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Maps and Setting: A-
I’m admittedly no D&D lore expert. So I was going into the module without real expectations as to how Chult has to look. As such, I was really impressed with the map-making once more, which is a strength of the game anyway. Port Nyanzaru visually is a great social hub, and Soshenstar River a massive map with lots of little Easter Eggs to explore. I also liked the jungle setting (LOVE the dino mounts from lockboxes!) although I know that others weren’t as impressed. The one downside of Chult was the initial aggro range of mobs and the jungle’s density. I guess the devs wanted to create a precarious atmosphere in which danger might lurk around every corner. Doing you dailies in the zone however it ended up to be completely annoying.
The “Jungles of Chult” and its Weekly Haul was a very alt-friendly approach that I definitely appreciate. I never felt like I was trailing or burned out on doing too many tasks. The only thing that could get annoying was completing the “Chultan Trials” quest that was part of the weekly “Merchant Princes’ Bounty”. Also creating keys through the campaign for the Tomb is fairly easy so you shouldn’t run into situations where you feel like you have to do extra grind, much less every day. The story wasn’t particularly stellar, but I personally definitely was interested how the relationship between Makos and Celeste would evolve. I guess it’s not the last time we hear about these two.
Gear Progression: C
My biggest pet peeve with gear progression in Tomb of Annihilation isn’t the gear per se, but how it completely devalued everything else. MMORPGs are constantly evolving, that’s not the issue. But the devs seem to be high on certain “catch-up” mechanics that largely render old content useless. The Chult stores basically offer everything you need. No matter whether you wanted to gear alts or mains, are a casual or endgamer, Chult was your answer.
The former “best-in-slot” weapon set from Module 10.5 got all but unobtainable, because the extra effort was hardly worth it when Chult offered a very convenient alternative. Who needs to Underdark or Storm Kings Thunder content when two enchantment slots were suddenly available for pennies on blue rings? Look, you obviously want to get players to play the latest content, but in a game that features little variety anyway, it’s not a great idea to constantly turn old modules into dead pixels.
Random Queues: B
The system with which the devs tried to counter the mentioned devaluation forces all players into random content to earn daily ADs. I believe random queues do work for most of the playerbase, but it’s far from perfect. It’s super important that your queue system fires rapidly, because everything else is a major turnoff. Not all queue categories do work however and players even cherry-pick the dungeons and leave if they don’t feel like grinding through Master Spellplague or Fangbreaker Island with an undergeared crew. It’s a system that artificially forces players into content they wouldn’t normally run, and it shows.
Refining Progression: B
On the contrary, I’m not as much of a hater on the new refining progression and system. I think it got easier, which is great, and overall it wasn’t as much of a nerf as people thought it would be. Additionally the Ultimate Enchanting Stones are becoming more and more obtainable. So overall I think the pros outweigh the cons. The one thing I really don’t like is how Wards have pretty much become the main bottleneck of the refining system. Ideally you should be able to achieve way more with farming, and much less with ZEN.
Phew. Rating the Hunting system was a little bit tough for me. Thing is, I really like it more than other grind features, for whatever reason. Even though it can get frustrating to farm rare mobs and trophies, the system is tuned in a way that rewards are spread out just enough to keep you motivated. Just when you are about to say “fuck it”, the brain gets a dopamine shot and you lose another 30 minutes of your life to Venomtail Poison.
In the end though, getting to the King of Spines Hunt was just too brutal. I get that the devs couldn’t really enhance any drop rates based on the type of rewards the system hands out. But that led to the fact that most players weren’t even able to experience a KoS Hunt. And even if, the cost vs. benefit was extremely questionable. The best way to utilize the system probably is to farm 1-Star Hunts for Totems and some of the basic gear pieces, which already are great for alts and in some cases even endgame viable. I have tons of gear in my bank still with which I can immediately get any character to 12,000 item level or something. That’s definitely a plus of doing Hunts.
I do also believe that the devs messed up the whole “social feature” of Hunts. I think I get what they wanted to achieve with only being able to carry one Lure and Trophy and making them unsellable. But in the end the way Hunt items worked was just a mess, and rightfully adjusted in Mod 13.
Group Content: B+
The Tomb of the Nine Gods and Merchant Prince’s Folly were solid additions to the game. While the dungeon offered endgame difficulty with some skill components, Folly was primarily an additional way to earn Totems, which adds to the campaign’s convenience. Most endgame players will probably still claim “challenge”, but for this game, the Tomb is a very good dungeon, both in terms of design and difficulty. I would have gone with a higher rating here, but at some point I had to talk about one of the main issues of the module, and that’s content variety. If you weren’t into Hunts, then the module’s “endgame” was reduced to running Tomb all day. Which is super boring.
Over the course of the module, the game’s Youtube and Twitch channels turned into ghosts towns. Part of the issue was that it simply isn’t too appealing to show Tomb runs all day, any day. This is also a downside of a campaign that only keeps players busy for one day per week. I still like the concept as stated above, but it leads to the group content scoring a lower rating than it could have.
The Patronage System and Inventory Management Upgrades: A+
The quality-of-life changes in the modules score a perfect rating. There’s not much to dislike here. Campaigns are getting easier to complete, and I personally use the new features of the inventory each and every day. Well done!
PVP Updates: Unrated
Gun to my head, the PVP updates wouldn’t have gotten a high rating. But I also think it’s not fair to judge something that had no real shot to succeed anyway. Unless there’s a bigger and more meaningful change of focus towards PVP, the game mode will just continue to rot.
Overall Tomb of Annihilation scores a very respectable B+. It might be the best module I’ve reviewed so far. It surely has its weaknesses in terms of how progression worked and long-term motivation, but the content and design itself is more than solid. Based on this review I’ve also moved it up in my module rankings.
What’s your final rating of Module 12? Do you agree with my grades or have a different opinion? Share your thoughts on our social channels, in the comments below, or the corresponding thread on our message board!
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