Yet another forgettable post U14 pack which isn’t worth buying or playing through even if you’re VIP and have it for free. Although Heart of Madness isn’t as bad as Temple of Elemental Fail, it’s close, and it should still be avoided like the plague. As it stands, I see no good reason to run this pack unless you’re a masochist.
The pack has three quests and none of them are remarkable experience. Fashion Madness comes close to giving what could be argued to be decent exp/minute (I managed 21k in 12 minutes), but the thing that kills these quests first and foremost is the fact that they’re level 18 quests. There’s already a plethora of content to run at the level 17-20 range, which is likely when most people would consider running these quests on heroic; there’s the fantastic Sane Asylum, the entirety of the Reaver’s Refuge quests, and the Eveningstar quests which, while I don’t personally care for them, I still enjoy a lot more than these quests.
Palace of Stone felt really long and drawn out, and the experience really needs to be rethought (though I’ll be damned if Turbine actually realizes this and does it). I barely managed 1k experience/minute… I think I got something like 20k experience in 20 minutes. Not good by any stretch of the imagination.
The third quest, Terminal Delirium, is a disaster on every level, the first of which is experience. Partly because it’s so difficult (more on that later), it took me about 40 minutes to complete, and gave a paltry 16k experience–though bear in mind that if I hadn’t had to reenter three times, it would’ve probably given a grand total of… 22-23k experience. Oh boy.
I’m not even going to go into the experience on epic. Suffice it to say that it’s awful, and considering that the quests are level 26, I don’t see any reason why anyone would want to do them, since Spies in the House, Chamber of Raiyum, and Jungles of Khyber are magnitudes easier and much more rewarding.
In the end, I can safely say I’m never running anymore of these, so in terms of experience, this pack gets a fat “zero;” I don’t gain experience from quests I don’t run, after all.
The only heroic item I’d consider picking up is the Bone Crusher, a powerful quarterstaff. But even then, quarterstaves are such a niche build nowadays, and Rahl’s Might still can be considered a superior weapon. For that reason, I’m not listing Bone Crusher as anything to really inflate this pack’s loot rating.
As far as epic items go, none of the loot here looks outstanding either. Epic Vim and Vigor is the only one that really stands out to me because of its combination of +40 false life and +11 strength… but even so, Epic Emerald Gaze also provides +11 strength and comes from an overall superior pack.
I’ve never seen any LFMs up for this pack saying “farming for loot,” likely because nobody cares about the loot here. It’s mostly garbage.
Fun Factor: 1/5
I’ll go over these quests, one by one.
Terminal Delirium: good god, where do I begin? Easily one of the worst designed quests in the game. For starters, it seems like a very lazy rehashing of Acute Delirium, which itself was a rehashing of Delirium, both of which are vastly superior and more enjoyable quests. For another thing, a lot of the lore simply made no sense. As one example, you can choose to ally yourself with the Lord of Stone or the Lord of Eyes. I chose the Lord of Stone, and even though in this quest he asks me to help him with some tasks, his other servant monsters like medusas and gargoyles still attack me. This is also a problem in the next quest, Palace of Stone.
There’s one part of the quest where you’re tasked with using the fly spell and navigating through an annoying maze, which happens to be filled with monsters. Some of these monsters are beholders. This is a really cheap gimmick from the perspective of a caster or a melee build; while under the effects of fly, neither has the mobility required to maneuver out of the way of them, thus rendering casters’ magic nullified and melee characters prone. Even when I went through this part on a repeater build, I died a couple of times because they caught me by surprise and it’s simply not within the scope of human reaction time to respond to 600 damage within less than 1 second. Aside from the stupid “game balance” of this part of the quest, I found it simply went on too long and wasn’t a fun gimmick in the first place. The fly spell can be fun when its limitations are used as part of a fair, skill-based challenge like in The Reaver’s Fate, but when its limitations are precisely that–unfair limitations–we run into problems and a challenge which, rather than being fun, is simply unfair.
Another part of the quest entailed solving several sliding puzzles and defeating the ghost of Knizzlenak several times. I’m sure I can’t be the only one who’s completely tired of sliding puzzles by now. Come on Turbine, give us a break. Give us other puzzles, or just eschew these stupid sliding puzzles altogether. They were fine at first, but now you’re just trying to milk them, and failing. Anyway, this goes on for another ten minutes, and you’re then given the freedom to do the next part of the quest, which is by far the worst.
You have to “protect” your reflection in the mirror. I guess Turbine’s idea of a fair challenge is to have 30 monsters spawn at once and have them all start attacking you simultaneously, because this is what this part of the quest looked like:
That’s after I dispatched a dozen or so monsters… and I think there were some monsters behind me and in my periphery as well. Note the damage numbers popping up behind my head, and note that I’m level 20 with a maxed destiny, still struggling in this heroic elite quest. This is the room that had the tendency to kill me without allowing for any margin of error or reaction time, which caused me to release and reenter three times.
You have to defeat several waves of this. I counted there were over 100 monsters that spawn in this room in total. Holy fuck.
And the grand finisher to this quest? A dance battle. Yaaaaay…. no seriously, who gives a fuck? The “end fight” simply consists of you typing “/dance” and going AFK for a couple of minutes. Fun. Real fun. I mean that completely sincerely, because after the rest of the quest, this is actually a comparable respite. All in all, if Terminal Delirium were the only quest here, this pack might get a negative score for fun factor.
Palace of Stone. After 40 minutes of the awful delirious nightmare, I had very, very low expectations for this quest. I’m glad that it shattered some of my expectations in terms of fun factor, but even so, there are some instantly recognizable flaws and it’s by no means a perfect quest, or anywhere near it. However, I can say that it is by far and away the most enjoyable quest in the pack. And it should really be alarming when a mostly mediocre and average quest has that status in any pack.
On the positive, the environment is somewhat unique. I like how Turbine took the setting of Lord of Stone and went in a slightly different direction with it, and I like how there are three “minidungeons” within this dungeon.
That’s about all I can say in the quest’s favor, though. It’s way too long, and gets really monotonous after awhile. The monsters are all the same (gargoyles, golems, medusas, and living rocks), and the setting can get grating after awhile as well. There were no puzzles or anything to break up the monotony of “kill this, now kill that” for a whole twenty minutes. People criticize the Coalescence Chamber for being monotonous, but really, it’s not even in the same ballpark as this one. Also, looks like Turbine forgot how to spell “Khyber.”
Additionally, the endfight felt like it was ripped straight out of Ocarina of Time. Illusionary projections of a powerful being who attacks out of three portraits and who serves as the end fight to a dungeon? Where have I seen this before? Oh yeah, that’s right.
Fashion Madness: the last of the three that I completed. I’m not sure what’s worse: blatantly ripping an idea from what many people consider to be the greatest game of all time, or blatantly recycling old content in the vain attempt to try to pull the wool over our eyes and call it “new content.” Well, the latter is what Fashion Madness does. The settings are all familiar: one map from Partycrashers, another from Eyes of Stone, another from Gwylan’s Stand, and another from Fear Factory. It all feels utterly unoriginal. I suppose this wouldn’t be so much of an issue if the quest were actually unique and enjoyable in other aspects, but in terms of gameplay, it’s just another hack and slash.
Oh, also, looks like Turbine forgot how to spell “Yaulthoon.”
Come to think of it, the lore of this quest doesn’t make any sense either. Yaulthoon makes a reappearance, but he’s supposed to be dead, since we killed him in “In the Flesh.” There’s no explanation given, and we’re just supposed to accept that he… reappears for this one quest and then disappears forevermore thereafter. Ok.
So all in all, the quests are thoroughly boring, monotonous, unoriginal, and have flimsy backstories which make no sense if you have an ounce of scrutiny in your body. Terminal Delirium in particular is a trainwreck of stupid gimmicks, boring and uninspired hack-and-slash repetition, and some of the one frustrating fights in the game.
Nobody runs these, and for good reason.
These quests wouldn’t be worth running even if they were free. 450 TP for only 3 quests… really Turbine?
Overall: Lower F-Tier.
Palace of Stone is almost salvageable, but it’s not worth shelling out 450 TP. Notwithstanding this one quest’s good points, it’s still mediocre loot and mediocre experience in a level range where there’s no shortage of either. Considering that this thoroughly average (arguably below-average) quest is by far the best of the series should tell you that this is definitely a pack worth avoiding, and is certainly a good indication of DDO’s drop in quality since U14.