Description: Reviewed by Eisead for the Phrozen Keep.
Categories: Mod Reviews
I come to you today not with a review, but a testament. And how it's a testament to madness and how it's a beautiful thing. After my several weeks leave I came back the Keep ready to dive in and start reviewing. Shortly before I made the decision of doing a new Zy-El review I had this conversation with my brother, who convinced me to go along with his crazy idea.
Him: Hey did you know there's another version of Zy-El out?
Me: Doesn't surprise me, it was good after all.
Him: Its 2.5, looks huge.
Me: 2.5? Does this Kato character sleep at all?
Him: Maybe an army of monkey warriors makes the mod for him.
Me: Whatever, so what's makes this better then what I've played?
Him: New monsters, oh, and look: Server Play.
I was hooked.
I have yet to actually do a full time online and review it until now. Well, not completely online. With such failed attempts at a Multiplayer review (go back in history you'll find 'em), and the Maxx Power Multiplayer review scandal the skies were dark. But I think I might have something here. A thanks goes out to my brother and his two for helping me with an off-server multiplay review. Because of my unfortunate lack of DSL, they made my job of Multiplay easier.
Now put aside the rumors of how Blizzard is going to integrate Zy-El into the next 1.10 patch, Zy-El in the past months has exploded into what could be considered the best mod of the Spring Quarter 2003. In the little amount of time Kato and Zy-El: Trial by Fire have been around this unhosted mod has attracted a fan base unseen by many mods, including fan sites. Sense when does a mod have fan sites? Zy-El combines a great foundation of different item creation methods, a new feel to game play, and the draw of a Level 5000 character level. As if that weren't enough too tickle a mod players fancy, the mod is actually kinda balanced. But enough of what you should already know, on to the Multiplayer review:
Zy-El plays pretty well once you get past level 10. It was hard to get there, mostly likely because we we're all block heads. Once my brother suggested that I sell my flawed gem and buy a weapon things went smoother. But multiplayer did have its downers. Everything that's wrong with battle net could be a problem here. Constant drops from the game, crashes that cause the entire game to fail, and the lag of a slow computer dragging everything down. A set of unique problems comes bundled with Zy-El and Multiplayer. Because of hardcoded problems with the game certain aspects of the game have been tweaked for Multiplayer. Mainly Nightmare.
Nightmare is a bore to be bored with. In order to give players a chance to get to hell before level 100 Kato was forced to balance Nightmare to be slow going compared to the rest of the game world. For Multiplayer (server style) this isn't that bad, you can have some level 1000 super tweaker help you through. Single player really gets the short end of the stick here because they have to suffer through Nightmare. But amazingly it's all very well balanced. A poor use of skill or stat points leads to short term kill-rate problems. But a good use of skill or stat points doesn't mean your going to mow down herds. Maybe Kato should have his monkey army code a Single player version of the .txt files is all I could suggest to fix the slowness of Nightmare.
Whats the big difference between pre-2.0 and 2.5?
Besides all the rebalancing, what is bundled in this thing we call 2.5? New features of choice. One of these interesting features is the long term hunting of cube scrolls and Demon Boxes. These two things alone carry a torch of renewedness for the mod and a streak of divine evil for server play. With server play, thanks to hard coded limits and space for saved game files, having to many thing in your stash, cube, or inventory results in a server crash. This can't be fixed. But back to item collecting; Cube scrolls add one more thing to the list of items you can choose to stash away. Trying to get up to the arcane level for that really powerful modifier is well worth it in most cases. Then there are the demon boxes. These remind me of Sanctuary in chaos and those scrolls. In most cases the clue you get would only be useful if you had an IQ of 150+ and a vast understanding of modern and historic multi-media and literature. They are still fun to read. Kato recognizes the addictions of gambling and integrates it with these Demon Boxes. I'm still figuring if I want to open my 'Which way to Shire'. What way is to Shire..?
And no publicly acclaimed mod is complete without new monsters. Following the trend of past modders, Zy-El includes a host of new baddie skins. BG Golems, and Knights that say Neee to some of the more fearsome monsters you'll find in act 3 . Although I did raise an eye brow at these when I first saw them. What ever happened to not liking mods that made you feel like you weren't playing Diablo?
Also worth a shout out are *Astalion*'s map plug-ins. I don't plan on giving credit to Kato for using these plug-ins. I'll take a moment to review *Astalion*'s work. Places really stand out. The Inner Cloister, and Cathedral are two early examples. These two are huge maze like tunnel structures with all sorts opportunity. The tunnels themselves can get boring after a while though. I would suggest making them even bigger (bigger then they are now) with obvious signs of DnD style Dungeon structures. Hiding the Way Points deep inside, creating tomb rooms will Undead and Greater Mummies (Super unique anyone?) and a fancy treasure room, all deep inside the maze. But then allowing the player to bypass it all and take a short route to the next area if he wanted. To all you map modders out there: Endless mazes are cool but don't make me go through it as a standard thing. (unless your mod is the endless maze mod, then go for it).
What else is new? Tokens are new. They seem like a new spin on an old trick from BGmod. I personally rarely used them except when I ran out of room in my stash. Even then I would normally sell them for gold. The concept of making a person usw Elixers to transmute them I understand (as to not get super godly newbs in the Dark Woods) but that same balance issue takes away their usefulness. But it is something different worth a mention.
Runewords are still an example of that addition to gambling thing. Ranging from the totally useless to the uber godly. The best use of Runwords I found were in charms. That +1-3 fire damage Hex charm got you down? Plug in some runes to create a nice runeword. Trust me, if the game is impossible, you're doing something wrong. Use those runes.
Unique items are still the bread and butter of this mod. But they have been balanced much more. You can no longer get extremely power unique items with easy cube recipes. Recipes are much more balanced this time around. An annoying error that was documented in the Zy-El forums was how some recipes were changed in but the clues were not.
There are certain errors that I was warned will in advanced about. Like crashes with mercs and weaknesses in Minions at the hell level. The problem is Minion HP getting too high and resetting back to 1. Now that I think about it, Zy-El has a huge problem with the games hardcoded limits. Damage and life rollovers, as well as saved game size problems create a plague of unfixable bugs. This is more then just a huge problem for Server play, it's a horrible problem. Allow me to quote a fellow mod player; '(Zy-El) would be great if it didn't crash so much,' he continues, 'it's not the servers fault.' He's right its not the servers fault, its Zy-El's.
Overall, Zy-El is still a great mod, worthy of praise. Multiplier is and will always be Multiplayer. Character drops, dork heads crashing the server for a laugh, duels of the Immortals. As we've seen, Multiplayer has its problems, but strangely Zy-El has few. The worst part about this mod is that it doesn't have all that much bad content. Skills are generally balanced, the item generation options are huge, and replay value is right on target. This mod is giving me a bad name; people might start to think I'm going soft or something.
But not all is lost in Server play as Lady_Evaenna told me 'It makes me want to dance like a happy elf.'
Agree with me? Think I'm crazy? Have your own view on Zy-El? Let the world know at the Mod Review Forum: Click Here
Special Thanks to Siphur for helping me with off line Multiplayer Review, Ghost(eth) for the server play, and all those folk playing Zy-El for a nice courteous atmosphere. The_Romyator and Lady_Evaenna for the quotes.
Anyone wishing to check out the Zy-El mod can do so by visiting the official website at http://zyel.d2mods.com.
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[url=https://d2mods.info/forum/kb/viewarticle?a=111&sid=ea408c256b8dddb613f35880061edb65]Knowledge Base - [LoD v1.09x] Zy-El: Trial By Fire v2.5 (Multiplayer) by Kato[/url]