Luckily for me, Cryptic managed to fix the bug with the anniversary quests two days into the event after all. After spending a little time fiddling about with the character panel on my cleric, I jumped into a quick Protector's Speech skirmish to try out some of my new abilities.
I didn't know it was possible to feel this lost in a game that you've played for more than five years and have only been away from for six months. Is this Neverwinter's NGE? I think at this point it doesn't even matter whether the changes are good or bad, there are just too many of them. With my cleric's base functionality completely changed and numerous abilities removed or revamped, it feels like I'm playing a completely different game, one in which I just happen to have characters that look like the ones I used to play.
There has been a token effort to explain the class changes in game, but frankly, a few paragraphs of text can't make up for years of muscle memory. It breaks my heart to think back to a year ago, when I was proud to have hit 70 (then max level) on all eight classes and foresaw myself playing the game for years to come.
As it pains me to just abandon all that even in the face of my current frustration, I resorted to that last bastion of hope for confused returning players: rolling up a new character. I didn't really want a second cleric, but at the moment going down that path seems to be my only chance of figuring out WTF is going on with the class. Let's not even think of alts for now.
At least redoing the newbie experience felt less irksome than usual as it's actually been a while now since I last went through it. One interesting change I noticed is that they got rid of all the level-up prompts telling you what you just earned, I guess at least partially because there is less to earn (e.g. no more power points, you just get certain powers at fixed levels).