Aasimar Unlocked

This week I finally unlocked the last of the Redeemed Citadel rewards on my main, which means that I now have access to the Aasimar race. Too bad I like all my existing characters as they are and see little incentive to roll yet another alt until they release another class.

Some of the gear rewards from the milestones were also pretty good - for example I hadn't upgraded my neck and belt since Ravenloft. Sadly the main and off-hand remain un-upgradeable for me though as doing so requires drops from the higher-level Avernus hunts, something I just can't be bothered with at this point.


Return to Sharandar

Only a few days after I complained about the lack of information about the upcoming module 20, I logged in after maintenance to find it being advertised on the launcher.

"Sharandar" continues the theme of naming confusion started with Avernus, as it's the name of the zone where Neverwinter's very first mod, Fury of the Feywild, took place.

My first reaction was actually to chuckle and think to myself that they must be running out of ideas to start revisiting older zones like that, but then I realised: Who cares? Fury of the Feywild was one of my favourite modules and I'll be quite happy to revisit the elves, so bring it on.


Content Drought?

Today it hit me that it's now been more than six months since the release of the Avernus module. This is unprecedented, as until now Cryptic has always been very good about releasing new content every four months or so. I always considered the sheer amount of free content one of the game's strengths, even if there are other parts of its business model I don't like.

Looking back at their 2020 road map posted last year, we should have heard more about module 20 by now. Instead, the Redeemed Citadel event appears to have been extended indefinitely and as far as mod 20 goes, all the talk has only been about upcoming gameplay changes, with nothing about actual new content. Wonder what's going on there?


Castle Ravenloft Conquered

It's pretty traditional for Cryptic to include a new dungeon and/or trial (raid) with each new module. From what I can tell these are actually always pretty inventive and well done, but since the difficulty is tuned for players at the very top-end, I tend to not see them until a few years later, once several new tiers of gear allow you to overpower the fights a bit.

I've been pretty stern with my guildies about not even wanting to bother while a dungeon is still hard (too many bad experiences), but today I allowed them talk me into running Tomb of the Nine Gods (released in 2017) and Castle Ravenloft (released in 2018). Tomb was actually pretty fun and not too tough anymore except for the last boss being somewhat manic. Castle Ravenloft was still tricky though, especially the last boss. We persevered though and eventually downed him after a number of tries. By that point, everyone apart from the tank had died 20+ times. Still, it was an adventure with friends and we enjoyed figuring out the tactics together, so it was ultimately fun. I uploaded our final fight against Strahd to YouTube:

I wouldn't want to go again any time soon though.


Lazy Citadel Redemption

The Redeemed Citadel event continues, and both the second and third milestones have come and gone. After how much grinding I did during the first one, my motivation has dropped off sharply. Me and all my guildies have bought the Zen market item to unlock the event permanently, so there's no rush to complete it in time - and since you gain credit for gaining Zariel's favour towards multiple milestones at once, the "optimal" thing in terms of effort vs. reward at this point is to wait for the fourth milestone to begin and then work on progressing them all in one go.

That said, I think we're also getting a bit tired of the Avernus Wastes in general. Usually we'd only spend a month or two in a new module, but due to this event we've been grinding mobs on the same map for more than four months now. At this point we only tend to meet up once a week to do a couple of the weekly dungeons but by now even that is getting quite tiresome to be honest.


Good Refund Experience

I've done a fair amount of complaining about Cryptic on this blog, so I think it's only fair to also give them credit for doing things right when it happens.

Last week I meant to buy a bundle of Zen, but after the transaction had seemingly gone through, I received an error message saying that it couldn't be processed and when I checked my balance, no new Zen had been added. This led to me trying two more times, just to run into the same error again and again. Ten minutes later I suddenly received three email notifications at once, showing that all three purchase attempts had in fact been successful after all and I'd just spent more than £100 on Zen. Aieee!

I wasn't sure whether this sort of virtual currency was refundable at all, but still decided to open a ticket to explain my problem. Working in e-commerce myself, I'm actually quite understanding of this kind of glitch; the question is how the company deals with customer contacts about it afterwards.

And what do you know, I had a response within a few hours and they happily refunded the duplicate transactions without any fuss. So thanks, Cryptic!


Legacy Campaigned Out

Working on various (legacy) campaigns on my alts is one of my favourite things to do in Neverwinter. So I was pleased that Cryptic ran a lot of double campaign currency events over the past couple of months - in fact they covered all the legacy campaigns during that time: first a week of Sharandar, then Dread Ring, then Icewind Dale and so on.

However, this proved once again that you can have too much of a good thing: After eight weeks or so of grinding campaigns like a maniac on multiple alts, I'm just terribly burnt out. (Even with double currency and a signet of patronage, nobody should try to complete the entirety of the Chult campaign several times in a single week. Just saying.)

And thus, I once again find myself drifting away from Neverwinter for a bit to recover. Somehow, that's how it always goes.


BHE Etiquette

Having spent a lot of time questing in older campaign zones in the last few weeks, I've had plenty of opportunity to refine my BHE calling etiquette.

  • When you see a big heroic encounter spawn in your instance, check your instance number on the map and call it out in zone chat, even if you yourself aren't interested in doing the encounter.
  • If people whisper you, invite them to the group for an easy map transfer. Often they will leave as soon as they've moved without any further prompting. Everyone understands the purpose of these grouping requests and no further niceties are required.
  • Don't bother calling repeatedly if the map already shows as full (greyed out in the selection).
  • Don't bother calling if the encounter's already in progress and less than a minute from finishing - it sucks to put your map transfer on cooldown for nothing because it's over before you've even loaded in.


First Milestone Complete

The server completed the first milestone on the way to restoring the Citadel last week. I'm not sure if it's been officially stated, but I think the grind for the second milestone won't actually start until the 15th of September.

Somewhat to my own surprise, I've already nearly completed my first personal milestone on my main as well. The weekly objectives have helped a lot with that. Still, I bought the "Reforger's Blessing" to remove the timer anyway, as I also wanted to unlock the whole thing permanently for all my alts.

In terms of progressing the event for everyone, completion of the first milestone dramatically increased the number of angels in the Citadel and unlocked hunts in Avernus, a feature we haven't seen since Ravenloft, though this implementation is more of a throwback to Chult with its multiple layers of randomness stacked on top of each other. We'd already wondered about all those named mobs with special markers next to their names that didn't seem to serve any purpose, but now they finally drop rare items to buy lures. It does spice up the zone a bit, though so far the reward for getting the lures and killing a hunt target doesn't really seem to be worth the effort.


Wrath of Acererak

Any quest that asks you to do heroics in Omu is a bit annoying because there is only one, The Tyrant, and it only pops about once an hour. Doing the other quests in the area only takes so much time and if you're unlucky, you can be in for quite a wait.

There is another option though - if you empower all nine shrines on the map, another large heroic encounter called "Wrath of Acererak" is triggered. For a long time, I never saw this even once, as shrines only stay empowered for about five minutes, which means that you need at least three people to work in tandem to trigger the event. While Omu was current content, I did this with my guildies out of sheer curiosity once, but that was it.

However, in the past week I did this heroic about five times and often did my part to empower the shrines too: It was Chult bonus week, and people get bored waiting for the Tyrant to pop. It was actually quite satisfying to see that strangers can work together to launch the event as well - all it takes is a little bit of co-ordination in zone chat. Plus I love the evil cackling sound that plays whenever you succeed in launching it.