Oct 082012
 

If you've lost any skeletons lately, not to worry, I've found them all
If you’ve lost any skeletons lately, not to worry, I’ve found them. All of them.

The Catacombs series is an interesting trek through a seemingly endless (and slightly repetitive) series of undead. In the first quest, zombies and skeletons plus spiders. In the second quest, you actually run the first quest again (I did mention slightly repetitive) plus steel dogs. The third quest occurs in a new instance but with the same bad guys, plus ghouls. etc.

But they are not bad, or at least not as bad as my last paragraph makes them sound. Some repetition certainly, but other interesting facets exist: lots of short missions rather than one or two really long slogs; difficulty that scales up with each new mission; and the first occurrance of an enemy so badass you cannot hope to win and are forced to flee.

That last bit, recognizing when it is time to flee, is a repeating trope in the pen and paper version of D&D, and one of the things that differentiates DDO from other MMOs. Every real life Dungeon Master will now and then throw something at the players that is not intended to be beat; a test to see if the players will recognize that flight is an option and use it in time.

I’ve only played a couple of other MMOs, but I’ve never encountered the “must flee” opponent except in DDO, and DDO features two of them: Marguerite the Wraith in this pack, and Whisperdoom the spider in the Tangleroot pack.

There are some other things to like about the Catacombs pack: the end quest is literally one fight! The shortest quest in the game, but one that remains quite challenging, that last fight can be a bear. The end reward loot is interesting and useful at level. And then there is Dryden’s Crypt.

Picture a race track that you have to lap twice. The track is lined with sarcophagi, hundreds of them, that open and eject their undead contents as you pass, even if you touch nothing. You can smash the undead as they appear:

Step, smash. Step, smash. Step, smash.

It’s hard to stay that slow and disciplined. It’s easier to just run by while they are forming.

But there’s a downside. Even if you are able to persist in the face of the inevitable Red Alert, you eventually have to deal with them. En masse. The quest is a circuit racetrack and not a drag strip; you end back where you started, except now it is filled to the rafters with skeletons and assorted other undead.

There is the potential to generate more monsters per square foot than any other quest. So thickly packed, if you make the mistake of jumping you end up on top of them, stuck in a boney crowd surf, unable to control your direction or movement until you kill off enough to open a tiny shred of floor space.

Throw one Soundburst spell and listen as a dozen or more skeletons take damage at once; you will never see more damage numbers from one spell.

Not every character can stand in the corner and swing for ten minutes without being swept under. You are definitely going to be facing Orange or more likely Red Dungeon Alert. You can’t self-heal with potions, too many attacks happening too fast. It’s not a puzzle. It’s not a mental challenge of any sort. Twitch is not necessary. It’s just a long-ass fight with hundreds of bad guys, and some people find it more tedious than anything else. Not me, I like the mass and volume; when I am on a character that can handle it, it is a uniquely fun fight that I always enjoy.

Where else can you swing your weapon once and hit five times?

Batter up!

🙂 😀 🙂

What do you think?

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