The Archons’ Trial

General Comments

Okay, contrary to what I might’ve expressed in the past regarding wanting to make a repeater build, I did indeed roll a repeater build as my main’s next life–partially because I want to do a few Epic Reincarnations and a repeater build is the easiest way to ease the grind by making it absurdly easy–and I’m glad that I did because holy fuck is this adventure pack’s difficulty skewed. I soloed the first two quests, and someone else came to help with the last quest, but even then, the difficulty of the quests were on par with anything from the level 19 Amrath quests. And after spending a little over an hour in this dreadful pack, I can say with confidence that I can’t be bothered to check out the raid or do any of the quests from The Archons’ Trials again. Waste of 495 TP.

Experience: 0/5

This might be more of an issue on a relative scale rather than an absolute one, but here’s the problem with Turbine decides to release an adventure pack with level 13 quests when we already have Gianthold, Attack on Stormreach, and many of the House Cannith challenges which some people like to do at level 15 for full experience. When you have such high milestones with which to compare, anything less will invariably let down your expectations, and the Archons’ Trial has done exactly that. Add to this that there are so many other problems with this pack in terms of exp.

Problem #1: Difficulty. I’ll elaborate more on this later. My point in a nutshell is that, with the difficulty level so high, it’s simply not practical for many people to solo this series of quests at level, meaning no exp gained whatsoever. One of the contributing factors to my “zero” rating in this department.

Problem #2: Only 3 quests. Gianthold has double the amount of level 13 quests as this pack, which are all much easier, much shorter, and give almost as much base experience each. Oh, they’re also part of an easily-done saga which gives even more exp. In the end, Trial of the Archons simply is unrewarding and its limit of having 3 bad-exp quests limits it further. There’s also simply no reason to pick up this pack when Gianthold exists.

Problem #3: Quest length. The first quest in the pack, The Archons’ Trial, took me 25 minutes to complete and gave about 80% the experience of Siegebreaker, which I can easily clear in half the time it took for The Archons’ Trial. In terms of sheer numbers, we’re talking about ~21k experience (on elite with bravery/first time/tome of learning/etc.) in 25 minutes. And I’ve come to learn by now that anything less than 1k exp/1 minute is plain awful experience… well, once you’re past Korthos, at least.

Problem #4: Epic difficulty. Okay, so these quests are all level 30 on epic. So do you really think anyone’s doing these quests in the epic levels for experience? Of course not. To stand a chance in the epic versions of these quests, you’ll need to be one of the higher-leveled epic players, if not level 28, and at that point you’re not gaining any experience. And there’s even less point to running these quests when Jungles of Khyber, Spies in the House, and Chamber of Raiyum give better experience/minute than any other epic quests out there.

Loot: 3/5

All of the heroic stuff here is absolutely pointless so I won’t be talking about it here. None of it is worth itemizing in any build and all of it can either be replaced by other named loot and/or Green Steel. It’s about as bad as loot from the Sharn Syndicate, but unlike the latter, which is a very old pack and therefore has at least an excuse to have obsolete loot, this is one of the newest packs out there.

At least the epic versions of the loot is a different story. While a lot of the loot from the flagging quests are too niche or underwhelming to make a difference, there are some nice options from the Devil’s Details which are about on-par with the epic Necro 4 items: Epic Armbands of the Silenced Ones, Epic Divine Artillery, and Epic Riftmaker. In addition, the items from the raid are almost unilaterally great and better than anything else in the game at the moment. It’s really odd and peculiar how the heroic and epic versions of this pack’s loot have the exact opposite problems: heroic loot is completely useless, while the epic loot is almost too good.

But then take a step back and consider that all of the loot is for level 28 people. If you’re like me, your mindset would be “what’s the point, then? There’s nothing to do at endgame, so you may as well TR or ER…” I just don’t see the point of endgame loot in a game which lacks any meaningful endgame.

Fun Factor: 1/5

The first quest, Trial of the Archons, started out with some neat things, but things started turning sour really fast. For one thing, the atmosphere is rather nice, even if it’s just a rehashed version of older quests which featured more-or-less the same thing. There’s also an agility portion which I thought had some neat architecture and was a refreshing break from the typical hack-n-slash fare from which Turbine has rarely deviated since 2012. However, this portion lasted less than 30 seconds and was simply too short to be of real consequence. Had more of the quest been experimental by trying to take things in different directions like this, I might have given this pack a higher rating.

And that’s where things started going wrong. After that part of the quest, there was a part where you’re faced with wave after wave of the exact same monsters (flesh renders, ice flensers, hezrou, dretch, tieflings) spawning in large groups, over and over and over and over and over. These encounters take up the majority of the quest and I think there were over 120 monsters. Aside from the sheer monotony of the situation, there are a few things with make this aspect of the quest even more unbearable:

  • Monsters are disproportionately strong for their level compared to Gianthold and Attack on Stormreach; this coupled with encounter amount heavily favors ranged builds over anything else, since melees will be overwhelmed by sheer force, while casters’ SP pools will drain over time. Even on my repeater build, I had to kite them constantly, and it took at least five times as long to kill any given group of them as it would to kill a similar-sized group of Droaam soldiers in the beginning part of Undermine.
  • Even taking out the faulty game balance between newer packs and older ones (packs since 2012 have featured vastly stronger enemies than packs from before 2012, leading in a very schizophrenic difficulty in this game), certain monsters in particular are innately very powerful (Ice flensers, Hezrou, tiefling spellcasters). When put in big groups like these, it makes dealing with them even harder and more of a pain.
  • Most of these monster spawns resulted in instant green dungeon alert. Dungeon alert shouldn’t be an automatic given in a quest; it should be a direct penalty of a player rushing through the quest and aggroing everything in the dungeon.
  • One particular monster spawn resulted in instant red dungeon alert. Yes, that’s right. This is even worse than Temple of Elemental Fail. I can’t imagine how any melee build, even Paladins or Swashbucklers, would be able to deal with this many monsters at once.

The first quest also featured a really annoying puzzle room… and by puzzle, yes, of course I mean sliding puzzle; it’s the only type of puzzle that Turbine knows how to implement, it seems, even after nearly ten years of developing their steadily dying game. Well, ok, in fairness, Reaver’s Fate has the Mastermind puzzle and Monastery of the Scorpion and Shroud have the Lights Out puzzle (ironically these are from before 2012, and Turbine hasn’t tried anything new since then). You’ll inevitably take damage from an electric floor, and there’s nothing you can do about it no matter how smart you are. So much for “test of intelligence.”

Trial of the Archons features an endfight which is probably harder than anything from the Vale. The story is supposed to be that the boss is this chief Lady Archon who’s testing you; if you defeat her, the archons will accept you as part of their ranks, or something to that effect. Cool, so why don’t her stupid little underlings become pacified once you defeat her and prove yourself? Lore-wise it makes no sense, but we all know the answer, of course: because something as simple as this didn’t occur to Turbine and they obviously don’t play test the game they design.

Sheesh, and that’s just the first quest.

The second quest, “Demon Assault,” features the exact same atmosphere as the first part of the first quest, complete with the exact same monsters and the exact same portal gimmick. It’s the Same old Story, Same old Song and Dance. It’s almost as if Turbine was too lazy to think of something more original! …Oh wait. Anyway, needless to say, after slogging through 20 minutes of this portal crap in the first quest, the last thing I want to do is go through another 10-15 minute quest which is nothing but portals.

Surprisingly, the end fight in the second quest is laughably easy. Sadly, the same could not be said of the rest of the quest. The same problems which plague the difficulty of the first quest still apply to the portal encounters here, and we get another challenge in the shape of the Whirling Blades. You know, those annoying things that tend to kill fighters and rogues in phase 3 of the Shroud? Yeah, those. They deal as much damage as the blades from the Shroud too–I was being hit for 132 damage by the blades in this level 13 quest (lol), which is as much as the damage the blades deal in Elite Shroud. Perhaps Turbine just copy-pasted the code or whatever from Shroud to Demon Assault and couldn’t be fucked to think about rather important things like game balance and difficulty.

The third quest is entirely a hack and slash slugfest, just like the second one. Not much else to say here, except that we’re fighting different enemies this time in the form of abishais, and a rather pretty, yet formidable boss by the name of Hathera the Erinyes. She does this weird thing where she goes invisible and starts rapidly attacking you for like 70-80 damage at a time. My companion who had 250 hp dropped dead almost instantly. Even though he was a cleric, he had no chance to even heal himself. Shit like this isn’t fun and only contributes to my perception that Turbine has no idea what game balance is.

Popularity: 2/5

For whatever reason, I see groups for the raid up quite often. Personally, I can’t be bothered to farm for endgame loot that I’m never going to use, in a raid that, if consistent with the rest of the pack, is probably disgustingly boring anyway.

Pricing: 1/5

It seems that the raid’s loot is the only redeeming feature about this pack. For 495 TP, not worth it.

Overall: Lower F-Tier.

Yet another awful post-U14 pack. Don’t buy it unless you’re one of those people who pathologically seem to enjoy farming for gear for a nonexistent endgame.

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