Favourite Classes: Oathbound Paladin (3/3)

When my pet tank changed his main from Guardian Fighter to Oathbound Paladin I scoffed a little at this turn towards the "flavour of the month". In no other game had I ever seen a class that was this overpowered. Nothing ever seemed to be able to hurt him, yet at the same time he still did way more damage as a tank than I ever managed to do on my healer. I also remember watching a video of two OPs in an epic dungeon whose defensive abilities were caught in some sort of recursive loop so that the boss basically killed itself just by trying to hit them (though in fairness, I think this has been fixed since then). Still, how is that good game balance?

What eventually prompted me to roll a pally of my own was actually a desire to try out a different healing style, since I generally love healing in MMOs but had found the cleric sorely lacking. Fun fact: I actually still don't know whether pally healing is any good, because I have yet to take her into any content where healing would really be required.

But I can't deny it: just levelling as a hugely overpowered class was a lot of fun. I was kind of slow at killing things, sure, but the sheer level of indestructibleness was amazing. I could actually do quests that would (badly) sync me up to 70 because my character was so robust that it didn't matter that the level sync was poor. When I ran into a heroic encounter, I could just run in and start it regardless of other people in the area - lack of dps would potentially make it a struggle to complete it on my own, but I never had to worry about dying to elite mobs, even in crappy levelling gear (and once someone starts, other people are often all too happy to join in). In Icewind Dale I even soloed heroic encounters (albeit very slowly) that none of my other characters could take on solo to this day.

Yeah, sometimes the lack of dps feels tiresome, but I've always been a fan of slow and steady, and no other class in the game holds as steady as the Oathbound Paladin.


Favourite Classes: Control Wizard (2/3)

Unlike the Great Weapon Fighter, it wasn't love at first sight with the Control Wizard and me. In fact, I originally thought that their movement animation with their weapon (orb) out looked really weird and off-putting!

However, seeing other players play this class changed my mind about it. Their range of AoE abilities in particular was awe-inspiring both in terms of their animations and their effectiveness, ranging from the summoning of chaotic maelstroms to lightning and blizzards, with enemies getting knocked every which way with every cast.

Like with the GWF, I was pleased to find the class easy to get into as well. The tab ability simply offering a fourth encounter slot (with a modifier) was as straightforward as it gets, and the clearly themed abilities were easy enough to figure out for me to create a serviceable build even without a guide. I did occasionally find myself struggling with survivability, but simply trading one damaged-focused encounter power for a more control-focused one usually did the trick.

I can't imagine that running around on my Control Wizard and AoEing down enemies would ever get old. I still love Shard of the Endless Avalanche for example, aka "the purple ball", even though it's a pain to handle and I had to unslot it ages ago, but the concept of literally bowling my enemies over is just too much fun. Even without it, it's a great feeling to watch whole packs of mobs alternately get stunned and damaged to the point where this character was my first damage dealer that could run without a healing companion because the mobs could barely touch her anyway. Large single enemies with a lot of hit points or control immunities remain a bit of a pain though.


Favourite Classes: Great Weapon Fighter (1/3)

Now that I have a character of every class (though my Scourge Warlock isn't 70 yet), it's clear that I like some of them a lot more than others. I can identify three favourites who clearly stand apart from the rest - though I'm not sure how I would rank them against each other, which is why I'll simply talk about them in the order in which I "discovered" them.

The Great Weapon Fighter first caught my eye for its aesthetics. While the spell effects in Neverwinter are as flashy as in other fantasy MMOs, most of its combat animations still struck me as relatively down to earth. Not so with the GWF: they swing their two-handed weapons with ridiculous speed considering that those swords are as tall as their wielders, and the class's idle pose with weapon drawn has them balance the giant two-hander casually on their shoulder while only supporting it with one hand. There's something... anime about it, and it appealed to me even though I'm not usually a big fan of fighter-type classes.

While playing, I soon discovered that the GWF's tab ability also followed a delightfully simple to learn pattern of building and spending, and even better: every time you become "Unstoppable" by spending (which is often!), you also become immune to control effects for the duration, relieving you of the need to dodge annoying knockdowns and the like.

Finally, they are just easy to play regardless. I don't think I've ever looked up a guide for the class, and yet despite of this my own GWF has always done decent enough damage in any content I've taken her to. I'm sure she's far from optimised, but there seems to be no real way to go entirely wrong with the class - unlike with my rogue for example, who was a real pain to play for a long time until I looked up a guide and learned about various ability synergies that had definitely not been obvious to me before then.


Cleric Life

I didn't used to pay that much attention to him because I rarely did his quests, but lately I've been doing so more often and I've got to say: the cleric NPC in the stronghold is hilarious. As a cleric main I can really relate to his jadedness! "I wish he'd just give me tasks I can do by myself" indeed. "I'd be... grateful?" That question mark at the end just kills it. In an unusual twist for Neverwinter, the voice actor does a really great job as well. (Though actually, all the stronghold NPCs are pretty well done.)



I'm starting to see a pattern in the way I play Neverwinter:

I come back after a bit of a break, usually to check out some new content, but maybe just to continue working on an existing campaign that I haven't finished yet.

I enjoy myself, and since there is usually a limit to how much you can do to progress a single character in a single day, I find myself thinking: "Hm, might as well spend some time on working on this other thing on my alt as well!"

The next day is similar, and before I know it I'm back to logging and playing multiple alts each day.

I get so caught up in progressing all of them at the same time that every play session takes longer and longer until things start to feel like a chore; eventually I burn out and need a break.

I'm never lacking for things to do in Neverwinter - if anything it sometimes feels like there's too much to do to keep up with casually!


Lockbox Tutorial

Last night I played a lowbie character for the first time in months. Now, the game's always had this box of goodies that you get for free and that levels up with you for a while, while spitting out some simple items such as scrolls of identification and injury kits every couple of levels to help the new player along. That's not new.

What was new to me however, was that upon hitting level 20 I suddenly received three "Shimmering Lockboxes", highlighted by a voiced tutorial that told me to buy keys for them! I did check the Zen store and the keys were actually free; clearly the idea is just to make people use the interface. Then you open them, and what do you know, they contain a few things that are actually very useful to a new player, such as a free stone of health and a green quality mount.

That means lockboxes are good and well worth your time, right? Hrm.

I'm usually not someone who minds lockboxes very much, provided they are optional and don't award anything too powerful, but even I have to say that trying to lure new players into buying keys by making them open a bunch of rigged "trial lockboxes" that are guaranteed to award something nice is a whole new level of skeevy.


Finding My Confidence

Neverwinter's gear progression just to keep up with every new story module is pretty unforgiving. I never have whatever's considered "the good stuff" at any given time and always just wear whatever gear Cryptic has decided to make accessible through a vendor most recently in order to help people get caught up. Combine that with my main being a cleric (never the most fun class to solo), and I have reason to want to go into every new module with my pet tank by my side (never mind the incentive of simply wanting to play with him). Whenever we get separated while playing new content - even if it's only briefly - I soon end up calling for help, because while I can just about stay alive I'm finding it very hard and tedious to kill anything on my own.

In addition, I have many bad memories of running into gear walls on my alts. I still remember being unable to finish the lair in the witches' area in Sharandar on my rogue a long time ago - there was this one group of six mobs or so next to a cauldron that I just couldn't kill, eventually forcing me to give up and come back another day. On my hunter ranger I remember idling next to the demon spawn spots for the Maze Engine daily, waiting for someone else to come by and start it, because on my own it was a fifty-fifty chance of me just dying instead of successfully fending off the demons. It wasn't that long ago either that I had to re-think my control wizard's build because she kept dying while trying to start the dailies in Icewind Dale.

Now admittedly I overcame those challenges eventually, but I realised that fear of the fights being too tough has certainly been holding me back when it comes to newer content. Not only have none of my alts completed any of the campaigns past Underdark, but my main also still has lots of them unfinished, from times when my pet tank's interest had waned and I was too afraid to go back and try tackling anything on my own. It was only this week that I pulled myself together and decided to visit Bryn Shander again for the first time in one and a half years to progress that Storm King's Thunder campaign that I had abandoned not even halfway through. And what do you know... it went OK. Things died reasonably quickly and I found myself thinking that probably even some of my alts would do alright versus these dailies nowadays. It's just like the saying goes: once bitten, twice shy.


Angler of the Soshenstar

I don't know what possessed me this weekend, but for some reason I decided to go to Soshenstar River and do some fishing, something I still hadn't even tried in Chult before then. I didn't know what purpose it was going to serve, I just wanted to do it.

It didn't turn out to be very useful (the fish can be traded for Chultan riches, but over an hour spent fishing didn't really make me particularly wealthy), but by the time I had used up all the lures that I had accumulated while questing, I had managed to catch one of every fish available, which earned me a new achievement and title. I call that a win I guess?


Elemental Not-So-Evil

I haven't done much in any of the Elemental Evil zones in a long while, mostly because I never liked them, but I actually liked them even less after the revamp that was supposed to make them more fun. At one point I ran most of my alts through Spinward Rise for the artifact weapon awarded at the end of that, but with better gear cheaply available on the auction house now, even that has become redundant.

Last night I decided to finally give Drowned Shore another go on my rogue, if only for the associated boons, and was pleasantly surprised! First off, doing these zones at 70 eliminates most of the annoyances caused by the dense mob packs, as you can (near) one-shot everything anyway. More interestingly though, it appears that Cryptic gave the quests another makeover at some point that I previously missed, so all those annoying quests that made you re-run the same lair two or three times are gone. I think the entire zone didn't require me to do more than fifteen quests or so now.

Easiest boons ever? (Though still a bit boring.)