DDO: Playing for free.

This is the first fruit of my “Ask me things” post. My thanks to JB for giving me something to write about! He asked:

Getting the most out of a free MMO, as I understand it there is stuff you can do in DDO to unlock stuff for free/get bonus turbine points etc. Would be interesting to see how much of the game you can actually get without spending any money.

I should mention that this only applies to the US DDO servers run by Turbine. The European ones run by Codemasters are still subscription only, but European players have no problem signing up for a US DDO account.

Playing for free in DDO is perfectly possible. The basic classes and the free content adventures would probably be sufficient for a lot of casual gamers. While it is possible to get Turbine points through play, most people would find it a bit too labour intensive to get more than an adventure pack or twos worth, but again, that would probably be sufficient for a lot of players.

There are two separate tracks upon which you can earn Turbine points. One is per server, and one is per character. Both are dependant of the Favor system.

What is favor?

Every adventure in DDO gains you favour with one of the city’s factions. How much favor you have from a given adventure depends on whether you have completed it on normal, hard, or elite difficulty. For instance, you might have an adventure which rewards favor with the Silver Flame, and it would give you 3 points if you’d completed it on normal, 6 on hard, or 9 on elite. The amount of favor you have from it is based on the highest level difficulty you have ever completed it on. This is a once only reward. You don’t get more favor for repeating the adventure, once you’ve done it on elite. As any given character has a finite number of adventures available to them, they also have a finite amount of possible favor.

Your Adventure Compendium tracks which adventures you have completed at which difficulty, and how much favor you have gained from them. Longer adventures are usually worth more favor than shorter ones.

DDO Adventure Compendium

DDO's Adventure Compendium

The patron tab shows you how much favor you have with particular factions, and your total earned favor. Filling a favor bar will result in some sort of reward or bonus. Most notably, getting 400 total favor will unlock the Drow race for you on that server. This is not too difficult, and I would suggest this method instead of buying the Drow race with your precious Turbine points.

DDO Patron Favor

DDO's Patron window

The Per-Character path to Turbine Points

Per character, you simply get 25 Turbine points for every 100 favor you earn. If you only use the free content, there are currently 1001 points worth of favor available, worth a potential 250 Turbine points.

The Per-Server path to Turbine Points

On each server, the first time one of your characters reaches a certain favor threshold, you receive Turbine points. The thresholds are as follows:

Favor Turbine Points
5 50
25 25
50 25
500 50
1000 100
2000 100
3000 100

This is where the quick and easy points are. You only need 5 favor to get a decent wallop of 50 Turbine points. You can get 5 favor simply by working through the tutorial, up to the the adventure under the tavern, “The Collaborator”. Doable in about 20 minutes, I’d say, and you can do this once on every single server. There are 7 servers, giving you 350 points if you did this on each one. You could, if so inclined, go for 25 favor on each server, for another 175 points. It can be a good opportunity to try out a class or build before unleashing it on your main server.

When you have your points, you then have a choice as to what to use them on. If you’re determined not to spend any money, then you should probably save them for adventure packs. The Turbine shop runs a lot of sales and special deals, and you can save some points by picking up adventures when they are discounted. Any adventures you buy have favor rewards for completion, so you buying adventures increases the amount of favor, and thus Turbine points that you can earn. Adventure pack purchases are account-wide, so, if you really wanted to have the max number of characters on each server, they can almost pay for themselves. The cheaper Adventure packs start at 250 Turbine Points. Shan-To-Kor is a good first one, if you’re not sure which to get, because completion of the whole quest series grants you a permanent discount in the Marketplace, and it also grants Coin Lord favor, which unlocks additional inventory space.

That’s all a bit time consuming for me, mind you. Grinding away across multiple servers and characters just to get Turbine points is not especially fun. It does all depend upon your available time and finances, of course, but keep in mind that a Turbine point is worth approximately 1.5 US cents. Myself, I try to walk a path that involves buying some points, while trying to maximise any free points I can get without knocking myself out. It’s worth noting that you only need to buy points once, even the smallest $6.50 pack, in order for your account to be upgraded permanently to a Premium account, which has far less restrictions than a completely free one, and will make your time in Stormreach much more pleasurable.

VIP

Premium Free
Monthly Fee Yes No No
Turbine Points

500/month
Store Purchase
Favor Reward
Store Purchase
Favor Reward
Store Purchase
Favor Reward
Classes & Races Basic & Premium Free
Favor Unlocked per Server
Buyable for All Servers

Basic Free
Favor Unlocked per Server
Buyable for All Servers
Basic Free
Favor Unlocked per Server
Buyable for All Servers
Geography All Included Free Stormreach & Vicinity

Stormreach & Vicinity
Adventure Packs All Included Free Some Free
Can Purchase Others
Some Free
Can Purchase Others

Base Character Slots 10 4 2
Shared Bank Slot Included Free

Can Purchase Can Purchase
Login Queue Priority High Standard
Chat Unlimited Unlimited Limited
Auctions Unlimited

Unlimited Limited
Mail Unlimited Unlimited Limited

Gold Storage Unlimited Unlimited Limited Based on Level
Until Level 12
Buyback History

40 Items 10 Items 10 Items
Auto Log Off Time 60 minutes 20 minutes

10 minutes
Leveling Unrestricted Unrestricted Unrestricted
Customer Service Full
Self-Service Online

Full For 45 Days
Self-Service Online
Self-Service Online
Compendium Read
Create/Edit
Read
Create/Edit

Read
Official Forums Read
Post
Read
Post
Read
Limited Posting

Beta Priority High Normal Normal

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