Sharandar vs. Dread Ring

The Dread Ring is the second of Neverwinter's daily areas for max level characters and was released as part of the second module, Shadowmantle.

It's immediately apparent that Cryptic has learned at least two lessons compared to Sharandar:

1) Making repetitive content too linear is not fun.

Sharandar consists of three sub-zones that you unlock over time. You have to do the first one a couple of times to unlock the second one, do the second one for a while to unlock the third one and so on. While you don't get exactly the same quests every day, it's still kind of annoying to, say, be stuck in the area with the witches if you find them really annoying.

In the Dread Ring on the other hand, the whole map is open to you right from the start, but you get a different mix of quests every day. This keeps the zone fresh even if you run it every day, without destroying the necessary sense of progression.

Also, in Sharandar you have to do three regular dailies to unlock the associated lair quest every day, which is a somewhat annoying and adds a feeling of having to run back and forth unnecessarily. In the Dread Ring you can go straight for the day's lair while ignoring everything else if you want.

2) It helps to spread rewards out sensibly to make the grind more palatable.

One problem we experienced with Sharandar was that the rewards came in reasonably quickly at the start, but then there is a huge stretch at the end where nothing happens except that you grind the same content over and over to get to the top reward, which is quite substantial.

The Dread Ring feels better balanced in that regard - the important rewards aren't spaced out too badly, and while it also has the option to keep grinding for an extra reward at the end, it feels a lot more optional and you can work towards it in a more casual manner - or not at all - without feeling like you're missing out on something important.

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