Hordes of the Underdark

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Hordes of the Underdark

Postby BlueSalamander » Sun Dec 08, 2013 4:26 pm

Recently, I played through Hordes of the Underdark, an expansion pack for Neverwinter Nights 1. My character was a female human cleric with Air and Good domains. Air is useful because it provides spells that affect only the enemies so you don't have to worry about targeting and avoiding damage to yourself and allies. Good provides the spell Stoneskin and also allows you to turn outsiders, which does help a few times in the game. You automatically start at level 15 and you finish around level 27.

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The first chapter is a big undermountain dungeon. It was a bit too big but still enjoyable. The second chapter is a drow (dark elf) village and three or four quests, all happening in underground sites. In this chapter, your main enemy is a female drow leader seeking to conquer the world. In the third and last chapter, you have beaten the drow but you're stuck in another plane, a frozen prison world. So you must find a way to get back, and your final enemy is a demon seeking to conquer the world.

The funny thing was that I solo-ed (had no henchmen) for much of the game, without really wanting to. In the first chapter there were a good amount of henchmen to choose from, but only one gets to carry on to chapter 2 - sadly, all of the others disappear (and you won't know that in advance unless you read a walkthrough). So when I started chapter 2, I had no henchman.

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Chapter 2 gives you almost zero choice in terms of henchmen. There are just two possible characters, a rogue/wizard female drow and a male fighter. But since the fighter had a bad attitude I didn't even realise he was a possible henchman, at the time.

So I was stuck with a stupid rogue character. Why stupid? Because rogues are not needed in Neverwinter Nights. You don't need a rogue to open treasure chests. And of course the one character you can carry over from chapter 1 to chapter 2 is, you guessed it, also a rogue (as well as a bard). They really like rogues at Bioware.

The female drow character seemed to require constant attention, and I didn't like her dialogue, so in chapter 3, I just went completely solo. In this chapter it's even worse for henchmen, because there's only one henchman (Aribeth) and I completely missed her, because she's in an optional location.

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So I had to do the final battle essentially alone. That was in my opinion a very boring battle because the boss is immune to so much of the stuff that your character can do. I tried a few times and I finally managed it.

A Balor that I summoned cast a death spell on Mephistopheles and Meph auto-failed his saving throw by rolling a one (otherwise, his saving throw roll was around 52 while the spell difficulty class was just 30). Meph uses a spear or trident so I guess the belt that gives DR 20 against piercing damage would be nice to have there, as well as a weapon that deals acid damage.

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One thing I have noticed with Neverwinter Nights 1 and 2 is the wildly fluctuating level of difficulty. I mean I played all of HotU (including solo parts) in the 'very difficult' difficulty level. But for just two solo battles (final battle and Grimgnaw's team), I had to switch to 'very easy'. There's never any middle ground. It's either too easy or, very rarely, it's too hard. It was the same in Storm of Zehir.

There was a bug at the end. Theoretically you can banish the final boss by using his true name but on my game, there was no discussion with Meph, just an immediate battle so there was no way to banish him using his name.

At some point you get the ability to polymorph into a flying pixie. Later on, there are chasms so I thought, great, here's a use for the pixie form. No luck though, you're only supposed to use a 'demonic hand' as a grappling hook to carry you over the chasm.

In this page http://www.tomshardware.co.uk/forum/22003-13-hotu-henchmen someone makes a very good point about certain illogical puzzles:
<<Why can't I just bust through the crates in Grimgnaw's cave? I've never had a problem bashing crates before this. Why do I have to change into a wolf to get the worg pack leader's treasure, as opposed to climbing over the barrier, flying over it as a pixie, or just bashing the barrier down?>>

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Many NPCs seemed to have their own story and a desire to let me know every detail of it. Most of the time during dialogues, you have a choice of answers that all lead to the same result. For example, you can respond to someone with something like 'that was good', 'that wasn't good', or 'let's talk later'. You can either approve or disapprove, the NPC may comment briefly on your choice and then he returns to his stale story telling. I suppose some people like this, but I would prefer a single 'Continue' response rather than a list of meaningless choices.

There were a couple of genuine choices that interested me in the game. The first choice was whether to destroy the illithid master brain, or negotiate with it to gain help against the drows. Ahaha, I couldn't resist destroying it. The second choice concerned a male angel who is looking for his true love. It was fun to let my character become that angel's true love. There were amusing dialogue choices like 'smack him' or 'you smell bad!' after he kisses your character.

All in all I thought that HotU was a much better game than the original campaign, and also a better game than the other expansion, Shadows of Undrentide. Probably because HotU has more action and less talk, more interesting creatures, and because of the focus on high levels.

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'Say there is a chunk of meat. Pirates will have a banquet and eat it! But heroes will share it with other people. I want all the meat!!' - Luffy in One Piece
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BlueSalamander
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Hordes of the Underdark

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