The hill was steeper towards the crest, and Hypure extended her legs to keep her pace up. Behind her she could hear her squad mate, Papershield, huffing and puffing to keep up in her heavy armor. She paused as she rounded the crest, more out of caution than sympathy for the half orc.
At the top of the hill was a stone platform, which had stood there for an untold amount of time. There were ancient stone pillars surrounding the rectangular shaped structure, but what had given her pause was the clearly less ancient gargoyle statues set at regular intervals along the outer wall. Spotting one at the far end, whose chips were clearly not from weather, Hypure began walking forward again.
After crossing half the platform, the chipped gargoyle began to stand up…
I thought I would take some time and talk about the area’s my Wilderness Only, Hypure, spent so much time in. I got to see so much of theses area’s, often more than I really wanted to. If you have never been to any of them, maybe this will encourage you to take a little trip. Or not. If you want to read a little bit about the mission of this project or see some screen shots of me finishing this life, you can see my Achievement thread. Otherwise, I present them to you in the order I visited them, some of my experiences in the wilderness.
The Cerulean Hills
I think most people have been to the hills. You might have even looked around, once a long time ago. Now, with XP so easy to get, you probably just run straight to the two quests a few times and move on.
The hills are beautiful. They are filled with great vista’s, and it’s one of the only places in the game where I can just stare up at the sky when its night. It makes me want to strap on a backpack in real life and head into the hills around Arizona. Well, Arizona is not as green near me, but it’s still great.
The mobs are easy, as you would expect in a beginning area. Throw in some Kobolds, and it’s nothing you won’t see again for a while. What really caught my attention was how the quests and the wilderness here introduced you to the Sharn series. That was one of the immersive elements that really caught my attention when I started playing after F2P, and it’s still one of my favorites.
Oh goodness, it’s the Waterworks. Again. While I like the overall feel of the area, the grind feeling you get from running the chain is not improved when you grind out the slayers. It’s a wilderness in name only, really, since there is no path other than the ones to the quests. On the plus side, this is the only wilderness area I found where a secret door detection item is needed.
I love the jokes the devs have played with Kobolds in DDO, and one of my favorites is here. Shaman Har Har, yes, I do dare laugh at you. Other than getting past the WIs rune and the secret doors, this area is a breeze. I just wish the instance reset button had been implemented when I was working this one. There is only about 100 Kobolds in an instance, so getting the last slayer can be long.
Anyone who owns it is probably pretty familiar with the quest. The wilderness area is actually far more pleasant, though that dosen’t stop me from teleporting directly to Ungurz on my other characters.
The area has a wonderful jungle feel, though sometimes that means plants that completely obscure the camera’s view. The improvement to the appearance of water really did wonders for this area, though the spots where you fight trogs can still result in you swimming when you thought you were standing. Overall, this is one the area’s in DDO I feel is underappreciated for how well done it is. It dosent quite have the immersive feel of 3BC or the Hills, but it feels very much like a real place you could go see one day.
Guess who finished this area about 30 days before they announced the improvements to this area? That really hurt, but at least I get to enjoy them in my next life.
This area is huge, as anyone who has been out here knows. It’s never really bothered me, but with as much time as I spent out here, I could really start to tell how far apart everything was. This is another beautiful area, though, and the water improvements did wonders here as well. I think my favorite is the Kobold pirate haven. I wish there was a quest involving them. There is also a large variety in monsters, and lots of fun immersive lore type elements. The area itself has stories, with the Orc pirate area, the human pirates and their (now tiny compared to ours) airship, and the Kobolds worshiping a part of the destroyed market tent. It’s one of those area’s that almost seems to tell its own story.
I really wish I had been here after the quest UI improvements. I had to run to the scorpion spawn nearly 40 times (I counted) before it popped for me. It would have been so much easier with a reset button. I couldn’t get the hireling thing to work for me.
If it wasn’t for the Sentinel’s quest that was added out here, I’m sure most people would not even know this area existed. Half the time, I ended up accidently walking into the Twelve instead of the Heights. You know an area is out of the way when you have to use your map to find it, even though you were just there.
Since I had just come from 3BC, this area felt small. It’s actually about as big as most other area’s, on average. There is so much unrealized potential here. Maybe it’s just because I read about the Sulatar in one of Keith Bakers books, but I wish there was more to them. I mean, there is a whole city of Drow loyal to their former giant masters sitting outside of Stormreach… and that’s it? That’s all?
Much like the Hills, this area really makes you feel like you are in the wilds just outside the city. You can still see the Tower of the Twelve and the spires of the city from many places here. It’s a real shame there is not much reason to ever enter the drow city, because it is so well done. If it weren’t for the angry dark elves everywhere, I wouldn’t mind pulling up a chair and having a drink in the promenade. Why they didn’t just close the gates after the third or fourth time I stormed the city looking for the rares, I will never know.
So technically, I had to accept a quest to enter the area. You do not have to enter any of the quests, though, so I think that sticks to my Wilderness Only theme.
Anyone who is a fan of Trolls and Ogres would love this area. The one thing I found odd is that there is a scorpion rare for their little area, a Gargoyle for theirs, a Wight for theirs, but there is nothing but spiders in the spider nest and no human rare for their area. Every time I come to this island, I think back to when Turbine removed the requirement to use Fire or Acid to finish a troll. I had only just started playing, so the only troll I had encountered to that point was in the Water works. I can only imagine what this place was like before that.
This area isn’t as nice as some of the others in the game. I would rank it around the area of Tangleroot. They are pretty similar, in that they are both jungle canyons. The difference is that there is a nifty cave that connects the two halves of this area. The only down side is that you cant jump down from the temple to the area below to make a quick return. Another difference is the reduction in obtrusive vegetation. I guess the Ogres and Trolls are better landscapers than Goblins and Troglodytes. The last major difference is the great ocean view when you are on the beach. The little skiff on the shore with the Eye in the background is a great touch.
The Red Fens
This area represented a turning point in my Wilderness Only efforts. Bonus XP days started happening more regularly, which really made getting the top slayers very appealing when combined with an XP pot. Despite the grind, I started seeing the light at the end of the tunnel (I got past lvl 12 here) and my motivation to finish really picked up.
I’ve seen a few swamps in my day, but this dosent look like any of them. I’m not just talking about the floating trees and mud men. Still, this area really has the sci fi/fantasy marsh thing down to a T. I can just imagine the look on my Drow Sorcs face at the end of a romp through here as she examines the edges of her robes or her shoes…
There is a wonderful variety of things to do and see here, and I got one of my first big surprises as a caster. I normally play melee, so the immunities of most monsters dosent really matter. You can just keep hitting them. I had to go back and rethink my spells list when I nearly got toasted in my first fight with a Will-o-wisp. They are immune to acid, who knew?
All in all a beautiful area. I really enjoyed the painful grind to that last large slayer here, simply because I felt fully immersed in the environment. I really felt like I was wandering a swamp, like I used to in the south as a kid. A bugbear riding a panther? Love it!
As a side note, this is an area, like Gianthold, that really needs to have an Epic version. Killing CR 9 ish monsters on your way to a CR 21 quest is… just silly.
Oh! Thank you huge issue with guild amenities that made Turbine give us a free coupon! I used the coupon to grab the T3 navigator. My guild is only able to have the gold seal version of the T3, we are not high enough for the plat version. Despite his attitude, he brought me here without having to flag for it in the normal fashion. Then once I entered and had the S/E/R in my journal, the T2 navigator was perfectly happy to take me the rest of the time. Of course, that means I could only enter through a guild ship, but thats what I do when I can anyway.
This place reminds me a lot of the water works. You spend most of your time in a narrow space, there are many restrictions to your progress (like doors that need keys) and it really isn’t the prettiest place. Most of your time is spent in dreary tunnels. Although, when you are up on the islands, it can be very nice. Especially if you are on a high one and you can look out over other islands you visited. It’s too bad you spend the majority of this small area below ground. One other really nice touch is the sacrifice area. Really adds a nice lore touch , and I like the events that lead up to finding it (if you are listening to the mobs and the DM).
You cannot breathe without aggroing mobs here! Over much of the island, they are packed in like sardines! Thanks to the tendency for mobs to call other nearby mobs if they are not killed fast enough, you can get into some really big fights here. On the plus side, throw on a slayer count boost and those numbers just start ticking. I think this was the area I cleared the fastest, by far. Fortunately, the upgrade to hirelings gear happened for me here (and not with the puddings in the Isles). Half way through this area, I didn’t have to worry about the Rust Monsters eating my hirelings ability to continue anymore…
If you like ocean views, this area is a resort for a reason. I would love to spend some time in that fishing spot near the resort. Now that I think about it, though, I would worry what would happen to an Eberron fish when exposed to toxic Adamantine mining slurry. I mean, there are probably few mining regulations in the wilds of Eberron, right?
Sands of Menechtarun
Before I even start. No. I did not get a Blood Stone. I had my fingers and toes crossed, and I burned a rabbit’s foot as a sacrifice to the loot gods, but they did not favor me. According to the wiki Palumak drops it, and he certainly spawned often for me, but no luck. The Thirsty One did not even spawn for me the first time until I had killed every other slayer on the map at least once. He spawned fairly regularly after that, but still nothing.
I did have a DDO first for me here. I got my first chest Ransack! And the second right after that. One +loot bonus weekend when my wife was out, I kept hitting the chest in the Den Mothers area. Partly because Stinkpelt was my second to last rare, and partly because I am a sucker for loot (my main is a rogue, if that helps explain my meaning). In all my years of playing (since Dec 2009) I have never ransacked, so I was not counting. I was shocked when the message popped up, and I had to open it again to get the screen shot. That same day I managed to ransack the chest for the Whirling Ozann, who spawned so many Bow of Elements for me that I wondered if I had broken the loot table. After I got that ransack, I realized it was clearly time for me to take a break and play a different character.
I love the desert, and just like 3BC it has a mostly safe path you can use to get yourself to most quest entrances without having to clear the map. This map reminds me a lot of the time I like to spend here in Arizona hiking the deserts and the hills, though I dare say Arizona has more vegetation. The hardest slayer for me to complete was the Scorrow slayer. There is just so few of them compared to the Undead and especially the Gnolls. It didn’t help that several of them like to hit you with a dispel that kills off your self buffs. This is one area I am really looking forward to getting back to when I TR, especially since I really want that Blood Stone.
Ruins of Gianthold
I was half way finished with this area when U17 hit. I must say, U17 was a huge improvement.
Before U17 there seemed to be a lot of nothing out here. Mobs were almost as few and far between as Rest Shrines. Other than some specific clusters of monsters, you could walk most of the way across this map and only find two dozen or so things to fight. That might be a lot for something like the Water Works, but in Gianthold that is a lot of empty space.
Post U17 things were very different. Suddenly mobs are twice as plentiful as Rest Shrines, and rest shrines are a much more common sight. I think my favorite one that was added was the one down by the Madstone Crater. That was so needed! The Kings forest style rare encounters have always been my favorite (as opposed to the static “here’s a boss mob!” that was standard until then). I really enjoyed the Heroic versions, though it felt weird fighting a CR 16 dragon that my hirelings could easily defeat on their own. The Storm Heart teleport point was a bit problematic, however, because it was so close to both a regular Mob spawn and one of those Rare’s. I often found myself spawning inside of a fight with fire giants. I sent in a lot of bug reports, so hopefully this area gets a nice polish before I get back here.
Another great thing that happened in U17 is the pass on the appearance of the area. I don’t have max detail enabled, but I still noticed some improvements in the look of the terrain and all of the minor added details. Rocks and such that were not there before. Basically Gianthold got an update to bring it more on par with The Kings forest and less on par with older content like the Orchard and its now dated appearance.
One thing that drove me crazy here, besides being knocked down all the time and some of the new spawns that don’t count in the heroic slayer, was the Illithids locked chest. I really should have added Knock to my spell list just for this area. At least I found a use for all of those Cove wands I made the first time it came out.
I am really looking forward to the epic version, and hopefully they do this to the Red Fens area. I am going to need as many Epic wilderness area’s as possible for my second, and hopefully third life.
Orchard of the Macabre
I agree with Geoff that this area can be very pretty. I do think, however, that this area is showing a bit of age. What stuck out most to me on that front was the area’s where you can see that a single texture has been stretched over a large polygon. It gives it a real cookie cutter wall in DOOM feeling. Compare that with a new area like the Kings forest.
Still, I had great fun in this area. There are so many monsters from the Monster Manual here, I must have completed at least half a dozen slayers. The only truly annoying area is the forest around Inferno. Nothing says unfun to a wilderness only like a second spawn that does not count towards your total slayer. I have enough work to do without killing extra monsters. I made sure to get the rares as fast as possible, and then I never went back in there. I think my favorite of all the encounters was the zombie caravan. It’s like the baby version of the encounters you see in the Kings forest or Gianthold.
Having seen this area, I can see why the Claw and the Flame need adventurers to help them. There is no possible way for those groups to gain enough of a foothold in this area to stop the Abbot in time. I mean, look how much trouble they had with the lower crypts.
The Subterrane – Central
I spent all of maybe a minute here before moving on to the Vale. I fought a living fire thing at the base of the first ramp, and then the second one killed me. Sorry this section is so short, but that is Hypure saw here before I realized there was not much point in trying to beat this area yet.
Vale of Twilight
The Vale, and the end of my story. Even though this was my last area I got to visit, it was the first where my Panther would not cause me to lose XP. A bit of a shame, really, it dosent feel like she even stretched her legs on this life. I will have to give her a good workout before I TR while I collect the things I need in my next life.
Even though it is P2P, this area is probably about as familiar to most DDO players as the Waterworks. Still, it’s easily in my top 5 of prettiest area’s. There are a few areas that suffer from the same issue the Orchard has with textures, but this area dosent feel as old.
If it wasn’t for the leaves on the trees, I think the Gnoll area would be my favorite on this map. There are some great views up in the trees, but you often find yourself with a face full of green when trying to find it. Plus I hate fighting gnolls, too many casters.
I think it is a little poetic that I finish level 20 on my Wilderness Only when this is the area that gave me lvl 20 on my first ever capped character. Come to think of it, my cleric hit lvl 20 here as well, which means all three of my epic characters reached epic in the Vale. I would really doubt that will happen again on her second life, but who knows?
So what is next?
I outlined my future plans for her a bit in my achievement thread, but I wanted to touch on them a bit here. Repetition helps with memory. I have already gotten the Golden figurine for the isles. Much to my chagrin, I discovered that while you have to enter the quest to get it, you don’t actually have to complete the quest . I could have snuck in there before and gotten it! I also need to snag the Pendant of Time and the Key to Eveningstar. The Key will be the harder of the things I need, but with Shadowfell on its way PDK favor may be easier to come by. With the current 19 PDK favor quests in the game (listed on the wiki) I would need an average of 7 favor from all of them to get the key. That includes the raid, which I am a bit intimidated by. Raids in general intimidate me, since I don’t get to play often to learn them.
Well, that’s all I have for now. If you can think of anything else Hypure will need in her next life for the area’s she did not visit in this life, I would be happy to hear from you. Otherwise, until next time, Don’t Starve!