The Temple of Elemental Fail

General Comments

This is, beyond a shadow of a doubt, the worst adventure pack in the entire game, and quite possibly the worst thing that Turbine has done since Update 14. And that’s saying lot, considering all the shit that Turbine has fucked up since Update 14. It seems as if everything that could’ve gone wrong went wrong. Every aspect about creating a fun, enjoyable, rewarding, and good adventure pack was completely thrown out the window in favor of complete anarchy, randomness, and utterly awful, haphazard design. This is the sort of shit that makes you want to play Superman 64 or Plumbers Don’t Wear Ties. No, I’m not exaggerating; this adventure pack is that bad and, should you buy it, you will quite possibly be overtaken by the desire to gouge out your eyes, punch a hole in your monitor, and/or uninstall DDO and never play it again. Also, consider this: I’m saying these things after Turbine has already spent a multitude of small updates in vain attempts to make the Temple palatable.

Comparing this pack to earlier packs like Reaver’s Reach will make you cry and shake your head at how far DDO’s development has degenerated over the years. It’s a modern day tragedy.

Experience: 0/5

The pack consists of two quests: Temple of Elemental Evil Part One and Temple of Elemental Evil Part Two. Together on heroic elite, they’re slightly less than 10,000 exp base. And keep in mind, this is after the devs have buffed the base exp. This may not sound that bad, but consider that, even when rushed at optimal speed, they’ll take over an hour to complete; in worst case scenarios, a full clear would take over four hours. Even in the time it takes for a rush clear, you have more than enough time to make a sandwich and then run The Pit, The Tear of Dhakaan, and Gwylan’s Stand, all of which are absolutely free, easier, more enjoyable, more rewarding exp-wise, and are more than sufficient for your level 7 content.

You know, that’s another thing; this game is rife with level 7 content already. People got through their heroic lives just fine back before the Temple existed, and nobody I know runs through the Temple on their heroic journey anyway. So as far as heroic leveling is concerned, the Temple utterly failed on every level. Hell, even epic experience isn’t anything great. Nobody in epic levels runs it for experience anyway.

I know that the developers designed this pack with the intention of making a quest which would be rewarding to replay and would be rewarding to explore in its fullest. But there’s the problem: it isn’t. If the devs actually play-tested the content they were releasing, they’d know this easily. It’s clear as day to any reasonable player who’s done this pack.

It’s not rewarding to replay because of the random, rogue-like nature of the dungeons: there’s no guarantee that you’ll get random encounters which will make the dungeons “more rewarding,” and some objectives are outright impossible to complete. Defeat 3,000 total enemies in the Temple when only about 1,700 will show up? What the fuck? Oh, sure, there are respawns, but who the hell is going to stand around for several hours waiting for enough respawns to show up to satisfy that ridiculous quota? I’ll tell you: nobody.

Nor is it rewarding to explore to its absolute fullest. A rush-clear of part 1 will take little over thirty minutes if done optimally, while a full-clear of part 1 would take over three hours (assuming this is even possible for an at-level group, but more on that later). Assuming that you’ve spent six times as much time in the dungeon, you’d expect that it’d be six times as rewarding, right? Nope. And I can produce the math which will show you why it isn’t.

  • Putting base experience aside for now, rush clear results in little over 200 enemies defeated. That’s a total of 2 + 6 + 15 + 30 + 50% of base experience = 103% of base experience in opts.
  • Putting base experience aside for now, full clear results in a bit over 1500 enemies defeated. That’s a total of 2 + 6 + 15 + 30 + 50 + 100 + 200 + 300% = 703% of base experience in opts.
  • In a full clear, let’s also assume that you find six random encounters for an additional 90% of base experience, and all of the audio commentaries for an additional 35% of base experience.
  • In total, full clear = 828% of base experience in optionals. Seeing as the base experience is 5,308, that’s 43,950 additional experience before any bonuses are factored in.
  • Now, let’s remember what the base experience was. 5,308, but let’s also remember bravery bonus, first time completion, and daily bonus. In total, we get an additional +170% to base experience. So all in all, we get 14,331 experience just for completing the quest.
  • 14,331 + 103% of base experience = 19,798 experience on rush clear
  • 14331 + 828% of base experience = 58,281 experience on full clear
  • Tl;DR: Rush clear = 19,798 experience; Full clear = 58,281 experience.

This isn’t even three times as much experience as an average rush clear. And again, this is all supposing that a full clear at level is even possible.

Herein lies another problem in the Temple of Elemental Fail: the quest is just too damn hard. I’ve done loot runs of this heroic quest as an epic character, and had level 20s join. They have died to the traps; I shit you not. And it isn’t hard to see why: the traps can deal upwards to 200 damage, and some of the spell wards can paralyze you as well. In addition to this, it’s commonplace here to run into huge mobs of enemies that instantly give you yellow dungeon alert. AC doesn’t seem to help here either, since I’ve gone in with 60-ish AC at level 9 and have still gotten hit with every hit. The caster mobs also can drain you with negative levels, and that’s assuming you’ve survived the brute force onslaught of twenty-plus enemies in every encounter. What the fuck, this quest is harder than any shit in Gianthold, and that shit’s six-seven levels above the Temple.

Come on; the fact alone that there’s an optional to kill 1,500 monsters should clue you in to its brutal difficulty. So all the calculations that I just did? They’re more-or-less irrelevant for the sake of any concrete discussion, since as far as I know, a full clear at level is well outside of the realm of feasible possibility. Even supposing it was, you’d have to do a full clear at level within <90 minutes for it to be worth it. And that’s even further outside of the realm of feasible possibility, if it’s even possible. I’m not sure it is.

Oh yeah, and don’t even get me started on part 2. The difficulty is similar, only the endfight is magnitudes harder than anything else in the game. Zuggtmoy, the end boss, is utter horseshit difficulty and, despite belonging to a level 7 quest, is harder to defeat than Yaulthoon, who is the endboss to a level 15 quest. It’s not uncommon to see full parties in the heroic level (assuming you can even find a party willing to subject themselves to this half-assed abomination of an adventure pack) fall to her due to her ridiculous DoT, insane amount of monsters she spawns on the screen, and the sheer amount of chaos on the screen going on during the fight. I’ve even seen level 20 people die to her while farming the heroic difficulty. The end result is that she’s, for all intents and purposes, impossible to defeat without releasing and reentering at least a few times.

I know that my calculations were rather lengthy and verbose, but they’re nonetheless absolutely necessary in order to highlight exactly how asinine and stupid Turbine is being. Severlin, one of DDO’s devs, had explicitly stated the following:

We want to find a fun system to reward exploring the temple rather than just running the most efficient path to finish the quests, and plan on having some rewarding optional objectives that randomly spawn and give out good XP and treasure.

So even throwing all subjectivity aside–ignoring the intention to create a “fun system” for the time being, since I’ll detail more on that later–even focusing completely on what can be concretely and objectively measured with empirical and statistical data, the devs have completely failed in their expressly stated purpose. Optional objectives and “exploring the temple rather than just running the most efficient path” are demonstrably not more rewarding than taking the typical bum rush approach. This is a demonstrable fact and all it does is serve to undermine Turbine’s asserted “authority” on their own game and to show how out-of-touch with reality the developers have been.

So with all being said, this is the only pack in the game which will be well deserving of the 0/5 score for experience. It’s an absolute failure on every level, and again just shows how little thought and testing Turbine puts into their recent adventure packs, and how much they have failed in achieving even their explicitly stated goals. Nobody in their right mind is running this quest on its heroic setting (which essentially means that nobody’s getting experience from it), and nobody under level 28 is really running it on its epic setting (which essentially means that still nobody’s getting experience from it). And a quest that rewards no experience may as well be rated as 0/5.

Loot: 0.5/5

Update 21 gave us Thunderforged Weapons. Wanna know something funny? Thunderforged weapons are still better than the weapons that The Temple of Elemental Fail gave us. So there’s really no reason to run these quests on epic; perhaps the only reason I see people still doing so is because they feel they’ve gotta spend some time here after spending money on the pack. Dunno.

Yeah, yeah, there are also heroic level 7 weapons. Very few people actually care. Scoundrel’s Repeating Crossbow is still better than the level 7 ToEE repeaters; Carnifex is still better than any of the Two-Handed ToEE weapons; Cannith Crafting produces better caster-oriented weapons than the ToEE caster weapons; and I can see a case being made for Cannith Crafting eclipsing, or at least rivaling, the ToEE single handed melee weapons. Of all the weapons, though, I think the only ones remotely worth farming for are the ToEE single handed melee weapons (i.e. shortsword, scimitar, etc). And even then, it’s arguably not worth it because they’re quickly outclassed by Green Steel weapons a mere five levels later.

That being said, I personally farmed out a few of these melee weapons because I felt that I had to at least get some value out of the 650 TP I wasted on this horrible pack. They’re all right for the level range, I suppose, but in no way game-breaking the way Carnifex or Sword of Shadows are.

And that’s funny, because you’d expect that power would generally be proportional to the amount of time invested; what I mean is that if you spend more time getting a certain reward than another reward, you’d expect the former to be more powerful, right? I can spend four-five hours farming a ToEE weapon (or more, depending on my luck with the drop rates), or one hour to get a Carnifex. Which should be better? The ToEE weapon, of course. Which one is actually better? Carnifex, of course. There’s also no guarantee that you’ll ever find the ToEE weapon you want because of the random chest mechanics and the lack of a “3rd-completion” option. On the other hand, quest chains like Delera’s and Attack on Stormreach guarantee a weapon of your choice with enough time sunk into them.

Finally, one last thing regarding loot: it’s so grind-based and monotonous. Getting 200 rusty gilled mushrooms, 100 yellow parasol mushrooms, and 50 elemental mushrooms takes seemingly forever… not to mention the time it could possibly take to get your weapon of choice. The loot system entails running the same two quests over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over until you’re about ready to blow your fucking brains out. If you actually enjoyed ToEF to start with (which I don’t see possible, but if so, then more power to you), then I guarantee that any enjoyment you initially had will be long drained by the time you’ve farmed even one weapon from the ToEF.

And that’s just in heroics. Imagine doing ten times the work required to get an equivalent Thunderforged weapon in the epic levels. Oh, the joy!

The only reason the loot system gets a 0.5/5 here instead of 0/5 is because of the Elemental Victory. I glamered one and put it on one of my characters because it looks kind of nice.

Fun Factor: 0/5

Let’s see here…

Monotonous, repetitive halls which get boring after 20 minutes? Check.

Monotonous, repetitive monsters that you wish weren’t there? Check.

Unreasonable amount of monster spawns to the point of yellow/orange dungeon alert upon a single encounter? Check.

Incredibly large dungeon layout where it’s easy for casual players to get lost? Check.

Random traps which make you paranoid about taking a single step? Check.

Completely stupid endboss which can quickly put an end to hours of hard work, forcing a release-recall and long trek back through the entire second half of the adventure pack? Check.

Unrewarding, grind-based loot mechanic? Check.

Oh wait, what did you say? Wil Wheaton, a big-name celebrity did the DM narration for this quest? …Oh wait, what else did you say? Most of his lines are about his childhood and lame personal anecdotes that nobody cares about instead of actual things relating to the Temple of Elemental Fail? …Hmm… Oh, what else did you say? Turbine failed to capitalize on this business opportunity to possibly advertise and reach out to a broader audience? Hmm… why do I have this feeling that this is all a wasted opportunity and half-assed execution?

Really, I see absolutely nothing about this pack which is remotely fun or enjoyable. I get that Turbine was trying to make a rogue-like set of dungeons in DDO, but for one thing, that concept simply will not work, given DDO’s mechanics and core gameplay. Many roguelikes revolve around forcing permadeath, resourcefulness, and a randomly-generated dungeon layout. DDO, on the other hand, lets you use whatever loot you’ve found in the past to crush your opposition, doesn’t force you to play in a permadeath setting, and is incapable of randomly-generated dungeons (with the exception of Prey on the Hunter, strangely enough–a quest released in 2007). Simply put, the concept of a rogue-like dungeon is, at its core, incompatible with DDO. They’re two separate genres of games.

For another thing, its implementation was simply awful and abhorrent. As I’ve already stated, there are too many monsters concentrated in one small area, leading to congestion and annoying levels of dungeon alert through no fault of the player’s. The environment is also static, rather than dynamic–a trait which runs utterly contrary to the spirit of the rogue-like genre. A big part of the rogue-like genre’s appeal is being able to experience a different dungeon with every single playthrough; no two playthroughs are the same. ToEF, on the other hand, is the same dungeon layout every single time through, the only core difference being the randomized order in which you clear the nodes in the second part. That’s not a rogue-like; that’s an MMO trying in vain to feel like a rogue-like and failing miserably.

The root problem of why ToEF failed so badly is that it was simply too ambitious. The fact that it tried to be a rogue-like and failed is symptomatic of this underlying issue. If you are unfamiliar with the original Temple of Elemental Evil, the original module was supposed to be this comparatively large campaign which spans levels 1-8 (!!) and which takes possible months for a group to get through. Its original incarnation was released in 1979 as a 24-page booket which was comprehensive and immersive. DDO’s bastardization of this iconic and emblematic adventure in D&D’s rich catalog, on the other hand? Two half-assed quests which fail on every conceivable level, rolled out in a sad attempt to try and stall and appease the playerbase with yet another grind-based “crafting” system and bullshit difficulty levels.

If Gary Gygax saw this, I’m sure he’d be rolling in his grave right now.

Popularity: 1/5

For whatever reason, I still see LFMs for this one pop up from time to time. Again, I think it’s probably due to people figuring, “Sigh, okay… I spent valuable TP on these two awful quests, and may as well make the most out of the money I wasted. In we go…” while drinking their sorrows and disappointments away.

Pricing: 0/5

I wouldn’t pay 1 TP for this pack. It’s simply not worth it.

Overall: ToEE Tier.

The only adventure pack deserving of its own tier–at the very bottom of the list. There is no other adventure pack in the game which comes close to holding a candle to the rancid, vile detestation which is the Temple of Elemental Fail. It is an utter failure on every single level and is a sad paragon of the very worst of what Turbine has ever released. I want to be optimistic and say that this is the worst adventure pack of all time, but I fear that Turbine still has it in them to release an even bigger bowel movement upon us in the future. I can be safe in saying that, as of right now, this is by far the worst adventure pack in the entire game. And I sincerely hope it stays that way, that we don’t get anything worse shat upon us in the future, but who knows at this point? It seems that Turbine’s asshatery knows no bounds these days.

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4 Responses to The Temple of Elemental Fail

  1. Yeebo says:

    That pack put an end to my last extended stay in DDO. I was playing a trapper / repeater build that was maybe level 8 or 9, which I assumed would be plenty to stick my head in and check things out. Not really. The mob density and confusing layout had me cursing the day I was born every step of my way through. The last straw was a room where there were humanoids using some kind of siege crossbow and butchering me before I could even blink every time they got LoS on me.

    I’m sure there is some way around it, but I was having so little fun to that point I didn’t even care to try and figure it out after getting stuck there on two successive runs (I assumed the first time it wa poor luck, or me missing something obvious). Beating my head on that awfulness for two evenings was enough to get me to take a break from DDO and go elsewhere for a bit, and I’ve never really made it back.

    All that said, Ravenloft does look great and I’m curios to try it..

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  2. Church174 says:

    Sigh. Another detritus filled rant that goes nowhere and doesn’t bother to really pay attention beyond the surface rage of a bad player. A few things. ToEE is a historical module, a moderately popular AD&D. As such it’s an extremely long, grindy, and dense module from PnP from a time when D&D was difficult and unforgiving. It was translated EXTREMELY well and very faithfully into DDO. I was pleasantly surprised with the vast difference between ToEE and other adventure packs of level. ToEE was the beginning of the culling of power creep in the game. Players stopped running groups and started spam soloing elite like it was nothing a long time ago, and as gear and enhancements were updated to be more effective, content became trivialized. Enter ToEE, a throwback module to a time when D&D was hard.

    It’s not meant to be easy, and it’s a VERY well crafted version of the module. I will agree with you that the xp could be a bit better, though when all the bonuses are said and done, getting almost 30k xp at level 9 is a little nuts. There are a ton of optional bonus xp gains that you WILL complete just by running the module, so that really adds up. The power of many of the named weapons is also particularly high for their level, but there’s not a good spread of them. I would have liked to see a good and wide range of gear for all slots instead of random upgrade elemental weapons and some rare named weapons.

    Overall I felt the pack was solid for groups of players looking for challenges or that enjoy old modules from D&D history, as again the translation from the PnP version to the DDO version is REALLY well done.

    And just as a heads up, I’m not just saying this for no reason. I have soloed ToEE on Elite at level 9 three lives in a row using different builds. I’ve gotten considerably faster each time. The first solo took 3 hours, the second 2 1/2 and the last one I managed to solo in under 2 hours. I’ll be doing another solo of it very soon with upgraded gear and a full monk build. And bear in mind, this is NOT a module meant to be soloed on Elite. Like, ever.

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    • Marvin says:

      > It was translated EXTREMELY well and very faithfully into DDO.

      I find it really hard to believe that anyone who has really played ToEE in its paper version can say this with a straight face. Almost the entire first level of the Temple, in the PnP version, is in ruins and is uninhabited. You have to delve pretty heavily into that first level before you start to find your first signs that the Temple is still active. It’s only when you descend to the second level that you find out the Temple is truly active and thriving. In the DDO version, you walk in the front door and every room you’ll enter has 10-15 ‘guards’ in it, just standing idle and waiting to jump you. There’s virtually no ruins at all, no mystery, no investigation, just a sheer grindfest as you attempt to manage aggro, room after room, and hope your resources last until you can reach the shrine. The DDO version is NOTHING like the PnP version.

      I bugged my guildies to commit to ToEE runs early precisely because of how much I like the PnP version, and I cannot even begin to tell you how disappointed I was. That the ToEE came from the same development company that gave us such a wonderful version of the Underdark is mind blowing. It’s literally from one extreme to the other.

      Sure, both are arduous, but beyond that superficial similarity, they are worlds apart. The PnP Temple is difficult because it’s massive, and you have to approach it systematically, ie. make bases where you collect and cache weapons and resources and foray out, repeatedly. DDO ToEE is arduous because it overwhelms you with raw numbers that they know will drain resources, and yet the ability to replenish those resources is severely limited. It’s about the epitome of lazy level design.

      > And just as a heads up, I’m not just saying this for no reason. I have soloed ToEE on Elite at level 9 three lives in a row using different builds.

      Ah, there’s the ticket … lives. Yes, if you’re 8th level and you have 1400 hp because you’re on your 15th life with this character, you might find it easier than six 8th level, first life toons with 120-180hp. I’ve lost count of how many YouTube videos I’ve watching of people soloing difficult content, at level, as if it’s an accomplishment when you’ve got literally ten times as many hp and sp as the average first life toon, 40 more AC, and you do 40 more damage with each swing. Maybe this blogger is talking about the playability for casual players who don’t mine for months or years building super-tank-o-licious characters that can play almost all the content solo?

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