Dungeon History is our column that looks back at outdated or removed group content. The reason why we can contribute a full series to that topic is pretty obvious: Unfortunately the game features a lot of it. The main culprit is the Elemental Evil update and its level cap raise. The devs decided to completely take away all level 60 content and reintroduce some of it as level 70. From the original set of eleven tier 1 and tier 2 dungeons only few have seen reworks so far though. The rest is either removed or plays an insignificant role as leveling dungeon.
We’ve already dedicated a full article on the original Castle Never design, but obviously it can’t be left out in a series that talks about dungeon history. In this piece I don’t want to talk about the dungeon itself as much, but about what type of game it stood for. First of all you have to realize that today’s Castle Never has little to do with its original design. It got majorly streamlined and adapted to the Underdark storyline. In its vanilla version the dungeon featured four bosses and was at least twice as long. I’ve attached a video below that shows you a run from the 60s era.
“Bring Back the Old Dungeons”
A lot of new players are probably confused why there’s so much fuss about “bringing the old dungeons back”. It’s a claim you frequently hear from players that’s been here since the start in 2013. Today’s dungeon landscape largely aims at a super casual audience that no longer fits the oldschool guys. We signed up for a different game back then, a game that no longer exists.
Castle Never was representing that era, that game, better than any other dungeon. It had a supreme difficulty, much harder than today’s Tomb of the Nine Gods. It was longer, much longer than today’s content. And it dropped guaranteed unbound best-in-slot loot every time. It was the complete opposite of how dungeons are set up right now. Even the hardest content is repetitive, a hit or miss in terms of loot, and has to be run a gazillion times to progress. Castle Never was guaranteed AD, in case you could beat it. The content was gated by challenge and skill, not RNG and tokens.
Draco Required 100% Awareness All the Time
The end boss, the Dracolich, required awareness of what was going at any time. You had to keep track of different adds and dodge attacks, most of them were lethal. It took you approximately a dozen runs to know what was going on and not overreact to random stuff that was happening. The closest experience to that was Svardborg, but that Trial got overpowered by teams so fast that it hardly mattered. I still giggle if teams fail today because they expect the usual button mashing burn fest and don’t care to follow the simplest patterns. But heck, the playerbase has long forgotten what decent boss mechanics look like. So them being all confused comes to no surprise.
And while talking about bosses, the other three in Castle Never were no walkover either. I remember wiping at the second one rather frequently because the adds were a pain. Plus those also dropped best-in-slot equipment. Players that couldn’t yet beat Draco went for partial runs. That’s how great the rewards were. We made millions splitting the AD of the drops, up to 150k per run. Ten per day, good times. I can’t get myself running ten Tombs per day, but never lacked motivation to run CN.
Plagued by Exploits
Of course the fondest memories form CN are from the early days. With increasing item levels the dungeon got a lot easier and beating it much less of an achievement. But it remained viable to run until the Artifact Weapons in Module 4 replaced its loot.
Additionally Castle Never was not only haunted by the Undead, but also exploits. Bypassing and bugging bosses, using major shortcuts, you name it. But that was also why it always stayed a hardcore experience for the hardcore gamer. Either you knew the tricks, or you didn’t. In or out, make tons of AD or not. Castle Never was the capstone content of a different era, a different game.
What are your memories of old Castle Never? Did you enjoy it or are a fan of its rework? Share your thoughts in the comments below or visit the corresponding thread on our message board!
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