Everyone’s favorite adventure pack, and without a doubt one of the best in the game. I present to you the Vale of Twilight… and the Subterrane, but that’s become almost irrelevant nowadays. The Vale alone offers so much to every player out there that it’s impossible to not recommend it as one of the first purchases that any player makes. It succeeds on every level and is an absolute necessity for anybody intending to play DDO, and with Turbine’s upcoming plans to create an epic version of this pack, it’s only going to get better and better. (For the record, I think it’s a really silly idea; Turbine doesn’t need to make Vale epic in order to retain its popularity. What they should be doing instead is focusing on other packs like Restless Isles or Sharn Syndicate and increasing interest in those, instead of taking what’s already the most popular pack in the game and making it even better than the rest of the packs in the game.)
The reason that this pack is rated so high on experience is a combination of many factors. The most glaring and obvious of the bunch is that level 16 is a level where there’s barely any other content, with Mask of Deception and the dreaded Wheloon Prison being the only other alternative. Of these choices, Vale is by far the best option because of its pricing, its additional loot, its fun factor, its wilderness, and because the quests themselves offer better experience than the alternatives. Which brings me to the second reason why the experience is so good here: the base experience itself is very high. Ritual Sacrifice, for instance, gives almost double the amount of experience as Thrill of the Hunt, and is much easier than the latter. There are also some more advanced tricks like farming Coalescence Chamber and Running with the Devils which offer better experience than Wheloon ever could.
In addition, the wilderness area is arguably the best wilderness in the entire game because it lends itself really well to large parties splitting up and clearing different parts of it. In terms of base experience, it also offers more experience than any other heroic wilderness area. Not to mention that players seem to universally enjoy the place, myself included, because it’s a really nice-looking area.
Green Steel. That is all. Go take a look at Cubicle Ninja’s GS crafting planner, or alternately, Perfect Web’s GS crafting planner, for a jaw-dropping look at a comprehensive list of Green Steel effects you can get at ML 11 (accessories) or ML 12 (weapons). There was a time when Green Steel was considered to be the best loot in the game, and people would wear it at endgame (back then it was level 20). Even today, Green Steel is a favorite amongst people going through multiple Heroic lives because of the immense boosts in power they give to level 11/12 people. Green Steel is still better than any other equipment up until level 20, and in some cases, even further. I’d have a hard time rating the loot portion of Vale anything less than a perfect 5/5 because of how game-breaking Green Steel is. Allow me to try to explain at least a small portion of what makes Green Steel so great.
Its sheer versatility allows for so many possibilities for nearly every build. You can get any Green Steel weapon you want (…except Handwraps, for some stupid reason), or you can get any Green Steel accessory you want (except rings). Now, speaking in terms of weapons, you can get something for any situation. You can make a Holy, Good Burst, Good Blast, Greater Disruption weapon for combating undeads. You can make a Sundering Ooze weapon to create an army of black puddings! You can make an Acid, Good Burst, Acid Blast, Metalline, Keen, Slicing weapon which will bypass 95% of the DR in the game and provide tremendous DPS against most other monsters to boot. You can create a Flaming, Good Burst, Fire Blast, Radiant Repeater to allow for easy sneak attacks. Or if you want pure and simple DPS, you can create a Shock, Good Burst, Shock Blast, Lightning Strike weapon. There are also loads of possibilities for caster builds out there, and almost every build can benefit from a Green Steel weapon. And then there are accessory effects which you can’t get anywhere else, like +45 stacking HP and permanent blur, or permanent heavy fortification, or things like Crushing Wave Guard, or displacement and raise dead clickies.
Then there are the effects themselves. Like I said, these are effects which are unavailable anywhere else. For casters, you can make Concordant Opposition items that give +150 stacking SP and Wizardry 6 (another +150 SP), which are effects which are unattainable anywhere else. For any build, there’s the +45 stacking HP which can be combined with effects like permanent blur or 100% fortification, and Green Steel is the only place where you can get Displacement or Stoneskin clickies, to name a few. In terms of weapons, a 2% chance to deal 600 + lightning damage is completely overpowered for being available on a level 12 weapon, while having a nearly universal DR breaker is obviously incredibly useful to have. They’re so powerful for their level and the blow everything else out of the water until at least level 20.
Fun Factor: 4/5
The Vale itself is one of the few wildernesses which, to this day, I still enjoy. It hosts a variety of monsters and has several distinct little “sub-areas” where different coalitions of monsters reside. It’s really fun to explore, and I’d advise anyone who hasn’t already to go search out all of the explorers in the vale. Vale is without a doubt one of my favorite wilderness zones in the game, losing only to Three Barrel Cove and The Storm Horns.
(Picture from the Wiki)
The quests themselves are actually something of a mixed bag, though. While I enjoy the Coalescence Chamber (even though everyone else seems to hate it for no reason), Running with the Devils (the quest, not the Van Halen song), and Ritual Sacrifice, I can’t stand Rainbow in the Dark (the quest, not the Dio song) or Let Sleeping Dust Lie. The latter two are built around annoying quest mechanics which, while trying to be innovative, end up being frustrating instead. It’s Necro 3 syndrome.
Rainbow is an entirely dark quest which can only be lit up by equipping this scepter… immediately, you’re presented with a problem because 99% of builds who aren’t casters are reliant on their weapons in order to do damage. So in order to do this quest, most of the time I resort to trying to find a party for it, and even then, the first question which pops up when people join is “who’s gonna volunteer to be the torch holder?” What it entails is basically being a deadweight in terms of damage and having to do nothing but walk around the quest, guiding people who may or may not be too stupid to keep up with you. It’s incredibly annoying and sometimes I just skip the quest.
Sleeping Dust features enemies whom you’re not supposed to kill (or else you fail the quest) which nobody ever finds fun, and which have resulted in countless failed runs due to stupid party members not being able to read simple quest objectives, or well-intentioned party members who accidentally hit cleave or an AoE spell by accident. The problem here is that there’s almost zero margin for error, and if you forget for a split second about your objective and accidentally cleave, or forget to turn off Colors of the Queen, you could come dangerously close to failing the quest.
I take no issue with the other three quests because they’re mostly straightforward hack-and-slash adventures. Nothing wrong with that.
The raid itself, The Shroud, is among my favorite raids in the game, however, and stands as a nice contrast to the quests themselves. The raid takes your party through five different phases, representing different phases of the lunar cycle, and each presents its own unique challenge. Not only is the raid itself varied and more than typical brute force (although the boss fights certainly involve lots of that, of course), but the setting is really beautiful as well. And of course, the loot is some of the best in the game, so what’s not to love about this raid? There’s a reason it’s always been DDO’s most popular raid, and probably still is today.
(Picture from the Wiki)
Lastly, I’ll talk about the Subterrane and the two raids here. The Subterrane is beneath the marketplace and consists of two portions: central and east. They’re essentially linear pathways which you take to the quest entrance, while slaying monsters along the way. I kind of like this idea, and think it was done pretty well. The central Subterrane leads to Vision of Destruction, while the east Subterrane leads to Hound of Xoriat.
Vision of Destruction used to be one of DDO’s main endgame raids, but now, most people have forgotten that it exists. The loot is outdated, nobody runs it for experience, and it’s not a challenge any longer, so there’s no point for most people besides fun factor, and very few players play this game for the fun factor, it seems. The raid itself is basically one prolonged boss fight, and it used to be challenging to endgame players because of the attrition involved, though now, Epic Destinies have pretty much trivialized all of heroic content.
Hound of Xoriat is an interesting quest in that it revolves around a boss fight with a boss whom you can’t directly harm. Xy’zzy is the eponymous hound of xoriat who cannot be harmed via conventional means like weapons and spellcasting. Instead, she summons baby hounds who must be charmed to fight against her. You can charm the baby hounds by using shards which mindflayers drop, and the mindflayers spawn at different points on the map. So typically, the strategy is to have a tank distract Xy’zzy herself while the rest of the party runs around finding shards that the mindflayers drop. The rest of the party then charms these baby hounds while the tank holds Xy’zzy’s aggro. It’s a rather unique raid because it mostly hasn’t been affected to the extent that other quests have been by Epic Destinies; no amount of increased DPS will allow any party to take down Xy’zzy faster because she’s invulnerable. And yet, even though it arguably still offers some degree of challenge, it’s not worth running because the loot here hasn’t aged well. The result is a rather challenging raid which nobody has any incentive to run anymore… so predictably, nobody runs it anymore. Thanks, Turbine.
Although the Subterrane portion of this pack has mostly been forgotten, the Vale remains strong, and probably will until the day that DDO dies. You will never have any problems finding a group for the quests here or for Shroud, and the upcoming epic version of Vale will only make the pack more popular (although I predict that it will have the adverse effect of making the heroic version of the quests less popular while everyone flocks to the epic version, like flies to a dung heap).
Even though it’s 850 TP (going to be 950 once epic version is released), I’m still going to say that the pricing is really good because of this pack’s potential for experience and loot. The wilderness area provides hours of fun and great potential for experience. The quests supplement this experience, while the raid provides the best loot in the heroic game.
Well, what can I say that I haven’t already said? Everything about this pack is great (well, besides the fun factor on some of the quests), and every player needs to buy this pack. If you ask just about anyone which packs you should buy, this one and Gianthold will be at the top of their list because no other pack compares.