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 Blood • And the Dead Shall Rise… • Desert Caravan • Dreams of Insanity • From Beyond the Grave • Made to Order • Maraud the Mines • Purge the Fallen Shrine • Raid the Vulkoorim • The Chamber of Kourush • The Enemy Within • The Spawn of Whisperdoom • The Twilight Forge • Tomb of the Blighted • Tomb of the Forbidden • Tomb of the Tormented • Tomb 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 Past • Against the Demon Queen (quest) • Chains of Flame • Diplomatic Impunity • Eyes of Stone • Frame Work • Invaders! • The Chamber of Raiyum • The Cursed Crypt • The Titan Awakes • Zawabi’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
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 One • Desecrated Temple of Vol • Flesh Maker’s Laboratory • Ghosts of Perdition • Gianthold Tor • Inferno of the Damned • Madstone Crater • The Crucible • The Prison of the Planes • The 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
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 Deception • Army of Shadow • Beyond the Rift • Friends in Low Places • Let Sleeping Dust Lie • Rainbow in the Dark • Ritual Sacrifice • Running with the Devils • Servants of the Overlord • The Coalescence Chamber • The Lords of Dust • The Spinner of Shadows • The Thrill of the Hunt • Through 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 Delirium • Ascension Chamber • Enter the Kobold • Monastery of the Scorpion • Outbreak • Overgrowth • Prey on the Hunter • Stealer of Souls • The Druid’s Curse • The Lord of Eyes • The Lord of Stone • The Sane Asylum • The Shroud • Thorn 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 Inn • A Vision of Destruction • Detour • Dream Conspiracy • Finding the Path • Hound of Xoriat • I Dream of Jeets • In the Demon’s Den • Lost in the Swamp • Rest Stop • The End of the Road • The Mindsunder • The 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 Ice • A New Invasion • Bastion of Power • Blown to Bits • Breaking the Ranks • Eye of the Titan • Genesis Point • Lines of Supply • Mining for Ancient Secrets • Murder by Night • Power Play • Raiding the Giants’ Vault • Reclaiming Memories • Schemes of the Enemy • Sins of Attrition • The Master Artificer • The Riddle • The Tracker’s Trap • The Weapons Shipment • What Goes Up • Wrath 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.