Neverwinter on MassivelyOP

MassivelyOP has a series called Choose My Adventure, where the author is sent to play an MMO that they haven't played (much) and then writes a series of posts about their experiences as a (relative) newbie. Along the way, there are a couple of polls in which readers can vote to steer the author on a certain path in-game, usually by way of choosing what area to level in and things like that.

This month, it's Neverwinter's turn, and the first three posts have been surprisingly positive, especially considering that this particular author has recently made a name for himself by coming up with headlines along the lines of all MMOs are dying and both developers and players are dumb.

Unfortunately it's unlikely that the series will end up being very insightful by its end, considering that it took three weeks for the author's character to even get to the Blacklake District and I've never seen it cover a single MMO for longer than six installments. But hey, it's more detailed coverage than the game usually gets.


Lucky, Part 2

I've been buying VIP time for the past three months and have been saving the daily lockbox keys I got from it, with the plan of opening a whole bunch of lockboxes at once eventually. I read somewhere that this increases your chances of getting something good, as Cryptic wants to reward big spenders that way - I'm not sure if that's true, but it certainly sounds plausible. Either way, I got what I wanted: a Celestial Stag, the current "top prize" from the most recent set of lockboxes.

This is a win for me in more than one way, because not only do I like the stag model in general, but this is also my first mount of legendary quality, granting me a special combat power and maximum mount speed at last. On the auction house the cheapest one goes for about nine million AD! Now my pet tank finally won't be able to outrun me all the time anymore. (He got a legendary mount some time ago.)



My stable of alts keeps growing; the only class I don't have yet is the scourge warlock and I'm planning to create one soon. It's funny to me that I sufficiently enjoy creating alts in this game to do this even though it's not very alt-friendly if you think about it.

Sure, having a lot of alts can be beneficial when it comes to farming certain currencies that are capped per character per day, but getting an alt up to a useful level requires a serious investment of time or money, considering the grind required to get all your boons alone.

Also, the levelling process is highly repetitive: I think the game does a good job at easing new players into new features and mechanics, but when you're on your 7th alt it gets very old to have to go through all the various tutorials about companions, invoking and what not. I wonder if the tomes of experience enable you to just skip some of that stuff? Might have to try that next time.

But while you can do some AFK-levelling via invoking for example to skip zones you are tired of, there aren't really any "active" alternatives to levelling via questing, as activities like dungeons or skirmishes only grant piddly amounts of XP. So where in other MMOs, rolling an alt is an opportunity to see a different starting zone and try a different levelling path, in Neverwinter it's pretty much always the same old.


PvP Sucks

I don't know why I keep trying my hand at Neverwinter's PvP even though I know I don't like it. I think it's because I really enjoy PvP in other MMOs and keep hoping that maybe Neverwinter's will grow on me if I just give it another chance. Note to my future self whenever I may harbour similar thoughts again: No! It sucks; get over it.

My pally found herself in the 60-69 bracket again this week, but this time, instead of bots, she ran into what looked like a premade or at least some very seriously geared up alts. Even if I managed to land my most powerful offensive daily on one of their heads, it barely moved anyone's health bar. The only times I lived for more than a few seconds after exiting the spawn point was when they stopped hitting us altogether, to observe us with the detached sort of amusement with which one might watch a kitten attacking their shoe. I desperately wanted to quit before the match was over but decided to stick it out for the reward at the end... just to not get any. I guess only winners get AD now?

Another scene from Icewind Dale this week: My great weapon fighter joining in at the end of a Black Ice Domination. My team had comfortably won the main fight and I joined in to mine the black ice. Suddenly I'm dead, and I barely have time to make out what I think was a rogue before I respawn at the nearest campfire. Gear differences or not, no max-level character should ever be able to simply one-shot another max-level character; that's just terrible balance. And to think that people complain about the time-to-kill in SWTOR. Seriously.



My mini-guild has been stuck at guild level 5 for a while. We were aiming to upgrade our guild hall to level 6, but the requirement to hand in 150k+ influence presented a bit of a brick wall. It's a currency that can only be earned by running heroic encounters in the stronghold, at a maximum rate of 400 per character per day. I think it's obvious why this presented a problem for a guild that rarely even has three people online.

However, the latest patch brought with it a welcome innovation in the form of temporary buildings, specifically one that generates about 2400 influence a day for a week, assuming you tend to it regularly. Erecting this structure also costs resources of course, but they are resources we actually have and can now convert into something we need. Maybe we'll eventually get that level 6 guild hall after all.



I've been levelling my oathbound paladin again lately. I don't think I've talked about her much on here other than mentioning her creation. She's level 65 now and I forgot just how fun she is to play.

It seems appropriate that oathbound paladin gets shortened to "OP", which also tends to stand for "overpowered" in general gaming circles, as the class is virtually indestructible in PvE content, even with a mix of hodgepodge levelling gear with no enchantments in it such as my character is wearing. The last time I died with her was when I tried to duo the big heroic encounter with the crabs in Drowned Shore with a rogue and even there it took a while until a dozen gold crabs could get me down. I've written about how bad the upwards level scaling for certain quests is, but my pally was actually my first character who was able to cope with it and successfully completed quests that way solo (though there was still a risk of death and enemies went down very slowly).

It's kind of bizarre how out of whack the tuning for this class is compared to any others I've played, but I've also got to admit that it's pretty fun. Neverwinter's action combat can be a bit tiring at times with all the dodging you have to do to survive, but my paladin is one character I can play even when I'm tired or not very focused, as she's nearly invincible and occasionally raising my shield in tougher encounters is more than enough to keep me alive.



Via Neverwinter's official Twitter account, I was made aware of a survey they are running to get player opinions on their various events. I immediately noticed that the summer festival was missing from their list, and others pointed out that double campaign currencies weren't listed either. I suppose it wouldn't surprise me if Cryptic struggled to keep track of all of their own events, considering how many of them there are!

I gave most of them good ratings actually, I just don't care for things like double glory for example because I pretty much never PvP. Still, when they asked me which events I liked the least, I actually had a hard time choosing and simply picked a couple where based on the name alone I couldn't even remember what they were about and explained this in the comment box: If I can't even remember what it was, it can't have impressed me that much.

I bet everyone's going to vote for more double AD and double refinement weekends! I know I did.


Shroud of Souls

I expected Shroud of Souls to be a "mini module" in the vein of Sea of Moving Ice, and as such was very surprised today when I realised that a single quest chain was all there was to its story - no new campaign tasks or repeatable missions, nothing.

I can't exactly complain, because I'm still busy with the River District and I did enjoy the Shroud of Souls quest chain very much for what it was - I loved how it took you across various different zones and re-used existing characters.

I'm just not sure how to manage my expectations in regards to these releases halfway through a campaign now.


Gear Deluge

Two problems I have while playing Neverwinter as a casual player are that 1) my gear is never all that great (I'm still not even allowed to set foot into the dungeon that was added in the last module because my gear score isn't high enough) and 2) I'm not always up to date with what's new.

Both of these reared their heads yesterday when I took a look at the gear vendor in our guild stronghold and was pleasantly surprised to find that he suddenly (?) sold gear that was better than almost everything any of my characters were wearing, for the low price of a few thousand guild marks per piece.

Fortunately I had a whole bunch of said marks saved up, meaning that I could kit out my cleric, my rogue, my great weapon fighter and my wizard in new armour all at once. I'm excited to try out their new gear sets to see how much of a difference the power increase will make.

Admittedly I was less excited by the new looks - I think wizard gear for example looks terribly gaudy most of the time, but fortunately it's easy enough to just paste the look of the old set onto the new one. Some of the new stuff doesn't look bad though, just different. For example my fighter's new winged helmet makes her look a bit like Lans from the Maze Engine in my opinion.


Campaigns = Quests

Remember last year, when I wrote about a change to the campaign window I didn't like very much? They actually managed to make it worse!

With the latest patch, campaigns are now just another tab in your quest log, which means the campaign window is still as cluttered as ever, but even less informative now. I immediately got confused when I wanted to progress the Tyranny of Dragons campaign on an alt, and it suddenly showed as "0% progress" and with a padlock on it even though I was a fair bit into it already. Just no.

It also kind of makes you think about what actually makes different types of content stand out. I mean, what's the real difference between a quest to kill ten rats and a basic rat killer achievement other than presentation? Treating the campaigns as just another bunch of quests somehow makes the game feel poorer in my eyes.