Dungeon History: Epic Dread Vault


Dungeon History is our column that looks back at outdated or removed group content. The reason why we can contribute a full series to that topic is pretty obvious: Unfortunately the game features a lot of it. The main culprit is the Elemental Evil update and its level cap raise. The devs decided to completely take away all level 60 content and reintroduce some of it as level 70. From the original set of eleven tier 1 and tier 2 dungeons only few have seen reworks so far though. The rest is either removed or plays an insignificant role as leveling dungeons.

Dread Vault

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Dread Vault was one of the dungeons that were removed in Module 6 and have not re-entered the game yet. The dungeon back in the day was the capstone content for the story. The single player level 60 campaign end in the Illithid Enclave in the Whispering Caverns. Dread Vault picked up this setting and sent players into a long and hard dungeon where they had to take on Mind Flayers that try to unleash an ancient elder brain! Back in the day Dread Vault was widely considered the most difficult content. It was more of a trophy since the original Castle Never had much better rewards, but definitely a challenge for all endgame teams.

I have to admit that I do not remember everything from the dungeon, but one thing that stood out was its sheer length. It was “oldschool” content in that it could you could easily take you 60 – 90 minutes to complete the dungeon. Nowadays MMOs rarely feature that type of approach as the casual market has long influenced design decisions.

The first bosses in the dungeon were not really special, but because of their strength and number of adds they could easily overwhelm any team. In the very early stages of the game some groups even struggled to beat trash. Many wipes within Dread Vault were the norm. I unfortunately weren’t able to dig up a decent full run video from 2013 or 2014. If you have one, please let me know or link it in the comments.

Yshiggol, The Elder Brain

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However, more than the dungeon itself, the end boss was the real challenge. It was kinda frustrating at times. You grind through this super hard content for hours only to realize that your team can’t beat Yshiggol! Frequently parties dismantled due to rage quits or people simply giving up after many attempts. There were several elements that had to be mastered. Teams had to avoid or fight tentacle AoEs, deal with tons of dangerous adds, and mini bosses.

What most teams did was gather in a corner of the boss room to avoid the tentacles, punt adds over edges and only dps the boss when they didn’t have to deal with anything else. At 25% and 75%, a random boss from another dungeon would appear. I can’t remember whether they featured the same HP and all attacks, and definitely not all could spawn. But this illustrates how Dread Vault literally took the challenge of the other content and added more on top of it. Even in the later stages of the progression, beating the end boss was no walkover and could easily take 15 minutes or more.

Rewards Never Matched the Challenge

Dread Vault was definitely a fun challenge. I’m still surprised so many seasoned players bring up the dungeon when they talk about content that should be brought back though. Thing is, back in the day Dread Vault wasn’t even that super popular, mostly because the rewards never matched the challenge. Like I said above, completing it was more of a trophy than anything. I guess there’s still those that simply like the concept of grinding a super hard “raid-like” dungeon. And even if it’s no longer Neverwinter’s main focus, you have to admit that the game really lacks that type of niche in its group content.

I really doubt we’ll have a dungeon like Dread Vault in the game ever again because it doesn’t fit today’s market too well. So all those that experienced (and beat) it probably witnessed something special. It’s going to be interesting if and how Dread Vault might find its way back into the game. It’s still fully designed content with an unique setting that the devs could use at some point. So who knows? Maybe we’ll have to deal with Yshiggol at some point again!

What are your memories of Epic Dread Vault? Did you ever attempt or beat it? What’s your take on this topic? Share your thoughts and experience on our social channels, in the comments below, or visit the corresponding thread on our message board!

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j0Shi plays the Neverwinter MMORPG since the open BETA in 2013 and is a regular contributor to the blog and the whole UN:Project. Originally a Guardian Fighter, he has built up ALTs of all classes and plays on BIS/near-BIS level.

5 thoughts on “Dungeon History: Epic Dread Vault

  • August 25, 2018 at 9:34 am

    Loved this dungeon, both versions. The Epic was supposed to be something like 8.4k Gear Score, but they really meant 11k! I have some videos somewhere of my original AC DC fighting the boss.

    Those were the days when endless mobs would spawn, so if you could not kill them fast enough, you were screwed. One time, a mini-boss dropped ONE rank 4 runestone… that we had to roll for!

    LOL! One rank 4 runestone between five of us!

    At least the epic gear could be sold on the AH if you didn’t need it. If you could roll for it without being kicked first.

    I really liked Throne of Idris and Lair of the Mad Dragon as well.

  • August 25, 2018 at 1:52 pm

    In the beginning this was the only dungeon that Rhix gave AD for completing once you reached lvl 60. But you had to run the normal version (crap loot) instead of the epic version to get AD. So most everyone ran normal dread vault daily (note that this predated salvage so even though you could get epic gear drops in other dungeons it wasn’t all that profitable unless it was a BIS piece).

    There were a few easter egg type chests to find as well for those that need to discover EVERYTHING.

    Much like the rest of the lvl60 dungeons, Dread Vault dropped specific gear you could not get elsewhere. In this case I believe it was the T2 mainhand. However, as the CN weapons were superior, no one wanted them and farmed CN instead. Someone would have to refresh my memory on that. This is what set Dread Vault as more of an achievement dungeon than something farm-able. Well that combined with the challenge of finishing it during DD when it took so long to run (before DD started counting as long as you were in the dungeon during DD instead of having to finish during DD).

    Another key challenge to this dungeon was that the respawn points were at the start of the dungeon and immediately after each boss. If your team failed on boss one for example, you had to wait for your whole team to run back through the dungeon to take a second shot at the boss. Fail on boss 2, you had to run all the way from boss one. There were no doors to keep you from re-entering the fight if you could get back before the team wiped, you just needed them to survive for like 5 minutes without you.

    Also in a later mod it had a glitch on the final boss where when someone left and was replaced they appeared at the boss 2 spawn and had to run to boss 3, but then could not activate the door to get with the team. Essentially if anyone left party on the final boss, you couldn’t get a replacement. This glitch was pretty damning to the whole experience so pugging wasn’t an option. This dungeon was reserved for friends you knew would stick around… and wouldn’t get pulled away by their kids needing attention.

    The positives were that you needed real team mechanics. You used controllers to manage mob spawns. Tanks to pull agro. Healers to heal (until lifesteal & regen got insane) and later to provide additional DR.

    I can see why it wasn’t introduced, obviously they need to focus on replay-ability to get value on their development time. It would have to drop some pretty impressive loot to get that kind of attention from the current crowd of UES farmers and Random Queue farmers.

  • August 25, 2018 at 4:26 pm

    Try the Neverwinter streamer Kodereader, he has shown past dungeons on his stream during maintenance .

  • August 25, 2018 at 9:27 pm

    I almost always PUGed it. The bug with a new player being stuck outside the boss room antechamber could be fixed by everyone relogging or using /killme, IIRC. A bit like the chains in MSP can be avoided by reloading the character.

    Or, for us HAMSTERS, pressing the key to Invoke and change to Character Load Screen


  • August 26, 2018 at 2:57 am

    in that time i was a lousy player and the worst equiped ever and every time i q it it never took me more thatn the normal time any other dungeon did, the boss was not a nightmare since there was a very clear mechanic/exploit/bug, whatever u wanna call it, and there was the normal avergae wipes as in any other dungeon… i got more wipes, frustration and quits with throne of idris that i remeber 100% finishing it like 3 times tops than with dread vault, plus castle never WAS significantly more hard and deadly, and also more elitist since everytime i try it people scream at u for not being bis or not knowing what to do, old castle never was a real nightmare and i never finished it, only once i managed to reach second boss.

    still i rather do those than to have to suffer for some miserable ad the forced q now imposed of underdark skirmishes or prince folly that every single day across 3 accounts i got to suffer for some poket ad.

    if they want us to quit the game just pull the plug in the game and be done, they took the dungeons and tiers and everything fun about the game, they claim ad is not as significant as people make it look when is THE only curency worthy besides zen, they kill the foundry technically, in terms of content (besides being already SO, SO limited from start), and functionably.

    how much time passed since a new class or a new paragon? why in a d&d game the wizard have a master of the flame path and give him none of the clasic trade mark fire spells like fireball???

    why it’s been 5 years, there is a new p&p version and the spellplague is still around when they shoudl take all trace out like they did with good dungeons and content and the fun of the game? nobody liked spellplague nor in p&p nor in game! was THE biggest error of 4e!

    what the hell is makos? a wizard? a warlok? an arrogant prick? oh no sorry, those are the devs and big brainiacs at cryptic!

    sorry i keep having this burst of anger for a game i love and i hate to c it killed slowly by morons that care more about big announcemnts with 0 content and an easy buck.

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