Cleric Gameplay Kinda Sucks Now

While researching player opinions on mod 16, I came across someone complaining that clerics were now just a class that stands in a corner somewhere. This sounded like an odd complaint, but I'm starting to see where it came from.

The problem is that divinity has turned into a simple resource pool for encounter powers, and one that drains extremely quickly at that. It takes less than half a dozen attacks for me to run out, and then I'm basically down to at-wills.

This wouldn't be so bad if using at-wills helped to regenerate divinity, as you could then weave back and forth between using them and encounters. But no, you're supposed to stand still and pray in combat to regenerate divinity, and it takes a while to boot.

The idea of a cleric pausing in combat to pray may have made sense in Everquest back in 1999, but in an MMO with action combat in 2019 it's absolute madness and makes you feel like a right muppet, especially when you have to keep interrupting your prayers to dodge out of telegraphs, all the while contributing nothing to the fight.



I don't know why low-level skirmishes are still limited to such a small level range. Cryptic clearly has the tech to make everything scale (even if the results are questionable) and definitely did the right thing by applying this tech to all the levelling dungeons. Why not skirmishes too?

Trying to run all the levelling skirmishes on my baby cleric has been hard work simply because you out-level them quite quickly and the "dead zone" I observed three years ago is still a thing. I did miss one skirmish entirely simply because despite of hours of queuing I just couldn't get it to pop, and the alternative to skipping it would have been to stop doing things that give XP and just stay logged in, waiting in the queue for who knows how many more hours.


Early Levelling Impressions

My little cleric is in her forties now, and so far I like the new levelling experience less than the old one.

- As I already mentioned, you rarely get anything when you level up. This is boring and reminds me of current World of Warcraft in a bad way.

- Acquisitions Incorporated feels like more of a stain on the game than I expected. I was not thrilled by the humour when it came out but thought that maybe it was less jarring if you actually ran into the chain "organically" as a lowbie... but nope, it's just as bad. There's a huge tonal dissonance between that campaign and everything else, and the quest givers just come off as jerks. I don't want to work for them. I did the intro and then didn't go back, despite of them sending me letters in the mail.

- Gear is oddly hard to come by. Rewards from dungeons are random to a ridiculous degree, to the point that most are either for a different class or a character thirty levels higher. Out in the world they are strangely scarce now. I remember back when we used to have to identify all our drops (another thing that they got rid of) it seemed to be raining unidentified items left and right. Now I hardly see any gear drop from mobs at all.

- Where are my heals? They completely removed life steal, which I can kind of understand because of how OP it was, but they also seem to have taken away the cleric's various healing effects that used to be attached to attacks. At the moment I feel like just another random dps. And the one heal my baby cleric does have feels ridiculously weak, barely even moving anyone's health bar. It feels like something that was tuned for max-level characters in epic gear, leaving lowbies in random levelling gear feeling disproportionally weak.


A Lich's Lament

Playing through Neverdeath Graveyard again I got to re-do what's probably my favourite quest in the game (see title).

It starts from a phylactery which is a random drop from the undead in the area. The lich contained within tells you that he just wants to be left in peace already and asks you to find a quiet final resting place for him in the area. You check out various locations but he finds something (hilariously) wrong with each and every suggestion, from uppity necromancers to destructive adventurers.

Exasperated, he eventually tells you that he's fed up with un-life and asks you to just hand his phylactery over to the doomguards so that they may destroy him. You do so, but Doomguard Volahk immediately states that the lich is likely too powerful to be destroyed so that the phylactery will have to be contained in a special secure vault instead, possibly for centuries - much to the lich's delight.

The voice acting for this quest is great and the lich's monologues are consistently hilarious - which just goes to show again that it's quite possible to have content be both lore-appropriate and funny.



While I'm only just trying to come to grips with the havoc wrought by Undermountain, Cryptic already announced the next module coming in August, called Uprising.

It will introduce the first new race in a while, the Gith. I have to admit that I'd never heard of them before this, and my first impression is that they look like the love children of orcs and elves. Also, apparently we'll be going to space?! I'm not familiar with that part of D&D lore at all, but it sounds wacky.

To me though, the most intriguing change mentioned in the announcement post was "recrafted early game zones and stories". I've never found Neverwinter's levelling particularly engaging, but it's serviceable, and to be honest I'm not sure what they could do to make it better, the game being what it is. Makes me glad to be levelling a new character right now though - that means that the current content will still be fresh on my mind when it comes to comparing old and new.


Scaling Strangeness

I knew that Cryptic was going to change the way scaling works in Undermountain, and I actually welcomed the idea as I thought that the existing system was pretty poor. After running a couple of Cloak Towers though, things didn't seem much different from before: Downscaled max-level characters were still rushing through, pulling and killing everything on their own while lowbies lagged behind - I guess things just went marginally more slowly, as it took more than one hit to kill an enemy now.

But then I ran into the strangeness in Illusionist's Gambit, and I soon got another taste of it in the Storming the Keep skirmish. Three years ago, I ridiculed this one for scaling players up to 60 while leaving the mobs in their twenties, making the whole thing a complete joke. Well, when I ran it this time, this was still happening... but our group of 60ies really struggled to kill those twenties! We barely made it through to the end, with me desperately spamming my one heal as much as it would let me and people still ended up getting downed repeatedly.

I found several reports of the new scaling being utterly broken (e.g. people being one-shot while doing normal Demogorgon) but that was more than two months ago, and supposedly there's been a patch to fix things since then? All I can say is that I'm very confused.


Truly Mad Wizard's Lair

I've now gotten the Illusionist's Gambit skirmish from the random queue twice on my baby cleric, and both times we wiped on the very first wave of mobs. I have no idea what's going on there, is it an issue with the new level scaling?

On the plus side, while failing like that causes the skirmish to end prematurely, it still counts towards random completion, so it's probably the fastest way to earn 8k rough astral diamonds currently in the game.

And to think people used to argue about the voting system at the end of each round of that skirmish, and how players rarely wanted to stay past gaining a bronze medal to earn silver or gold rewards... I'd like to even get that far again!