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dobu gabu maru

The DWmegawad Club plays: Sunder & Countdown to Extinction

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Ah, yes, Map05, the one I, as another keyboard, dread. ATM, I'm still swinging from the back court with all the paying work I have to do on my computer, so I haven't even started Map03 yet, but with luck, I'll be back in it tomorrow. That means two reasonable maps before the one I promised myself I wouldn't even try unless a sociopath put me at gunpoint and forced me. ;D

We should hear about Dobu's go long before I try it. ;)

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MAP04: Metal Descendants
I think I agree with the people who think this one was easier than MAP03. Mind, I died at least a couple times in each fight--actually, I think I might have survived the (was it the red key battle?) without taking a scratch: I simply released the monsters, and ran back down the hallway with the 3-4 crushers into the imp room and waited for the pack to try to get me, firing a couple rockets into their midst for good measure; the crushers basically did all the work for me. Overall, part of the problem I had was the switch-hunts; I would deal with the monsters, and only after I had cleaned up would I notice the switches. The yellow key room was the exception: I left the revenants alive and only came back to finish them off later.

The imp horde was a lot of fun, but I took the opposite approach that DotW did. My initial (failed) attempts were to go it king-of-the-hill style, but in the end, I just ran around on the floor taking out the groups with my RL as they teleported in.

Re: the platforming bit, it sucked, but I didn't let it bother me too much. Creep around the crusher, save, attempt the jump (load game if I fell) lather, rinse, repeat. The chaingunners didn't give me any problems; I advanced slowly enough that I was able to see them up ahead and pick them off with my own chaingun at my leisure.

That last room, when I saw those hordes first 'port in, I was like holy crap what do I do. Use the crushers, obvs, but the sheer numbers pinned me in a few times before I was able to figure out a safe path (jumping back and forth between the teleporters was helpful.) Dat architecture, though; just so impressive, all those massive, multilayered crushers. The only baddies I didn't finish off were the caged mancubi in the final arena; at one point, I cleared out one wall, only to turn around and see they were all back. I don't know if replacements were teleporting in, or if there were hidden viles bringing them back to life, but I didn't feel like wasting the time or ammo when the exit door was open.

DotW said:

IDCLEV to MAP10 ;) granted the whole map doesn't stay like that, but there's quite a few points where if you look in a certain direction, you're dealing with significantly less frames.

Don't see it. I even played around 15 minutes or so with IDDQD IDCLIP, but didn't notice any performance issues. Well, I didn't notice any GZDoom performance issues--my own performance when we get there next weekend, though...I'm a little concerned. :)

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Salt-Man Z said:

Well, I didn't notice any GZDoom performance issues--my own performance when we get there next weekend, though...I'm a little concerned. :)

You can do it, Salt-Man! Remember, we're playing continuous, so we'll come into it with all the cool weapons and a fair bit of ammo. This will be true even if we both say, "Screw it!" on Map05. We'll just have to survive a pistol-start of Map06, is all.

Keyboarders of the world, unite! ;D

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SteveD said:

We'll just have to survive a pistol-start of Map06, is all.

All the more reason to skip Map 05. The start of Map 06 is delicious, and shouldn't be ruined by carrying in weapons 1-6.

(Maps 10 and 11 also have "platform across tiny poles" bits, although not as obnoxious. Map 11 is also skip-worthy, but for other reasons.)

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The start of map06 is absolutely brutal, but I don't think it matters much whether you're carrying weapons or not since there's no BFG in the earlier maps.

Map05: Precarious - 17:53 - 99% kills - ~33,5 deaths

I thought slaughtering legions of harmless Imps was my favorite thing in Doom but this map made me change my mind. It's actually platforming on tiny uneven poles above an inescapable sea of lava, and even better if there are a handful of Pain Elementals in the distance spewing Lost Souls, those lovable little things, towards you.

Jokes aside, I didn't think this was brutally and unplayably bad like one would think. Yeah the whole map is practically designed around awkward platforming, and I fucking hate platforming, and yeah I had to savescum the shit out of it but I still only kind of mildly hated it. It's decent fun and perfectly manageable when you have to fight something and it's only the pure platforming parts that suck balls. Granted, there is a lot of pure platforming too but I got the hang of it after a while. I gotta say, the PEs that tele into that one bigger platform multiple times are a genius move, however annoying they may be. Essentially forces you to act fast and move a little bolder on the poles than usual. Well I mean yeah, you'll probably get a world full of Lost Souls if you're not expecting them but on the second attempt you should know what's happening.

While none of the fights were very hard, I died a few times at most per battle, I thought the finale was a little lackluster since it was probably the easiest fight in the entire map. Almost managed it in my first attempt: had three monsters left, only one of them a Cyber, and a decent amount of health so naturally I decided to walk straight into a rocket. Couldn't get 100% kills either because of that fight since a couple of Revs fell down and thus had to be left behind. Really like how the map looks though, very surreal and otherworldly. That upside down fortress looks just amazing especially.

So yeah, I think this was definitely worth playing. Not going to return anytime soon but it was a slightly annoying but a unique journey worth experiencing. If you're hell bent on not giving it a shot then I recommend watching Ribbiks' Uv-max demo of it, found in the DSDA. I think it's really impressive, that's how a demo looks like when you know the map inside out. He's obviously a smooth mover but I thought it was overall a really nicely planned run.

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MAP04: Metal Descendants
92% kills

This probably would be a good WAD to track my death count on, now that I think about it, too late now though. But it's a lot.

So yeah, letting the level crush monsters for you is definitely the name of the game. The first room is easy, but the hell knight/chaingunner room gave me trouble because I missed the chaingun in the first room and didn't have anything good to take out the chaingunner snipers with. Basically just running around trying to not die until the crushers finally started thinning out the hell knight herd. Next area wasn't so bad either once you got a few rockets into the revenants. The huge knight/baron swarm after grabbing the yellow key was a bit of a slog, though - I ended up trying to drag them into the other rooms. I also played the imp room somewhat stupidly, I gather I'm supposed to hit the switches and then hightail it out, using the three crusher hallway to kill them, but instead I ended up killing them myself with my own ammo and surviving with literally 1 hit point. Ah well. Platforming part wasn't too bad, just stick to the outside of the columns and run like hell (especially from the cyberdemon, though running there is more out of ignoring him than fear). Last room was a bit tricky, but using the teleporters (and the space once you get the revenants out of their huge closets) is enough.

I do like the metal theme, especially the use of the dim yellow lighting, but it is a bit lacking and one-note here. The crushers look cool but can get somewhat annoying as the multiple parts become desynced from each other (I picked up about 10 deaths trying to grab the red key alone!).

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Hurricyclone and Steve can put their fears to rest, MAP05 is definitely doable with keyboard; I'll echo Veinen's thoughts and say what I've played of MAP06 has me shaking in fear more than the platforming perils of MAP05. Speaking of...

MAP05: Despite the scenic locale, this one definitely feels like the least Sunder-ish of the set (action-wise). Fights are slow, tiny, and everything must be done with caution and accuracy as opposed to the chaos present in the most of the maps. Many of the encounters feel really clumsy the first time going into it, and some just end up being terrible if you don’t have the finesse required—I had to save about a dozen times battling the first cyber demon since there were so many structures around that could cause splash damage and end me. Only found myself having fun towards the end, and even then the last encounter wasn’t as ruthless as I thought it was going to be, and I was quickly mopping up the leftover cybers like it was routine work.

The Pain Elements were the worst for me though, far more egregious than the platforming. I assume I'm supposed to run back to the starting area and spawn camp them, but since I'm not nimble enough to turn on a dime I had to camp the location of the previous battles. This meant that the damn PEs would fly to the top of the map, infighting with their own babies, and make an army up there out of autoaim range. The last encounter with them was atrocious, with about 200 Lost Souls spawned in that little area (I finished the map at over double the original monster count). Overall it was an interesting map that held true to its title, but not something that was especially enjoyable to play through.

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Veinen said:

If you're hell bent on not giving it a shot then I recommend watching Ribbiks' Uv-max demo of it, found in the DSDA. I think it's really impressive, that's how a demo looks like when you know the map inside out.

thanks :), it's also on youtube for the lazy. Probably the most time I've ever spent on a demo, just so much shit that go wrong with bad luck:

- rushing PEs relies on them teleporting out slowly (luck)
- you have to hope monsters don't get pushed over edges because boom-compat nonsense (luck)
- platforming, ofc (though this one is mitigated by just practicing them over and over..)

Anyways, some general thoughts:

map04: metal descendants, a couple deaths, did not finish yet.

I think I'm terrible at handling these multi-layer crusher things, most of my deaths were getting smashed to death either in the imp-horde / rk / or platforming areas. Might try this one again later. no demo for now though because deaths deaths deaths.

Also I think this is the most mundane of all sunder maps, the rusty base theme feels a bit too standard compared to the grandiose abstract environments later in the set.

map05: precarious, (17:32, 1 death)

Taking this one slow is definitely less hazardous than some of the shennanigans I pull in that max demo. I really like this map... actually.. I sometimes get the feeling I'm the only person on doomworld who actually likes platforming :p

Encounters are beyond claustrophobic, and often cheesing your way through them is orders of magnitude easier than playing as intended. That sort of thing usually bothers me, but in the case of this map it feels more like cracking a puzzle than it does breaking the map, for whatever reason.

I have to say though, gazebo really dropped the ball when it came to the PE teles and the lack of block monster lines in the map. If you don't handle them well it's not uncommon for one of em to get pushed into the abyss, requiring you to wait 5 minutes until they get their bearings by hitting the back wall and fly back to you -.-

looking forward to trying map06 again, I don't think I've ever beaten that map legitamately (though I think I have a uv-speed demo laying around somewhere that AV jumps and skips half the map)

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MAP05: Precarious
90% kills

Nah Ribbiks, you're not the only one, I actually like platforming in Doom as long as it's not too difficult (which this isn't, really - at least not the portions going from island to island). One thing Doom has always had going for it is that the controls are very precise (something that anyone who's a fan of old-school NES games like Megaman or Castlevania will tell you is very important for a platformer). And I actually like the "cramped" nature of the encounters here, as opposed to the huge sprawling fights later.

There are definitely some frustrating moments of the map though. The Pain Elementals are among the worst - I ended up beating them by rushing back to their spawn point (hoping that they derped around a bit), using the SSG to blast the PEs then running back to a safer, larger island and using the regular shotgun to finish off the lost souls as they came at me. The huge area of the map makes it really arduous though, especially if a lost soul gets shot off into the nether reaches of the map. One of the cacos at the start did the same thing, thankfully there were no more after the beginning. I also managed to push the first Arch-Vile off the side, fun fun. I decided I should be allowed to cheat and kill him for free since he shouldn't've fallen off in the first place.

The AV-only battle is interesting, but ultimately I just ended up retreating to the start platform and cheesing it from afar with the RL. The last battle I ignored completely, just hit the switches and get the hell outta dodge.

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Map 05 -- Precarious - 102% Kills / No secrets
Nope, the platforming doesn't bother me, either. In fact, I think this one's a lot of fun, it's one of my favorites from the mapset. The setting, the concept, the fights, it all works well together on this one. It's one of the shorter Sunder maps, and has only ~160 monsters to start, making it a sharp experience that invites you to move through it quickly....which is good, because this one is pretty damned tough to beat without saving, it must've taken me dozens and dozens of attempts to pull it off back when I first played it.

The visuals here more than make up for the somewhat less striking aspect of the previous map. Depicted is the shattered remnants of some massive fortress-city, battle-torn and gradually sinking into a vast ocean of flame. A ring of great watchtowers speak of the area's former glory, and a strange inverted bastion can be seen floating inexplicably in the distance, suggesting that the laws of reality hereabouts have not fared much better than the city itself. Whatever unleashed the fires of chaos on this place, be it infernal incursion or the sorcerous equivalent of a heavy thermonuclear strike, it certainly created some picturesque scenery--the presentation is very sprawling and vista-based; in most areas, there are few or no walls to obstruct your view, meaning that if you're on one side of the map you'll often be able to make out the tops of landmarks on the opposite end, if you look carefully. Of course, a side-effect of this is that there's very little in the way of safety-rails around the dangerous spots....and almost every spot is a dangerous spot.

Indeed, the map itself is probably the deadliest thing about this one, not the monsters that populate it. While this may seem counterintuitive to those uncomfortable with the platforming, I've found that pussyfooting around here and being overly cautious is the surest way to miss a jump (although the most likely way to FALL is to be knocked off by a monster, mostly in one or two specific fights). This little observation sort of sums up the map's appeal for me; for something that demands so much precision of the player (although, notice that Gazebo was a little more generous with the medikits than usual), it sure is fun to play it loose/brash, especially during the various cyberdemon fights--skirting the edges, just barely managing to cut corners with risky jumps in order to narrowly avoid assorted projectiles or the arch-vile's burning gaze...great stuff. I think it's quite accurate to say that the last, largest fight is also the easiest one, but I don't really see this as a fault in this case; though enjoyable, the map is also kind of stressful, and topping off the combat with a larger, yet more forgiving encounter is a good way to capitalize on the player's euphoria without having the map feel like it's over before it really ends. Of course, even this last fight isn't really the end.....in a very cheeky jab of cruelty, the player is made to platform back through most of the empty map in order to reach the exit. It's really not terribly difficult to do, but on a no-saves run it's easy to choke here (especially on the zig-zaggy bits, which you'll be doing in reverse) and die a horribly embarrassing/ironic death (believe me, I speak from experience). No one to blame but yourself, though....and that's why I can't bear it much ill-will.

It's not all golden--apart from the issue of the Boom-fail potential in a couple of the fights (particularly the last one), the pain elemental fights tend not to pan out very well, because the nature of the terrain means that the only reasonable way to handle them is to rush their spawn point (and plug it up with Doomguy's body before they all make it out at once, if possible) and try to SSG/chaingun them into oblivion before they get out over a more open part of the map, which is effective, but dull. Letting them exist for even a few seconds too long is a recipe for aggravation, since they can easily be knocked over to one of the map boundaries, far out of weapons range. If this happens, it's generally best to move on with the map and let them gradually find you in due time...even if you forget about them, they certainly aren't going to forget about you. These niggles aside, the map is still is an unforgettable experience--whether or not that's a good thing is in the eye of the beholder, I suppose.

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Map06: Grinder - 23:53 - 103% kills

Holy fucking christ was this a thing. This map annihilated me in so many ways that I almost felt physically violated afterwards. This was bordering "I just can't do this" -category for me and I actually started this one about two days ago but I just got ripped apart at the start time after time so I took a little break to gather my thoughts. Finally got through yesterday evening but boy was it ever a grind. It's the claustrophobic setting and the turret monster placement that take the difficulty to another level here. In the first area especially the player has to keep moving at all times. Later on the map gets a bit easier but health is somewhat sparse so you can't really afford any huge stupidites. Which is exactly what I did, huge stupidities that is, so the rest of the map was quite difficult for me as well.

The main obstacle was the battle that reveals the second Cyber and a horde of various hellspawn teleport into the ground level for your inconvenience. I watched j4rios demo and now I realize I may have been a little overconfident though since I left the first Cyber alive which limited my movements a little. I didn't know if I could afford, regarding ammo, to kill him straight away and I thought he might be useful later but he proved to be nothing but a turret in the end. The duo of Cybers and a bunch of other crap was a pretty cool encounter and I thought I managed it rather well by PGing them while standing in the "corridor". Risky but worked that time. They did deliver some splash damage and my health situation overall at that point was terrible so the HK arena fight was quite challenging as well. I uhh... forgot to pick up the soulsphere too which surely didn't help :D

The penultimate fight dancing with the Cyber and an Arch-Vile took me down a few times as well since I again thought I couldn't afford grabbing the Invuln straight away. It's not that hard of a fight going mortal either thankfully so I got splashed "only" once or twice. The finale was an easy and relaxing Invulnerability-timing exercise that I got through on my very first attempt. I didn't even know there were two Cybers in the chamber until watching j4rios demo, the other one must've died very quickly in my playthrough. The other one didn't survive the Nobles either but at least I got to see his demise.

Well, overall I guess it's an alright map. It's really unforgiving if you're not familiar with the map and the working strategies. I just tried again for a bit and almost got through the first area in my first attempt so it gets much more manageable when you know the map. Still really fucking hard though. Visually it's perhaps not so impressive in scale but I think Gazebo did quite well in making it look like it plays, if that makes any sense. It looks really oppressing and ominous, not in an atmospheric way but it's like the visuals already tell that the map is going to brutally murder you. And then you fire and get brutally murdered.

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MAP05: Precarious
Well, here's a prime exhibit of Grade A bullshittery. Not even the platforming (well yes, the platforming) but platforming combined with bottomless lost souls and homing rockets? Gah. This is the first Sunder map I've actually gotten frustrated with. The others, it was like, "Okay, I can do this; just try again for the dozenth time"; this one actually makes me angry.

Honestly, this is a very cool looking map. But that second wave of 4 (or is it 5?) pain elementals is just ridiculous. SSG is too slow, chaingun too weak, I'm too low on plasma cells, and the rocket launcher just blasts the PEs back across the map where they can sit back and spawn little fuckers 'til the cows come home. Having said all that, I did finally manage to beat them.

Now I'm stuck on the eastern platform (with the Cyber and archvile.) I had triggered the baddies, ran around to initiate some infighting, then booked it back to the mainland and saved. Only problem? They stopped infighting. So now the Cyber is stomping around in the center of the island, and all the revenants are swarming the western edge trying to get at me. If I try to get back to the island (I never looked for the switch) I'll get killed by a barrage of rockets. I'm thinking I'll just have to IDDQD/ICLIP over there and resume the fight, 'cause Lord knows I'm not attempting the first half of this level again.

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Map06 - "Grinder"

I was looking forward to this map in a masochistic kind of way. It takes me so bloody long to get through it, largely because the tactics I end up using involve trying to rush past certain battles with very little margin for error, and the endless saving and dying that goes with it. One of the hardest bits I find is just surviving the beginning area. Carving out a niche from the 360 degree onslaught isn't so bad, but dealing with the first wave of archviles when you finally get up the stairs is a nightmare. I found dealing with them on the ground was just not happening this time so I tried leaving them and dodging past the cyber to continue up the stairs. Eventually working my way round to the mastermind and killing that gave me a bit of breathing space, and several deaths later I was finally able to clear out the viles and everything else from the starting zone and move on to the next section.

The next major challenge was dealing with the 2 cybers, though this wasn't so bad when i hit on the tactic of just rushing past the pinkies to the switch to access the courtyard where the imp army are waiting, then once they are cleared I could use that open space to dispatch the cybers fairly easily. The next bit was a total nightmare though, when you climb the stairs and everything teleports in. In previous attempts at this map I found that just running around the upper ledge and getting a lucky platform hop or archvile jump to the next bit can avoid the whole battle, and I kind of wonder if that is one of the intended tactics. However it takes me endless tries to get it right, so this time I thought I'd just try killing everything instead. This started out ok, but I ran out of ammo and hell knights were still pouring in. I was starting to wonder if those 2 cybers were meant to help somehow, but it was too late for that, so in the end I just went back to the original tactic and spent a few dozen deaths getting a lucky run past it all. The final challenge is pretty much a case of dying until you find out where all the switches are and then managing to press them all before the invul spheres run out, which for me is another lottery of how well you can wade through the monsters. Playing on zdoom I end up surfing on their heads, which feels like a cheat somehow, but with that much meat its easy to get trapped and no amount of rockets seems to save you. I'm sure there is an optimum strategy for that room, but fuck it I'll take what I can get and wave goodbye with 75% kills.

After watching an expert tackling this map I conclude that I have really bad luck dealing with archviles, they seemed to be the biggest headache in this map for me. While there are plenty of corners to hide behind, moving around can be quite awkward at times with the general lack of space and steps everywhere. One of these days I'll figure out the right way to play this map.

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Demon of the Well, I think you have an inherit inclination towards "black sheep" of mapsets. I think this is because these maps often attempt to be the most ambitious and you seem to respect that, or it might be because you enjoy when an author gets overtly sadistic and/or dumb.

MAP06: This opens with an absolutely brutal start, assaulting you on all sides with some measly armaments thrown your way against more than a hundred bulky baddies. This was the most difficult part of the map for me, especially since I didn’t know where the switch was for a long, long time (and that cyber was in a TERRIBLE position to fight). I got kinda lucky with the AVs and camped a corner while they filtered in one at a time (that and I save spammed through a lot of the rev rockets), but the bottom section of the map was an absolute slog, giving you awkward room to move around especially against the dual cybers. I found this to be as aggravating and plodding as the PE swarms in the last map. But then I got to the 3 AVs and their hell knight brigade… my god did that take forever. I should've been like mouldy and tried to skip the encounter, but instead I was determined to get 100% kills and use the chokepoint to thin out their numbers... until I ran out of ammo. All my saves were in an unfortunately doomed space, so I had to boot one up and push through to snipe out the AVs, which felt more like a making a TAS than playing a map. I really didn't understand the strategy to toppling this encounter, and find that it was too obscure for my tastes.

Really didn’t enjoy the finale either, as it was pretty much “grab two invuls while firing all 100 rockets, hoping you get the AVs sooner rather than later”. In the end I think this was the worst map I’ve experienced yet, and definitely the most frustrated I’ve gotten playing Doom in a while.

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I just had another go at map06 and managed to get 100% kills this time. It went a lot smoother I have to say, that is I only died hundreds of times instead of thousands. The most difficult bit is still the archvile invasion of the starting area though, getting the barons and the cyber to infight is a roll of the dice, and if they dont then you have shit flying from 3 directions. Definitely a good idea to kill the first cyber before that bit. For the teleporting hellknights I managed to get the twin cybers to kill them all, which was a lot easier but took ages.

I do like that map despite how harsh it can be. It feels like the odds are stacked against you but at the same time you feel like the map itself is on your side, the terrain is hard for the monsters to navigate while affording you lots of opportunities for cover.

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Map 06 -- Grinder - 116% Kills / No secrets
This one's relentless. High-stress most of the way through. It even somehow seems more businesslike visually--as in map 02, the flesh/wood/metal texture combo is very traditional in flavor (very 'Inferno', really), and the structures are arranged more in the interest of their deadly function than in that of striking form. I would say it's another of the least aesthetically impressive Sunder levels, but it's not bad, really--honestly, I think the main thing it needs to look really cool is just some less static lighting. Anyway, I suppose this one's not here to look pretty--it's here to turn you into processed meat. I'm not sure whether or not I'd agree it's the single most difficult map in the current iteration of Sunder, but it's definitely a top contender, more difficult to survive than a few of the later maps that have three or four times as many monsters. I have managed to session this a couple of times in the past (out of countless attempts), but in the interest of keeping up with the Club I had to break down and use a save at about the halfway point this go-round. Incidentally, like many of the other Sunder maps I'd say the first half is actually nastier than the second half, but that doesn't make the second half any less disaster-prone, or the whole affair any less grueling.

The reason for this is that the terrain is very difficult. Not difficult in the same sense as the terrain in 'Precarious' was difficult, mind; there's little or no damage floor on the active route, and only a couple of moments of platforming where there's a risk of falling to your death (and one of them is very hard to screw up if you have any kind of facility for movement at all). What makes the Grinder so inhospitable is that its cacophony of ledges, overlapping terraces, fiddly little stairways, and narrow alleyways is very awkward to navigate smoothly--and that's without taking the crowds of flesh-hungry beasts floundering greedily about on most of the free floorspace into account. It's true that the terrain is even more of an obstacle for most of the monsters than it is for the player, but they have the advantage of being deeply entrenched in choice firing positions. Much of the business of actually completing this map (especially the first half) chiefly involves dashing around frantically trying to create a tiny little corner where you can stand safely for a few moments without being rendered into a crimson cloud of flying cutlets and offal the moment you stop moving. Hey, this is Doomguy we're talking about, he's made of mindblowing feats of evasion, right? Well, that's the whole problem with the terrain--you'll be killed if you stay at "Point A" for more than a second or two, but moving from "Point A" to "Point B" is often terribly inconvenient and awkward.....and then when you get to "Point B" you can't stay there for more than a second two, or you'll be, uh, killed.

For this reason, there is no place for heroism in this one. Given the inclement layout and the surprisingly limited supply of health kits and ammo (although on the ammo front I probably felt the pinch partially due to the way I played one of the arch-vile scenarios); victory in this one is more dependent on finding/exploiting exploitable scenarios wherever the opportunity arises; efficiency and caution are paramount. For this reason I left several of the cyberdemons alive, using their rocket splash to distract/eliminate various large swaths of monsters in the earlier parts of the map. This worked surprisingly well against the party of viles that teleports into the floor of the first area, and using the twins to clear out the imp army behind the large bars also went smoothly. This was all well and good, but my attempts to get the twins to help me with the teleporter booth flood of knights and viles on the upper killing floor backfired on me; a huge meat-plug of knights with viles at the rear continually reviving them quickly formed at the mouth of the chamber, and not even the cybertanks were able to efficiently punch through it before being ground into paste by the torrent of fireballs. This left me to use a rapidly-dwindling ammo supply to punch through it myself, and frankly I was unsure if I was going to be able to do it (the save I had used was just as I began attempting this)....eventually I made it, but damn, what a struggle. As was the case with map 05's relatively easy ending fight, I was glad for the cooldown presented by the V-sphere dance in the titular 'grinder' area, which is eminently doable if you don't panic, even moreso if you manage to save the first sphere in the little vile/cyber cage until you're ready to enter the final chamber.

Like many of the other Sunder maps, it certainly is memorable, and stressful. There's no denying that finally clearing the damned thing certainly feels like an achievement, but the nature of the stress here--a type of danger heavily reliant on not being able to move fluidly (contrast with map 05, where one could move fluidly, albeit at great risk)--doesn't appeal to me enough to make it one of my favorites from the set.

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Map 06: Grinder
Well, damn. This used to be one of my favorites, but now I'm completely 100% unable to get past the first Vile invasion (literally made a save before it and tried over and over for two hours with zero successes).

Oh well. Such is life, I guess.

EDIT: @Veinen, where did you find the J4rio demo? The only demos I can find are the Oku demo (he leaves the first Cyb alive) and the Ribbiks UV-Speed that skips over half the map.

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Cynical said:
EDIT: @Veinen, where did you find the J4rio demo? The only demos I can find are the Oku demo (he leaves the first Cyb alive) and the Ribbiks UV-Speed that skips over half the map.

I meant the casual playthrough/Uv-max he posted ~10 posts up in this thread. In it he kills the Cyber before releasing the second one, which is kind of laborous but for surviving purposes it's better to take him out first. In speedruns, eg. okuplok's demo, it may be helpful to leave him alive.

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Map07 - “Hollow Icon"

I like this one, every battle seems to be twice as big as the one before it. The beginning almost seems tame, with nothing to really speak about until the blue key arena. This is where things start getting chaotic, and when I first played this map I figured this must be the finale of the map itself (I obviously hadn't checked the monster count). For me every battle in this map starts out with a few exploratory deaths to see the extent of what I will have to deal with, before the business of working out how to best survive it, but I generally end up running on instinct. With this many enemies clogging up the space my usual tactic is to lead them all to one end until there is just enough room to squeeze past them to the rear where things are calmer, and just keep doing that until they destroy themselves. Though this doesn't work so well all the time, and many of these battles have some purposefully annoying ridges that seem to be designed to trap you if you try skirting around the edges of the rooms. But anyway, these fights are spacious enough to allow for some foolhardy heroics, which makes them fun even when they keep killing you.

The penultimate battle certainly did kill me enough times to start saving mid fight. I'm still not sure of the best way to deal with that room, I clear out all the small stuff with the bfg and then just run around like a headless chicken looking for ammo and hoping that the infighting takes over, but with this much stuff you can't really rely on that unless you are prepared to spend ages dodging around the place. The corner with the mancubus army is particularly lethal. Thank christ neither of the last 2 fights have archviles in them.

And so to the last battle, a real jaw dropping moment when you realise the remaining 1500 monsters are all pouring in at once. When I first played this map I could not beat this room. I ended up watching a video of an expert playing it and stole their tactic of waiting as long as possible while the arena fills up before engaging the enemy. Then when I am up against the wall I cut through the crowds with bfg making my way towards extra cell ammo, heading behind the now dead mastermind and teleporting upstairs where things are a bit more clear. Then the fun with the pain elementals begins, and chaos reigns for a while as I run from cell ammo to cell ammo nuking everything that floats. Took me a fair few goes to reach a point where I was comfortable enough to save, then the long mopping up processes. I'm not even sure I used any rockets in that last battle, I don't like using them when even one lost soul is flying about. I can imagine that fight is somewhat different with infinite height..

Its a fairly simple theme of separate self contained battles one after the other, maybe overly simplistic when compared to previous maps where routes overlap and previous rooms can come back to haunt you. But with fights this epic there isn't really any need for economy of design, each battle is its own self contained world of pain.

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MAP07: Alright, now we’re cookin’! A brutal map filled with grandeur and interesting setpieces rather than slow slogs (though the cleanup is quite meticulous). There's a lot of beautiful, strange asymmetrical arenas made out of the bumpiest material possible, and I'm always a fan of cross iconography. What I really enjoyed about the map is that there’s always space to move around despite how easy it is to get cornered, with tunnels and little hideaways to offer you some reprieve. That and the battles become crazier and crazier.

Yet it’s unfortunate that once you get good loops going around the hordes, most of the fights are over before they start. Granted it’s rough to try and look for open spots to loop around the baddies when you start, but the BFG is handed to you kinda early on and that’ll push through mostly anything. The final fight was a bit of a headache thanks to the ungodly mass of PEs, but it was an interesting battle to try and puzzle out. Plus the ceiling wasn’t ridiculously high so it wasn’t hard to shoot down the bloated gasbags. Neat stuff, definitely the highlight of the wad so far. I think ammo is still given in excess, although I suppose its so you can fight rather than run around in circles and watch them brawl amongst each other. The punultimate arena was definitely quite a looker.

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Map 07: Hollow Icon:
The first half of this one plays surprisingly "traditionally", in a fun way, with a lot more tricks and traps than I would expect from Sunder, and a generally small scale of combat. It's fun "traditional", though, despite how cheesable the fights in the first room are.

The second half sure as hell makes up for this, though. Yep, Hollow Icon marks the first BFG in Sunder, and god damn, you're going to use the everliving shit out of it. The first of those three arenas can be mostly cheesed by grabbing the BFG and sprinting to the blue key; that little ridge near that room will protect you from Cyberdemon fire, and you can wait while they kill everything for you. No such luck with the other two, though; I hope your crowd-control skills are up to snuff, because you'll need them here.

Map 08: Pale Monument:
Easily the best map in the wad, IMO.
The start is actually pretty easy if you play it smart. Grab Rockets and Plasma, hide behind the tower on the left, kill stuff. Once the central room is clear, go down the hallway on the left first, and fight some simple battles. Then kill those Revs and go up the lift. Easy.

The Cacoswarms are also fairly simple, as long as you realize you have access to the BFG now. The first swarm (the guys that immediately awaken when their door opens) can be chokepointed near the lift, but do keep an eye on your six, since eventually some will sneak up behind you. The second chunk of them is a bit more troublesome, but just remember that you've got tons of room to run to; once their numbers are down, just circle-strafe them in that Arachnotron arena. Still, these are probably my favorite part of the map (and a fight that influenced my current project quite heavily); I've got a fetish for fights that spill all over the map, and this one does that, with the way it forces you to retreat for ammo.

The real teeth of this map is the following giant Mancu-Rev clusterfuck. Oh god, that fight hurts. You get cut off from health supplies early, the Caco-corpses impair visibility, and it's a *massive* clusterfuck. The best strategy I could find is to hide in that little room attached to the Arachno-arena and use rockets for your initial kills, to thin the numbers down, then to jump out the window, back up the stairs, and circle-strafe in the Arachno-arena like mad, remembering to run away if things get intense at all. Once the Revs and the Mancubi in that little arena are dead, Rocket/BFG cleanup those Mancs that spawn on the bridge, and cleanup those Revs on the blood floor below.

The rest of this is relatively simple, although the fact that the cells in the final arena are sorta awkwardly placed does emphasize the importance of infighting and picking your shots well.

Also, holy shit this map is pretty. Fucking wow.

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Map 07 -- Hollow Icon - 102% Kills / No secrets
Essentially an abstract, city-sized casket housing the tortured remains of millions upon millions of ritual sacrifices, ostracized clerics, fallen martyrs, and other assorted casualties of faith, this titanic edifice of ancient wood and cold iron brims to its very foundations with the collective malice of its silent tenants. Silent, but not quite still; the twisted spiritual energy of the suffering damned stirs and foments as one trespasses further into their unhallowed sanctum, warping reality in increasingly drastic ways--walls and floors bleed and shift, holy symbols are limned in an unnatural red nimbus, and ever-growing hordes of slavering monstrosities are manifested to run amok on the mortal coil, carrying out the vengeance that the Icon's real inmates never knew in life. It's all very striking, and I'm surprised I didn't remember it better before now....this is the first map where we really begin to see 'the' Sunder visual/architectural style, combining the scale of the locales seen in something like 'Metal Descendants' with the strange, irregular cuboid geometry first seen in 'Dreaming Garden.' The solid ruby-red highlights outlining so many of the inset details in the walls and other surfaces of the map are one of the WAD's most defining features, and one of those most often imitated in kindred WADs today. Again, lighting is rather flat in much of the play space here, but flashing/scrolling/shimmering effects on a lot of the inset details, as well as the amorphous convention thereof, make up for this somewhat.

Any reasonably intense mapset stands to benefit from a breather map here and there, and Sunder is absolutely no different, regardless of its generally megalomaniacal bent. Despite the fact that the monster count in Hollow Icon approaches the 3,000 mark, it is really something of a breather map between the backbreaking ordeal of 'Grinder' and the more grandiose slaughters characterizing forthcoming maps. Nigh on half of the map is characterized by smaller, one-shot battles taking place in average-sized, discrete rooms; basic crowd-control skills should be more than enough to see many players through these. In some ways this slow buildup establishes tension, with the player waiting more and more anxiously for the other shoe to drop; it first seems to do so in the blue key battle, but despite the much larger number of monsters involved here, this is still a fairly easy fight, with the small-number of arch-viles being the most credible threat; there's lots of ammo, a convenient back passage for switching from one side of the chamber to the other (although a cyberdemon just might troll you by entering it sometimes), and of course, the much welcome debut of the BFG 9000. Another thing I noticed about this particular fight, and which is also true of the bigger fights that follow it, is that while the spill-terrace topography of the floors cannot necessarily be navigated with complete freedom, they are infinitely more conducive to fluid movement than anything in 'Grinder' was, which goes a long way towards explaining why this map is far easier than that one despite fielding around four times as many monsters.

After a certain point map progress becomes a very linear series of exponentially larger fights, with the final and only truly threatening one placing you in the middle of ~2.5 small armies converging from 3 sides, with an artillery division of sorts taking up a fixed position on an elevated platform in the fourth direction. While infighting will naturally account for heavy casualties here, it's never going to be quick enough a process to keep you from being swamped, so you'll have to take matters into your own hands to some degree. The two main complications here are a cloud of terribly bothersome pain elementals at the back of one army that eventually end up seriously hampering movement on one part of the battlefield as the fight progresses, and the fact that ammo and health, while present in adequate (though far from generous) quantities, tends to be spread out in small pockets, so you'll sometimes be compelled to travel to parts of the field you'd probably rather not visit at particular moments in order to keep your BFG juiced up/your rocket stock topped off. My own fairly reliable strategy for success here is to use rockets for as long as possible at the outset of the fight, with prime targets being the herds of pinkies (who are good blockers that can also eat a ton of BFG rays if they're still around in large numbers later on), particularly those that come from the massive closet to the south; after firing somewhere in the neighborhood of 100-125 rockets, the hordes of smallfry are usually starting to close in on me back near the entrance, at which point I break out the BFG and start charging the arachnatron division on the hill before targeting the PE clouds, using the teleporters in the closets to get the least obstructed approach to supply drops as the situation warrants. I find that the rev battalion near the exit tends to make very little impact on the battle most of the time (at least doing it this way), since they initially have that layer of imps between them and you which acts as a sort of fleshy 'grace period' before you have to start worrying about many tracking missiles as you move about.

It's not Sunder's most artful or involved map, and it has some pretty nonsensical monster placement in a few spots (read: utterly useless spider masterminds), but it's entertaining enough, and really is an excellent study in Insane_Gazebo's aesthetic sensibilities if you stop to look at the surroundings.

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alright, I decided to do ONE Sunder map.

MAP08 Pale Monument

Let me start off by saying that is a very exquisite use of CRATOP2. And also, this is a Sunder map WITHOUT archviles, so that's something.

I'll echo most of Cynical's thoughts here. Opener, not bad. The real bloodshed begins with the wall of mancubi as well as the imps, with some extra teleporting monsters. You're gonna hate those tomatoes. Not even the spiderdemon or the cybers could handle the amount of stress I intentionally give them; too bad I couldn't see them suffer much cuz I be running too. Heading south, the megasphere opens the BFG which was previously locked, and a lot of fucking tomatoes. I couldn't push through them all, and the damn tomatoes followed me all through the map. The long SE walkway reveals lots more enemies after a few switch presses, and running around does the trick only slightly. One of my failed clinchers was to get the two eastern cybies to kill the hellknights, but their rockets could never go over a railing, so I had to kill them and the knights myself. It took me about 30 minutes to get that whole eastern section situated (again, tomatoes). I guess the inner area is the monument itself, and when locked in, it's another run for life against various foes, again using infighting to my advantage until it's settled. My time was over an hour. In summary:

-There's revenants and mancubi which help with infighting, but are just as annoying as anywhere else.
-There's imps being imps.
-Hellknights and barons are around and I use them to attack other monsters sometimes.
-Some arachnotrons are present which also help with infighting.
-About four pain elementals causing a slight stir in the west.
-I feel really bad about the cyberdemons (and the spiderdemon) because they get clobbered by the masses. (But this is Sunder, whaddya expect?)
-No archviles
-And lots and lots of fucking tomatoes.

Very fun, very well-designed, and very frustrating all at the same time. Good map. I really wanted to save ammo, so I used infighting almost everywhere possible.

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MAP08: At first I thought this was going to be a rough start like MAP06, but I was pleasantly surprised by how many places you could hide in (including the starting area!). After causing a ruckus and zipping about, the cyber does most of the brunt work for you and the map is quite generous with health so there’s not much panic induced yet. Little else comes to mind until you open up the door to the place where every cacodemon ever used in a wad is quarantined off and the big balloons blot out the sky. I “saved” myself into a horrific corner with poor crowd management during the encounter, going all the way to the top area where the two cybers guarding the two switches, and thankfully they were still there (I didn't pick up the BFG). All the cacos flooded in there and I had to run around them at low health and hope the CBs had enough stamina to infight with all the mettlesome gasbags (they didn’t), but I luckily pulled myself out of that squall and the “clean up” wasn’t nearly as horrendous once I grabbed that big fuggin gun.

Everything else was standard fare I thought. Perhaps the worst thing about the map is that the uneven floor and caco corpses obscure much of your vision, making the following fight against the mancubii a nightmare since you can’t see which one of them is firing until the shot is already out. But it's not too bad since you have a lot of room you can retreat to, and it's more about patience than cunning. Finale was pretty disappointing though—all you have to do is circle strafe and keep the BFG primed, and all the monsters chew each other up. The cyberdemons mix things up briefly, as they can get dangerously close to your personalized race track, but they're also quickly bated into the endless noble horde corralled up in the middle. Neat map overall, though these ones are certainly getting… long. I think compared to Hollow Icon I like this one less, because it felt very much defined by the caco horde while I enjoyed nearly every encounter in MAP07 (that and while this map is tonally more cohesive, Hollow Icon feels like it builds up with its grandeur).

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Map08 - “Pale Monument"

Holy shit this map. First I have to say how amazing it looks, the absolute pinnacle of beautiful insanity. As for the gameplay, there was some fighting early on I seem to recall, though it has all been pushed out of my memory by that titanic caco swarm. I very nearly gave up on that bit, it seemed like nothing i could do would make a dent in it, the one measly megasphere was whittled away to nothing and I had squandered all the other health on previous recklessness. The bfg was there for the taking, but not enough ammo to hold back that massive red cloud. Blasting through it to find more resources only finds even more cacos, and whatever else was waiting - mostly mancs and spiders and revs. I can't tell you how many deaths that one battle took to figure out. In the end i tried drawing the caco swarm into the rest of the map and then running around it and that worked out eventually, but christ it took a lot luck. By that time i was without armour so just a couple of unlucky hits and I was as good as dead, so the only option was to melt my way through the mancs with bfg to get to the double cyber room. At last some health appeared, and the cybers helped me thin out the cacos enough to finally wipe them out.

After that even the final battle seemed easy, even though it definitely wasn't. Took me a number of attempts to figure that one out, but its mainly just pacing your circuit of the room to give just enough space to circle the crowds, and hope that a stray rocket doesn't get you.

Now i'm going to watch a video of someone doing it properly

actually I'm interested to know if caco swarms behave differently in source ports where they are infinitely tall, and whether this map would be easier or harder or if it would make a difference.

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Wow, participation for this one sure is dying off...


Map 09: The Cage
This map marks the start of a really terrible three map stretch. But, really, this one is probably the worst of the three. The Cage is unimaginably awful.

To start, remember that rant on item placement I promised you?

Look at this shit! I swear, if you're a mapper, and I catch you doing this crap, I'll find you, punch you, and open your fridge, and steal your beer. What sort of idiot would put ammo on both sides of a teleporter like that, to make me walk around a narrow ledge just to grab the other cell pack, while under fire?!?! I can only imagine that the answer is "an idiot who never plays his own maps". FFS.

And, in that same room, we get this shit:
Yes, please put bumpyfloor steps that make me miss the invuln while in a hurry. And certainly don't use a crystal sector to make it flat while still preserving the looks; no, just make me glide right over it, while I'm right in between two Masterminds whose shots are buffering me around. That'll be great!

Not to mention that the platforms with those two invulns are the only fucking thing in the room that isn't 4-way symmetrical -- the invulns can only be grabbed from one side of the central divider. With no actual reference points (because of that whole 4-way symmetry thing), it's *really* hard to tell whether you'll be able to grab the invuln nearest to you or not.

But enough about the utterly stupid item placement in the final arena. How is the rest of this map?

Utterly fucking trash.

Sure, it looks cool (aside from a few awfully tiled switch textures), I'll give it that. But the play?

Dear god, the play is terrible. Spend 2/3rds of the map walking forward over a trigger, backing off to a camping point, and then killing the fight you just triggered from some safe chokepoint. Spend the last third in "invuln-hopping" fights. God, this is terrible.

Oh, and you should definitely find and watch Ribbiks's Pacifist demo for this one. If you ever wanted to know why I put shoot-switches early in my levels... this is why. Good lord, what an awfully designed lump of sectors.

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I was too lazy to write anything, but now I'm feeling like putting down a couple of words about each one of these maps. I've never been a huge fan of Sunder because, while aesthetically it's mostly great and very appealing, gameplay rarely matches the visual aspect, offering long monotonous grind combined with cramped dickishness and extremely annoying platforming parts (I sincerely hope that IG and all of his family members will be condemned to play I Wanna Be The Guy each and every day for all eternity for what he has done here, fucking Mario fanatic). Not the best combination for sure. I'll join those who think that Sunder's dreaded aura is pretty much undeserved. Play TimeOfdeath's maps or something like that, and I can guarantee you that you'll get your ass kicked much more often. Heck, Deus Vult 2 is still more demanding in parts than this, so what's that crushingly difficult you're talking about?

Props to DotW for such a poetic approach to describing the maps, to me they feel much more abstract. Though this is probably because Doom itself feels more like a competition to me nowadays, I don't go deep into the meaning of things, I just have a goal of overcoming the odds and reaching the exit. It's probably a bit sad, but I'm afraid there's nothing I can do about that. Many years of holy war killed the poet in me.

Map01 - “Python"
Not a bad start. Small but cute map with decent action and some neat outside visuals. Didn't care much about distant arachnotrons, but the interior fights are nice.

Map02 - “The Burrow"
Duh... I can't help but to call this map my favorite in the whole wad. While it's far from the grandeur of its following colleagues, it's still nice and also heavily relies on that graveyard/mausoleum theme with graves everywhere, things I've always had a boner for. Not a fan of the beginning that replicates the first steps of Python, and rev part feels a bit longer than it needs to be, but still - the gameplay in this map is largely enjoyable.

Map03 - “The Dreaming Garden"
One of those D2 textures I hate the most. How did jongo put it some time ago about some other map using it heavily?.. Overgrown public restroom? Oh yes, indeed it is. So overall - don't like the looks of this one, only that final wooden part looks nice. Gameplay is acceptable, though is definitely more annoying thanks to some awkward cyb placement across the map. Still, it's one of those maps I like more. Probably.

Map04 - “Metal Descendants"
While the first big fight with chaingunners and HKs is ragequit-inducing, and there's also the platforming part (thankfully it's easy enough) - this is probably the most interesting map with crushers, things I always hate. In here, however, they're really useful and do the majority of the dirty work. Nice. So yep, I like this one.

Map05 - “Precarious"
Fuck this shit. Glide to the exit is the way to go.

Map06 - "Grinder"
Uuuuuhhh... Cramped fighting at its ugliest. Words can't describe the feelings I was experiencing while trying to conquer this one, it's just... uhhh, no. Never to replay again. Didn't care about the final fight at all, so I used those invuls to reach the exit as fast as I could.

Map07 - “Hollow Icon"
DotW's description altered my view on the aesthetic side of this one...
Yes, this one's good. Grab your bfg and try to work out your way through the hordes increasing their numbers wth each subsequent encounter. I actually think that the penultimate fight was harder that the final one (I think I've managed to pull the latter off in my first or second attempt, while the previous two got me killed several times).

Map08 - “Pale Monument"
I'll part ways with the reviewers of this map above me and say that it's awful look-wise, the color- and texture choices are eye-plucking, and design is just bizarre. Not in a good way. Gameplay is just a prolonged grind all over the place. Cacovasion was an interesting part, and the final fight isn't bad either, but everything before and between these two is meh.

Map09 - “The Cage"
Listen to Cynical's words and learn how to play this map pacifist-style (thanks Ribbiks!). Don't waste your time on beating this abomination legitimately. Looks good, plays horribly, almost like if the gameplay was an afterthought tied to the architecture. And the architecture, in turn, is completely irrelevant to this style of gameplay.

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Map09 - “The Cage"

I like the cinematic entrance to this map, but things go downhill pretty damn fast. I think 90% of my deaths came in the first 10% of the map just from falling off slippery ledges. Not having mouselook is an enormous pain in the arse with all the steep steps. The first swarm of cacodemons kept killing me because hitting them with rockets sent them flying so high upwards I couldn't see them. Navigating those initial areas has all the fun of running on ice with your shoelaces tied together, and at some point you seem to leave all that precarious shit behind anyway, almost as if the map itself gets fed up with it. There was a switch I had to find in doom builder because it was on a platform too low down to see. I have to say, there is a point where challenging design just becomes bad design in my opinion. Spectacular though the scenery may be, most of it consists of repetitious background detail that makes even my big computer struggle.

So yeah, this map was a bit of a chore, though it got better once all the mountain goat stuff was out of the way. Some of the fights seemed to be a bit weird, as if there was a particular way you are meant to deal with them, but its easier to get some distance and just grind away laboriously. There was a platform that filled up with imps for no reason I could gather, unless it was to make you stand there for 5 minutes shooting them all. At one point a million pinkies appeared with 2 cyberdemons, with an invulnerability sphere. Not sure how that was designed to play out, but you could just walk out the door and watch them all from safety as the pinkies hounded the cybers until they got stuck on cliff edges. Then another 5 minutes standing still with finger on fire button pouring every scrap of ammo into the endless wall of pink flesh.

The most interesting fights seemed to mainly involve the invul spheres, clearing out as much of the meat as you could in the time limit which was never quite long enough. I enjoyed the last battle, though it killed me a hundred times and I had to save half way through it. Not sure what role the masterminds were playing, they never seemed to live long enough to do me any damage. Maybe just adding to the chaos.. Not my favourite sunder map, mainly because of the awkward navigation and switch hunting.

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Demonologist said:

Map07 - “Hollow Icon"
...I actually think that the penultimate fight was harder that the final one...

Heh, I was wondering if I was the only one who felt this way. The final fight's PEs become mostly useless in PRBoom thanks to infinite tallness (they have a bitch of a time actually getting to you), and those teleporters give you a million easy escape routes. Meanwhile, the penultimate fight's Mancubus-army is fucking lethal, and it's a lot easier to get hemmed in, both because of the arena's shape and the smaller number of Cyberdemons.

(Also, even though I do agree that Sunder doesn't live up to its reputation of total brutality [Combat Shock 2 does a better job of living up to Sunder's reputation than Sunder itself], I do have to say that I can't think of any maps DVII that I'd say are harder than most of Sunder, at least not from a "beat it all in one go" perspective. Though if you meant "there are individual fights in DVII that are harder than any individual fights in Sunder other than the starts of Grinder or Obsidian Nightmare", I'd certainly agree with that. I also do have to admit that the Cacoswarm in "Pale Monument" was a MAJOR inspiration for a certain something I'm working on that you've seen ;-) ).

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