Edit: This thread has been restarted here: http://forums.ddo.com/showthread.php?t=287854 . I'm awaiting a moderator to lock this old one. A lot has changed since the first version was written.
I see a lot of people asking 'which packs should I buy' on this forum. Here's a review of each of them, from the perspective of a long term VIP that's beaten every quest in the game except five that I've yet to get around to.
If you agree/disagree/have a different perspective/whatever, feel free to post your review below. If you send me a forum private message, I'll link to it in the early posts so it's easier to find. The ratings out of ten are my opinion only - I know that, for instance, I think Demon Sands is better than Threnal, but not everyone will agree. The only one that is fact, not opinion, is that Necropolis 2 is terrible .
List of Adventure Packs (thanks to RoBi3.0 for compiling this, and more useful F2P info here: http://forums.ddo.com/showthread.php?p=2397294)
Name-Cost in TP
Three Barrel Cove-650
The Necropolis part 1-250
The Devils of Shavarath-650
The Demon Sands-850
The Necropolis part 2-350
The Ruins of Gainthold-995
The Ruins of Thernal-550
The Necropolis part 3-350
The Vale of Twilight-700
The Necropolis part 4-850
The Restless Isles-600
The Vault of Night-800
The Path of Inspiration-495
The Catacombs - 250 points
This pack unlocks a small chain of quests set in three or four dungeons. The quests are filled with undead and vermin, are quite repetitive, and involve a few times that you'll just be looking around unsure of what to do or where to go (although that won't last too long)
Fun factor: Pretty low.
Rewards (XP/loot): Low to medium XP, loot that's nice at the time but quickly discarded as you outlevel it. Awards Silver Flame favor, which is not very important except for Barbarians that like to solo - if that's you, you'll need to buy all the Necropolis chains and beat everything on Elite except for the Black Abbot if you want the Silver Flame healing potions that solo Barbs love.
Best feature: Cool storyline.
Worst feature: Uninteresting mobs.
Ease of getting a group: Currently not hard as a lot of people have purchased this chain; may become harder over time as those players probably won't return to the Catacombs much on new characters.
Overall: Not recommended, but not a terrible buy.
Recommended level range: 2-4 (normal); 4-6 (hard); 5-8 (elite)
Edit - There have been several people that have commented that they had better experiences with this chain than I personally did, and in particular the quest where you must escape while being pursued by an invincible wraith was popular. Rating has been boosted from 5 to 6 due to this feedback.
Tangleroot Gorge - 550 points
This pack unlocks a chain of ten quests set in one enormous, two-part dungeon. You'll launch a series of attacks on the hobgoblins of Splinterskull Fortress. The quests are varied - you'll have to deal with melee brutes such as ogres, hobgoblins that are potent casters, and even a (practically) invincible giant spider that you have to escape from after killing her eggs.
Fun factor: Fun for the first twenty runs. High. Lots of cool things to discover, such as a flesh render (a reasonably high level foe) that you can set free to wreak havoc amongst the Splinterskull defenders while you watch it from a safe location, and a battle with elementals in a secret underwater cave (this battle is an optional that most players do not attempt as it has poor rewards; it's well worth doing once, however).
Rewards (XP/loot): Excellent XP. Good loot - most is outlevelled quickly and discarded, but the Visor of the Flesh Render Guards are still good all the way through to endgame. In addition, by completing this chain on elite (hard may be enough if you've done other House P quests), you unlock potent House Phiarlan favor rewards which you'll find exceptionally useful until about level 9 or 10.
Best feature: Speeds up levelling through having both good XP and loot.
Worst feature: As you need to complete the entire chain to get end rewards, it's frustrating if you get halfway there and the group disbands - you will probably need to start over with a new group.
Ease of getting a group: Very easy, every VIP tends to run this chain 3+ times on every new character rolled.
Overall: Recommended for all players except those on a very tight budget.
Recommended level range: 4-6 (normal); 4-7 (hard); 6-8 (elite)
The Seal of Shan-to-Kor - 250 points
Description: A chain of three quests (plus an optional quest) which see you storm an ancient, well defended hobgoblin city in pursuit of an ancient relic.
Fun factor: High. This chain is utterly amazing the first time you run it - the caverns en route to the giant city are truly amazing. Other than the totally not fun Misery's Peak, this is the first of many quests in the game that are truly three-dimensional - not just several flat levels on top of each other (like the Waterworks) but areas where you have to climb from the bottom to the top of an enormous city. Just a quick warning: This chain doesn't scale up much from normal to hard, but elite is pretty mean.
Rewards (XP/loot): Medium to good XP, loot is quickly outlevelled except for the extremely rare (1% drop rate) Ring of Feathers, which fetches a pretty penny indeed on the Auction House.
Best feature: The scope of the hobgoblin city.
Worst feature: The last quest is *much* tougher than the first two. Groups that stomp quest 1 and have few troubles with quest 2 can expect quest 3 to cause serious troubles.
Ease of getting a group: Easy, as most VIPs will run this 2 or 3 times on each new character.
Overall: Recommended but not essential.
Recommended level range: 2-4 (normal); 4-6 (hard); 6-9 (elite)
Three Barrel Cove - 650 points
Note: I've never played through most of these quests at a level where they are still challenging; I'd appreciate feedback on this review from someone that has done so.
Description: A pirate island with several non-chain quests loosely themed around pirates, with a cool wilderness area (second best one in the game IMO).
Fun factor: The explorer area is fun to play around in, but some of the quests are pretty frustrating.
Rewards (XP/loot): Low to medium XP, poor loot.
Best feature: The variety. The quests here have more variety than any other adventure packs save some of the best endgame ones. There's a puzzle-based quest, quests with undead, and a quest fighting pirates.
Worst feature: Two of the quests are extremely frustrating. The ladder jumping is horrible, and hard even for high level characters with permanent featherfall and a capped Jump skill.
Ease of getting a group: Pretty hard to get a group at times - VIPs that focus on powerlevelling don't go out to Three-Barrel at all, and the pack isn't cheap, so won't be as popular amongst F2Pers.
Overall: Worth buying if and only if you prefer low-level play to high-level (for example, if you like permadeath play). If you consider buying this, you'll want your in-game friends to buy it too so you can get groups there.
Recommended level range: 3-6 (normal); 4-8 (hard); 6-10 (elite)
Necropolis Part 1 - 250 points
Description: Five undead-themed quests, chock full of skeletons, wights, zombies and others. Each time you want to run the final quest (The Bloody Crypt), you need to run the four 'flagging' quests again.
Fun factor: Not particularly high, save for The Bloody Crypt which has a cool final room (cool the first time you see it), with a boss fight unlike anything else in the game.
Rewards (XP/loot): Fair to poor for the flagging quests, good to excellent for The Bloody Crypt
Best feature: The fight with Brother Salazzo or whatever his name is (the vampire at the end of the chain)
Worst feature: Reflagging every time you want to run The Bloody Crypt, also the fact that one of the quests requires 4 switches pressed simultaneously, making it impossible to solo at all and impossible to duo or trio without Hirelings. Also, see the notes in the Catacombs about Silver Flame favor.
Ease of getting a group: Very hard, except for a high-level group going for a favor run.
Overall: Not recommended. Should you buy it, do so at level 4-5.
Edit: It's worth pointing out that I've had a couple of PMs from people that liked this chain quite a bit. In particular, if you liked the Catacombs, you are more likely to enjoy this. Rating upped to 6/10.
Recommended level range: 4-7 (normal); 5-8 (hard); 7-10 (elite)
Sorrowdusk Island - 400 points
Description: Two chain quests and an explorer area. The chain quests first set you against ogres and trolls, then in the second chain sets you against their evil masterminds. This chain oozes the feel of pen and paper D&D more than any other chain in the game, IMO. The first chain is short, easy and has four quests with little variance - the second chain is longer, harder, more varied and is fantastic the first time you run it.
Fun factor: Grey Moon Waning (the first chain) isn't great, but the Cult of the Six (Co6) chain is great.
Rewards (XP/loot): Average XP and poor loot for Grey Moon Waning, good XP for Co6, and useful loot, although it is quickly outlevelled. The House Deneith favor is highly important to anyone wanting to use a bow at high level, as it lets you bulk buy several important types of arrows, such as silver arrows for raid bosses like Arraetrikos, Suulomades and General Horoth.
Best feature: The variety of the Co6 chain, and the near perfect difficulty (one quest requires tactical play to beat).
Worst feature: The explorer zone is pretty lacklustre, IMO.
Ease of getting a group: This chain is pretty popular amongst VIPs, most play it 1-3 times on each character.
Overall: Recommended but not a high priority if you are on a tight budget.
Recommended level range: 5-6 (normal); 7-8 (hard); 8-10 (elite) for the first chain (Grey Moon) and 8-10 (normal); 9-11 (hard); 9-13 (elite) for Co6.
Devil Assault - 150 points
Description: A small but long quest set in one room only, where you fight off a lot of foes trying to enter Stormreach through portals. This quest has non-standard difficulty settings - on Normal it's a (very tough for its level) level 6 quest, on Hard it's level 12 (again, tough for that level) and on Elite, it's level 18 (fairly easy for its level). If your party wipes in there, you have to restart, you cannot just recall and reenter the fray.
Fun factor: The quest goes a little too long to remain fun all the time, plus the early fights are very easy - any groups strong enough to beat the quest will be bored in the first few waves.
Rewards (XP/loot): Average to good XP, about 40% which is awarded if you wipe close to the end and fail. Poor loot.
Best feature: It's a quest you can run once at low level, once at medium and once at high.
Worst feature: Lack of variety.
Ease of getting a group: Very hard on Normal and Hard, not too bad on Elite at the moment as VIPs tend to want the favor. This will dry up as more players achieve their 2500 to unlock Favored Soul.
Overall: Not recommended unless you love solo play and want to hone your soloing skills - soloing this on Elite will certainly help you develop those. If that's you, buy this at or after level 16.
Recommended level range: 7-8 (normal); 13-15 (hard); 16-19 (elite)
Rating: 4/10, goes up to 7 if you are an avid soloist.
Delera’s Tomb - 750 points
Description: A series of four undead-themed quests where you investigate mysterious disappearances from a graveyard, then take the fight to the necromancer responsible. Lots of traps, lots of skeletons to kill, plus a tense atmosphere. This adventure pack also currently unlocks some other quests as well - two level 11 quests (one long and tough, one short and easy) and a level 6 one plus a level 8 2-quest chain- it's unclear whether these are meant to be part of the adventure pack or free.
Fun factor: Fun for the first ten or so times. There is a LOT to explore in one of these quests if you want to do so. Note that I'm personally burned out on this chain as I've run it so often, so I don't enjoy it much, but most people do.
Rewards (XP/loot): Excellent XP, truly stellar loot, so much so that most players will want to run this chain five or more times on each new character. The Voice of the Master (an end reward with a 100% drop rate) is something you'll not take off until you hit level 20 (it grants +5% to ALL quest XP whilst still having useful stats). The Golden Cartouche is another item that 50% of characters will want, and that isn't surpassed until you get certain rare raid items.
Best feature: The XP and loot.
Worst feature: Some of the foes are dull to fight - Skeleton Archers in particular.
Ease of getting a group: Very easy. Every VIP runs this a LOT unless, like me, they've run it 100+ times and are getting a tad burned out on it.
Overall: Recommended unless you are on a tight budget. Highly recommended if you prefer high-level play to low-level - this chain will get you there faster. Buy this immediately upon hitting level 5, or just before (the Voice of the Master requires level 5 to wear).
Recommended level range: 5-8 (normal); 5-8 (hard); 8-10 (elite)
Sharn Syndicate - 350 points
Description: Several short quests in the Marketplace with goals that aren't just the standard 'storm XXX dungeon and slay XXX'. All of these involve combating the Sharn Syndicate criminal gang.
Fun factor: Finally got around to playing this (solo on Normal difficulty on my level 5 bard), and had a blast. The quests are all highly unique; who hasn't wanted to rob a bank in DDO? In addition, the quests look to reward smart play and teamwork on Elite.
Rewards (XP/loot): XP seems between mediocre and good (individual quest XP is low, but the quests can be done quickly). Loot provides excellent lowbie weapons that are quickly outlevelled but are as good as some of the better twink weapons in the game when you first earn them, plus some of the best stuff is bound to account, so VIPs (or F2Pers that shell out for the account bank) will be able to share them around.
Best feature: Eight trapped art objects, that you can perform a series of tasks to 'study' the traps. It's only an optional, but it's cool.
Worst feature: Competes with a lot of other quests at its level.
Ease of getting a group: Presently easy (lots of VIPs running their Favored Souls through it); this may change.
Overall: Excellent quests, but may be too short to be worth your money. If you are playing on a tight budget pass this one up; otherwise buy it.
Recommended level range: 3-5 (normal); 4-6 (hard); 5-8 (elite)
Sentinels of Stormreach - 450 points
Description: Several medium-length quests in House Deneith or the Searing Heights, that revolve around trying to stop a necromancer from establishing a pirate army. Also available on Epic difficulty.
Fun factor: Pretty good, although one of the quests is very much like The Pit, requiring precision jumping, trap dodging and little fighting.
Rewards (XP/loot): XP is pretty mediocre. Pretty solid loot (once you upgrade it) for the level range, but the rewards for Epics are very lackluster indeed (no Epic tokens, no worthwhile Epic items).
Best feature: Choosing where to begin the 'assault a pirate fort' quest.
Worst feature: Competes with a lot of other quests at its level. Downright poor loot on Epic despite not being easy to complete.
Ease of getting a group: Can be a tad hard - few lowbies own the pack, noone runs it on Epic more than once now.
Overall: Cool quests, but just not enough in-game rewards to expect that you'll be running them much.
Recommended level range: 7-9 (normal); 9-12 (hard); 10-13(elite); 20 and partially Shroud-geared (epic)
Next post: The level 8+ packs.