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Underdark 'expansion' (mod 8) review

AthisarAthisar Member UncommonPosts: 666
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.

Comments

  • tawesstawess Member EpicPosts: 4,208
    Well you said it your self... They had to do this... So to expect some massive grand adventure, especially so close to the fairly big expansion that was the last one was hoping for a bit too much. 

    Now i agree that it is a very poor offering compared to what was marketed (if one go only by that and not the meta knowledge of how they work.) and it does not do much to pull me back in to the game... Then again i was never much of a R.A.S fan to begin with. He is on my "read on a rainy summer" list together with the Dragon Reborn books. 

    This have been a good conversation

  • AthisarAthisar Member UncommonPosts: 666
    edited November 2015
    tawess said:
    Well you said it your self... They had to do this... So to expect some massive grand adventure, especially so close to the fairly big expansion that was the last one was hoping for a bit too much. 

    Now i agree that it is a very poor offering compared to what was marketed (if one go only by that and not the meta knowledge of how they work.) and it does not do much to pull me back in to the game... Then again i was never much of a R.A.S fan to begin with. He is on my "read on a rainy summer" list together with the Dragon Reborn books. 
    Mod 7 added a new map, but it was for guilds only. It didn't add any other content, and the map had just the same stuff people said they didn't want (heroic encounters). People who aren't in guilds got literally nothing from the last one. And mod 6, well, the less said about that the better.

    The last module with any real content was mod 5 (from 2014), which added a new zone, the Tiamat encounter, and a new class. Though the content was only dailies, again. No dungeons, skirmishes, questing, etc. Mod 6 just bumped up the level cap, and generally broke the game. Things since then have not improved.
  • MoiraeMoirae Member RarePosts: 3,318
    edited November 2015
    I wonder if anyone tried to contact Salvatore about this. Incidentally, I just did. I will let you know if he says anything. I doubt he will talk to me. :)
  • AthisarAthisar Member UncommonPosts: 666
    Moirae said:
    I wonder if anyone tried to contact Salvatore about this. Incidentally, I just did. I will let you know if he says anything. I doubt he will talk to me. :)
    He had some (nominal) involvement with it. If you expect SWTOR like storytelling in these chapters you'll be sorely disappointed. You get a couple of lines of text per chapter as with any quest giver, and it's all very disjointed. I assume you're supposed to have read the books.
  • tawesstawess Member EpicPosts: 4,208
    Well like it or not... It was a rather big and complex system that took a good amount of time to design i would guess. Same with the zone, it was designed to do some things they had not done before in the game. So don´t dismiss something just because it was not your cup of joe... After all how much content had guilds had before that content patch...? 

    This have been a good conversation

  • AthisarAthisar Member UncommonPosts: 666
    tawess said:
    Well like it or not... It was a rather big and complex system that took a good amount of time to design i would guess. Same with the zone, it was designed to do some things they had not done before in the game. So don´t dismiss something just because it was not your cup of joe... After all how much content had guilds had before that content patch...? 
    I'm not dismissing it, but to call mod 7 a big expansion when it added no new questing, no story, no dungeons, no skirmishes, no raids, no classes, no balancing, and simply one instanced map purely for guilds with nothing actually in it except for heroic encounters (which were already present in the game), is an overstatement.
  • tawesstawess Member EpicPosts: 4,208
    *shrugs* I still call it naive to think that the new expansion should contain anything really big. Elemental Evil contained a ton of stuff (botched release or not) of the kind you wanted and released in april and Strongholds as i said was a systems heavy expansion with the guild overhaul, it released in august.. that leaves very little time to get a massive expansion (that had a very specific deadline) out the door. 

    So did they over sell it... Sure. But just looking at the callendar would have told most that it would have to be a smaller expansion with mostly reused content... Especially as "story" was such a key word 

    This have been a good conversation

  • AthisarAthisar Member UncommonPosts: 666
    Naive? Cryptic promised after the mod 6 disaster to fix things and get back to providing what players wanted. Mod 7 gave a good sized map for guilds, but was disappointing otherwise as it had no other content at all. People expected, at the very least, a new dungeon by mod 8 and the old ones to return.

    The last new dungeon in the game was in mod 4 (18 months ago). But they also stripped most of the original dungeons from the game, leaving just 3 for levelling (1-69), and 5 (three T1, two T2) pretty broken ones for end game that were widely exploited since. Since there's been so little content since mod 4, it's reasonable to think that Cryptic would have been developing stuff alongside the later mod releases, especially as mod 7 provided nothing outside of a guild rework.

    As for story, like I say, it's a couple of lines per chapter. Fans of R.A. Salvatore will probably love it since it features names from his books, others, not so much.
  • Po_ggPo_gg Member EpicPosts: 5,682
    Athisar said:
    [...] 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. [...]

    [...] This is a big let down especially to the more dedicated players, [...]
    Luckily I'm just a less dedicated player :wink: with the goal of going back in the near future and play through the Salvatore questline.

    But I think you're right with the "lazy design" you mentioned above - if the layout is what you've described then it's just a couple CO Alerts* tied together with a story. Which is fine with me if the story is good, but I can see why it's disappointing for a dedicated player who expected more Underdark.

    * I mean  "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."  yep, that fits to the ~ 2/3 of Alerts in CO :lol:
  • AthisarAthisar Member UncommonPosts: 666
    There's a well written current thread about the current state of the game here. It's one of a huge number of complaints, but it's got a lot of well put posts:

    http://www.arcgames.com/en/forums/neverwinter/#/discussion/1208280/no-more-heroic-encounters

    I'd also add that this is a game based on D&D that has a total of FIVE dungeons for the entire game. While levelling up they've been reduced to utter pointlessness so much that they're for 3 people maximum, don't need a healer or a tank, you just send through any three characters.

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