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.


Mount Changes

It's been more than three years since I got my legendary mount on my main. Unfortunately it was only afterwards that Cryptic changed legendary mounts to be account-wide unlocks, so all my alts have been slow whenever I've done group content with my guildies. I've been saving up AD for months and keeping an eye on the auction house, hoping to buy another legendary at some point once I spotted a good deal.

For once however, my hesitancy has paid off, as Cryptic announced the other day that they'll be revamping the mount system and orange mounts will cease to give you a speed advantage the way they do now. In general it sounds like the devs are planning to make the stable more similar to the current companion system, with more variety resulting in more benefits and a range of new gear slots to be filled.

I'm grateful for the speed normalisation, but to be honest the new gear thing doesn't really sound appealing to me at all. Character power is already too complex a construct as it is.


Hardcore Mode

There are some weekly objectives meant to slightly alleviate the grind for Zariel's favour, one of which is to complete selected dungeons in "hardcore mode". Before seeing this requirement, I had never heard of this feature.

We learned that it's a setting you can only turn on when queuing with a pre-made group, and when enabled it requires you to complete the whole run without anyone dying/getting downed. This is pretty sucky.

On our first run of hardcore Malabog's Castle, we breezed through most of it with ease, but then I lagged out on the last boss and got one-shot by the dragon's flyby, forcing us to start over. Fortunately we then got it on the second try.

After the weekly reset we did the whole thing again, and again we failed on the first run, this time due to someone else not dodging the flyby and getting one-shot by the last boss.

It kind of reminds me of the old Undying achievement in WoW, only worse in that you can't even get the normal dungeon rewards after failing, you just get ported out immediately and receive nothing. To be honest I'm neither sure why this mode is in the game nor why Cryptic felt the need to promote it with this event.


Ascension Redux

Remember when I was complaining that nobody wanted to do the big heroic encounter in Avernus? In a prime example of how quickly the tides of content popularity can turn depending on its rewards, it has suddenly become the content du jour to farm Zariel's favour for the new event.

Now zone chat is an endless stream of people asking to be invited to groups for the heroic, so the moment it pops in your map instance, you just throw some invites to the first few names that scroll past and you'll immediately be surrounded by a bunch of uber-geared people that basically kill everything for you. I just find this highly amusing.


Redeemed Citadel Event

Cryptic decided to take event gaming to a new level with a special one-time campaign to restore the redeemed citadel in Avernus. It's pitched as "the entire server working together" to progress through four different phases, however on closer inspection that seems to be nothing but a cosmetic veneer, as the news item also states that "if a milestone is completed by the server early, there will be some time—a few days or weeks—before the next milestone begins". After less than two days we've already progressed more than 20% towards the first milestone, but looking at the pitched event duration on the calendar, I'm guessing that each phase is going to last 28 days regardless.

In a savvy monetisation move, you earn some pretty good rewards for grinding the event - but you can earn double the rewards (including some unique additions) and a new race by also paying. On one level I find this kind of monetisation quite annoying, but I can't deny that I'm tempted. If you're already doing the grind, why deny yourself some of the potential rewards?

Paying also removes the timer for earning the rewards - otherwise you have to complete each grind during its dedicated time slot, which works out to earning about 1000 of Zariel's favour a day - for nearly four months. Based on our efforts the first two nights, this isn't completely unreasonable if Neverwinter is your only MMO and you play every day, but for a more casual player it's quite a big ask.


All Alts on Deck

I'm proud to say that I finally got one character of every class to 80. Since I already had all of them at 70 and levelling is quite quick these days, it didn't technically require much effort to gain those extra ten levels on each alt, however I intentionally took it slowly to give myself a chance to re-familiarise myself with each class after the complete havoc that Undermountain wreaked on class design.

I do like how the new appearance system makes it much easier to give each character a decent look, even if you don't have the perfect item for every slot (yet). Just being able to easily apply basic dyes to resolve colour clashes already helps a lot.