The Red Fens suffers from being in the same level range as Vault of Night and Necropolis 2. There’s very little, if any, reason to run it on heroic, and even on epic difficulties, the quests can easily be ignored in favor of superior exp/minute quests like Vault of Night or Jungles of Khyber… what you should be realizing is that, if VoN didn’t exist, then Red Fens would probably get a much higher ranking. It’s a real shame that these quests are overlooked in favor of others, because I think in terms of overall design, there’s a lot here to be appreciated.
Same reason that Temple of Elemental Fail gets a 0/5 in my book: because nobody ever runs these. You’re not getting any experience from quests that you’re not running, are you?
I don’t even think these quests offer very great experience/minute either. To further compound the problem, the fact that you need to run through a wilderness area in order to get to these quests doesn’t help their case. And sure, you could argue that since there is a wilderness area, that’s an opportunity for more experience, but in all honesty, does anyone really need the experience at this level range? Even if so, the experience/minute is so abysmal from slayers that you need a full party slaying in all directions of the wilderness in order to get semi-decent experience. Of course, this is a problem because nobody runs Fens anyway.
I’ve never really thought that the loot here was anything top-tier, and it’s only gotten worse with time.
There’s a list on the DDO wiki of the named item sets from this pack, so you can be the judge. I think the Greater Vulkoor’s Might one is the only one which is somewhat decent.
Fun Factor: 5/5
This is the one aspect which almost redeems Red Fens and makes it worth the purchase for casual players who are simply looking for a good time. Every quest here (well, except for one) is very creative and the wilderness area itself is rather different from other settings in the game.
Fathom the Depths features the interesting gimmick of having you go through the dungeon and then go through it again, except with all of the dungeon submerged underwater. It’s sort of like Stone Tower Temple from Majora’s Mask in that it completely changes the way you look at the dungeon: even though you’re going through the same pathways, it feels completely different and provides a new set of challenges. There’s also a fun extra boss fight with a Gelatinous Cube at the end which I like to complete.
Claw of Vulkoor is unique in that it’s one of the few quests which incentivizes stealth as an option for completion, and actually is faster and more rewarding to complete this way. There’s also a choice near the end of the quest to pilfer a giant skeleton’s tomb and get more loot, or to leave him be and get more experience. It’s fun to face choices like these.
The Last Stand is the only one which isn’t really all that unique. It’s just another “protect NPC” quest with nothing about it to really stand out. Moving on…
It’s a good thing that the pack closes on a very strong note, in the form of Into the Deep. This is one of DDO’s most ambitious quests, since it takes place entirely underwater and features underwater combat, an idea which I really think Turbine should’ve developed further–maybe using it for a new TBC epic quest, or expanding on the Red Fens to heighten its popularity, or something. Right now, unfortunately, the underwater mechanic just screams “wasted potential.” And that’s what it really is: potential. I won’t pretend that it’s perfect, since it all feels really clunky and under-developed. I think one forum poster described underwater combat as “moving around in molasses,” which is pretty accurate. With more time and effort, however, I have a feeling that Turbine could’ve made underwater combat as fluid as Maplestory’s Aqua Road (yes, I did make a comparison in Maple’s favor… probably the first and last time I’ll do that, since I think underwater combat is one of the few things that game got right).
The whole atmosphere of Into the Deep feels completely different from the rest of DDO. It takes place in an underwater city of the Sahuagin, and you have the option to explore the outside and slay some Sahuagin forces in the process, making it something of a miniature wilderness area. There’s also an optional boss fight after you complete the quest, where you fight what I think is the lowest level Hezrou in the game. This quest is what I would call an immersive (pun maybe intended) experience, a quest which truly stands out among DDO’s catalog.
This is one of those packs which I never see anyone run. Don’t think I’ve seen a LFM up for this quest in two years at least, I shit you not.
Back before bravery bonus existed, back before experience tomes existed, and back when the heroic experience cap was higher than it is now, these quests used to be run semi-frequently. Currently, however, there’s no real reason to run any of these quests, and that’s kind of sad.
With all that’s said and done, it is only 450 TP, which is a decent amount considering that you’re getting a whole wilderness area in addition to four unique quests.
Overall: Upper D-Tier.
With all its flaws which prevent it from experiencing any sort of popularity, it is one of the more creatively done packs in the game and deserves recognition for that. Had Turbine spent more time and effort on underwater combat, they could’ve had a spectacular system which offered variation from the rest of the game and which provided hours upon hours of fun. But right now, Into the Deep seems more like a case of “what could have been” rather than a fully fleshed-out system, and I doubt that Turbine will ever revisit this pack, which is unfortunate, because this pack really needs to be revisited.
Right now, The Red Fens is in the same position that Three Barrel Cove was a few years ago: a very fun pack which I’m sure most, if not all, casual players will love, but simply won’t be run because it offers no incentives in the way of loot or experience. I sincerely hope that Turbine will take a second look at this pack, maybe by bumping up the experience, buffing the loot, or giving it an expansion in the way of an entirely underwater portion, but I seriously doubt that they will do this. There’s too much focus on the epic game, and it’s this sort of backwards thinking which will be the death of DDO. Too much focus on trying to cure a cancer of their own making, rather than expanding on this game’s better points.