With the release of the Maze Engine it’s time to look back at Underdark this weekend and summarize the ups and downs of the module that introduced well known Drizzt, Regis, Bruenor Battlehammer and Pwent to Neverwinter.
I personally think Underdark overall was a strong module for PVE in many areas, because it dealt with some of the wasteland Elemental Evil had created. The new skirmishes and heroic enocunters introduced easier ways to obtain seals and get the gear you need to master the dungeons, without actually being required to run the dungeons themselves. As shown in my lowbie diaries it became comparably easy to get to 2,500 item level and be able to run all content.
The Trade Bar Store update further added to the supremacy of the VIP service. As you might know I was a supporter of the system right from the start and it hasn’t let me down. Especially with the current Maze Engine campaign I’m sure you appreciate the signpost more than ever! VIP is such a great deal that it is self-sufficiant solely by reselling the stuff that drops from the free Enchanted Keys and the only downside is that it’s actually worth setting up farm VIP account with the sole purpose of supporting your main(s). Not sure this should be dealt with, but I wouldn’t actually mind if VIP was only available for straight cash like some of the original real-money packages. But I know many others don’t agree here.
The campaign was far from innovative, but also didn’t overwhelm players with multiple currencies. I liked the simple pattern of getting Faerzress and progress. The weekly caps were an issue, but not as annoying as I’d thought they might be. New players might even appreciate being sort of guided by the caps, so they know what content to run. The boons are useful, but not sure I’m a fan of making the tier five content specific. This however works slightly against the power creep, because the usefulness will diminish at some point. I also largely enjoyed the Salvatore quest line.
I already praised the boss fights and continue to believe in the progress the devs made with their mechanics. While only a minor layer of difficulty was added, I like the ideas they had designing the fights. It’s unfortunate they don’t scale too well with item levels, because higher geared teams can basically ignore all mechanics and just burn through. My personal favorite is the Corruption of the Throne variant of the Throne of the Dwarven Gods skirmish. It’s a bit too easy, but I like that DPS, control and tanking / taunting are equally important. Whenever I’m lucky enough to get the variant with my CW, I’m having tons of fun.
Because of this it’s unfortunate that they failed to correct some annoyances in the group content within the mod. The early Goristro issue was eventually patched, but the Mind Flayer Infiltration variant of TotDG suffered from nebulous instructions how to get gold in the first phase and Prophecy of Madness from a timer that was twice as slow as intended. It’s only fitting that they forget about adjusting the fight when they finally fixed the timer so that nobody can get gold any longer.
The only real fail of the module was the so called replayability of content. It was not a constant feature anyway and in the end it never really served its intended purpose of making group fights more interesting and engaging. The devs themselves admitted in interviews about the Maze Engine that they didn’t continue the design because they weren’t satisfied with it. Can’t say a whole lot about Masterwork professions, but I never felt urged to either start one or buy any items crafted by it.
While PVE was a success, the module completely wrecked whatever was left of PVP. So. Many. Issues. Be it balance, the new legendary rings, the lack of a competitive system. It’s not funny. Currently it looks like a month-long process to get PVP back on track and we have to keep our fingers crossed that it won’t go down like the Foundry.
How would you rank Underdark compared to other Modules? Share it in the comments below or post to our message board!