I did it! I completed the monument! Full detailed review of I3 to I5 below (I1 and I2 areas reviewed in previous posts!)
Wool Monument: 16/16
Jukebox Monument: 12/12
Deaths: None - been getting a lot better at PvE over the years! "Death is inevitable" - hah!
Rules Broken: 0? 1? You'll know what I mean later
SPOILER WARNING: Plenty of spoilers for both Pantheon AND Titan's Revolt ahead!
DISCLAIMER & NOTES
Occasionally my reviews of certain areas may become a bit narrative because I think that describing my gameplay experience is the clearest way to explain some of my issues with those areas. Also, I hope I don't come across as too harsh and unforgiving!
The score in the square brackets has nothing to do with how well-designed I think an area is - that's the difficulty rating out of 10! For reference, 0/10 is identical in difficulty to normal survival Minecraft. 5/10 is a baseline measurement based on the difficulty of Titan Revolt's white wool area, which I reviewed in an earlier post. 10/10 would be similar to Eternal Battle, the notorious black wool area of Vechs' Super Hostile: Inferno Mines - I'm sure you won't question that if you've played IM. Keep in mind that these ratings are, of course, entirely subjective and based solely on my personal playthrough. Also, sometimes the solution to an area being too easy/hard may not always be a general buff/nerf. There may be specific factors contributing to an area's difficulty that need to be directly addressed.
A single asterisk (*) means that I think the area just needs some minor tweaks. A double asterisk (**) means that I think the area could stand to benefit from moderate changes. A triple asterisk (***) means I think an area may need to be entirely remade or at worst, scrapped. If there are no asterisks to be seen then I thought the area was pretty near perfect. Take these labels with a pinch of salt though, after all, this review was written by someone without any mapmaking experience!
When I refer to the "fun path" (a term coined by Vechs), I'm referring to the path the mapmaker expects the player to take as opposed to tunnelling or bridging or otherwise finding a shortcut around the obstacles. You probably already knew that though.
INTERSECTION 3 AREAS
The Lernean Undergrowth (Pink) * [5.5/10]
I don't have too many comments on this area. It seems fully functionable, and the difficulty level and mob choices are appropriate for an area situated in this portion of the map, so all of my gripes are going to be relatively minor. For starters, I think that the placement of the music disc is slightly arbitrary, as it's quietly tucked away in the canopy of a dark, open area with very limited visibility. The area isn't exactly sprawling, so chances are the player will find it anyway, but the placement feels a bit sloppy and haphazard anyway. On another note, the sheer density of spider spawners and Flame skeletons in the outer "perimeter" area can be a major deterrent to players trying to get the iron ore! I'm certain that this is intended, but frankly, once the player finds a way to deal with them (better equipment/fire resistance potions/etc.), they just become a spammy nuisance. I think the spider spawners in particular can be toned down, since I was running into one every 5 blocks while I was on my iron harvesting mission (I came back to the Pink for iron after beating the Blue and before going into Brown, and they were more annoying than threatening at that point in the game).
Clever use of the written book to offer clues to the player and get them spatially oriented in the area. That said, the "temple" described in the book, which I presume refers to the fleecy box dungeon, bears almost no resemblance to an actual temple! The entrance is pretty plain and instead looks like the entrance to a classic Super Hostile dungeon with Vechs' trademark mossy cobble. Therefore, I think that the visual cues can afford to be more conspicuous. Also, I felt that the fleecy box dungeon was unusually small, as it only comprised 3 small rooms and I conquered it in a solid 10 minutes. Maybe I've been spoiled by the sprawling dungeons in other areas, but there's always the opportunity to add more content. Short as it may have been, the difficulty of the dungeon was pretty ideal for a Pink area. The TNT pitfall hiding in plain sight was a nice touch - I blew it up with my Flame bow after beating the dungeon.
Not too bad of an area overall, kudos!
The Remains of Phlegethon (Gray) * [2/10]
This area may not have been the most ambitious visually or gameplay-wise, and that's perfectly fine, because I felt that it excellently managed to retain the appeal of some of the older, more rustic dungeons from the Super Hostile series or older CTMs in general, with a nice nether-themed spin on the classic "running through big caves fighting things and breaking spawners" formula. First off, the layout - the diverging paths to the fleecy box were an interesting addition but honestly somewhat of a novelty. I felt that neither the upward nor downward path had nearly enough interesting landmarks or unique loot to really justify the "choose-your-own-adventure" premise. I personally think that the most important trait of an area with multiple paths is that exploration needs to be rewarded, but in this case, the mobs and aesthetics were really samey on either path, and then the paths just... unexcitingly converged near the fleecy box. Fortunately, though, this area wasn't nearly as excessive in size as Dormant Mines from the first map, so hooray for that.
However, I felt that this area's biggest drawback was its difficulty (or rather, its lack thereof). For an I3 area, it was so easy. The fleecy box was quite minimally defended, with the blaze spawners placed in non-threatening positions towards the lower half of the fleecy box, and the nether brick bridge at the end provided the player with a flawless approach, with the bridge railings concealing the player from flanking blazes. Even in the area(s) leading up to the fleecy box, the custom mob spawners were so few and far between that despite being unexposed, they could easily be disabled by torch or by pickaxe the moment they were discovered. The use of vanilla zombie spawners - no buffs, no armour, no nothing - was pretty laughable too, especially considering that this is the Gray wool area! Ironically, the only thing that could really threaten me in this area was accidentally hitting a pigman and getting swarmed - and even when that did happen, I was able to fight off the horde comfortably with 4 hearts.
All of these problems aside, though, I will concede that this area was pretty fun and therapeutic to fight through - while I think it crosses too far into the easy side, and may need a bit of a general buff and some more interesting features, it's a good way to kill an hour. Neat!
Hailstorm Brigade (Light Gray) ** [6/10]
This area shares one major thing in common with Misty Deep from the first map - and no, it's not the block palette or thematic focus, though I guess that's true too. It's that both areas are way too big (this area is partially why it took me 15,000 torches to beat this map). The key difference is that Misty Deep generally has a more sprawling and complicated layout and the landscape is peppered with quite a number of interesting landmarks, builds, and loot areas, which compensates for its mammoth size. Here in Hailstorm Brigade, though, the structure is very linear, and while that is inherently not a bad thing, the path was unnecessarily long and really, really, really boring. Sure, credit given for the subtle use of chiseled quartz to mark the spawners (even though that is somehow missing from the first 20% of the area!) but finding and breaking spawners and fighting through the area became very repetitive, very quickly. The void areas, ghasts and silverfish added some fleeting moments of tension, but for the most part, this area was just needlessly long and monotonous. In fact, the "fun path" weaves through the first floor of the temple area with the wool, then makes a stupidly long detour before circling back to the third floor of the temple. Here's a diagram to illustrate what I mean:
I frankly don't think the area needs such a long and uninteresting detour like that - as shown with the green arrow, I would have enjoyed this area more if I were able to take on the entire temple in one sitting. Actually, now that I think of it, there's really nothing stopping the player from laddering or digging up to the 2nd or 3rd floors, effectively making the "hour of really boring stuff" completely redundant. So yeah, that's the main deal-breaker for me: the pathing just drags on forever without much excitement.
The music disc and fleecy box rooms, on the second and third floors respectively, were fine and I think they were a nice change of pace from the dreary area beforehand. A minor concern is that the fleecy box room in particular is very amenable to being bypassed by laddering - something I may have done (although after getting the wool, I tackled the dungeon from the top down). Here's an image of what I mean.
Also, the Hailstorm Behemoth custom pigmen do not always spawn aggressive!
Overall, fairly solid rooms for the objectives, but for me it was let down by an unnecessarily draggy and strange "fun path".
INTERSECTION 4 AREAS
The Lament of Acheron (Cyan) [5/10 overall, 6/10 for castle area]
This area is amazing. In terms of aesthetics, enemies, buildings, things to explore, and the objective area, everything is astoundingly intricate. The lattice pattern on the ceiling in the latter half of the area is gorgeous. Every building and every hidden secret feels like it is there for a purpose, even if it does not contribute to the player getting the wool, and there is an incredible abundance of varied custom loot. The mobs can be tricky at times but are never unconquerable, and the spawners are always strategically and accessibly placed. Very timely inclusion of nether wart as well, since I don't think there has been any CTM map since the Super Hostile series to allow the player to not only modify existing potions but brew their own from scratch! I'm almost willing to say that this is now my favourite individual area in any CTM map I have played (prior to this, it was the red wool area from Ragecraft II)!
There is almost nothing that I do not like about this area. I would say that the "Water Expert" skeleton-based mobs in the waterbodies around the area are a bit overpowered (impossible to kill once they spawn in droves!) but I think this is meant to deter the player from falling into the water unnecessarily and stick to the shore, so I'll look past it. Another thing is that the "Electro Mekanon" combo mobs guarding the fleecy box (wither skeletons + invisible/inaudible blazes + guardians wearing spawner heads) are pretty near impossible to deal with safely. I found absolutely no way to brute-force myself onto the highest ramparts of the cyan wool castle, because the mobs were just too strong, and made the other monsters in the same area (the ones wearing chiseled stone bricks - Rocksters? I forget) completely pale in comparison. Was this an intentional decision made to force the player to think out of the box? I don't know. If yes, then great. If no, then you unintentionally gave the player a really good obstacle to overcome, but if you don't want that, then I'd say nerf the combo mobs. The solution I chose was to bridge above the spawners and dump TNT over them - I knew saving up gunpowder would be a good idea.
Really, really well done! A big kudos to the makers of this area!
The Valley of Daedalus (Purple) * [3/10 overall, 6/10 for charged creeper and castle area]
I know that the cyan and purple areas are meant to be a single, cohesive unit with three checkpoints total since they're designed by the same mapmakers, and I also know that I very strongly lauded the cyan wool area for blowing me out of the water and really stretching the limits of the CTM genre. Good on that. Unfortunately, I felt that the Valley of Daedalus didn't quite live up to the same level of refinement as its predecessor. For one, it lacked the detail and polishing that the cyan wool area obviously has been through. Granted, the fleecy box area has a pretty wacky gear-based, vaguely steampunk aesthetic that I thought was pretty cool, but the buildup is lacking - there's a couple jungle biomes, some custom spruces, way too many Shrew Rider spawners that are more annoying and time-consuming than anything to deal with, and some random islands to check out, but that's it. At least the quality of the loot is consistent, but it isn't exactly a very stimulating experience when the daylight stops most of the monsters from spawning. I’m no mapmaker but you may want to consider implementing perpetual night or a lattice ceiling like in the latter half of Cyan. In fact, as you'll see in this image, the two circled shelves of land actually had at least 10+ spawners that were completely disabled in daylight, and I just walked up to them and broke them:
This area does have one major positive, though, and that's the two obsidian pillars spawning the speed-boosted charged creepers even in broad daylight. That obstacle yielded some of my tensest moments in my playthrough so far, and it was a load of fun because it was my first instance using Speed and Strength potions in an area to try to one-hit KO the creepers! Disabling the charged creeper spawners took about 10 minutes of running around and strategising and it was a very timely and well-placed hurdle in the map. I enjoyed it, and I thought the countdown timers were a nice touch!
The fleecy box area with the giant gears... well, for me there's one main negative and one main positive. The negative is that it is conceptually very similar to the cyan fleecy box castle from a gameplay standpoint: a fleecy box visible from across the area at high altitude, located precariously near a bunch of ghasts and the "Electro Mekanon" 3-in-1 mobs. I didn't even have to think twice about my approach for this area - I navigated around, breaking as many ghast spawners as possible, then bridged with cobble to dump TNT over the Mekanon spawners. It would have been nicer to see a more original dungeon with unique gameplay features contain the purple wool, rather than just a remix of the cyan wool concept. If I could best describe it, it felt like I was beating the same obstacle twice, and it wasn't nearly as satisfying as when I beat the cyan.
As for the positive, I must concede that the layout of the purple wool area greatly ramps up the threat of falling compared to the cyan. You'll notice that in the cyan, if you fall off the top layer, chances are it won't be fatal as you'll fall onto the walkways of the ramparts below you:
In the purple though, there's no room for error because a single slip-up can mean falling to ground level.
I'm glad that at least that was different between the areas, but I still would have liked to see a more original concept... admittedly my harshness on this area stems from the fact that I know the cyan wool area was pretty much perfect and the quality of the purple didn't live up to these mapmakers' earlier work. Nonetheless, I still think this 2-wool, open world area was a very ambitious undertaking and I'm glad that it has worked out for the most part.
Great job, and congratulations on making my new favourite CTM area (the cyan)!
Wynaria (Blue) * [1/10]
Having been through this area, I personally believe that Wynaria suffers from much the same issue as the light blue area in I1, which I reviewed in a previous post. It's an area that ticks all the CTM checkboxes - beautiful aesthetics, functional monsters, a variety of environments to explore, and a gradual buildup to the player inevitably converging on the fleecy box. It's a really great rendition of a classic CTM castle with loot that certainly matches the likes of a Blue area, and in that respect, I had a lot of fun. However, having completed the map now, I can safely say that this was the easiest area in the map - in fact, I think it was easier than the light blue which at least had pretty bulky mobs (albeit with fairly limited mobility). In Wynaria, though, the problem is peculiarly reversed - mobs with interesting movement patterns (armoured skeletons riding bats, crazy speed-boosted creepers, etc.) - but none of them damaging or threatening enough to really pose any tangible threat to me. The ascending shaft with the fleecy box in it was pretty much a cakewalk, too - granted, there were a few creeper spawners within but they often lacked any viable surfaces for the creepers to spawn on because of how narrow the shaft was - 5x5 gradually expanding to 7x7 with too many half slabs for even more than 2-3 creepers to spawn. When I reached the top, I genuinely couldn't believe I'd found the wool that easily, and was half-expecting to be teleported upon leaving to some crazy alternate version of the castle which I would be forced to escape (there's a pretty well-known CTM map that pulls this trick on the player...). I digress, but hopefully you can see why I found this area too easy - I think it could stand to benefit from a fair amount of buffing, as long as that does not detract from the fun of running around and fighting through the castle, because gameplay-wise I had a ton of fun. Or maybe you could shuffle it and put it in an earlier intersection...? I don't know, I'm no expert.
Wonderful area and well-executed castle, but far, far too easy for a Blue!
Wraithshadow Hives (Brown) ** [7/10 if played as intended, which I didn't]
[EDIT: Re-reading this writeup, I frankly can't believe this is something I wrote, but I'm going to leave it as is because I think it's hilarious.]
This area left a pretty sour taste in my mouth especially since I4 had been fairly impressive up to that point. I'm struggling to put into words how many things are wrong with it (nothing against the mapmaker, don't get me wrong). Therefore, I'm going to run through chronologically some of the steps I took to try and approach it and hopefully try to encapsulate some of its main issues. Fair warnings: this is going to be a long exposé about the brown area, and also, I'm positive that I did not play this area as the mapmaker intended because there did not seem to be any discernible way to respect the area's mechanics (I'll explain as I go). Please factor that in while reading. Forgive me if I sound harsh, I'm not trying to be, I'm just trying to make myself clear.
Let's start with the introductory book. The second sentence is potentially misleading, implying that "[the player needs] to break the obsidian in the center of the hives to get the wool". This tacitly implies that all the hives are essential to acquiring the wool although this is distinctly untrue. Maybe that feels minor and nitpicky, but moving on we read that "the medium hives weaken the big hive", which opens up a can of worms - how? Do they blow up key spawners? Do they cancel the big hive's debuffing effects? Do they nerf the mobs? And how exactly does the large hive have "intact defenses"? Are those barrier blocks? Punch X skeletons? Are these "defenses" really just the debuffs being referred to later in the same sentence? Also, how drastic is the size difference between the various hive types? Any means of identification? All these things are left vague in an essential book that addresses the area's mechanics, and it's not even trying to be some kind of riddle. I really think that it should be more specific, be written using language and terms that are used in normal Minecraft, and give the player a crystal-clear vision of their objectives (remember this for the black wool area, by the way).
I kept these ambiguities in mind and then had some fun trying out new potions while fighting my way to the first hive and checking out some of the underground rooms (enchanting table!). The first small hive was nicely placed, since it's impossible to miss and clearly introduces to the player the appearance of a small hive. Unfortunately, that's where my enjoyment of this area ceased, because then I encountered this void area with 7 small hives above it, all of which looked remarkably samey (I checked all 7 - they were indeed samey) and I started wondering where the medium hives were. Eventually, I managed to get across the void space to the open plateau on the other side, and that's when I saw the large hive having still not discovered any medium hives. Wait, you say, you literally have to walk across the medium hive to progress to that section. How did you not find it? Well, here's how:
As you can see, the entrance to the first medium hive was discreetly concealed at a lower elevation than the blocks I was running on, and as a result I had no idea that the end stone, clay and mushroom blocks embedded in the walls were actually part of a medium hive. In fact, I didn't realise that those structures were the medium hives until I flew through the map in creative mode preparing for this review and finally found the obsidian cores within. So I basically spent more than an hour wondering where the medium hives were before giving up and forcing my way into the large hive. That brings me to my main point: clarity is key. If you're going to introduce 3 sizes of hive to me, and the small one looks like an amorphous spherical blob, the medium one is entirely caves in walls, and the large one looks like a giant stale clove of garlic that's arguably smaller than the total volume of a medium hive, then at least give me useful information to help me identify those sizes, so that you can save me the trouble of running around like a headless chicken trying to figure out what everything in the area does.
Next thing about this area is that the pathing needs work, and I say this mostly with regards to the placement of the music disc on the ceiling/upper layer of the area. Suppose the player doesn't immediately pillar/ladder to the ceiling out of curiosity as I did; there is one extremely tenuous connection between the large hive and this upper layer at [-647, 188, -228], and that ceiling proceeds to extend 300 blocks west with absolutely no features except one or two arbitrarily placed small hives. Then you finally see the music disc temple. It's just... really, really sloppy.
Last thing: I personally think the medium hives are terribly designed. Of course I didn't know they were medium hives when I first ran into one (in fact, when I ran out, I still didn't know what they were), but I did manage to explore one during my playthrough. The mobs in the central vertical chamber are unbearably spammy, and as I later realised in creative mode, the obsidian cores are unexposed, and you have to make an educated guess about where they are which is nigh impossible given that if you stay in there for more than 30 seconds you're going to have a million blazes and Punch skeletons trying to kill you. Aside from the vertical chamber, there's also a bunch of random caves that look like retextured natural Minecraft caves and that just so happen to have silverfish in them, because why not. Again, it came across as really sloppy and thoughtless to me.
If you're wondering how I finally beat the area, I crafted one piston and one lever, took 6 stacks of cobble, and spent half an hour building this thing to get to the obsidian core.
The military camp near Tartaros is fine I suppose, but I feel that the Fallen Knight mobs are used far too zealously here, and indomitable hordes of monsters can build up very quickly. They’re also way too bulky - even when I was running Strength I, it still took at least 4-5 hits to kill each monster. Fortunately, the numbers of these Fallen mobs start to thin in the actual intersection, and they complement the ghasts and blazes well.
INTERSECTION 5 AREAS
Tartaros (Green) * [2/10 for town area, 7/10 for fleecy box chamber]
Before I properly review the green area, I'm going to deal with the elephant in the room - the player being prohibited from using fire resistance without any advance notice. I've tested this multiple times both in creative mode and using the monument teleports, and it seems that when you get anywhere close to I5, any fire resistance on you just disappears, and you can't use it again. I can't say I disagree with this decision, especially given the structure of the last 3 wool dungeons and the abundance of lava/Flame skeletons/Fire Aspect monsters, and I do agree that the player ought to confront these challenges without an easy way out. However, I really hated that there was no explicit warning. The player is left to discover for themselves that they can no longer immunise themselves against fire. If you're going to tinker with such a core mechanic of the base game around which you built this map (that game being Minecraft), and effectively change the foundational rules of the game, then at least tell the player well in advance - maybe in the Monument to the Gods - that from I5 onwards, fire resist is no longer allowed. This is going to sound theoretical, but Extra Credits actually did an episode some years ago where they distinguished between games that are enjoyably challenging and downright punishing. A challenging game is able to scale the difficulty upwards while respecting the game's consistency of rules. In this case, that means you respect the preconceptions that the player has from learning to play Minecraft, and not unexpectedly surprise them with new mechanics in life-or-death situations, so that they can apply what they’ve learned about the game to beat challenging areas. Now let's think back to this fire resist thing. The ability to use fire resist influences a LOT of decisions: whether the player’s going to bother about Notch apples (3 of them are handed out for getting one of the discs!), whether they’ll invest in Fire Protection armour when they could really just spend their levels on full Protection 4 gear, and more importantly, what they’ll do when they fall in lava. Sorry for dragging this one comment out so much, and I know not everybody uses potions in CTMs anyway, but if you’re going to alter the rules of the base game like this, then you should really tell the player far, far in advance, and remind them again when they get close to I5.
On to the actual area… I don’t really have much to say about it since it was so nondescript, but I’d definitely mention that the enormous town doesn’t reward exploration enough. Loot is outrageously scarce and lighting up/exploring the entire place becomes very repetitive after the first 20 minutes of not finding anything. There’s only so much excitement you can add to the experience with the periodic blaze spawners and of course the search-and-destroy element with the ghasts – especially because 95% of the town is completely peripheral to the actual fleecy box area. It's not inherently a bad thing that most of this area does not direct the player towards the wool, but the town and its buildings need more unique goodies of their own (if you have to change one thing about this area, I strongly suggest that it's this!). As for the giant vertical fleecy box tower, it was certainly functional enough with a very large and threatening skeleton population, and there's quite a variety of approaches the player can take here to get the wool – bridging, ender-pearling, you name it – so I won't belabour it too much. It’s not exactly perfect, and I think it would have been marginally more interesting if it were instead a bedrock-encased dungeon only accessible by the player climbing to the very top of Tartaros and then descending inside the dungeon to get to the fleecy box at the bottom (hopefully you can get some mental picture of this). Nonetheless, it was decent enough, and the completist in me wiped out every spawner in the room with a combination of TNT and the “Eater of Worlds” pickaxe from I5 Fred. Overall, a pretty cathartic experience that relieved my frustrating experience with Wraithshadow Hives and restored my faith in the map somewhat.
Realm of the Sky Order (Red) [8/10]
The red wool area is incredible, and it's an excellent confirmation that Rock really knows his way around CTM maps having defeated pretty much every map the genre has to offer in his Monumental Victory series of let's-plays. The environments are myriad, diverse and wholly unpredictable, the loot is top-tier and commensurate with what you would expect from an endgame area, and the difficulty starts out manageably but gradually elevates to almost ROM-hack, forcing the player to outsmart the area through clever, out-of-the-box strategies rather than through sheer combat ability. The surface buildings with the ender crystals are an interesting addition that will require the player to be wary as they are undoubtedly the strongest explosives in the map. Even the underground areas leading up to the throne roof are rife with awesome loot and all the ores the player could ever need (coal, iron, gold, lapis, redstone, diamond, the whole nine yards)! There are only three issues that I would like to raise with this area. The first concerns the player's inability to escape from this area till the very end, the second is about mobs and difficulty, and the third is just... oh gosh, it's the funniest thing ever (Rock goofed so hard).
My first concern is that in general, I don't really approve of areas using one-way teleports that force the player to either beat the area in one attempt or die trying. This is the second of three areas I've encountered in CTM maps that feature this mechanic (the third being the black wool, which I'll have a field day talking about later...). The reason for my disapproval is simple - a player's success in an area is highly contingent on the resources they bring in. How are players meant to strategise for an area and figure out what items/blocks/armour to use if they can't scout or survey the area before tackling it properly? And once they go in, they're stuck with what they have. One-way areas are something I really cannot meaningfully endorse. I wouldn't be surprised if some players committed suicide in this area to respawn and get better gear that would help them more pointedly address this area's challenges, because it is not a very easy area. I really suggest that you do away with the one-way system and make the teleport two-way like it is in Wynaria, so that the player can take this area down in bite-sized chunks. Having said that, I do give credit to Rock for the fact that this area is replete with everything the player needs to survive. Need wood? Chop trees. Need charcoal? Throw the trees in the furnace. Need food? Make a farm. Need iron? Well... you don't get any until fairly late in the area, but I'll look past that. So maybe, just maybe this is a one-way area done really, really well because the player can self-sustain in this area like a massive Skyblock. However, because of the argument I made earlier about the player not knowing what resources to bring in, I would still seriously encourage you to make the teleport two-way.
My second concern - the mobs and difficulty. Earlier I said that this area's difficulty elevates to near-ROMhack levels and is appropriate for what you'd expect from the penultimate wool area, which is good. However, I feel that this is singlehandedly because of an inseparable pair of mobs - the zombies "Bruisers" and skeletons "Pilots" with Protection 7 leather tunics that wear ghast heads and sometimes ride bats. They recur at almost every stage of the area from the first few surface houses to the fleecy box room, and they're incredibly tanky, numerous, and hard to eliminate, since they defend their spawners very well. What I'm saying is that I feel Rock relies on these mobs too heavily to ramp up his area's difficulty. Everything else that this area threw at me - blazes, ghasts, charged creepers - was blown out of the water by the Protection 7 undead mobs. They completely stole the limelight. Let me use the fleecy box room to illustrate this. The spawners for the mobs in question are circled in yellow.
From the beginning, I had a very clear strategy for beating this room. I knew I couldn't overpower the mobs and somehow pillar to the spawners, so I tunnelled through the wall to break them, fending off any ghasts in the process. Then, I waited for the survivors to despawn, bridged around, and knocked out any residual ghast spawners. Once I was able to do both of these things, Rock lost his bishop and rook and was checkmated with ease. I dealt with the final creeper/blaze spawners in a matter of seconds and got the wool easily. So you can sort of see that the tunic-donning mobs contribute disproportionately to this area's difficulty - get rid of them, and the area completely crumbles. I'd say maybe nerf the undead mobs and make them less tanky (feather-wielding zombies "lightweights" not included!) and buff everything else so that the area is consistently challenging and that every mob contributes to the high level of difficulty. Or maybe you can think of a more creative solution.
Final thing about this area - oh man, it's so hilarious. So Rock basically gave me two of these:
And I was slightly dismayed, thinking "darn, only one use", and then I had this really cool idea, went to get an anvil and some iron, and next thing I knew I had a full-durability iron pickaxe with Fortune X and Efficiency X and 100 diamonds from this area to boot and I was squealing like a piglet, keeling over with laughter, unable to get over this mapmaking mess-up. Honestly, as much as I think this is a magnificent blunder, I think you should leave it there, since any player savvy enough to repair the pickaxe probably deserves 100 diamonds anyway.
Also, the armory room at [-874,169,1175] blew up even though I was really far away from it. I ran past it once but forgot to look inside, and while I was in my base in one of the surface houses, whatever trap was inside just randomly exploded. You might want to look into it, I never got to see what was in there.
Flamestorm Citadel [6/10]
Thanks to Rock's generosity in the previous area in basically giving me 100 diamonds on a silver platter as well as tons of lapis, as well as the enchanting table from Wraithshadow Hives, by the time I got to Firestorm Citadel I was equipped with full Protection 4 diamond gear (Fire Protection 4 on the helmet) - which I combined with the diamond armor from Fred to get the max health bonuses. I was also wielding a Sharpness 5, Unbreaking 3, Knockback 2, Fire Aspect 2 diamond sword and a Power 5, Unbreaking 3, Infinity, Punch 2 and Flame bow. I also sat quite a few ender pearls on my hotbar in case I fell into lava. My max health was 16 hearts. I think you get the point - I was completely and categorically overpowered, so no assessment I make of this area's difficulty is going to be very accurate at all. Nonetheless, I'll just leave a few brief comments so I can quickly move on to the black wool.
First off, the nether portal. On one occasion I ended up in the bedrock box in the nether and when I went back to the overworld, I was falling into the void somewhere outside of the area boundaries. Clearly it doesn't always work as intended, even after factoring in the debug box you guys placed in the nether. If my reflexes hadn't been quicker in switching to creative mode, I would have died a pretty cheap death and lost all my extremely valuable gear. Do look into it if possible. I reproduced the bug in creative mode and the location over void I'm teleported to is around X = 965 and Z = 1235 (give or take 10 blocks).
Now for the actual area. Overall, this was a deeply satisfying and fast-paced area to fight through, and no major complaints from me gameplay-wise. I do feel that Blackstone Bridge does rely a tad too much on the ghast spawners to do the heavy lifting as far as difficulty is concerned. Nice use of the search-and-destroy minigame in Charred Court with the obsidian cores; though I'm also slightly intrigued that the spiralling stone/netherrack/glowstone walkway at [688, 113, 1055] is a red herring and doesn't lead anywhere; the top seems like a pretty nifty place to hide a loot chest if you ask me. Hopefully, you're also aware that most of the time the Zisteau spawners in these areas do not spawn aggressive mobs but occasionally one of them will attack the player - probably working as intended, but quirky enough that I thought I'd mention it. Ashen Armory is a lot of fun and is certainly quite the archetypal nether-fortress-over-lava area; absolutely no problems for me except for a very minor peculiarity where in this one specific section, there is a large series of blaze spawners that can be dismantled way too easily like this:
You've also got some pig spawners in the Ashen Armory! (This isn't the only one)
The Throne Room... it's fine, I guess, though perhaps the suspended platforms with the loot chests are a bit samey to navigate to and fight through. The bottommost platform to the core coulded also have afforded to be slightly more challenging had the permanent fire labyrinth been replaced with an open area with lots of spawners (more space + more spawners + more fighting + more manoeuvrability = more fun). All of these are just trifling nitpicks, though - frankly, as it stands, I doubt you need to change much of anything in this area. Really nice endgame nether fortress area with a rustic Super Hostile vibe to it - had a ton of fun here!
The Core (Black) *** [10/10]
The Core. Oh boy (be prepared for some pretty strong opinions - all of which, I hope, are ultimately constructive. I think it is better to be honest than to sugarcoat).
First of all, I've already said my piece on one-way teleports when I discussed Rock's area, but I'm going to say even more now - if there's one area where you never ever use a one-way teleport no matter what, it's the black. As the final dungeon, the black wool is meant to be an opportunity for the player to go bananas and not hold back. They should be allowed, and even expected, to channel all their acquired resources, potions, food, weapons and armour into beating the only dungeon standing between them and a complete monument. Night vision, invisibility, iron golems, heck, even beacons (for open-sky areas like Vechs' Death Fortress from Pantheon) - any unorthodox strategy the player can dream up should be fair game. Making the teleport one-way completely straitjackets the player's creativity and given how hard this area is, it pretty much guarantees they will die unless they tunnel 100% of the time. As you're about to see, though, the area is so fiendishly difficult I'm not even sure this matters.
I'm struggling to form more than one coherent sentence about this area, because it is difficult to the point of being unplayable, and I mean it. I'm honestly unconvinced that it was really playtested during the closed beta. Maybe a mysterious wave of incompetence at survival Minecraft befell me when I teleported in there and that's why I hated it so much, but I personally find that unlikely, because let's not forget that I managed to beat 15 entire wool areas consecutively without dying once - or even struggling much at all - in a map that is supposedly far more difficult than the notoriously enraging Pantheon which almost everyone ragequit. Believe me, I say that not to toot my own horn, but to put in perspective how impossibly hard this area is. Let's also not forget that I had the best possible equipment in vanilla Minecraft, combined with the buffed diamond armor from I5 Fred, fully enchanted with Protection 4, and I also had strength, speed and night vision potions in my inventory. Despite all that, I was able to make zero progress on this area, and I'm forced to conclude that it's either near-impossible (albeit requiring many, many deaths) or actually impossible (unless you bridge and tunnel hundreds of blocks and completely ignore the fun path). To further advance my case I'm going to be exploring some of its mechanics, but before that, let's find out how I ended up dealing with this area. First I tried dealing with it "conventionally", trying with great difficulty to get to some of the cylindrical buildings with pretty much nothing in them, and after being hit with stacks of blindness potions every 10 seconds and almost getting knocked into the void at least 3 times by darkspawns, I gave up and hightailed it back to the starting room with ender pearls and blocked myself in. Then I did this:
And this is how I got out (I wish I was kidding. I'm not. If you want to laugh, now's the time):
Well, nobody said that bridging over the void counts as leaving the map, so I didn’t break any rules (see Monument to the Gods – rule #3). Anyway, I digress. Now back to what's wrong with the area. Bear in mind that I gleaned most of the information here by flying through the area in creative. For starters, even after obliging the mapmaker's artistic sensibilities and playing on moody, the player is also forbidden from using torches and light sources of any kind.
This results in an area that looks like this:
Right, so we have this ridiculous "no light" rule already, but suppose that doesn't deter the intrepid player. Maybe they've got night vision potions, and I imagine they would have brewed some after hearing what pumpkin guy said. That solves the problem of visibility - now, the problem of navigation. There are cracks in the ground everywhere that mean death by void. Tread too near - or heck, just stand out in the open for more than 5 seconds - and you risk getting shot in by darkspawn archers and their unconquerable Punch bow antics. At this point, the player should have realised that the safest way to avoid death is to tunnel around to the objectives (which by the way they can't find because their night vision potions only last so long and now they can't see) like a complete CTM amateur.
"Tunnelling is safest? You can say that about any CTM area! Where's the fun in that!?" Well guess what, there isn't any fun in not tunnelling. In fact, there's nothing but a punishing world of hurt that fails to adequately reward the poor soul still trying to confront the area head-on. Aside from it being almost impossible to survive for more than 2 minutes running around the surface, a survey of the whole area in creative mode reveals the same architectural motifs lazily slathered across the entire landscape. Six virtually identical towers (down to the block!) with samey loot in all of them, 15 to 20 arbitrarily placed loot boxes dangling from the ceiling, intersecting stone brick paths leading nowhere in particular (except the void), random lavafalls because "hey that looks cool", and VERY sporadically, some cool diamond loot. Anyway, you'll never get said loot back to your nonexistent base anyway because you're going to fall into the void and die, or get knocked by ghasts off the bridge you spent 20 minutes gingerly building to get to one of the twenty lootboxes. And all this chaotic uniformity (wow what an oxymoron lol) is punctuated only by the portal (which stands out because it has an objective), the kneeling giant (which also stands out because it has an objective), and tributes to Vechs or Heliceo or Fangride (yes I agree finish Septum Immoriel please [just kidding don't sweat it]) or some other nice person. Oh wait, I just remembered the player has a visibility of effectively 0 blocks. Have I mentioned that before?
By the way, after going back and testing some strategies ingame, I think that there may be one strategy - yes, only one - that can beat this area properly. That strategy is you need to have ALL of the following things:
- Lots of night vision potions so you can actually see (brew with nether wart + golden carrots)
- Lots of invisibility potions (brew with a night vision potion + fermented spider eye)
- Lots of resistance buffs from custom potions or Notch apples to cushion the effect of having no armour (one hit from the monsters here is 7.5 hearts without armour)
- Lots of potions for every other buff that exists in the game
- VERY good theory knowledge of how invisibility affects mobs' ability to detect you (i.e. you can't get within 7.5% of the usual detection distance - thanks Minecraft wiki)
- Extreme alertness so as not to get too close to the monsters that you can see
- Lightning fast reflexes when a monster - especially one of the guys that you can't see - does get too close, or if you start falling near the void holes
- Lots of blast-resistant blocks for bridging and cryboxing and other work
- Lots of ender pearls (this needs no explanation)
- Insanely good inventory management skills so you can make having the above things remotely feasible in addition to your food and weapons and tools and whatever
- The cleverness to ignore all the unimportant loot areas and go immediately after the objectives (i.e. the wool and flint & steel) so they can get out of the area ASAP.
Lack ANY of these elements and you will die over and over and over and over again. In any case, it doesn't matter because the one-way teleport is sure to prevent even the smartest/strongest players from implementing this without dying. If you'd given me a two-way teleport so I could go back and resupply then I MAY have been able to make this work. And even if the player could implement this strategy, I'm sure that the probability of a slip-up is high enough, especially with the invisible monsters, that they will inevitably die more than a few times and lose all the potions they worked so hard to brew, as well as all the Notch apples they worked so hard to farm and craft with the gold from Rock's throne room. So I'm not sure why I bothered testing this.
To be completely honest, while I don't want to cheapen the effort of the area designer in trying to craft a difficult endgame, I'm starting to think this area might not be salvageable without a considerable amount of redesign. Extremely difficult does not always mean spammy and unplayable. CTM series like Vinyl Fantasy prove that it is possible to design areas that are super deathly and ROMhack++-hard, yet are considerate towards the player and explicit in their objectives so that the player can meaningfully engage the difficult area and be compelled to try again if their initial strategy doesn't work. three_two was really great at that when he was still making Minecraft content, and it showed both in his VF maps and his Pantheon area (Miner's Only Rule, I5, green wool). I could easily give most if not all of his areas 8-10 on the same difficulty scale I used for this map, and none of them punish the player unfairly for trying to take the fun path. The Core is not one of those areas. It just seems punishingly difficult for the sake of being punishingly difficult, cobbled together without considering how people learned to play Minecraft.
If I knew how to make maps or use MCEdit (which I don't because I'm just a layman), I would probably scrap the area and extensively rework it and maybe release it as a ROMhack-hard 1- or 2-objective minimap. Then, I would take the opportunity to develop Flamestorm Citadel further, maybe buffing it to match the difficulty of the brown/green/red, and then I would place the black wool there as a satisfying conclusion to the map, potentially culminating in a bossfight with Vanaduke which would be needed to access the fleecy box. Just a suggestion - please do take it with a pinch of salt, as with everything I just said.
All things considered, this map really wasn't too shabby at all (trying not to let the disappointing black wool cloud my judgment here!). It's super cool to be able to experience the culmination of so many years of work (after playing CTMs I can barely go back to survival Minecraft/server minigames, to be honest). It's pretty surreal to "beat" it (questionable because of my reaction to the black area!?) without dying, too I'm really glad that your labour of love has finally paid off even though traffic has gone down significantly and so I thought I'd try to engage with your content as deeply as possible! This map had several areas that I felt were outstandingly great, namely the orange, magenta, yellow, cyan and red - the cyan wool area in particular was super exquisite and pretty much perfect in almost every regard! However, it did suffer from the same pitfall as Pantheon in terms of the wildly fluctuating difficulty and inconsistency of quality, and while I know that's basically inevitable with a project of such titanic (pun intended) scale, I felt that if anything, this issue was even more pronounced in Titan's Revolt. There were the light blue (I1), gray (I3) and blue (I4) areas which were both significantly easier than the surrounding areas although fine individually, the purple (I4) which felt like a toned-down, scaled-down, conceptually similar copy of the cyan, and the problematic brown (I4) and black (I5) areas (though at least the brown was viable and functional enough). I'd say that the map also seemed to go downhill towards the endgame, given the oddly easy blue (but the gameplay was amazing!), the brown with its obtuse and confusing instructions, the oddly empty green, and of course the black, which I've said enough about already. For that reason I'd argue that Pantheon has the overall better endgame since Fangride, three_two, Amlup and Vechs' areas were all crisply designed and nicely balanced around the same difficulty. Luckily though, Rock's area was really awesome, kudos to that!
Writing this review has also been super fun, hopefully it's been nice and stimulating to read. Thanks for the map y’all!
- Massive, lots of content, and clearly the product of an unthinkable amount of effort
- A number of fairly impressive individual areas (not considering difficulty progression). The real stunners were orange, magenta, last part of lime, cyan, blue and red
- A fairly high level of difficulty as advertised (not counting the black, I found it about the same difficulty as Pantheon)
- Comprehensive use of 1.8 technology in creative ways
- Gorgeous aesthetics for the most part, maybe except I2 and brown
- Interesting and appropriate Jukebox Monument rewards
- Wildly fluctuating difficulty and balance issues in all 5 intersections that are arguably worse than Pantheon's
- Slightly inconvenient monument teleport system (one-way area tps!?)
- Quality dips in the endgame, with red and early black (citadel, NOT the core) redeeming it
- Some peculiarities with pathing, most notably in light gray
- Custom armour in the early map (I1-2) is short on boots
- Purple does not do justice to cyan's high quality, gameplay around fleecy box is too similar
- Brown wool area can afford to be much clearer in terms of both written instructions and actual design
- I5 needs more loot to spice up exploration
- One-way teleports in red and black are hard to justify, especially for black
- Black wool area is virtually unplayable, due to area designer apparently adding as many difficult elements as possible without ensuring they do not compromise playability. In fact I think that's the exact same cardinal mistake committed by Eternal Battle from SH: Inferno Mines just with different sources of difficulty