Neverwinter's ninth module, The Maze Engine, launched yesterday, and while I have no opinion on the new content yet there was one gameplay feature that immediately caught my attention: the revamped mount system.

Cryptic had got caught in a weird spot with mounts. They are one of the most expensive and coveted items in the game, yet there was little incentive to own more than one. Mounts came in multiple different speeds, and only the fastest one was really interesting for everyday use. While it was theoretically possible to upgrade any mount to the highest speed, it was ridiculously expensive and usually not worth the bother. Also, since they took up bag space, you really didn't want to have too many of the things.

They tried to encourage players to buy more mounts by making them bestow stat increases and combat powers, but I think even that particular pay-to-win model was only a mixed success as people didn't want to keep chasing the newest, most powerful mount all the time, especially if they already liked the look of what they had.

Under the new system, mounts can finally be "stabled" so you can have more than one without them taking up any bag space, and mount skins and abilities can be mixed and matched as you please. This kills several birds with one stone:

1) Freed up bag slots mean that people will be more willing to own more than one mount.

2) Since you can give any mount max speed once you've unlocked it, previously under-appreciated, slower mounts can become attractive for their looks.

3) They can keep adding mounts with new powers and people can keep buying them without losing the look of their old favourites.

I'm still not sold on the pay-to-win aspect of mount powers and will likely ignore them for the most part, but otherwise I really have to say: well done, Cryptic. I already had both the unicorn and the armoured horse unlocked account-wide, so all my alts could travel fast, but now they can also do so in a variety of styles.

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