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Dungeon History is our column that looks back at outdated or removed group content.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 dungeons.
Dread Vault was one of the dungeons that were removed in Module 6 and have not re-entered the game yet. The dungeon back in the day was the capstone content for the story. The single player level 60 campaign end in the Illithid Enclave in the Whispering Caverns. Dread Vault picked up this setting and sent players into a long and hard dungeon where they had to take on Mind Flayers that try to unleash an ancient elder brain! Back in the day Dread Vault was widely considered the most difficult content. It was more of a trophy since the original Castle Never had much better rewards, but definitely a challenge for all endgame teams.
I have to admit that I do not remember everything from the dungeon, but one thing that stood out was its sheer length. It was “oldschool” content in that it could you could easily take you 60 – 90 minutes to complete the dungeon. Nowadays MMOs rarely feature that type of approach as the casual market has long influenced design decisions.
The first bosses in the dungeon were not really special, but because of their strength and number of adds they could easily overwhelm any team. In the very early stages of the game some groups even struggled to beat trash. Many wipes within Dread Vault were the norm. I unfortunately weren’t able to dig up a decent full run video from 2013 or 2014. If you have one, please let me know or link it in the comments.
Yshiggol, The Elder Brain
However, more than the dungeon itself, the end boss was the real challenge. It was kinda frustrating at times. You grind through this super hard content for hours only to realize that your team can’t beat Yshiggol! Frequently parties dismantled due to rage quits or people simply giving up after many attempts. There were several elements that had to be mastered. Teams had to avoid or fight tentacle AoEs, deal with tons of dangerous adds, and mini bosses.
What most teams did was gather in a corner of the boss room to avoid the tentacles, punt adds over edges and only dps the boss when they didn’t have to deal with anything else. At 25% and 75%, a random boss from another dungeon would appear. I can’t remember whether they featured the same HP and all attacks, and definitely not all could spawn. But this illustrates how Dread Vault literally took the challenge of the other content and added more on top of it. Even in the later stages of the progression, beating the end boss was no walkover and could easily take 15 minutes or more.
Rewards Never Matched the Challenge
Dread Vault was definitely a fun challenge. I’m still surprised so many seasoned players bring up the dungeon when they talk about content that should be brought back though. Thing is, back in the day Dread Vault wasn’t even that super popular, mostly because the rewards never matched the challenge. Like I said above, completing it was more of a trophy than anything. I guess there’s still those that simply like the concept of grinding a super hard “raid-like” dungeon. And even if it’s no longer Neverwinter’s main focus, you have to admit that the game really lacks that type of niche in its group content.
I really doubt we’ll have a dungeon like Dread Vault in the game ever again because it doesn’t fit today’s market too well. So all those that experienced (and beat) it probably witnessed something special. It’s going to be interesting if and how Dread Vault might find its way back into the game. It’s still fully designed content with an unique setting that the devs could use at some point. So who knows? Maybe we’ll have to deal with Yshiggol at some point again!
What are your memories of Epic Dread Vault? Did you ever attempt or beat it? What’s your take on this topic? Share your thoughts and experience on our social channels, in the comments below, or visit the corresponding thread on our message board!
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