Dungeons in Ultima Online were much different than instances in WoW. In UO, you went into a dungeon to farm for however long you wanted (or until PvP showed up), while in WoW an instance is ‘run’ from point A to point B. It’s a fairly significant difference, though one that many might miss if WoW is their main or only point of reference.
I bring this up because the dungeons in Darkfall: Unholy Wars are very much in the UO style; you don’t ‘run’ them, you go in to farm and you are ‘done’ when you either need to log, your bags are full of loot, or PvP finds you.
Over the last few days, I’ve spent a fairly significant amount of time in two of the game’s three dungeons, including finally seeing the largest dungeon currently in the game, Broadherne. I’ve mentioned the first dungeon (Iriendir) added to the game before, but to quickly recap it’s a small-ish oval loop in a cave full of trolls, including a giant troll boss that spawns every 30 minutes. The loot there is great, and you get PvP fairly often, in large part because searching the dungeon for people is quick and easy.
Broadherne is a completely different animal. It’s huge, dark, and contains plenty of traps. The zone-in area is the most ‘basic’ part of the dungeon, but even here you can be placed in one of two spots, which could lead to some interesting scenarios in PvP. The exit halls out of the two starting rooms are very narrow (one character can block each), as are most of the tunnels in this dungeon.
Once past this initial area, the first room you enter actually contains the exit portal on one end, and two passages on each side. These passages will randomly open and close, which can result in your party being split up if not every makes it in before the walls come down. The room also contains pools of blood, which will drain your stamina if you stand in them (a theme that continues throughout the dungeon).
The next section of the dungeon features a few lower-end mob spawns, along with more winding tunnels and ramps up/down different levels. The ambient sound in the dungeon really kicks in here, and since so much of DF awareness is hearing other players coming or fighting, the sound here keeps you on your toes and really adds to the danger/panic mood that the place is going for.
Once past that set of rooms and tunnels, you enter the maze part of the dungeon. Here walls and gates open and close at random, and the entire place is extremely dark, with certain tunnels being pitch black and basically requiring the use of the light spell. Getting lost here is very easy, and whenever PvP happens here, it’s always chaotic. The fact that you have mob spawns on both sides of the maze also means you are constantly hearing footsteps, and it’s very difficult to separate mobs just walking around with other players looking for you.
The final part of the maze is a hallway with three sets of moving walls. If you don’t time it correctly, the walls will push you into a pool of blood and a spiked wall, causing both physical damage and stam drain. More than once I’ve seen a friend or enemy die in this area during PvP, forgetting about the walls and running right into the trap. Even when you are aware of them, the fact that other players can push or pull you around means a well-timed ability could be a game-changer.
Once you find your way past the maze, you enter a fairly large room with a very balanced mob spawn. It is in this room that I’ve done the most farming, as it covers all three of the mobs you need to kill to complete the related feats, and the spawn rate is perfect for 2-4 players.
The next room is a huge, open space covered in narrow catwalks that climb upwards towards the exit. The floor here is mostly blood, and getting across requires a few well-timed jumps. It’s nothing frustratingly hard when you are not being pressured, but PvP in this room has a very unique feel to it, as you are constantly trying to knock your enemy into the stam-draining blood pools while at the same time still going after them. Getting out of this room with someone chasing you is tough, while the entrance and exit areas provide excellent platforms to fire down on anyone who fell down.
The final area of the dungeon is another large room with a big mob spawn, although this one is mostly higher-end (villain) mobs. On both sides of this room you have narrow hallways that take you around to the boss room. The hallways again feature moving walls that will knock you around, but this time rather than knocking you into a trap, they knock you into the boss room below. If you manage to avoid being knocked down, the end of each hallways contains a slew of treasure and resource chests that can be looted.
The boss room has a large pool of blood in the middle, and columns all around it. The room has a heavy spawn of villains, and the boss is a floating demon with a very nasty ranged and point-blank AoE attacks. Despite multiple attempts with different players, I’ve yet to see the boss die. He is a tough bastard, and the spawn rate in his room, combined with the fact that you can’t run away to recover easily (the only way out of the room is through a one-way door back to the previous room), makes this a very difficult encounter.
PvP happening often also delays/derails attempts, but that’s half the fun.