Digital Tabletop: DDO Update 16 – The Netherese Legacy
by Ashe Collins on November 19, 2012

The Netherese Legacy update has two new things for epic level players. First, there’s the High Road of Shadows Quest Pack which has five quests within, and a new Primal Avatar Epic Destiny. While this is all free for VIPs, is this something that a Premium or Free to Play player should invest in? Let’s take a look at the Epic Destiny first.

The Primal Avatar was developed with the Druid player in mind, but could be used just as well on a Ranger, because of its increased Two-Weapon Fighting abilities that will hit on your Tempest builds, and Monks as well, as it hits on unarmed fighting. Where it hits for the Druid is in Buffs and extras in animal form. I don’t have any Druids even remotely close to use this, but my Exploiter build Ranger is salivating right now. Why? Well, the Ranger based Epic Destiny is based around a Ranger using Ranged, and unfortunately, unless you’re really good at using a bow this is problematic. Even then, you’re pissing off your other party members who don’t want to chase mobs as you run around the map, so you can take the Two-Weapon Fighting option, which is free to Rangers anyway, and whip out two swords of your choice and go to town.

So for my Ranger, the Shiradi Champion was pretty much a let-down, and I’ve been bumming around the Rogue and Barbarian Destinies instead. The Primal Avatar is definitely going to fill that Two-Weapon niche for me.

What about the quests, you ask? Well, The High Road of Shadows Quest Pack comes with five quests, all based around a Netherese quest arc where you’re trying to piece together a Nether Scroll before the bad guys do and use it for nefarious purposes. The Harpers are the ones directing you to take action, and it’s with them that all your in-game faction rewards go to. Running through the quests on Epic Hard will not net you enough points for a first tier reward unless you also couple it with an Epic Hard run through Druid’s Deep as well, but even then, you may need to run a few on Epic Elite. Epic Elite for both Druid’s Deep and High Road of Shadows will net you a Lesser Harper Pin, which is supposed to eliminate crowd control effects on you upon use. There’s also an explorer area that works just like the King’s Forest from Menace of the Underdark, only smaller, with fewer messages to find and lots of rares each run. My first run in the wilderness netted me almost 65k in experience for about an hour’s run uncovering the whole map, and I didn’t even find all the messages.

The quest chain has four quests you can do in any order that flag you for the fifth, and like the other quests in Eveningstar and The Forgotten Realms area, each chain of quests has an extra set of rewards for completing all the quests in the chain. If you follow the quests in order, Detour is first. A Harper Wizard named Bensen is transporting a piece of the Nether Scroll to a hidden Harper lodge. This is a long escort quest, and you can actually call Bensen on it in the dialogue choices, telling him you hate escort missions, which is hilarious. The good news is Bensen is actually a capable NPC, and as long as he’s not getting beat on, he’ll help out a little bit. He also can’t seem to be killed, as he’ll cower under a protection spell if he gets hit too much. There are spell wards and locked chests. Bring someone for the traps and chests to make things go smoother.

After your escort mission, Rest Stop brings you to the decaying remains of a castle on the High Road. Beckside Castle has been used by travelers and adventurers for a long while as a campground and resting place. There’s a piece of the Nether Scroll hidden here, and it’s up to your group to find it before the spies do. After the monotony of the escort quest, this is a fun one to break things up, with a number of optionals, including destroying ancient Netheril Staves that talk to you. Bring a balanced group if you want everything completed in this one. The Rest Stop quest isn’t very restful, so perhaps a Stay At The Inn will help? Oriphaun Huntsilver didn’t want to be caught carrying pieces of the scroll, so he entrusted them to… a bartender? Shows a complete lack of sanity on his part. The Harper’s direct you to The Old Man’s Face Inn, where the bartender has gone missing and it’s up to your group to get to the bottom of things. There’s a few secrets here and you uncover a few things that lead to more fights and more loot.

What better way to cap off a terrible night at an abandoned castle and an overtaken inn than to head into the Lost Soul’s Swamp in the Lost in the Swamp quest? This one is less involved in discovering things and more about beating everything down. There are optionals in freeing some trapped spirits, and you’re looking to get another piece of the scroll from a Hermit who hid the piece for Oriphaun. After all that, we finally get to The End of the Road quest. As you suspected, as you’ve been picking up scroll fragments, so have the Netherese agents. You head out to Granwall Keep to try and get the last pieces from the Netherese. There are a few different paths to take in this, with a number of optional kills to make before you make you way into the wooden keep. As you may guess, retrieving the actual scroll isn’t easy, and the last fight there can be a bit tense.

Overall, as far as quests go, I really like three out of the five of them, and the other two are, I think, okay. The rewards and experience in the others makes up for the grind fests they represent, and they go much faster with a full balanced group that can take down enemies fast. With the new quests comes new named loot, with an interesting new tier system. The base level of the items is listed as Epic Normal, with some impressive stats for each item. These will drop in the End Rewards list as Epic Normal as well. What you’ll find, though, when running the quests on harder difficulties, is that when they drop in those quests, they’ll have that difficulty and be slightly better than the Epic Normal versions. Epic Elite will obviously be the best version, with Epic Hard close behind. Bigger than that though, the items are bound to the character, but only on equip, so if you pull something you can’t use, chances are you have an alt who can, or you can throw it on the auction house for some big coin. With the pack just out, the Auction House prices for these items are insane. They also put in Orbs as an off-hand items for casters. The Orbs work like shields, in that you can block with them and they’ll give you extra bonuses to saving throws and resistances. Right now there’s only one, but they’re going to add more in as they go in other quest areas.

Is this worth your Turbine Points? Well it’s Epic loot you don’t have to grind out commendations or epic shards for, but you can still get commendations from the rares in the explorer area. It’s Epic loot that’s scaled to the difficulty you’re playing at. It’s also five quests I don’t totally despise and would run again in a heartbeat, even if I’m not as fond of two of them. If it follows the pricing I saw of 750 Turbine Points, I’d still say it’s worth it. Yes it costs more than Druid’s Deep for roughly the same quest structure and length, but I think these are better quests and I love the new Epic Loot mechanic they have going on, plus you have an extra explorer area. If I were still a free to play or Premium player I think the cost would be worth it but I can see people wanting to wait for a sale, especially since they can hit up the Auction House or get help from a guildie if there’s an item they really want. Nothing beats the feeling of running this chain and capping out that toon you had on the cusp of hitting level 25 though. It’s the perfect level range to grind for that if you need to.




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