Battling Bots

I don't really like Neverwinter's PvP, mostly for balance reasons, but after having a fairly good time in the 10-19 bracket with Traitine the other day, I decided to give it another try on my level 62 pally tonight. Imagine my surprise when I was joined by nothing but bots on both teams...

I had some silly fun with that for a couple of matches, as shown above. (I didn't intend to record my voice actually, but I used it for the video in the end because both the confusion and the insane cackling seem naturally appropriate.) Then I got into a match where there was an actual player on the enemy team, a trickster rogue who kept perma-dazing and two-shotting me. That reminded me of why I don't like Neverwinter's PvP to begin with and I quit.


The One Time I Decide to Give Cryptic Money...

... they have to go and fuck things up.

Lured in by their Black Friday sale for Neverwinter, I decided to buy their biggest Zen bundle for $200/£160. I hadn't given them any money in nearly half a year while having a fair bit of fun with the game, so it seemed only fair that I should buy some Zen again - I had just been holding out for some good charge rewards. Then I saw this page, which included the all-important line: "If you charge in any tier, you’ll receive all items in the tiers below, so charging $20, will grant you both the Zhentarim Warlock and the Neverwintan Noble Title." So I would get $200 worth of Zen, a bunch of bonus Zen, three mounts, a companion and a title? Sweet!

Except, once they had my money I was redirected to a page where I was prompted to spend my "reward points" and lo and behold, there were nowhere near enough of them to buy all the rewards I had supposedly earned. I was relieved to find on the forums that I wasn't the only one who had noticed this.

However, Cryptic's response so far has been less than impressive, as it basically comes down to "oops, we'll look into it after the weekend" while also quickly removing the "you'll receive all the items in the tier below" line from the promotion page. Apparently the promotion was never meant to work as advertised. Can you say "bait and switch"? I really would have expected more professionalism from a company that is happy to take these amounts of money from their customers.


Sea of Moving Ice Impressions

While the transition between water and land is a bit laggy and awkward, I do like that it's seamless and doesn't require any additional action from you (e.g. activating the boat or anything). Also, the khyek's sails are really pretty; I love the way they shimmer. I hate having to spell "khyek" though; I always just want to write kayak.

I do like the fishing mini game. It's nice and relaxing. And I love the idea of having fishing heroic encounters! That giant sea turtle coming out of nowhere to kill you is bullshit though. Also, ultimately I'm not sure what the point of having all these fish is, as there only seem to be a few rare ones that are used for crafting and everything else can only be turned in for elk tribe reputation? I'm kind of missing a reason to keep at it, other than the daily quest.

Not sure what I think of treasure maps. Asking people to identify the correct spot based on an environmental drawing in a zone that consists entirely of samey-looking ice and rocks is a bit of a pain, not to mention that everyone will just look up a guide on the internet anyway. That said, the treasures often seem to be hidden away in such a manner that even if you know the rough coordinates on the map, it's still a challenge to figure out how to get there.



In most MMOs the release of new content is a time to celebrate and to get back into the game if you've been away from it for a while. In Neverwinter, last week's release of Sea of Moving Ice has just made the game (temporarily) completely unplayable for me. I get disconnected almost as soon as I log in, and if I somehow manage to stay on for a little while, I suffer thirty second lag spikes and rubberbanding up the wazoo, making it unpleasant to impossible to even do something as simple as a couple of dailies.

Maybe I'll actually get to check out the new content in a month or so.


Demonic Encounters

Even though I enjoyed module eight's story arc, I didn't actually do the associated campaign on any of my characters, not even my main. Why? Because it was tied to farming heroic encounters which I thought were absolutely horrible.

The problem was that Underdark introduced demonic encounters to existing maps which came in three different flavours, two of which required actual tactics to be completed successfully instead of just blindly zerging the mobs. In one scenario you had to prevent demons that spawned around the edge of the area from running towards the shiny circle in the middle... but people would frequently confuse the fact that the demons disappeared when they hit the circle for a sign of success and actively pull or knock them into it, causing the encounter to fail. The other problematic scenario required you to protect an NPC while they channelled a protective spell, and if they were hit more than once or twice, you were pretty much guaranteed to fail... but you'd try to finish it anyway, just to run out of time with a smidgeon of the progress bar not completed. After repeatedly wasting half an hour or more rotating among events that just kept failing like this I got fed up with it and refused to let my pet tank drag me along to any more of them, boons be damned.

It was only last week that I finally decided to give them another go, and things seem to have improved in so far as more people know what to do now and the NPCs that need protecting appear to have received a significant buff, as I've seen that particular encounter complete with ease even after the Harper got smacked out of his or her trance every other spawn. The circle scenario still fails quite a bit, probably because it's the most sensitive to movement and precision, but people just don't bother with it anymore or even start and fail it intentionally just to get another one to spawn more quickly.



I've been meaning to mention for a long time how I think that Neverwinter's biggest technical problem is the horrific lag and rubberbanding that besets the game at times. It's almost always present to a minor extent, and at its worst it leaves the game completely unplayable, even if the way you get teleported into unexpected places is kind of hilarious. One of the reasons I haven't actually made this post before is that it's something that's best seen for yourself and hard to capture in a screenshot (even if you're lagging enough to have time to inspect your unicorn's butthole).

Well, tonight I was finally able to capture some nice rubberbanding while doing dailies on my hunter ranger in Sharandar. Enjoy this little demonstration:


Hunter Ranger

My hunter ranger hit 70 this past week, and while that gave me reason to celebrate, I've also been somewhat disappointed by the class.

Initially I was really pleased with the way hunter rangers switch between ranged and melee combat, especially as it features some very cool animations. It reminded me of the days when my hunter in WoW could also dual wield and would hamstring opponents that came in too close, despite of being a predominantly ranged class.

However, while levelling up I quickly found that trying to fight at range became more and more tedious, with poor kiting options that just result in every solo fight being a slow and tiring dodge-fest. Somewhat bizarrely, my characters' abilities' power levels and fun factor also seem to be inverse to their cooldown, which is to say that my dailies are boring and useless, while spamming my at-wills seems to be the way to go most of the time. Alas, I guess me and the HR weren't meant to be.