It's been a few days since Cryptic released mod 8, the latest expansion in Underdark. Here's a brief review. There are no spoilers because, in short, there's nothing much here.
An expansion called Underdark conjures up exciting things. A new underground zone filled with new mobs, quests, exciting dungeons, maybe a raid. Nope, none of that. What you get: a series of extremely short quests in re-used maps from existing zones, called 'chapters', because they are marketing tie-ins with a new D&D book; several new 'heroic encounters', which are basic fights with repeating spawned mobs in existing zones; a couple of new 'skirmishes' -- these are in fact just instanced heroic encounters, you're literally running round a single room killing the same spawning mobs until a timer runs out; and that's about it.
Cryptic is contractually obliged to do some cross marketing stuff with R.A. Salvatore's new Underdark books, and it seems they've done this in a way that couldn't be more minimal. The 'chapters' in the quest series are so short that, removing time walking around the main quest hub area, there's about 45 minutes' play at most. They consist of entering an instanced map already used in the game, killing maybe 5-10 mobs, then an easy single boss fight with no special mechanics.
There are no new zones at all. The dungeons that were inexplicably removed several mods ago still haven't returned, but their assets have been used for some of this expansion content -- though reusing stuff hardly constitutes an 'expansion'. The skirmishes are probably the laziest I've seen in any MMO, being simply in a single room.
There are new weapons available. The route to these is as grindy as ever, but reaches new depths of poor quality. For example, to get one of them, you pick up a quest from the main hub (unchanged), you go to an existing area (unchanged), you fight an existing mob (unchanged), and you do this 100, yes, 100, times. That's it.
All in all, this feels like a minor update that Cryptic was forced to get out to meet a contract and nothing more. I imagine only one developer was assigned to the content, given how little there is, and how it's almost entirely re-used. The only positives of the mod in my view are some changes to the monetisation; the currency that drops from lockboxes has become very useful. Since subscribers get one lockbox key per day, this makes the intense grind of the game slightly less painful, though it's still extremely excessive.
This is a big let down especially to the more dedicated players, because once you've got some of the better (and far from best in slot) gear in the game, there's literally no challenge. There are no raids, the remaining dungeons can be done with no effort, and the mod offers no real content. I have to wonder if the game has much future, given the content in the last few mods.