I would like to create a Warrior. Should I pick a Paladin, Fighter, Barbarian or Monk?
Melee classes are among the easier ones to play in DDO, but the player's knowledge of utilizing the special abilities of a class will ultimately make the difference between, say a player's Half-Orc with a big sword that swings a lot and gets a few kills before his hit points are too low, and a small halfling Paladin with a shortsword that lays waste to most everything she sees with little damage sustained.
Let's summarize each class as well as what you may not know about it that can help you make a decision as to which one is best for you.
The Paladin is a fierce fighter with holy powers that augment his attacks or protect himself and others. Depending on the Prestige Enhancements chosen, the Paladin can ward off attacks from the undead or extraplanar creatures with ease and use their Smite Evil ability to destroy an enemy.
Why Choose a Paladin?
- Paladins offer less damage per second than most melee but are much more protected against most physical and magical attacks thanks to their incredibly high saving throws, good hitpoints and armor class.
- Paladins gain some useful immunities: Fear & Disease, and can gain others with chosen enhancements.
- They make great front-line fighters in dungeons with mages and undead.
- A class skill, Intimidate, greatly aids in attracting enemies.
- Paladins are deadlier against undead or unholy targets than ordinary Fighters, thanks to their feats.
- Paladins can aid the party's health in a crisis, using Lay on Hands to restore hit points to any class. This is particularly useful for healing injured Warforged, as it is not reduced by their positive energy healing penalty.
- Paladins with the Hunter of the Dead prestige enhancements become highly resistant to negative energy attacks and become immune to negative level drain, making them effective against Beholders and dangerous mages. Other prestige enhancements offer greater offensive power against demons and devils.
- Paladins have the best overall saving throws in the game, reducing their chance of severe damage or death against many attacks and traps.
What's the Catch?
Paladins are specialists against unholy or evil enemies, but might be less effective against living enemies because their skills are tailored against smiting evil.
In comparison to other melee classes, Paladins must ensure that their Charisma stat is as strong as their Strength and Constitution abilities to stay in the front lines. The tending of stats like these only make Paladins a little less effective overall in general fighting.
Fighters are a very versatile front-line melee class. They are often chosen as the party's Tank - EG: The player chosen to intentionally attract enemies and fight them, while others in the party join him to flank and destroy the enemy. A specialist in many weapons, a fighter's defense is typically as strong as their offense, with shield in hand, tough armor, and weapons that can pound enemies into oblivion.
Why Choose a Fighter?
- Fighters gain many feats throughout the game that can bolster their attacks and protection.
- A class skill, Intimidate, greatly aids in attracting enemies. Fighters have more ways to bolster intimidate then most other classes.
- Fighters can learn any weapon and make the most of its damage better than most classes.
- Fighters can build up immense hit points, leaving them able to absorb more damage than any other class. However to reach the very highest levels of hitpoints, the Stalwart Defender enhancement line is necessary, which prevents you from taking Kensei and thus limiting your damage output.
- Fighters make for a great multiclassing option to improve another class's fighting prowess.
What's the Catch?
Fighters are dependent on using many healing potions or spells from others to stay alive. Players that choose a Fighter must learn to use the class skills, particularly Intimidate, as well as stances, to gain an edge—you cannot just swing your sword as a Fighter after a time, and must use your skills tactically in higher-level quests.
Although fighters gain a huge amount of feats, many of them are often focused towards either offense or defense, by specializing in one, the other side suffers. EG: A sword and board stalwart defender can make the strongest tank in the game, but will have limited damage output when compared against a pure damage kensei build.
Fighters are also more vulnerable against magic attacks and other damage from traps, having poor saving throws.
While Fighters are often balanced melee fighters, the Barbarian is more of a devastating offensive warrior. Barbarians do not gain nearly as many feats, and thus have less options. But instead gain extremely powerful class abilities such Barbarian Rage, Uncanny Dodge and inherent damage reduction to make them a very powerful melee class.
Why Choose a Barbarian?
- Barbarians run faster than most other classes: 10% faster base, and can gain fast speed in limited burst via the Sprint Boost enhancement.
- A class skill, Intimidate, greatly aids in attracting enemies.
- Barbarian Rage is an extremely powerful Barbarian class ability that greatly increases many things:
- Strength and thus overall damage output and resistance against being knocked down.
- Constitution and thus overall hitpoints and fortitude save throws.
- Will saves and thus overall resistance to enemy spell casters mind affecting spells.
- At higher levels: Critical multiplier that increases their damage output on rolls of 19 and 20 via the Frenzied Berserker enhancements
- Although Barbarian rage does come with a couple of penalties, neither really have impact on endgame play:
- Fatigued for 1 minute after rage expires: This can be a minor drawback at low levels. But by mid levels you should be able to afford potions to remove this effect, and by level 17 you are automatically immune. Warforged Barbarians are also immune to this at level 1.
- Penalty to armor class. Barbarians do not rely on the armor class stat in DDO. There are other ways to tank and reduce damage that is not necessary to do so, and in is fact entirely ineffective without extreme gear investment and special class-based abilities to get the AC necessary to be effective.
- Barbarians can build up immense hit points without sacrificing any damage output. Rage alone can add roughly a hundred hit points by level 11, and even more by level 20. Along with their enhancements for constitution they can reach the highest levels in the game, second only to Stalwart Defender Fighters and without hurting their offense.
- Barbarians are the best two-handed fighters in the game, able to strike more powerfully.
- Barbarians gain damage reduction for free against all enemies as they level.
- While they inherently cannot disarm traps, a Barbarian has good saves against traps, gaining equally strong bonuses against them as a Rogue.
- Barbarians gain Uncanny Dodge and Improved Uncanny Dodge to improve their protective abilities.
What's the Catch?
A Barbarian's highest damage output can only be sustained with support from other classes. This is due to the fact that one of the best PrE: Frenzied Berserker, which offers Frenzy, Supreme Cleave, and Death Frenzy can add a huge amount of damage output, but they come at a cost: These special attacks also damage the Barbarian (like weapons with Vicious prefixes). Due to this, you often cannot use these abilities unless you have a strong healer in the party to keep your health levels maintained in some way (Vampirism and Healing Amplification go well here for this class). Do keep in mind these are optional at-will abilities however, and do not need to be in use if said healing is not available.
The Monk specializes in unarmed attacks, using handwraps to augment their attacks. Through the use of the mystical energy, ki, as well as impressive feats, Monks can survive and fight in many situations where many melee classes would be challenged.
Why Choose a Monk?
- Next to Paladins, Monks can have the greatest saving throws in game. Combined with the automatically granted Evasion, Improved Evasion and feats, the Monk can survive more against any form of attack than any class except, sometimes, the Rogue.
- Monks receive elemental strikes that they can use at any time, adapting themselves to any enemy.
- Monks can become the fastest class in terms of passive running as they level (Barbarians can sprint faster, in small bursts)
- Monks can survive long falls without items, eventually foregoing the need for them at maximum level.
- Monks naturally gain immunity to natural poisons and diseases (but not supernatural or special types).
- Monks receive natural unarmed damage reduction skills against enemies. The Shintao Monk enhancements allows a Monk's unarmed attacks to bypass every significant material-based DR except Crystal.
- Depending on the philosophy chosen, a Monk's finishing moves can buff and heal a party, raise dead, or can debuff enemies, reduce their fortification, increase vulnerabilities or even kill them with a single strike of potent negative energy.
- Depending on the philosophy, a Monk can continually self-heal in a vampiric Mass Heal ability, starting at level 3, as well as the feat, Wholeness of Body, every 2 minutes. Since this healing is powered by ki, a Monk can outlast many other classes who are dependent on spell points or potions to stay healed.
- The Monk can make impressively long jumps to reach locations that other classes cannot, and do so far more often than other classes with similar skills, such as Favored Souls (which often wear conventional armor).
- The Monk gains innate Dodge bonuses as they level. This bonus is on par to what Rogues and Barbarians gain with Uncanny Dodge but Monks can augment this further using Monk stances.
- The Monk's ki energy, unlike spell points, is regenerated when attacking or being attacked, allowing Monks to be far more self-sufficient than any other class, as ki can be used for healing and protection as well as for damage. What does not kill you literally makes you stronger.
- Monks are specialists at stunning enemies more consistently than most classes.
What's the Catch?
The Monk is arguably the most complex melee class to play in DDO. They cannot wear armor or use most weapons, or they will become uncentered, losing all of the special abilities. The combination and timing necessary to complete and execute finishing moves (especially on a typical keyboard) challenges and defeats the interest of most players who had rolled up a character out of curiosity.
The Monk requires close attention to ability scores, keeping Strength, Dexterity and Constitution balanced, with Wisdom in control of whether many talents will succeed or not. The ki energy drains from a Monk over time, requiring them to be opportunistic before their ki is depleted. Their key skill, Concentration, determines how much ki is held or used, and Monks get fewer skill points to use than some melee classes.
Because of the many automatic feats they receive, Monks should not be the dominant score in a multiclassed character, but one or two levels of Monk in other classes can make for a nice blend in classes that are otherwise less fortified in attacks, through gaining the Evasion feat.
Of all the melee classes, a Monk's hand-to-hand attacks do less damage than those from conventional weapons and do less damage on critical hits in general—although unarmed attacks do strike more often than many classes except Barbarians. Of all the melee classes, Monks gain the fewest hit points per level, requiring more attention to the number of hit points in higher levels to survive. (Feats such as Improved Critical, Seeker items, and use of Greater/Ultimate Mountain Stance may improve damage per hit.)
Monks also do not gain Intimidate as a class skill. This is a good and bad thing. A fighter without "aggro" is able to land Sneak Attack damage as mobs attack more tastier targets and is less likely to attract mobs too quickly. On the other hand, a Monk that is tasked as the "tank" in a party will have a much harder time in getting and keeping the attention of the nastier enemies and mobs if Monks cannot make themselves a bigger target versus more vulnerable party members such as Clerics. (Monk enhancements such as Greater/Ultimate Mountain Stance and Threat items can ultimately help increase aggro.)