As promised, here is my first attempt to review one of my favourite zones. I will write more as I have time and opportunity.
Crushbone Keep is an open contested dungeon in Greater Faydark, aimed at levels 20 to 30-35. Its a fortress jam-packed with Orcs, Undead and Teir’Dal (Dark Elves), with a few quests directly related to the Keep itself and some quests from other areas require you to gain an update from here. Two of the quests are standard kill quests but have quite interesting stories and are fun to do (Gruedheim Steel and Dishonoured Dead). The other quest (A Sense of History and Revisionist History) is much more interesting as it really adds to the depth of the zone and will be discussed a little later.
Although this is a low level zone, it remains one of my favourite dungeons to visit because it is just so detailed. The team behind this zone really seem to have put a ton of effort into making this a living, breathing Orc Fortress. The design of the Keep looks just fantastic and has lots of nice details. The Keep is set out with pretty much everything a marauding Orc could want… On the main floor you have a Barracks, Dining Room, Armoury, Shrine, Watchtowers, Training Rooms, Store room, Kitchen. Unlike some zones, the Orcs aren’t just standing around waiting to be killed either, they patrol the corridors, they are standing guard, are cooking, sleeping, emoting (cheering & taunting for example), fighting. When you enter a room, you actually feel as though you are interrupting something.
The approach to Crushbone Keep: One of the many fantastic details:
A sleeping Orc (sneak past or stab him quick?!): Orcs cooking (I dread to think…):
The upper floor and basement are where the zone starts to get interesting. So far, its seemed a standard Orcish Keep. However if you have picked up the Sense of History quest you will start finding out that the Orcish Emperors have been very subtly overthrown by the Teir’Dal and are led by Emperor D’Vinn. The Sense of History quest leads on to A Revisionist History, where you find all this out and learn that D’Vinn has manipulated the Crushbone Orcs into believing that it is natural for them to be led by a Dark Elf and no mention is made of their previous Orcish Emperor Crush. So you end up trying to assist a couple of rebellious Orcs into revealing the Orcs’ true history. A strange twist.
The basement holds the undead that the Dark Elf necromancers are conjuring, tougher Orcs with a very stylistic look, the Jail Cells and a Torture Chamber. Again, the area is very detailed.
A patrolling Orc: Orc taunting a prisoner (I shouldn’t laugh!):
The upper floor belongs mainly to the Dark Elves and some senior ranking Orcs. This floor also contains the entryway to an instance (The D’Vinnian Throne) aimed at levels 30-35.
Orcs Training: A Teir’Dal Shadowknight & undead minion:
The level of detail in this dungeon makes for an exciting and immersive dungeon crawl. The fantastic graphics make it great to walk (fight… run…) around and the mobs have varied and unique armours. It just feels exactly how an Orcish Keep should feel and you do feel as though you are interrupting Orcs going about their daily, evil business. So with the 2 yellow shiny collections, a blue shiny collection and a ton of Orcs to slay – its Ranger heaven ;)
There are only two changes I would like to see here (and they’re not necessary but would still add just that little bit more). Firstly, there are a lot of chests, bookshelves and cupboards. I would love for those to be lootable. One of the most enjoyable aspects of Dragon Age / Oblivion etc, is picking the locks and looting the contents (doesn’t matter if the reward is vendor trash or something worth having). Secondly, the prisoners. Why can’t I free them? I have cleared the path from the entrance (albeit temporarily, as its an open dungeon it does respawn), have killed their captors – yet I leave them in their cages… That just feels very wrong and sours the experience a little. I would be happy if I could pick their lock and let them ‘call’ back to freedom. Even though I know they would respawn so another group can have the chance to save them (or not if you’re evil), that would be good enough for me.