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Update 24 – Part 1 – Quests

Update 24 offers 4 quests, 3 part of Heart of Madness – all Xoriat based ML 18/26 and P2P for 450 TP and The Mask of Deception a ML 30 Eveningstar based quest and F2P. The Xoriat based quests are all located out of 12 and outside the Guild ship portal – intermixed with several others. 1 quest entrance is located in Lordmarch plaza (Fashion Madness), one will teleport you to Khyber (Palace of Stone) and the last will take you to familiar battle grounds, the inn located across from the guild portal – a entrance that has seen 2 other Xoriat based quests before (Terminal Delirium).

Lets start with the 3 Xoriat one. When I first heard about this ‘chain’ (and I use chain very loosely in this case) and that it was to continue from the other 2 in the ‘series’, Harbinger of Madness and Reign of Madness I almost envisioned some kind of ‘end’ to the story line. Just as Fall of Truth was the end of a long running story line spanning from heroic to Epic. At least that is what I imagined and looked forward too.

I also envisioned Epic items, similar to the ones from the other previous chains and with some kind of thematic heritage linking them together – possibly a similar and simple upgrading system but instead we got very ‘normal’ items including new Mythical that drops in these quests. There’s nothing wrong with that of course, but with the previous chains and its plethora of interesting ‘madness’ flavored items, that even linked into things like Hound of Xoriat, where during the previous named item update they also added several new Xoriat flavored items that also linked bank to these chains.

The stage was set for some new interesting versions of either old Xoriat items (see Necro 4 and E Necro and the new Epic version of old items) but instead we get what can mostly be described as plain and vanilla. None of the items have a hint of ‘Xoriat flavor’. There’s nothing wrong with that of course, but it does feel a little disappointing since the quests always begged for more than simple loot – it begged for that combination interesting permutations and typical small but interesting negative.

And it’s not that the items are bad or that they don’t have a niche to fill, it’s just that I half expected something cool followed by a simple upgrade system that added additional flavor.

But that’s not the worst part; the worst part are the quests. Not because they’re bad or because they lack flavor; all of them have that little bit extra that gives them a hint of madness and typical Xoriat flair. No the worst part is that it threads in familiar territory and reuses some of the good oldies. It’s not new and great – it’s more like a compilation of greatest hits with familiar themes. So while some of the mechanics are new, the environments and the themes are not. Perhaps worse of all is that this ‘chain’ is more like 3 separate unrelated quests outside a general thematic lore with Lord of Stone, Lord of Eyes and a certain familiar Squid face, but they’re not linked in any way or continues or end any type of story arch.

And worst of all (of all worseness) is that the squid face is back, even tho he was terminally taken care of in Harbinger of Madness. Not that old enemies can’t come back, but it wasn’t like he was banished back to his realm of existance or fell of a cliff into a torrent ocean or whatever. He was killed. And you stood there in the end over his corpse. And to me that was kind of finite.

That’s really one of my main beef with Fashion Madness. It re-treads familiar grounds. With a fashion show, as if it was taken directly from the end quest. You’re hired as a body guard and you can guess what happens. Squid face comes back and you have to fight off wave after wave and then enter the sewers, break a bunch of cocoons with madened creatures and then finally fight an end guy. All in very familiar locales and against familiar portions from the old story arch. It’s not bad or anything. It’s just very similar. And having to once more deal with someone you already dealt with feels – anti climactic. And it leaves you with a cliff hanger of sort and you half expect to have to deal with him again, but the other 2 in the ‘chain’ are completely unrelated to this one. In fact there’s no mentioning of the squid face at all.

Simple put, I felt very disappointing when all was said and done since it threw me into the clutches of mr squid face again and left me hanging. Again – the quest itself is not bad. Just very familiar since all has been done again.

Speaking of done again, Terminal Delirium is boldly going where it has gone before. Twice already. This time Lord of Stone and Lord of Eyes have managed to get together in alliance through some rule shinenigans and you’ll become ‘slave’ to one of them through the course of some interaction as you’re hired by the inn keeper to ask them to leave.

I must say this; this is by far the most unique of the quest and the most Xoriat flavored. Without going into too many details, you will become a mirror, become a balloon and become a piece of floor puzzle. Doing so however you’ll be getting in touch with some very familiar themes in this inn and rekindle yourself with its greatest hits. But, unlike Fashion Madness this at least feels very unique. And the finale is classic Xoriat, with you doing a variant of the drinking game – which includes a dance off against a beholder where you need to stun the dancing creature and use the dance emote in order to win. Failure means you die and the beholder gets a few of its better features back (such as anti magic which makes it harder for caster types to stun, since you stun by taking the creatures HP down to zero).

Granted, these are all love or hate type quests and I’m all for special flavored quests and this fills the bill in so many ways. The dance off btw is hosted by a Mimic with commentary. Very fun.

The one that ‘feels’ the newest is Palace of Stone. Sure, it shares the same ‘stony’ look of a previous quest in the realm of Khyber, but this one is more like a tour of the Lord of Stone’s new home. But it lacks a lot of the silliness of the previous two, altho it has a lot of voice over which adds atmosphere. It is fairly rudimentary and straight forward. You enter 3 separate areas, listens to Lord of Eyes giving you a run down of what stone means to the world, fight stone monsters, Medusas and such and in the end fight 3 version of Lord of Stone. It seems you were invited for one single reason; to ‘housewarm’ his new digs with your blood splattered all over the wall, as is only proper when making a new palace.

The final quest, and free to play is The Mask of Deception. Your job is to infiltrade the Cult of the Dragon, steal a mask and leave. It is exactly as simple and rudimentary as it sounds. You can either do it (the way I did it) the brutal way by entering and destroying everything. Or you can pick up a mask in the beginning and walk around pretending to be one of them. In that case you’ll play the whole thing in reverse – once you pick up the mask an alarm is set off and you fight yourself out, unlike in the brutal version you fight yourself in.
Either way you’ll end up fighting a red named wizard armed with nasty breath attacks that hit for about 600+ – enought to one shoot my Arti. But it’s not something it’ll set off constantly so once you have handled the henchmen you’re safe to deal with the wiz (at range).

All in all, these are not bad quests per say. Just nothing spectacular. Some of them are Xoriat flavored, but it re-treads very familiar grounds. That takes away from the otherwise unique flavor. And perhaps worsest of all, the squid face is apparently still alive and you won’t deal with him personally this time around. And the other ones dealing with Lord of Eyes and Stone, leaves you hanging too. And it’s a pity – this could have been a completely separate chain setting you up for a nice end of the lore either in this pack or another. But it doesn’t. It leaves you hanging. And the items are nice but disappointing since they fail to live up to that ‘mad’ standard we’ve come to expect. Nice is good, but flavor is better. Perhaps Turbine decided that it’s a little bit too late for flavor since there are so many other good items out there, making flavor niche at best. Or that they didn’t have time and resources to figure out a good system for these new items. But in the end we get one of the least interesting rune arms and a bunch of items that fills mostly niche gear slots without the flavor.

I’m currently using the docent because to me that was perfect for my Bladeforged Arti, with it’s Con and Int, but I don’t see much else that really speaks to me. Granted, not everything is about items, but it is one of the reasons why we play MMOs.

Guthnar full

Update 24 (introduction to a 2 part review)

I have now played update 24 enough to form a solid opinion. One that I didn’t spoil this time by playing it on lam.

I could make this a 3 part review, 1 part being the new Barbarian enhancements but I have to confess I’ve never played a Barbarian. By the time I was going to create one the whole MOTU thing was rolled out and self sufficient was the name of the game. And once the epic levels increased to 28 Barbarians as a class was left way behind; the truth is that their ‘demise’ was a combination of not being gods of DPS anymore and the end of dedicated healers, with the rise of the self sufficient melee (using things like cocoon).

I’ll probably revisit Barbarian when I have a chance, since I’m considering taking one of my old melee and TRing him into a Barbarian, just to get an idea of how good the changes are.

Anyways – time to talk about Update 24, split into a review of the quests and one about Champions – because both subjects deserve their own specific arguments for an against.

Lets start with the packs quests; Heart of Madness being 3 specific quests (ML 26) for 450 TP and The Mask of Deception and F2P level 30 quest out of Eveningstar.

BTW – added in update 24 is the new mirror of glimmering that now includes weapons and a aura thingy that can provide a new weapon effect to weapons. The one in the picture is my new pally/fighter with all cosmetic helmet, shield, weapon and armor. Armor being Epic Emerald Guard, Epic Emerald Gaze, Tower Shield Adherence and Petrifying Hooked blade with the enhanced flames Aura.

The armor and helmet are from Update 23 E Necro, the Tower Shield from Shield of Legends – a turn in from Heroic wilderness rare and quests which requires 8 different pieces and the Petrifying Hooked Blade is the upgraded version of the kophesh from the Lordmarch series of quests, one chain F2P and the other P2P. Excellent quests and a bunch of cool looking weapons.

I’m currently using (for reals) some low level helmet, the actual Emerald Guard armor, the purple knight tower shield and a tier 2 thunderforged bastard sword.

partycrashing

On the verge of a new update, party time?

Update 24. We’re but days away. It was meant for this morning but that has been delayed due to a failed build. But if it’s not today it’ll be tomorrow, Friday or any day soon.

With update 24 (and I didn’t spoil the ‘first time’ feeling by going on lam to try the quests out) you have a new chain – the third in the madness series and possibly an end to one of those love it or hate it type deals. Either you love Xoriat for its vimsical story line or you love it because it’s different from the ‘Go from A to B and smack stuff’. Not that the Xoriat quests are entirely devoid of beat em down type gameplay, but overall it’s about something really ‘crazy’.

There’s also another ‘cult of the dragon’ type quest. Again – I don’t know what it is, but I’m of course eager to see what it does when the time comes.

Then there’s the question about items. As many have noted these are quite different from previous Xoriat stuff. In fact they lack that typical madness flair of having a few interesting permutations but also a slight negative – very much the type of ‘feel’ you expect from the items that comes out of the realm of madness.

That’s not to say they’re ‘bad’ – but they’re not exactly inspiring either. And it adds another rune arm, a terrible one – with light spiral which just doesn’t work that well compared to other types. Not just because of the fact that it’s near impossible to boost it properly, but also because it’s near impossible to hit good with it.

Personally I don’t know why they release a rune arm with no synergy with Arti’s enhancement line, but more importantly require gear choices that include radiance lore which only works to enhance the rune arm slightly but is otherwise worthless for any Arti spell or function.

I suggest you check them out for yourself tho – maybe you find something that’s niche enough to work with one of your builds – and there are some in there that seem interesting, but it also require sacrifices that I’m not sure I want to make. So we’ll see.

Finally – update 24 introduces champions. Randomly spawned ‘mini bosses’ with special random ‘powers’ that makes them either very resistant to some elements or adds ‘extra’ damage or so to attacks. Now some of that turned out to be so much extra that it did tons of damage and hopefully they’d figure out what did it and fixed it. But just as they broke the hirelings and never managed to get it right even after several updates I don’t have an illusion that they’d fixed all the problems with Champions on release.

Now I maintain that this should be an option but so far it seems it’s going to be automatic. And with no special XP or reward for encountering and defeating them (yes there’s a chance for a random trash loot chest) I find the idea entirely pointless.

I’m wholeheartedly against something that lacks proper reward for even trying, simply to add some difficulty that might just be a bump on the road but also (due to random ‘powers’) but a pain in the arse – not because they’re difficult per say, but has those rare combos of features that render your particular toon ‘useless’.

So we’ll see. I’m not sold on the idea and knowing Turbines track record I’m afraid it might not be done right the first time. In fact given that right now ‘improved shield’ is broken and not work right – it might be released like that (along with other broken features – I’m sure) which is what happens when Turbine take another big bite by meaning well and executing poorly.

We’ll see – but I’ve not been proven wrong yet.

Guthnar

Long weekend, and more experiments

The concept of a fighter pally is certainly not new and I’m sure it’s not new combining a Purple Knight fighter and Pally, but that’s what I did and also combining it with some vanguard for those delicious procs and shield bashing.

This was obviously done to take advantage of the purple Knights ability to use Charisma instead of strength and to take advantage of the Pally enhancement cleaves instead of the feats. Early equipment was the level 15 (normal) Wall of Wood and the bastard sword from Shadowfell, later to be replaced with the bastard sword from Web of Chaos. I also made a Heavy Black dragon armor that adds a little armor piercing and some other goodies, a much better armor then the purple knight starting armor.

There are of course a host of other good armor, but this struck me as the easiest for me to get, especially starting out at level 15.

I’m currently only using 1 single tactical feat, stunning shield. It’s slow with a longer cooldown and I hope to be able to also adding stuffing blow. Especially since there are a lot of boosts both in the Fighter trees and the pally to stuns. The downside is that unlike stunning shield, stunning blow is based on strength. Stunning shield use whatever the highest stat is (in this case Charisma). That makes the slower stunning shield the most effective one with stunning blow occasionally useful.

(Note, the image shows mirrored Helmet, armor and shield)

knives eterna;

My arti says, yes

I’m not going to waste anyone reading this to regurgitate the point I’ve made about MoD but I spent this weekend shaving off 9 runs on my Arti for the 20th and hit it just as I was ransacked. As a result, it is now the proud owner of Knives Eternal.
I…love…it.

Last time I tried it out I was rummaging around on Lam, a month or so before Update 23 popped. I wasn’t afraid of spoiling things for myself since I had already played the quests. Naturally since you could check out the new items for yourself, I tried them out on many different toons, and I was sold on the rune arm from the first time.

True, it suffers the one thing that all rune arms since to suffer and that is giving the target a ‘save’ so they can possible evade it. That’s unfortunate but it’s the basic reality of playing Arti’s in DDO. However unlike most of them Knives Eternal ‘auto’ targets critters (like force and acid) but follows it’s own distinct fire pattern.

If you’ve played around with Arti’s and rune arms you know that there are several distinct fire patters but up until Knives Eternal only 2 rune arms that auto targets (meaning the shots follow the creature you’re shooting at.

You have the electric sphere’s from Toven’s Hammer and the one out of E3BC. You have bolts firing in a line like the cold based ones, or single fireball shots like with Animus. Only acid and force (at least until now) fired up to 5 shots (for the higher end rune arms, fewer dependent on charge level for the lower end).
The force and acid fires in a wide arm. Usually 1 shot forward and each other one wider out. So as I’ve mentioned before some of the shots will hit walls and obstructions. But it’s a far better solution than direct fire rune arms with the notoriously wonky line of fire problems, where shots can simply go bonkers and fire straight up or hit tiny obstructions within line of sights that eats all shots when they would definitely go above them if it wasn’t for the broken line of sight system.

Knives Eternal fires it’s shot in a slow staggered pattern with a much ‘smaller’ arc. Instead of firing ALL shots, like with acid in a parallel wide pattern, Knives Eternal fires them 2-3 at the time until full charge (5 or so I believe). They’re also auto targeting. Altho slow they’ll follow creaters you target until hit. Finally, the knives will hit a target and start flying around in a circle, potentially hitting others nearby, sort of like a circle of flying daggers.

The nice thing is that it’s all untyped damage (which is boosted by force, so this rune arm works like a charm with an Arti’s enhancement boost). Both the imbue and the shots are untyped, with the rune arm boosting impulse spell power and spell lore. Combining everything an Arti need spell power wise (for a majority of it’s spells) in one singe item.

It also comes with 10% chance to add more piercing damage per shot and a 5% guard effect of massive piercing damage, making this the type of weapon that adds a massive boost in very Arti centered damage.

As a result I’ve seen rune arm crits in the upper 1k, many times ranging between 1200-1800 in untyped damage. And since there’s nothing in the game that lowers untyped damage (like spell power specific resistance unless you’re talking about a straight blank DR) most creatures will take a massive amount of damage from it.

In fact I ran an entire chain on EH just to see if I could notice a different between it and the Archaic Device (hitting for slightly below 1k in most cases) and the speed of how I could bring down bosses were staggering (of course hitting for 1500+ per crit shot will do that).

All in all, I’d love to continue running MoD for the necklace and the trinket, but at the moment I got everything I need in that rune arm. It us truly a massive improvement of all other Epic rune arms and well worth the use.

(BTW, the featured image shows the knives after firing, it’s a fairly slow patters, so much so that the rune arm doesn’t even show a discharge anymore since I waited for most of the shots to leave the rune arm but you can see that the arch is must more narrow than an acid or force)

I’d like to post, but what’s the point if I can’t play?

I did get some play in this weekend; a level here and there on my sorc. Until Sunday. The server stability was close to unplayable at times. And since then I haven’t really played at all. And that’s because I can’t log in. And unlike others I’m not going to sit there and keep trying for an hour. I always have other games, both MMO and solo ones.

I also tried to do a Lam run, but after getting in everything stopped working. I tried to tele to the House of K bank and got stuck in a loadscreen. I jumped out, logged in again and it was stuck trying to load. Until timing out. And that was it.

Truth be told, I don’t want to check the quests out anyways. I really want to save that for when it goes live. I like to explore and that first time feel of ‘new’. And doing Lam usually kills it for me. But I do like to see what new toys comes in the new pack and I must say I’m sorta meh about it. Don’t get me wrong; some of the items are not bad – and I’d say very powerful for the level. But this is the third pack in the Xoriat series and none of the items have the same feel as the previous heroic ones. And that’s a pity. Plus the items are sorta in ‘niche build’ territory. The staff is clearly ideal for a staff fighter/monk build. Which I might add is not legio. It’s hard to tell if it’s better than the CITW one or on par with thunderforged.
The armor with +4 Int is very niche. It’s hard to motivate taking that over say thunderforged. Plus as int builds I can only think of a good fit with a rogue int for damage type, not so much a caster who is better served by thunderforged or draconscale.
The Orb is okay; a mix between the ring and libram from haunted halls – if you’re looking for ‘the best of’ edition of those two items. Granted you pull the Mythic version of course. The goggles are okay, but again – niche. And not niche like on Xoriat good and bad niche. But just plain niche. There’s nothing particularly special with these items. And since they don’t have that Xoriat ‘heres a nice feature followed by a typical Xoriat flavored negative’ they’re entirely forgettable at level 26 and fills an even shorter level gap than say CITW gear does vs when you can finally use Necro and thunderforged.

Plus the rune arm is garbage. It lacks the flavor (as mentioned now several times) and it’s a lightbased one, level 26 with nothing special on it. First, spiral firing patters are notoriously hard to hit with. Less so than directfire electric based such as Toven’s and the one from E3BC. Second – it’s light. Just as with the better acid based rune arms Arti’s can’t boost the crit or spell power (through enhancements anyways) of light. So at best they can add either an augment or item (and there’s no self respecting Arti that’ll waste an augment slot or item slot on adding radiance). This is even less effective then trying to make acid viable (because at least acid shots are auto tracking).

I can’t wait until I have the MoD rune arm; it boosts force (well supported by Arti enhancement tree) and the damage is untyped. Now THAT is a good rune arm.

Light based isn’t even niche enough to use and I can’t think of any type of critters where I’d use that and the benefit of ‘ghostly’ that it imbues your main weapon with in order to replace my current force based or the MoD with it. Again, it’s a failure to create a compelling reason to even use it.

And lets face it; itemization is a large part of MMO, much more important then the scratch and sniff face that lasts perhaps 1 or 2 runs of a pack. After that you’ll do it to pull items or get XP. Now the benefit of being a VIP is that I can play all this content but this pack smells like Turbine dropped the ball on making it enticing enough for premium players.

Off the MoD train wreck and back into ER

My sorc hit is 20th run, took the necklace and moved on. I even re-specced as a fire savant since so much of the Necro gear boosts fire. And it was a dud. Not a giant dud, but dud nonetheless. Somehow I’ve just gotten used to acid and the fact that acid works in almost all cases, plus trying to break evocation DR is a pain (not that conjuration is a walk int the park either). So I ER’d, found a bunch of good stuff and made the docent of the diabolist. Not a bad armor if you ask me.

The downside is that I’m about tapped out on slayer and meaningful explorer in most wilderness. And without options for streak that bonus XP ain’t happening. I might just have to TR to reset that and I’m half tempted to just do a Wiz or two and drop back into TRing until I got all of that. Or maybe not. TRing and ERing isn’t really all that fun to be honest but with so many newish raids being dead already it’s hard to find much to do at cap.