Epic Macabre is similar to EGH and E3BC in that it upgrades the existing quests to a Epic version with I assume minor changes to mechanics to accommodate the fact that a lot of people solo quests now a days. I don’t know that for a fact and it might be exactly the same, but when I find out I let you know. But functionally we’re only getting one new quest and that is the end raid. Assuming (not knowing for a fact) that it’s a simple flagging mechanic of doing everything once and not grinding for sigil pieces, the end raid is against Vol and should be different then Abbott. How different I don’t know, lets hope no puzzles since I’m tired of those.
The wilderness is functionally the same, just as E3BC wilderness was the same but with Epic critters. The rares seems to follow a similar approach like with E3BC and EGH where certain areas spawns certain rares but most of them are not located where you normally would find the heroic one. And they’re also of the typical something special (like It’s alive – a puzzle variant of helping someone give life to a flesh golem, interesting and another helping some flame guys decide if someone is a Werewolf) or the beat until dead type. The difference here is that rare encounters and some mobs gives 1 of 2 new materials – epic tapestries – and you get about 2-3 per time. And by the time I did a full run I had about 25, you need 120 for the first tier upgrade (more about that). It’s a mixed bag; I like some of the encounters. But most of them feels not all that special. I mean you have lots more quells and other stuff, like beefy flame and emerald claw enemies, some death knights with an almost automatic no fail way of hitting you with fear (so wear those fear immunity augments) and there are some vampires, but most of the critters are mundane things like magma, earth, water and air elementals. Sure, they’re called riftborn, but they don’t give you that creepy feel of wandering around in a mostly undead area. I know that some didn’t want giant skeletons, but to be frank, there’s nothing big period. Like a huge Dracolich. Or a massive giant skeleton or otherwise. Most encounters feel very mundane – worse – the plant monsters. Yes, that’s the plant monster, the re-skinned troll with acid attack. It’s there.
Granted, this is not about the wilderness per say, but at the same time the one thing that gives you the feeling of new and different. E3BC managed to convey that in a way. It wasn’t just kobolds with pirate gear. It was better pirates and big ships. Plus in heroic Macabre there are areas where you fight huge mobs. Lots of them. You won’t really get swarmed like that in EMacabre. In fact remember that small grave yard with that named wraith with lots of rats and undead stuff? I went there and found 1 magma golem and 1 air elemental. That’s it. Below, above and in the grave yard. You go there in heroic and you’ll find swarms, lots of stuff.
In a way this is typical, Turbine don’t have the resources to create all new stuff. They’ll most likely recycle and re-skin what they have. And that’s okay; as long as there’s no chain swirling whatever in this wilderness. That’ll make me dry heave and feel scores less about it. But you are going to find re-skinned Purple knights a plenty. And that’s not really that big of a deal. But I do miss those BIG monsters. The ones that added a little wow. Like the green dragon in Kings Forest, the worms in underdark, the dragons in EGH and the pirate ships in E3BC. This wilderness needs something big like that too. I don’t know what that would be, but it should feel special.
Now perhaps the most important; loot. There 4 things to say about the loot. First – it’s all BTC and BTA. BTC is raid loot and BTA is the things you find in the quests and such. All 27 and 28. That’s good. Naked loot should be unique for the pack and for those that runs them. I know; people like to buy power. But I prefer it to be a matter of effort. BTA is also good – to me it doesn’t matter WHO runs a quest (other then raids) as long as the time is spent. Adding lots of BTC gear only wear people down from wanting to even try. You try for the best for that one guy and then you kind of give up the more of the others that have to try later on. You want to provide an incentive for people to continue to invest time in those guys you spent most time with. And as a result you get BTA gear you can hand down; which is fine. One day you might take them for a spin – the key here is to SPEND time. Not spend re-grind. There is a reason why say red fen even on a heroic level is so dreadful to grind because everything is BTC, even the heroic stuff. And storage space is always at a premium.
Second, there’s a set bonus feature on BTA armor and helmets. Those armor and helmets are similar to things that you could upgrade to before, like Minos legen, but I assume these now drop inside quests instead. The set bonus is simple, anyone that comes with that feature enjoy +5 PRR and MRR as a luck bonus together and it’s not dependent on a special armor together with a specific helmet. Any of the helmets with the feature works with any of the armor with the feature. And that’s good. The bad is that there’s a significantly less reason to bother with these armor and helmets. Partly because they’re end type armor and helmets and they’re not good enough to bother with. That’s the reality – I’d like to consider them but no one that ever invested in a draconscale armor will consider these and no one that got a good helmet, especially with important ability points will care for these ones.
Some of the other ones are; with unique features that you can’t get elsewhere. Some even collects so many different abilities that they become the goto items for specific niches. Like the boots with +12 on all tactical abilities – a must for anyone that uses them (plus boots are an easy gear slot to change for most parts).
Third, the BTA helms now come in a Epic and Mythic flavor, with Mythic being kinda like EH and EE was over EN. It has slightly better stats. The idea is that Mythic has very low drop chance with higher over all in EE. Good. Provide a reason to do EE over EH and EN. Now the bad is that these are for the helmets and they’re not the strongest loot. And without a significant reason to pair them up with armor (because the armor is that meh) you won’t really feel like you’re missing much. But it is a good idea for the future; Epic regular items and Mythic – provided you’re willing to grind higher difficulties. Now lets hope they’re rare and it’s not a question of 15 runs on EE or 20 runs on EN, because that’s not an incentive for EE at all. In fact I’d settle for a small chance on EH and a slightly better chance on EE and leave EN for Epic items. Note also btw that there are no weapons, I think they deliberately kept any weapon out of it since that would put it in direct competition to the Thunderforged. Good call.
Finally – and Fourth. Augment upgrades. This is brilliant. Augments are perhaps the most diverse form of upgrades you can make, more so then inflating stats through upgrades. And the system here is pretty nice. YOU pick the augment type you want. Both for tier 1 and tier 2. Granted, it’s more limited for items then for shields and weapons, but at tier 1 at least it gives you more choices. You can pick from yellow, blue and Red (maybe even colorless but why would you? It can fit in any slot anyways). Red, orange and purple are for weapons and shields only. So yellow, blue and green is for items. Tier 2 gives you option for green, orange and purple.
You do this by collecting tapestries (as mentioned in the beginning you can get Epic tapestries from running the wilderness). I assume the Masterful ones drop in quests or perhaps only the raid. Those are for tier 2. This is a great way of giving people option. To keep running content and to use resources to provide upgrades of your choice. ALL items have this tier 1 and 2 augment upgrade options. The Epic tapestries are unbound so should be able to be traded, I don’t know about the masterful. Probably not but who knows. Hopefully they’re at least BTA since BTC is such a drag.
But I tell you this; the new item scheme is good. BTA for most of the stuff, BTC for raid and some kind of upgrade scheme to continue providing and incentive to run content. It’s not instant gratification like buying EE stuff on the auction house and it takes an investment of time to get fully upgraded. I’m all for it. And did I mention a yummy rune arm. Untyped damage, lots of impulse and force lore and a ‘homing’ attack (knives)? Yeah, I like it. Now I can drop the Sage bracers and get all my force based needs from one rune arm. Which is sad since I added 150 impulse to my thunderforged x-bow as tier 1. Sob and sigh.