You'll see a lot of words used to describe massively multiplayer online role-playing games, including "addictive," "immersive" and "expensive." But rarely are they as unapologetically social as Dungeons & Dragons Online: Stormreach, publisher Atari's long-awaited take on the first RPG ever. Because if you don't play nice with the other kids in D&DO, you're dead.
If you're the type that likes to play MMOs solo, you'll utterly loathe this one. After a mere handful of solitary training missions, you'll be given quests that absolutely require three to six people, and the more varied the party, the better. A gang of four barbarians ain't gonna cut it; on some missions, you'll need a shifty rogue to pick locks; on others, it'll take all of the magic the clerics and bards can dish out to keep everybody alive. Imagine - a role-playing game where you actually need to play a role! Meeting and playing with a variety of people is the only way to play D&D Online, and it's clearly by design. After all, why pay a monthly fee to play a massively single-player game? At the same time, this forced social interaction, along with the strict mission structure and the more stringent rules about reviving characters, will send some players scurrying back to their power-leveling in World of WarCraft.
And unlike WoW, D&D Online doesn't let you fly up the experience ladder. There's a level cap at 10 - that's right, 10 - and working your way up from level 1 to level 2 alone will take several hours of gameplay. As a result, every level feels like a true achievement ... or a pain in the ass, depending on what you're used to.