In The Shop

I just came back from a holiday in Austria and was quite surprised to see Neverwinter in the gaming section of an electronics store there. "But what are they selling?" I thought. "The game is free to play from the ground up, there isn't even a subscription option!"

The answer? For ten Euros, you would get a code for a forest bear mount and two hundred Zen. I guess they wanted some sort of presence in the shops, even with digitial distribution being on the rise.

It's only after I came home that I found out that the High Forest Bear is actually an account-wide mount that's exclusive to these German "starter boxes". Almost makes me wish I had bothered to spend that tenner.


Vendor Trash

For a game that makes money from selling bag space (among other things), I've never felt that Neverwinter particularly tries to clog up your bags with junk. Things like currencies and crafting materials go into their own, seemingly limitless inventory tabs, and most things you pick up while questing are actually useful. There's never been a whole lot of vendor trash in Neverwinter.

Today while questing on my lowbie great weapon fighter, I killed a bunch of dragon cultists associated with the new module and they dropped junk like crazy. I seemed to get a useless white quality item on every other pull, and Cryptic appears to have created a whole bunch of new grey items purely for the dragon cultists to drop some rubbish. Even as I stopped to sell things whenever I could and refined enchantments away on the go, my inventory kept filling up over and over again.

Someone clearly wants to sell more bags.


Pay To Campaign

Module 4 released today, but I haven't actally looked at any of the new content yet. I did however log in to invoke and update my professions. Since the Zen store icon was flashing, I had a quick look at that as well.

Two of the newest items: buy instant completion for the Sharandar and Dread Ring campaigns for five thousand Zen each.

I really shouldn't be surprised, as it's perfectly in line with their theme of letting people pay for every advantage possible. Somehow I still find it disappointing however.



Professions in Neverwinter are a "click and wait" game, similar to the duty officer system in Star Trek Online or the companion crew skill system in SWTOR. Your character doesn't do anything herself, she just sends out her minions and reaps the rewards after a few hours.

The thing that feels weird to me is how your "minions" in this case are just really generic items that sit in your crafting inventory and can be traded on the auction house. At least the duty officers in STO have names and personalities, and it makes sense for a starship to have a large roster. As for why my half-elf cleric and my tiefling rogue have random guys doing all their work for them... who knows.

Professions are also really grindy. While levelling my cleric I focused pretty much exclusively on leadership, while ignoring all the other professions. Yet after two and a half months of playing and logging in every day, her profession level is still only 16 of 20.

The profession system is also one of the areas of the game where spending real money will give you huge advantages. Special workers who can cut a mission's time in half are only available from random packs that you buy for real money, while training up the basic white quality workers that offer no speed bonuses takes literally days and weeks of time.

While leadership at least is a very useful profession to have (I don't really have enough experience with any of the others to judge them), it does have a strong pay-to-win flavour to it that can be somewhat discouraging if you get a chance to compare your progress to that of someone who paid real money to gain advantages.


Levelling without really playing

When I originally abandoned the game about a month after launch, my rogue was in her thirties. When I picked the game up again and rerolled as a cleric this summer, I also started logging onto my rogue again, though only to invoke (pray to the gods) and receive the associated benefits of currency and experience points.

Now my rogue has hit sixty, with most of the last couple of levels gained purely by invoking. I'm not entirely sure how I feel about the fact that you can fully level a character to max simply by logging in every day, without actually playing "properly". On the one hand it's a nice way of getting an alt to the level cap without having to put a lot of effort into levelling, plus it's one way of skipping questing content that you've already repeated one to many times.

On the other hand it feels weird that you can't really "pause" playing a character, to later pick it up again where you left off, unless you're willing to forfeit the (considerable) benefits of invoking every day. It can also be somewhat challenging to get back into actually playing the character if you've gained twenty more levels (plus associated new powers) since you last went out into the world and your gear is now hopelessly outdated for the content that you should be doing.


Dragonborn Legend Pack

Just like I was late commenting on the Tyranny of Dragons trailer, I'm also a week late with commenting on the release of the Dragonborn Legend pack that is meant to go with the new module. Telwyn from GamingSF pretty much summed up my thoughts exactly, namely that this pack offers very poor value compared to previous releases that included both account-wide mounts and companions for considerably less money.

Commenters in the Reddit thread mostly seem to agree with this sentiment, though at least one person piped up to defend the pack, saying that it still offers good value for money compared to the (imaginary) option of buying all the items separately. The problem is that most people wouldn't care to buy everything in the pack separately anyway, and the Dragonborn race alone makes it hard to justify the price of nearly a hundred euros.

A self-identified Cryptic employee also chimed in defending the decision, arguing that they needed to offer expensive things to give the big spenders in the game the option to actually give them as much money as possible. (Quote: "For every 100 people that refuse to pay for it or threaten to quit the game, there's 2 or 3 who'd happily fork over twice as much.")

I guess we'll see whether it works out for them of it future releases will try to offer a better value-for-money ratio again.