Cleric Life

I didn't used to pay that much attention to him because I rarely did his quests, but lately I've been doing so more often and I've got to say: the cleric NPC in the stronghold is hilarious. As a cleric main I can really relate to his jadedness! "I wish he'd just give me tasks I can do by myself" indeed. "I'd be... grateful?" That question mark at the end just kills it. In an unusual twist for Neverwinter, the voice actor does a really great job as well. (Though actually, all the stronghold NPCs are pretty well done.)



I'm starting to see a pattern in the way I play Neverwinter:

I come back after a bit of a break, usually to check out some new content, but maybe just to continue working on an existing campaign that I haven't finished yet.

I enjoy myself, and since there is usually a limit to how much you can do to progress a single character in a single day, I find myself thinking: "Hm, might as well spend some time on working on this other thing on my alt as well!"

The next day is similar, and before I know it I'm back to logging and playing multiple alts each day.

I get so caught up in progressing all of them at the same time that every play session takes longer and longer until things start to feel like a chore; eventually I burn out and need a break.

I'm never lacking for things to do in Neverwinter - if anything it sometimes feels like there's too much to do to keep up with casually!


Lockbox Tutorial

Last night I played a lowbie character for the first time in months. Now, the game's always had this box of goodies that you get for free and that levels up with you for a while, while spitting out some simple items such as scrolls of identification and injury kits every couple of levels to help the new player along. That's not new.

What was new to me however, was that upon hitting level 20 I suddenly received three "Shimmering Lockboxes", highlighted by a voiced tutorial that told me to buy keys for them! I did check the Zen store and the keys were actually free; clearly the idea is just to make people use the interface. Then you open them, and what do you know, they contain a few things that are actually very useful to a new player, such as a free stone of health and a green quality mount.

That means lockboxes are good and well worth your time, right? Hrm.

I'm usually not someone who minds lockboxes very much, provided they are optional and don't award anything too powerful, but even I have to say that trying to lure new players into buying keys by making them open a bunch of rigged "trial lockboxes" that are guaranteed to award something nice is a whole new level of skeevy.


Finding My Confidence

Neverwinter's gear progression just to keep up with every new story module is pretty unforgiving. I never have whatever's considered "the good stuff" at any given time and always just wear whatever gear Cryptic has decided to make accessible through a vendor most recently in order to help people get caught up. Combine that with my main being a cleric (never the most fun class to solo), and I have reason to want to go into every new module with my pet tank by my side (never mind the incentive of simply wanting to play with him). Whenever we get separated while playing new content - even if it's only briefly - I soon end up calling for help, because while I can just about stay alive I'm finding it very hard and tedious to kill anything on my own.

In addition, I have many bad memories of running into gear walls on my alts. I still remember being unable to finish the lair in the witches' area in Sharandar on my rogue a long time ago - there was this one group of six mobs or so next to a cauldron that I just couldn't kill, eventually forcing me to give up and come back another day. On my hunter ranger I remember idling next to the demon spawn spots for the Maze Engine daily, waiting for someone else to come by and start it, because on my own it was a fifty-fifty chance of me just dying instead of successfully fending off the demons. It wasn't that long ago either that I had to re-think my control wizard's build because she kept dying while trying to start the dailies in Icewind Dale.

Now admittedly I overcame those challenges eventually, but I realised that fear of the fights being too tough has certainly been holding me back when it comes to newer content. Not only have none of my alts completed any of the campaigns past Underdark, but my main also still has lots of them unfinished, from times when my pet tank's interest had waned and I was too afraid to go back and try tackling anything on my own. It was only this week that I pulled myself together and decided to visit Bryn Shander again for the first time in one and a half years to progress that Storm King's Thunder campaign that I had abandoned not even halfway through. And what do you know... it went OK. Things died reasonably quickly and I found myself thinking that probably even some of my alts would do alright versus these dailies nowadays. It's just like the saying goes: once bitten, twice shy.


Angler of the Soshenstar

I don't know what possessed me this weekend, but for some reason I decided to go to Soshenstar River and do some fishing, something I still hadn't even tried in Chult before then. I didn't know what purpose it was going to serve, I just wanted to do it.

It didn't turn out to be very useful (the fish can be traded for Chultan riches, but over an hour spent fishing didn't really make me particularly wealthy), but by the time I had used up all the lures that I had accumulated while questing, I had managed to catch one of every fish available, which earned me a new achievement and title. I call that a win I guess?


Elemental Not-So-Evil

I haven't done much in any of the Elemental Evil zones in a long while, mostly because I never liked them, but I actually liked them even less after the revamp that was supposed to make them more fun. At one point I ran most of my alts through Spinward Rise for the artifact weapon awarded at the end of that, but with better gear cheaply available on the auction house now, even that has become redundant.

Last night I decided to finally give Drowned Shore another go on my rogue, if only for the associated boons, and was pleasantly surprised! First off, doing these zones at 70 eliminates most of the annoyances caused by the dense mob packs, as you can (near) one-shot everything anyway. More interestingly though, it appears that Cryptic gave the quests another makeover at some point that I previously missed, so all those annoying quests that made you re-run the same lair two or three times are gone. I think the entire zone didn't require me to do more than fifteen quests or so now.

Easiest boons ever? (Though still a bit boring.)


7 of 8!

That's my guardian figher at 70, which only leaves the scourge warlock!

I originally created this character to play on stream with my friend Traitine, but then we ended up only playing a single session together before he was like: "Yeaaah, this game is not for me." So eventually I just levelled her up on my own.

She'd been lingering in the low sixties for ages, but with the recent smoothing out of the 60-70 curve I thought I'd play around a bit to see how much of  a difference it made and she flew right through those last few levels.

Unfortunately I can't claim to have found the class very fun, and I can't blame my pet tank for rerolling to paladin now. Presumably guardian fighters have their role to play at endgame, but while levelling - especially after having levelled a paladin first - the experience just kept making me think of a paladin with many of the fun features removed. Sorry, GF fans!



Experience Overflow

Overflow experience is a feature that I've liked from the start, however at level 70 it used to take quite long to level up. At 1,785,000 XP a pop, it took me quite a few play sessions to level up even once, and for that much effort the rewards often felt lacklustre.

Since Lost City of Omu was released, I noticed that I was suddenly levelling up much more quickly. At one point I managed to get three level-up rewards in a single play session! A quick Google search revealed that as part of this latest update, Crypic smoothed out the XP curve from 60-70, which apparently also reduced the XP requirement to level up at 70 to a measly 100,000 XP. That's less than 6% of the old requirement!

And I'm absolutely loving it. It makes playing at max level feel so much more rewarding, even more so as you have a chance of getting the 30,000 rough astral diamonds reward multiple times a day if you're lucky. For me that's a considerable cash flow addition!

Of course, knowing Cryptic's modus operandi whenever it has been too easy to earn AD in the past, I expect that this will be nerfed again soon, but I'll definitely enjoy it while it lasts.



One thing I've found fascinating over time is watching the way Cryptic iterates on its modules. If you look at the first three "expansions" for example, you can clearly see them refining the daily area concept with each release - Icewind Dale remains one of my favourite maps to play around on to this day.

However, every time they tried something very different, it didn't go down too well. I mean, I liked Tyranny of Dragons and the idea of a campaign that you can do while levelling (even if the associated level scaling was screwy), but based on them never repeating the experiment, I suspect it wasn't too well received. Elemental Evil with its level cap increase was a disaster for all kinds of reasons, and Underdark deciding to completely decouple the game's grind from its story... let's just say I probably wasn't the only one who noped right out of that one after playing through the whole story in a single evening.

Lately we've returned to a more traditional "daily area" model, however with the exception of Chult's "six times weekly" patrol missions, there's been a general move away from traditional daily quests coupled with a strong push towards forcing players to log in and play every single day by making it impossible to pick up several days worth of dailies just to "binge complete" them all at once on the weekend. This is a shame because that's exactly how I like to play through the old areas. It's no coincidence that I have yet to complete any campaign after Elemental Evil on any of my alts.