. You can also set the difficulty of the quest. This will make it very easy to very difficult to complete.
Combat is deceivingly simple to begin with. At first it seems like you just click an enemy and wait for your character to hack it to death. Most melee type classes can take on several enemies at once and live to tell the tale with ease. However, as you level up and start to work on harder quests you start to see the team work and planning really pay off. There's a lot of strategy that can be employed if you wish to. Of course sometimes just brute force can win the day as well.
There are many character classes to choose from in DDO. Character customization is amazingly deep in this game. More so than in any other MMO I've ever played. You can spend hours just deciding which direction you want to take your character. Of course you can also horribly mess up your character as well! It is very difficult if not impossible to "fix" a badly messed up character. So choose wisely. For new players, you would be wise to choose a class that excels at soloing. I recommend Fighter, Paladin, Ranger, or Cleric to start. You would also be wise to choose one of the optional preset paths for your character so you don't make any huge mistakes. Once you get the feel for the game, you can go back and create your custom character to your liking.
You may be wondering, just how free is this game? The download of the game is 100% free. You can create characters and play for free. Around level 4 or 5(which is sort of like reaching level 20 in WoW) you will start to find yourself running out of free quests. You can repeat all quests as often as you want so you can effectively "grind" your way out of this until about level 12. There you will find it getting to be very difficult not to spend any real money on some "modules" or pay to play quests. My advice is to go ahead and buy some modules from the DDO store. This gives you some more character slots to play with and it also gives so more quest to level up with. I feel you would better off taking the money you would spend on the subscription fees and buying the modules. All quests are free for pay to play members but once you cancel that subscription you no longer have access. So buying them outright means that content is yours to keep. I advise that you not buy anything other than quests. All other content or purchased game items can be earned with "favor" or bought with in game money. Certain classes and races, such as drow, are not available to start. However this can be earned with relative ease for free.
To sum up DDO, it's the best free to play MMORPG I've found so far. With very little investment of real money it becomes even better. I came here looking for an alternative to WoW and found a game I like better in many ways. If you are a real WoW addict, you will have to keep an open mind to the game. Give it a couple of days of play and really try it out. Before long you'll come to enjoy DDO just as much.