9. Tyranny of Dragons
As fourth overall module Tyranny of Dragons came without an independent adventure area and partially recycled old content. This was not well received by the community although from today’s point of view it’s nothing special. To make things worse, daily progression was a waiting game. It required killing a dragon, leading to either waiting for a spawn or instance hopping. It was a pain to complete on multiple chars. The devs eventually reworked the dragons to become a weekly instead. ToD however remains one of the least appealing campaigns to run in my opinion.
The module additionally introduced a “best-in-slot” race for ZEN in Dragonborn and brought additional refining with Artifact Gear. On the plus side: Scourge Warlock class and group content.
8. Curse of Icewind Dale
Neverwinter’s Module 3, Curse of Icewind Dale, illustrates why fun doesn’t always mean quality. Looking back, I remember that it wasn’t too bad. The Black Ice grind, a system like Voninblod if you aren’t around that long, was indeed a pain. Back then however it was literally the only real thing you had to do, which made it kind of bearable. And even considering that open world and the PVP campaign eventually turned out to be a bust, I had some fun in Dwarven Valley and Icewind Pass.
Other things however contributed to this module not getting ranked higher. First of all it ended the vanilla cycle, which some still think was the best era of the game. Although it might seem silly now, but the devs releasing a full module without a dungeon addition was kind of a shock to players.
Additionally Heroic Encounters were a letdown. People liked the idea of random elite mobs spawning as concept, but flaws started to show soon. The Major HEs dropped essential boots and the scoring system was trash, making it incredibly hard for support classes to get them. And of course nobody envisioned or wanted HEs to become a substantial part of the grind for many modules to come.
The campaign? It’s fast, but I think I’ve never completed it without buying the required currency from Genie’s Gifts. The dailies on the big maps are just too tedious.
Underdark had tons of great content. First and foremost it finally introduced more ways of acquiring seals and gear and gave players group content to do right after hitting 70. It was an instrumental change after the Elemental Evil mess-up.
The campaign gave players the freedom to run the stuff they wanted and didn’t enforce daily participation. You could acquire Faerzress at your own pace doing various stuff, there only was a 400 weekly limit. Sounds a lot like Tomb of Annihilation right? Additionally having only one campaign currency means that running the content generates its own keys, which is great. The Twisted Weapons from Epic Demogorgon was a welcomed token based grind for a best-in-slot set in an already RNG-heavy environment and then you had the Dwarven King Quest Arc, which was the start to some very strong story-telling that continues until today.
Underdark wasn’t without flaws though. The legendary ring grind is the worst and the module introduced Masterwork, which I’m not too fond of in general. Oh and Coalgate happend! Maybe it’s a bit unfair to hold it against the module since it’s unrelated to it, but it is tied to Underdark nonetheless.
6. Lost City of Omu
Lost City of Omu really was a solid module. As mentioned in my review it featured good storytelling, decent group content, a nice adventure zone, casual campaign, and great quality of life improvements. All of that wasn’t enough however to come up for some other major flaws. First of all, the module itself wasn’t too innovative. There was not one new major system. Instead, most stuff was build on templates from Mods 10-12. It worked for the most part, but should still be counted against a module in an overall ranking. The class balance and meta struggles in Omu were also real. Synergies continued to get out of hand up to a point where potent teams could one-rotate all bosses. Trivializing content due to bad balancing is never a good concept and that unfortunately was the case in Omu.
5. Maze Engine
Let’s get one thing out of the way: The campaign of Maze Engine is just awful. Going out and killing a random demon mob across different adventure areas might be the most boring setup there is. However, that’s pretty much all I have on the flip side. I’m not sure everybody realizes it, but Maze Engine is actually a module that introduced tons of changes that made sense. It might be the best “QoL” addition to date. Let’s list it:
- Stronghold economic changes in favor of players
- Queue system
- Streamlining and update of old campaigns
- Mount system
Stronghold progression is still a pain for all those little guilds, but the improvements in Maze Engine indeed helped a little. The queue changes in the meantime are easily one of the better tweaks this game has seen so far. The ability to premade into content with more than five players majorly added to the overall convenience. Same can be said about campaigns. The old content got easier and cheaper to complete. The mount system admittedly was as much a new grind and power creep as quality of life improvement, but the way the game developed it never was quite as painful as other systems.
I think some players might be disappointed in the group content. Maze Engine brought back a lot of the dungeons Elemental Evil had removed, but in controversial form. Castle Never got majorly streamlined and couldn’t generate the atmosphere and challenge of its glory days. And the leveling dungeons haven’t seen much action at all. These points still stand, overall however I might have been a bit harsh in my original module review.
So these are my rankings eight to five. Would you have gone with other modules, another order? Share your thoughts in the comments below and visit the corresponding thread on our message board!
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