Saturday, May 8, 2010
Oblivion mod review - Mysteries of the Dulan Cult
Mod Review - Mysteries of the Dulan Cult
( http://tesnexus.com/downloads/file.php?id=7663 )
Overall: Do not download. Or, download, play this short mod, then unload it.
Why You Would Download This: Short dungeon run. With a medium or low-medium strength character, you can zoom through the dungeon portion and have one, maybe two, challenging fights.
The "do not download" recommendation comes from the fact that scores of cells are changed by the mod (if you look at it in the TES Editor), but none of this is evidenced in the game, so it's probably a "dirty mod" -- unintended changes that may or may not have an effect on your game. And honestly, it's not worth your while to figure it out.
Mysteries of the Dulan Cult starts out as a promising mod with focus on story. This is typical even of commercial games, where the early parts of the game receive attention, then maybe because fatigue sets in or time constraints force shortcuts, the rest of the game gets less detail. In the case of this mod, after you get access under the Abandoned House, all story seems to go out the window. Depending on what you are looking for, you may or may not uninstall the mod at this point.
There are practically no quest markers. Modders often defend this as a choice to not "dumb down" their mod, but Oblivion is such that just walking around, you will probably pick up 5 quests per city. If you don't have quest updates, you'll probably not even remember to get back to a particular quest.
Also, sometimes it's genuinely not clear what to do next. Maybe clear to the modder, but not to the general public.
You will also find overpriced items on just about every opponent. If you are willing to Fast Travel a lot, you can make a ridiculous amount of cash here. Pricing is not fully thought out, as some of the better items cost way less than inferior ones.
You also start the game with a hideously powerful sword and shield which you simply pick up from the Abandoned House, without yet having done anything to earn it.
Various enemies use them as well, but they are few and too easily defeated to count even as mini-bosses. As I said, lots of loot. Hardly any effort.
The early part of the game has no risk -- as directed, you read a flyer in the Imperial City Market District. Following the information there, you go to Anvil and travel far to the south east of the city to the Abandoned House. Another clue will take you to Sideways Cave, then you finally have access to the deeper part of the basement of the Abandoned House. If you happened to walk into Sideways Caver prior to this, you will already have what is necessary to finish up at the Abandoned House.
The "dungeon" part of this mod is nearly pitch-dark, as a "real" dungeon ought to be. The cultists here have armor that has a transparent or no texture. It's not clear whether this was intentional, but the cultists look like disembodied heads and limbs. Harder to spot in the dark except for the Alchemists who have permanent Bound Weapons (like the Mythic Dawn Assassins) in the Tutorial that might glow in the dark, depending on what mods you have running.
There's evidence that this was in fact unintentional because the magic elemental damage sword had no texture and showed up pink, and there was a statue in the dungeons with the big yellow "I'm missing a texture" message.
Enemies do not appear to be levelled. You can sneak and snipe just about everyone. One or two "bosses" will have over 100 Health, but you may well also kill those even before you get to mouse over their names and figure out they were a boss monster.
The majority of the enemies (sporting 1000-gp see-through armor) appear to have only about 20 health, but carry health potions of which they might get to use one or two if you didn't one-shot-kill them. This is good and bad in terms of mod design.
On the good side, it means minions are minions and you can blow past them to get to the good stuff while experiencing the atmosphere of the dark dungeon. The hundred or so potions you'll end up picking up also means that if you don't like running back and forth to resupply, you don't really have to. With the number of enemies in this dungeon, aggressively levelling minions could have resulted in a pretty tedious experience.
On the bad side, it can get boring for a mage or thief who can one-shot minions with 20, 50, even 100 health.
There are really only two boss monsters, and the difficulty jumps up suddenly, so if you were used to the cheesy minions, suddenly you might need to come back at a higher level. This big leap is, IMO, rather bad design and probably an oversight.
Another probable oversight is one of the "experiments" you come across. It is mentioned in a note you find in-game that this being was promising in its intelligence and aptitude. When you finally encounter it, it is no tougher than one of the weaker cultists.
Finally you'll come to the titular boss mentioned in various notes. That you might be able to one-shot him with a powerful spell makes this an anti-climactic encounter. Even if you can't, he's still the weakest of the three bosses.
Still no quest update, so you can't be sure what to do next or if this is the end. You can pick up some wierd "artifacts" worth tens of thousands, but nothing happens. Some people have mentioned getting a "pyramid helmet", but it didn't do anything.
Overall, you'll download this mod if you like a fairly quick dungeon run in a pitch-dark dungeon. If you like sneaking and a quick game where you just blow through popcorn minions and have a couple of moderately tough fights. Otherwise, there's not much to recommend this mod. If there's more story than what I experienced, it wasn't communicated adequately and clearly I missed it.
If you run a lot of mods and especially city overhauls, I highly recommend not installing this for the aforementioned reason that it changes a lot of cells with unclear effect. I have over 200 items loaded and Wyre Bashed, and I was appalled to find out this was a dirty mod with so many apparently unnecessary cell edits.