I hit 24 after a romp through Underdark towards the Drow city and then running around slaying these little dark skinned critters with their bleary red eyes. It was a perfect way to nail 24 since that leaves me with MOTU 2 and 3 plus whatever else I manage to scrape together. I hit 22 by doing Carnival, I like Carnival. There’s something in that chain for everyone; a longer quest convincing a giant to join a theater (I don’t read the dialogue so I don’t know why, just that they want him). It’s a large map but the trip to and from is pretty straightforward with a few hidden nuggets for people who want a little extra. Otherwise you’ll get 3 chests and some exercise. I hated this quest at first but I have come to like it, since while it has some jumping stuff it’s intelligently done unlike Coalchamber that’ll have you jump under ledges and bounce out from walls. Frustrating and stupid. Oh, and then stuff from above that nail you while you try to navigate a terribly constructed path ever upward. In A small problem you will go up and down, but you’re not bouncing off walls unless you’re a terrible jumper.
Then of course we have that little a-hole with his wand. Always laughing, summoning something annoying and then bolting off. I like that one too. It takes from you interior to exterior – from underwater pipes to small open terraces. It’s excellent design with plenty of random rare bosses and a few not so random but very hard fought stuff (if you’re at level and not multi-TR full destiny unlocked. And there are a few traps and some small little ‘puzzle’ choices (if you want to call pulling levers that).
Then we have one of the coolest quests in the chain; to get this lady in to see the lord so she can stop this plot to ruin his party. It’s actually a massive quest that be shorted by a lot. First you run through this illusionarium (or whatever) fighting illusions on display with some traps, some tricks and a certain way to do them. Nothing terribly long and now with destinies nothing more than a bite. Back in the day you had to kite, take agro, hang from walls to avoid damage and all kind of stuff. There were tricks and if you were farming scrolls solo, certain steps to take. after that part you’re at the party and there’s 3 parts that leads to the coolest end. Remove this lady poisoning the quests, remove the charmed guards and the guy charming them. And finally take care of a bunch of assassins. You do that (through bluffing and brute force) you’ll get the ending where the lady giving you the quest bluffs the bad guy to drink a poisonous drink.
I know most already know this, but I think it’s brilliant. But it’s not over here (unless you want too). You can solve this puzzle in a theater to fight a bad guy under a stage. And you can find this locked office to fight some more. Everything leads to more XP and chests; personally I don’t do these other bits because that adds a lot of time and the chests are just random stuff anyways. And you get plenty of chests anyways – each part at the party offer a chest and you get one for doing the illusionarium.
Finally there’s the Carnival itself where you square off against the boss behind it all. It’s a fairly straightforward romp with a bunch of possible rare bosses and some puzzles and traps. Everything makes sense. These are tricksters and evildoers so their stuff will be tricky. And the person who hired you to take her out and then used you to draw the attention away from them getting to the boss gets charmed and killed, call it Karma. All in all an excellent Chain.
And speaking of Chains – there are plenty Epic chains to do between 20-25 and fewer afterwards (and not all that appealing).
I mentioned them before. Like Sentinel. It should be (together with Carnival) your 2 first chains to do. I don’t care for Sentinel, partly because not all quests are Epic, one is heroic but must be done. The pirate market place is tedious because you have to romp through a level 4 wilderness (not the biggest deal) then do a lot of hitting stuff with ranged to open portals and run run fight fight run run hit thing to open portal etc. Tedius. Same with the Black Loch although it’s a cooler design. A little bit too many guys to kill to get a key to open another door so you can get a key to kill another guy…you get my meaning. It’s an artificial time sync and past the first 2 it’s kinda annoying. But there’s this treasure chamber with chests and piles of gold, so that’s cool. And the final quest will have you run up tower, go through this jump on pipe boring stuff with puffs of steam blowing you around and then more puzzles and traps, more traps then more encounters ever upward. It’s like a less tedious coal chamber with lots of dumb stuff. Not my favorite chain.
MOTU 1 on the other hand is great. Clever, makes sense, no nonsensical puzzle parts and an absolutely flavor full run through one of the best most emotionally appealing wilderness sections. I have said this before and I’ll say it again but the Kings Forest feels and sounds like fantasy. I love it every time. I feel immersed. Underdark is good too, but it’s design is a little bit, same. I know why – I mean how much can you do with a large underground cave, but it’s well done by giving it immense volume.
I also like the red fen chain. It’s different in that all 4 quests have different flavors. Like the assault one – short and intense. The scorpion one with some puzzles and not really that much repetition eventho you have to fight lots of guardians. And then the temple one which is a fairly straightforward thing with an intense last part with lots of stuff coming at you. Plus diverse things to do; save slaves, slay fishies and then swim under water to the end. And the final quest is a lot of underwater in a slow moving bubble. That part could be better but the design is well done, both at the bottom of the sea and inside the different coral caves.
I’m a partial fan of VON. I like 1 and 3 but feel meh about 2, 4 and the raid. It’s just too many stupid puzzles and nonsensical jumping. It just feel wrong for me. Am I in a dream in 2 and why am I pulling so many damn levers and running through a gauntlet of fire in 4? Ugh. Some love it, I don’t. And I mentioned DQ – Flames just bores me but the other 3 flagging quests are okay. But reflagging DQ1 to do 2? bad.
MOTU 2 and 3 are good but not my favorites. They’re not bad quests per say and they’re varied in design but similar in structure. And the redeeming factor is that they’re fairly short or medium. Unlike other longer quests. But somehow despite being shorter some of them just feel…tedious. Maybe it’s because it feels more of the same, or maybe it’s the ‘we are so evil’ type vibe from all of them. They’re certainly not like the boring harper quests but they’re okay – not super.
What’s left for me to either hit 25 or go beyond are the 2 harper chains and the xpack. Not to forger EGH of course. Worst are the harper and xpack. And even worse is that once you hit 25 you better be prepared to repeat the same one over and over. In a way I hope 3BC will be something like 25ish, but I’m not exactly hot on those quests either. Puzzle quests just feel…wrong especially quests where the puzzle is the whole thing and not just a small part of it. But I get why they’re doing it; 3BC is not the most popular and unlike GH most don’t own it. Plus it’s easier to change heroic to epic than create all new content like a wilderness and quest chain. Pity that the runearm is an AOE fire one – it could be sweet but all AOE runearms are crippled by the reflex save and Arti’s wellknown inability to put together great DC.