Monthly Archives: April 2014

The return to journey

I played Second Son yesterday instead of playing DDO. I’m not fed up with DDO, I’m just not in a hurry to sit and wait for a raid to fill or slow level an assassin. Plus ETR is out of the question right now. I hope Turbine figure out that they need a stread, slayer and explorer reset for ETRs because resetting it from scratch with a heroic reincarnation is just way to grindy for me.

But I’ll be back. DDO is still whispering for me to come back and I don’t feel nauseated thinking about it, like I do when I think about returning to WoT.

I’ve mention this before, so here’s a mini repeat. Games and especially well done games, are about the journey. I don’t care if the subtext is starting out in a cell (Oblivion) or putting graphitti on a wall – the beginnings how simple, delicate or tough, is just a start of a journey that will take you towards a (hopefully) satisfying end.

Like Pirates on Vic 64. A simple lad, all of his family taken away and you have to reunite the family and build your fortune. That game had a simple and great story. Or Oblivion – starting as a prisoner and rescuing an emperor to becoming a hero/villian of your own design and perhaps stopping an invasion from Oblivion. To be honest; I didn’t feel that I had an satisfactory ending of the entire story arc. Kinda like with wasteland 3. It felt like the type of ending of the saga was lost on me in both those games, while the actual journey was everything.

From skulking around in caves ambushing undead and high level kobolds alike. From trecking a wasteland in search of fortune and small mission, while picking up some nice weapons and loot in between, I like games that are open ended and where you write your own story. Be in short – by dashing towards the end or long. Taking your time to sniff the flowers and explore a large world.

Second son is shaping out be to another journey. Not as deep as Oblivion or Wastelands 3. But it should provide me with an open ended experience with a limited exploration. And I love it.

DDO was never like that for me; there was a point where I explored, saw and felt with awe, but then I TR’d and even created more toons. Instead the experience became about power and loot and less about the journey. Perhaps the biggest issue is that there are so many lose threads and that I can’t see the end because of the many open story arcs.

And that’s okay. Not everything has to be about the journey, but we still dread the end. All things must end and after so many years I’m not sure I want it to be there yet.

Weekend wrapup

 

For once in lifetime (not entirely true) I played something else other than WoT or DDO. First I had a great weekend playing Knack – a under-rated game in third person with a this ‘relic’ dude set on stopping some goblins and this evil guy (Victor) from ending the world by unleashing some type of ‘relic’ god. That’s the basics – sure. The story is a little different by it’s your basic guy invents robot story and robot saves mankind from bad dudes and themselves (Victor of course think he can control the ‘relic’ god for his own purposes).

I liked how you could pick up ‘relics’ grow in size and then the scale of the game increased accordingly. How some of the giant ‘monsters’ in the game first one hit smacked you, then you were twice their size and one smacked them. Plus you can co-op – with a silver replica of Knack, now quite as big but big enough. As Knack grows so does the silver version. Knack might have the special features like the burning logs, the ice protective stuff, the metal and the ability to make himself invisible with these crystals, but other than that the silver guy can use the special powers and has the same hit pattern. The one different is that it’s slightly faster.

Then I played second son and that’s a solo experience only. It’s the third in the infamouse franchise and set in Seattle. You start out as a native indian young guy and confronted by his brother, the tribes policeman and as they’re arguing a bus crash and some guys – conduits, flee. These conduits have powers, most of them used for the wrong reason but clearly exploited by the person who oversees the protection from these ‘bio terrorists’. The cool thing about this game is that it’s kinda like GTA – you can pursue all type of side missions and explore the environment. Meanwhile you learn more about the powers you can use. He can also ‘absorb’ other conduits powers. The first guy use ‘smoke’ so you power up by pulling smoke from wrecked vehicles and chimneys. The second person you come in contact has these ‘neon’ ‘lazer’ powers so once you encounter that you’ll start using a set of ‘light based’ powers and pull your powers from neon signs instead.

All powers share the same sets of buttons in a similar way. Like the fast shooting power. With smoke and lazer it’s a similar quick attack but with slight differences. You can for example subdue someone with a headshot (unlock) with the smoke power whereas if you aim with the lazer you can either one kill in head (as indicated on the dude when you aim) or subdue by hitting a lit up bubble on the enemy leg. And you can ‘smoke bomb’ guys using smoke – it makes them cough for a bit and allows you to run off and kill or subdue them. With the lazer you make them float in mid air for a bit (called a stasis bubble). At first you can aim as normal for the leg, which is harder since they’re floating around and later on you can unlock a one shot with your lazer to do the same. In other words a lot easier. Then there’s the smoke missile as heavy attack – you only have so many before you have to get more power. And with lazer it’s a beam attack. Both very devastating, but the beam attack takes longer to setup.

Then there’s a matter of travelling around. With smoke there’s some jumps, levitation and going through vents to end up whereever that vent comes out. With lazer (or neon) you turn into a fast moving neon streak and can run up buildings. First you can only move so much before resting, but you can unlock endless running this way. It’s very cool, especially at night with all that neon glare.

The thing about Infamous is the karma system – a way of picking either good or bad or in between. As good you get powers that are for easier sub due and I’d imagine not as powerful kill features. As evil you get more destructive stuff. Of course if you go good you have to watch when you setup your powers since each innocent killed removes karma. As bad it’ll be you against the world.

I like the game; I knew how it function from previous infamous and even if I only played a few demos I got the idea around it. And with the current graphics and powers of the PS4 you get some excellent gorgoues games. But more then so – the new machine adds a lot of good features to the actual controller (and the possibility of linking your smartphone to the PS4 or the VITA for even more features like a second screen). Each controller has a small speaker and a touch pad on it. The touch pad can be used for additional features like in second son, for doing certain things. Swipe down as indicated on the screen for destroying certain things. Or sideways to release guys from a pen. Pull up while hitting R2 for destroying things you ‘lift up’. Unlike the PS3 this stuff is not as much a gimmick. If you remember from PS3 they added this sensor system where you could move things around by tilting the controller. That was back when Wii had come out and Sony was desperate to add some similar features.

There’s only one game that took advantage of this tilt sensor system and that was this dragon game. And it was not well recieved since it’s not accurate enough. And controlling a dragon by tiliting the controller up and down and sideways was NOT good.

With the PS4 it’s more a subtle use, Sucker Punch (second son developer) do it by say shaking it for shaking the spray can and for filling out stuff when you spray paint walls and such. In other words it’s a subtle mini game and not a feature that would frustrate you in the thick of battle.

To me that’s a much better use of these things, than to demand that they’re incorporated into the gameplay in a more major way. And by the use of the touch pad and tilt mechanism in second son it is perfectly done and can always be improved.

But I didn’t just play PS4 games – I also played DDO. Primarily using 3 toons to grind for mats – the rogue for the portal ones, mostly for Goblets, my wiz for the caves – doing tons of Jade Scorpions and a 2 weapon fighter (I did a lesser on him to ‘fix’ some issues) the palace ones. That allowed me to run through all the traps in the portal quest without fear of getting diced or fried, plus he managed to see all traps without having to search for them (TY level 16 Crystal Cove Trinket).

The whole reason for this silly multiple guy stuff was the fact that I wanted a few BTA items done so I could use it with my rogue for a bit. The issue (as I explained earlier) is that all of the items that the shadow assassin comes with are perfectly balanced for everything sneaky and assassinating. So hide, sneak, open, dex etc.

If you remove one item and you’re suddenly effecting 2 things. In the end I managed to move things around and even improve others.

Cannith belt for unlock and disable, Cannith bracers for blur and dodge, Minos Legen for more HP and Heavy fort, Crystal Cove trinket for search, UMD and Spot, Ring of Stalker for sneak attack and manslayer and finally replacing the daggers with polycurse dagger and envenomed blade. Now I could go with 2 Envenomed blades but the polycurse is actually not all that bad. I’ve noticed with envenomed that the dps is kind of low. And that’s because the effect is primarly armor piercing, poison and paralyze. And since there are a lot of critters that are immune to poison damage and paralysing, the true damage is whatever the dagger does at base. Polycurse at least add a few interesting things to the mix, like a few crit and vorpal effects that range from useful to amusing (like cursing yourself).

And to round things off I did 2 more Wheelon quests and ran into those assassins. Note – evasion does not work very good against their swirleys. And that’s saying something since I have no problem evading most other stuff. I don’t know what effects it but it’s broken. Evasion toons should have no problem avoiding taking damage, since these assassins have no issue avoiding/evading your stuff.

Second – it’s inherently wrong. Your effect only add bleeds damage and possible knock down. Theirs add slowdown and skill/stat damage over time effect that takes forever to wear off. I don’t know if that’s too powerful in the hands of players but it’s idiotic that their assassins have a much more potent swirley than you as a player. In fact looking at theirs and comparing with the player version theirs have almost no cool down, seems to be able to be used for more than 20 seconds practically all the time and is very potent for damage and stacking de-buffs.

If players had such a device it would definitely make the Shadar-Kai a much better player class than it’s now. Personally I find the long cool down and kind of situational use of it okay, but I can definitely understand why you see fewer of the Shadar-Kai in the system compared to the endless version of Bladeforged. So here’s me hoping that they revisit the Shadar-Kai and either adjust the enemy version or strengthen the player version somewhat. Make people add some points more to the swirley and make it interesting. Now the shadow jaunt is interesting, but not really a selling point.

Solo challenges, not ideal

There are some challenges that are fairly easy to solo – like the portal one. You don’t need to shepherd a bunch of kobolds or guard extractors. You simply have to go from room to room and find a boss or two and presto – profit.

The kobold ones are for most part not all that hard – the palace one is the easiest since the top 2 rooms usually have everything you need to hit your goal. They’re fairly easy to clear with any class and the rest is just waiting for the demon queen to drop and survive that.

I don’t like the extractor ones at all; it’s not impossible to solo but not very rewarding either. They’re meant for groups and they punish people who rely on the poorly coded hirelings. (what else can you say about a hireling that stands there while the extractor is getting shot at, or even just stand there while being shot at?)

The Lava caves is a mixed brew, other than the Jade scorpions the other stuff is easy to get. Especially since the basics of it is to meet a goal, while making sure no one kills off the Kobolds. The sorpions however is about something else; you have to pick this big a** shard up and make sure the kobold gets to the base or else the whole thing is wasted. Just one of 3 and when that’s done the amount of shard collected are yours. So no goal, just that one shard.

The problem isn’t so much finding the 2 sigils needed to open the door (yes, there’s that) – most of the time you’ll find them fairly close to each others and if not they spawn in predictable places.

No the issue is when the kobold picks up the shard. That’s when the ambush hits and you’ll have to fight off drows, large lions and a giant shaman. And doing that solo is a pain.

Now true enough you can always use hirelings. And for most part they’ll actually do something – but the ambush is about 3 parts deep and the one hireling won’t do it. Most of the time it takes 2, unless your toon can nail all of them very quickly.

The issue I have is that I have 3 toons that can do the level 15 quest, the rogue is out of the question since there’s tons of scorpions to clear out and drow (even 1 giant if you go top) and you don’t have time to try sneak attack everything. And a rogue is not ideal when surrounded.

And my Morninglord just don’t work – he’s not good enough to insta kill and doesn’t have the gear needed to either BB kite stuff or insta destruction drows.

And finally I now have a Wiz and he’s okay but lack the blue bar to spam all emp and max’d spells. So I use hirelings. Ideally I’d group – but no one runs challenges and barely when there’s challenge mat weekends.

The best method is using my wiz – go up, web and firewall all scorps, deal with drow and giant, farm out enough to be able to get to the gate. Find sigils, Ddoor back and shrine then go do ambush. Place a Skeleton knight where the giant spawn and the level 15 FvS where the lions spawns. He likes to use destruction, cometfall and greater command. Over and over. He’s like one of those drow priestesses out of MOTU. And good enough for the encounter. And usually it works, netting about 400-500 jade scorpions provided you get a good instance with shards.

Personally I wish I had an arti ready for it. Because repeater plus rune arm takes care of all issues. And if you’re into Epic challenges my ranger does short work out of the ambush with a multiarrow furyshot session. It’s dead easy if you can set off 20 seconds worth of multishots and fury at the same time. Just shoot straight through most stuff and hit them with 1.5k worth of damage times 4 and it’s a done deal in no time.

Even my Shiradi sorc can do it fine – put out a couple of dancing balls and start slamming those spells.

But now I’m dreaming; I still have thousands more scorpions to go and whatever else I need to make a few BTA cloaks, bracers, rings and boots. Just so I don’t have to do this again (so I think.

Taking 3 steps back, to take 1 step forward and maybe a second if I feel like it

If you like that complicated subject, you’re definitely going to enjoy the explanation. So I TR my halfling rogue into a Shadar-kai and I realize right away that the gear is okay, but that I have slightly better ones to use. Or at least KNOW of better gear to use. But if you remove and replace one peace you end up with a ripple effect. See, the gear that you get with the Shadar-kai, just as the gear that you get with say the Morninglord or the Bladeforged, are complementary to that build.

Ensuring that you have your 25% run speed, your con 5 item, strength, wisdom etc or whatever needed to balance the stats of the toon. The whole idea is to basically provide you with whatever you’d need for a few levels without digging through your bank for something better. But what’s marginally okay might be scores better with the right gear. And when it comes to a rogue there’s nothing better than say the spare hand belt from Cannith challenges. Especially now when all the items ‘lost’ a level in the process, from 16 originally to 15. It’s almost like it was done to cater to Iconic classes.

But more importantly, you’re not forced to make BTC items in that case, since tier 3 for most part only add that crafting option but also binds the item. And the whole crafting option was really only useful for adding small things like featherfalling and lowering the ML a couple of notches.

You can still lower the ML, which is ideal if you’re going to use it for something else than iconic classes, but if you’re indeed wanting some excellent iconic starting gear there’s nothing better than a few of those Cannith crafting items.

Like pretty much everything.

The boots are excellent for a wellrounded arti, sorc or wiz. Adding good amount of Acid. The bracers are excellent for all classes, adding lightning blur and dodge. At 15 and only tier 2 it’s still BTA and excellent in tying you over until you hit 20. The trinket is excellent for anyone who need to fight constructs but it also add sonic spell power and lore – semi useful dependent on class.

The cloak is of course invaluable for anything related to fire spells but also adds absorb and protection to AC. And then there are the rings; the Ring of Master is an excellent ring for any Warforged, adding both repair and lore along with more SP. And the Ring of stalker adds everything a melee can need, both for sneak attack purposes but also manslayer – a ‘vorpal’ feature but for human sized critters., so excellent on most critters other than the big or animal like stuff (yes, works on Drow and Orcs alike).

A lot of this info is a repeat of other stuff I’ve posted, but it’s a good refresh since the gear is so useful.

Now there are some more useful items, like some of the weapons (dependent on class) and the Tunic but those do not get that new lower ML, so you still either have to unlock it completely and craft a lower ML on them OR wait until 16. For the rogue the rapier might actually be pretty good – but that depends on your build. The daggers that come with the Shadar-kai are definately not bad and by 16 you can start using envenomed blades.

Is the Tunic any good? Well I currently use black dragon light armor and it comes with armor piercing, haste guard and some additional temporary damage boost if you kill something. It’s good – the tunic adds lesser freezing ice, fire shield (cold) and for Monk enhanced Ki +1. The lesser freezing ice is actually pretty good – as it gives you a 5% chance to freeze something completely – it even works with bows. It all depends – personally the armor piercing is a better choice for rogues, but being able to encapsulate something in ice is very useful too.

But no matter how I do things one thing remains; I need to do challenges and a lot of them, Realizing that I noticed that if I wanted the belt, bracers and ring of stalker for my rogue I needed to do a bunch of different challenges. The palace is simple enough – most of the stuff can be either sneak attacked or beaten to a pulp – none which present a massive challenge for skirmishers, And the whirlattack makes clearing tough rooms a piece of cake (heck I even nailed the demon queen that way).

I also needed goblets and that’s a little trickier but at the same time easy enough with a good rogue (all those traps). Being able to assassinate that orange giant spider was fun and whirl smack all the bosses was easy enough too. Again, goblets turned out to be the least of my problems.

The caves are a little bit different; some of the items calls for island mats and there’s not many soloists that bothers with them. What you’re looking for is 10-15 minutes of pain keeping extractors up and you have to keep running around clearing out any attackers. Plus later in levels the towers are worthless so they can’t even keep the extractors clean. And even if you manage to meet your goals you end up with 100-200 mats and the frustrating urge to gouge your eyeballs out.

You can also turn in other mats in exchange for the one you need, like 20 for 10, the only problem is that Turbine created and needlessly morose system by only allowing specific material for the one you need. So if I want necrotic charms, then I need twice as many Jade scorpions. And honestly – it’s dumb. The fact that you have this absolute limitation just creates frustration.

My honest opinion is that time spent is time spent, to make people go through a complicated system of if I do this I can convert to that – instead of adding a straight forward 20 for 10 from x amount of materials and 30 for 10 from y type of challenges. So if the ideal is jade scorpions to Necromantic charms (or whatever they’re called), then if I do another challenge instead the rate would be 25 or 30 for 10. And for pete sakes add a 200 for 100 option, it’s like Turbine want our clicky fingers to bleed.

So knowing all that a rogue is not ideal for dealing with scores of scorpions and whatever else you fight on the way. So then I got the idea of taking my level 21 WF Wiz and make him a BF iconic wiz – getting him directly to the crucial ML 15 and have him farm mats. Only to figure out that I don’t have a good docent at this level.

So then I decided to take my sorc (I’m not paying 300 shards for 200 regular blue dragon scales, hell no) and farm Heroic Tor for mats.

So there you go, 3 steps back, to take 1 step forward (with my assassin) and perhaps even farm some mats for future stuff. Like for that very same BF Wiz (you know boots, cloak, ring of master, bracers and trinket – pretty much the whole thing) and then tier 2 them so they’re still BTA and can be used by ALL classes. And I’m pretty sure my wiz on his second life can hammer out those Jade scorpions. Web and firewall will come handy and whatever assortment of goodies that he has. And seeing that he’s BF I might concentrate more on the arcane part over the Pale master – we’ll see. Heck – who knows. I might even go with that knight build, dependent on if I can figure out how to best build it. But I have no doubt that with all the spell pen and such he’ll do short work out of the Drows and scorps in that challenge.

And hopefully I can do it about 2 or 3 levels above 15 for additional mats. And who knows – maybe Turbine will throw in a challenge bonus weekend for kicks.

But I still need to do TOR. That means 2-3 scales at the time. I’m at 7 blue now, only 13 more to go. So maybe 6-7 runs in total. It’s doable, but oh so boring.

New conventional Wisdom

There’s one caveat to this; by doing things on heroic for streak, you screw up the same doing those quests on Epic. Meaning, once you do x quest in heroic, you won’t be able to get the streak bonus for that same quest on Epic. That can be useful in some scenarios; you do it on hard or elite in heroic, when it’s easier for most part and you won’t disrupt your streak by doing it on a different difficulty in Epic.

Anyways – the old conventional wisdom was a mass repeat of some quests, often Elite first followed by hard and normal x amount of times. That was before re-doing quests had a xp penalty decay, And given how few quests there were close to 20, some people planned to bank levels such as 19 before hitting 20. I bet some still do, eventho the xp curve for 2nd and 3rd life has been adjusted down and there are now lots to choose from in the 15+ level bracket. So much so that the usual conventional wisdom can be turned on its head.

As such anyone that hard or elite streak past level 13 won’t really have a hard time hitting 20 repeating a lot of quests.

The real reason for this is the latest xpack and a few harper packs before it; I personally find them boring, but if you’re leveling heroic they’re a gods end. Unlike leveling Epic, where 25+ means a lot more leveling these boring harper and xpack quests. And it’s not going to get better when the cap is increased to 30, especially with so few quests in the 25+ area, which would be reminiscent of how it was when 20 was the cap, if not for the fact that the XP required to hit 30 is quote a lot more than between 15-20 back in the day. Even on your third life.

The real issue has always been the scene around 10-14. It’s anemic in regards to quests that you can play in smaller groups or solo, but plentiful if you want to engage in the older more ‘group’ oriented quests with lots of group related gimmicks,

Take a look at the ones below

Level 11 quests

An Offering of BloodAnd the Dead Shall Rise…Desert CaravanDreams of InsanityFrom Beyond the GraveMade to OrderMaraud the MinesPurge the Fallen ShrineRaid the VulkoorimThe Chamber of KourushThe Enemy WithinThe Spawn of WhisperdoomThe Twilight ForgeTomb of the BlightedTomb of the ForbiddenTomb of the TormentedTomb of the Unhallowed

First, the issue with these quests is that they’re mostly older, more group oriented ones. I’m not saying that you HAVE to group but they’re almost all designed to have some type of group function. Not all of them, but a lot of them. And a lot of them are from the Necro pack and most of those quests are best grouped. Now of them are straight forward and sweet You can see why the dreaded 10-14 hole runs into a rinse and repeat hole.

Level 12 quests

A Relic of a Sovereign PastAgainst the Demon Queen (quest)Chains of FlameDiplomatic ImpunityEyes of StoneFrame WorkInvaders!The Chamber of RaiyumThe Cursed CryptThe Titan AwakesZawabi’s Revenge

As soon as you hit 12 you run into the next problem (and this is why people bank levels at this stage) – 2 of these are raids and 2 of these are long time consuming raids (solo) like Flame.

Thank gosh for the first Lordmarch set of quests, even if there’s only 3 of them (Diplomatic Impunity, Eyes of Stone and Frame Work). The lordmarch series of quests are actually challenging but straight forward enough to solo, where you can branch out and take time (like Frame Work) but you can also shorten significantly and go for the jugular. It’s also fairly good XP for the trip.

Level 13 quests

A Cry for HelpAssault on SummerfieldBlockade BusterFeast or FamineFoundation of DiscordMired in KoboldsSiegebreakerThe Maze of MadnessTrial by FireUndermine

Again – quest starved level with a few walkup Gianthold ones, a F2P one and the savior of this level, the second Lordmarch chain. Again, a bunch of fairly challenging quests, but straight forward enough for any size group.

Level 14 quests

A Cabal for OneDesecrated Temple of VolFlesh Maker’s LaboratoryGhosts of PerditionGianthold TorInferno of the DamnedMadstone CraterThe CrucibleThe Prison of the PlanesThe Reaver’s Fate

At 14 you once more run into few quests and most of them part of Necro and with group gimmicks not always suitable for soloists. It can be done (of course) but some of them are just not going to happen (looking at you Flesh Maker’s Lab). There’s also a raid at this level.

Level 15 quests

Acid WitDeliriumDisciples of SharEscape PlanFear FactoryIn The FleshLitany of the DeadMissingShadow of a DoubtSinister Storage

This is were all iconic starts and perhaps and another quest starved level. Read – 4 F2P quests and that usually means low amount of XP compared to similar P2P quests. And that’s fine. One is of course Litany which requires a sigil from the other Necro quests or wilderness rare (see 14). But it’s also home of the excellent harbor chain that starts here and sorta ends at level 17. I live those quests – not as big on XP, but excellent atmosphere and story. In the flesh has some of the best voice over work and perhaps the most twisted sinister type of bad guy in DDO. And it’s also an excellent end battle.

As you can see by the list of quests at this level we’re talking about fewer quests and many of them part of old quest chains where the design is to favor grouping. And that’s fine, except for the fact that more and more people solo and if you’re limited on time some of these quests can suck a good 45 minutes to over an hour of your time per quest. Like Flame and some of the Necro quests.

Now the conventional wisdom was turned on its head with the addition of new heroic quests (and introduction of Epic) as it has broaden the Eveningstar heroics from level 15 and up but also provided people with a different way of finishing off those last levels between 15 and 20. Highlighted below (bold) are the old quests and you can see how few there are, and the rest are the new ones, leading to Eveningstar and quite frankly a better option for soloists. Partly because they’re more straight forward and they don’t have that group function ploy. Also a lot of the older quests had more balanced groups in mind – where you need the healer, the caster, the tank etc to be the most effective. The newer is more class neutral, taking in account that there’s always an ideal class for some content but that anyone should be able to handle it.

Level 16 quests

A Lesson in DeceptionArmy of ShadowBeyond the RiftFriends in Low PlacesLet Sleeping Dust LieRainbow in the DarkRitual SacrificeRunning with the DevilsServants of the OverlordThe Coalescence ChamberThe Lords of DustThe Spinner of ShadowsThe Thrill of the HuntThrough a Mirror Darkly

The ones in bold are the Vale flagging quests. Excellent quests, in a great wilderness but more ‘class’ or group oriented. Sleeping for example require people to only kill Ogre’s as i you kill 5 spiders you fail. And if one get killed and you can stone the spiders in the end you’re pretty much fail anyways. Here insta killing casters are king – as a great axe swinging fighter would most likely kill a lot of spiders in the process.

Ritual and Coal Chamber are more brute type of quests – you don’t need a specific ‘class’ to deal with them but Rainbow has some nasty surprises to them (like 2 potential corridors full of rust monsters in a pitch black environment with the chance to end up dropping down on spears or teleported into a small room full of fire ellies).

The rest of the other quests are the Web of Chaos chain that’ll take people to Eveningstar and the first xpack heroic quest chain, Wheelon city. All very much doable for soloists and small groups and Web of Chaos is a delightful little chain, set in the harbor. As you can see, without these new heroic quests there would be Vale only and some of those Vale quests (like coal chamber) will take at least 45 minutes at a minimum.

Level 17 quests

Acute DeliriumAscension ChamberEnter the KoboldMonastery of the ScorpionOutbreakOvergrowthPrey on the HunterStealer of SoulsThe Druid’s CurseThe Lord of EyesThe Lord of StoneThe Sane AsylumThe ShroudThorn and Paw

Level 17 is packed with lots of straight forward quests. First, Reign of Madness. I love this quest chain. Not as much as the level 15 stuff in the harbor, but well enough. The quests are not too long and it highlight the maddening influence of Xoriat. Pretty fun stuff. And that’s good since otherwise this level would be for reavers refuge chain, which is no solo friendly and the shroud – a raid. Then we have the first harpers chain, the Druid’s Deep. This is a pretty straight forward quest chain, all out of Eveningstar itself without a wilderness area to romp through. Not big on XP but quick enough to add a few bubbles as you inch towards 20. And together with Reign of Madness provides a nice lump of XP, compared to if this was left to revers refuge only, or redoing Vale quests a gazillion times (which you will anyways for the good xp).

Level 18 quests

A Stay at the InnA Vision of DestructionDetourDream ConspiracyFinding the PathHound of XoriatI Dream of JeetsIn the Demon’s DenLost in the SwampRest StopThe End of the RoadThe MindsunderThe Shipwrecked Spy

This level used to be the pit and a good reason to bank a level or so. 2 raids (not something most people do at level anymore, or at all actually) and the path of inspiration. The path of insipiration was the first pack (I think) released with the change from DDO subscription model to micro transactions. I can be wrong but I remember it being the first new thing I saw when I joined as it became F2P.

You can solo it, but I’m not overly impressed by these quests. And the XP is not all that good either. At this level, 2 from cap you really have to repeat these a lot in order to get to 19 and I was never all that keen to do it.

Now there’s the second harper quest chain – High Road of Shadows. Straight forward, several quests set in a smaller wilderness, so there’s slayer, explorer lots of rare encounters (using a new way of doing things where the encounter isn’t set in place like before and can be repeated without penalty over and over – in fact you’ll sometimes get the same encounter shoulder to shoulder so to speak, like tree full of spiders not far from each others).

The quests are boring and the wilderness uninspiring, but it allows you to gain XP without having to do path of inspiration, or at least repeat it over and over.

Level 19 quests

A Break In the IceA New InvasionBastion of PowerBlown to BitsBreaking the RanksEye of the TitanGenesis PointLines of SupplyMining for Ancient SecretsMurder by NightPower PlayRaiding the Giants’ VaultReclaiming MemoriesSchemes of the EnemySins of AttritionThe Master ArtificerThe RiddleThe Tracker’s TrapThe Weapons ShipmentWhat Goes UpWrath of the Flame

The ironic part of the 10-13 hole is that quest wise DDO heroic is front and top loaded. The bad part is that some of those, like Mindsunder and Shavarath are either hard to do solo or just boring to do solo. With Eveningstar comes alternative ways of ‘doing business’ – most prominently by adding a few more heroic, not some of the best but they’re straight forward enough to give you point A-B completion with not a bad amount of XP.

What I highlight here is not so much my own perception of what makes a good quest. What one person like might not be another person cup of tea. And that’s okay – some like the group oriented features others don’t. However the new heroic additions adds a changing dynamic – not that it makes soloing easier, but more importantly it changes conventional wisdom and broaden choices. In my last two leveling projects I more or less skipped Ebberon quests – except for things like Reign of Madness. And even if it meant doing Druid’s Deep and the High Road, two chains I really don’t like I could skip the inspired path, something I like even less.

More importantly since time is a premium for me, with kids and a non gaming wife, I don’t have gobs of time knocking out long quests. Being able to do 2-3 shorter ones in the span of an our, or a whole chain in an hour and a half is perfect.

I don’t mind Turbine adding more Haunted Hall modules, I play them too – but by allowing me the choice of quicker chains vs longer ones, I’ll go quicker, save me some time for ‘family’ stuff and it allows others to do whatever they like better. And when time permits I’ll either join groups doing ‘longer stuff’ or take the time myself to knock it out.

But one thing is clear; I hope Turbine keep this in mind – add ‘more complex’ stuff as long as there’s plenty of ‘less complex’ stuff. It allows all type of playstyle. And keep this in mind when you set xp targets – longer complex stuff should be almost as rewarding as knocking out a few shorter ones. Some will always go for the quicker stuff and others enjoy the exploration of longer stuff. Catering to both makes sense so we can skip that whole casual vs elite nonsense debate.

I’m a gamer, and I do this for fun. As I do all games. I just happen be a pretty good gamer too without the need to do everything with a bloodied nose. And I’m all for Turbine creating content that makes everyone happy.

Antaraxias Heaven

It’s usually not part of my leveling from scratch to 20. Partly because you don’t need it now a days. Mostly because it’s out of the way in this remote location and there are 2 level 10 quests there set in a medium sized wilderness.

Personally I love the wilderness and it has some of the absolute coolest rare caves. Like one that can have a rare rust monster (I think), with green stuff hanging down and blue clear water pooling and running down from many crevasses. In fact it’s like a sun dried Arizona meet clear blue water and long bleached sandy beaches.

Ironically the 2 quests can be very challenging because those dwarves really hit hard. And at level It’s one of those quests that’ll keep you on your toes dependent on class/race. But as I mentioned, most of the time I don’t even go there – not until I need to unlock Kundarak Favor anyways. I used to do it more often in the past before the Lordmarch quests. It was the thing you crammed in-between sub 10’s (like Deleras) and above 10’s like Necro and GH.

1 quests is definitely nicer than the other. I’m not particularly fond of the mine one – where you have to clear 3 rooms, turn off 3 furnaces and finally kill the boss. It’s kind of boring and the design is not all that nice looking.

The second where you need to rescue this girl is much better looking. Inside this cave system with clear, blue water, many waterfalls and green things having down everywhere. It’s very nicely done with winding cave tunnels ending up in 2 huge caverns with mushrooms everywhere..

Another thing I like about this place is the sound – it’s hard to describe the music or whatever you call for it, but it fits the wilderness perfect. It’s atmospheric, not action – more like you’re exploring a wondrous island. I wish there were more quests there but as a whole it’s an hour romp doing 2 quests and get some wilderness slayer done. And it’s always on my list when I need favor.

Another game you can skip

I played Dungeon Keeper when it first came out on PC back in the day. I do believe I played the second tho, but it was more of the same so I quickly tired of that one. That was eons ago in game years and earlier this year I found out that DK was back as a mobile game. You know the kind – F2P but with micro transactions.

Generally put (and we’re used to micro transactions) games that are made that way add time as a sink so that since things take so long you’ll be more motivated to spend money. DK is not an exception. You have your basic spend jewels to complete right away, buy boosts that increase everything from defense to offense to how much resources you mine and of course buying resources outright.

Imps builds everything (including upgrading), resources is required to upgrade stuff and summon minion and you can buy up to 6 minions using jewels – something you can mine (altho very slowly and there’s a finite number) or you can buy.

So I bought some – it was fun in the beginning. Until other dungeon keepers started attacking. At first I was like, man – there’s about nothing you can do to stop them. In fact you can’t stop them unless you buy a cave in – which protects your dungeon for x days. But that means spending money. Here’s the problem; other Dungeon Keepers take so much of your resources each time they attack. That’s how stupid the system is. So you can lose more resources in a day than you mine; so if you don’t have boosts running your screwed.

Worse is the fact that even with reinforced walls, enemies can still blow them up – many times either by blowing the same segment up several times or using the spell so many times that it increase in experience and get really powerful. It is of course super expensive for you as a player to upgrade reinforced walls and since there comes a point where they take more then you make, you can never really either afford to upgrade something or buy more reinforced walls.

Ontop of that there are flyers. They fly OVER walls inside a dungeon. I don’t know how that works but somehow these small dragons and ghosts just goes over walls and attacks anywhere. And you simply do not get enough defensive stuff to protect everything. So their flyers will destroy one thing and suddenly all their minions can spawn from that destroyed thing.

A popular tactic is therefore to either blow a hole in the wall or fly something into your dungeon and destroy things – and you can do jack.

In the last couple of days I’ve mined resources for 2-3 days suffering 1-2 dungeon attacks, all succesful and lost more resources than I’ve mined. In fact it’s fully possible for you to buy resources, then wait and the attacker is allowed to STEAL your resources that you used real money to buy. In other words EA is promoting a game where others can steal your money.

I’ve never come across a game like that and I feel so stupid for putting real money into it before I noticed this idiotic feature. If you don’t spend money you will never progress because this game actively make sure you cannot gain resources as quickly as someone steals them. And it comes to a time where it takes millions of something to upgrade anything and you lose over 100000 each time someone attacks while it’s easy to get infuriated over such blatant idiocy.

The company is saying that they’re thinking about balancing in game economy  but it’s a little bit too late for me. I rated this app as something people should avoid, It’s the game companies fault for putting together such an awful app and I really hope people stop buying from them. Play it for free, have the company support it and lose money – that might make them get of their arses and provide a gaming experience that doesn’t steal from gamers.