Mount Changes

It's been more than three years since I got my legendary mount on my main. Unfortunately it was only afterwards that Cryptic changed legendary mounts to be account-wide unlocks, so all my alts have been slow whenever I've done group content with my guildies. I've been saving up AD for months and keeping an eye on the auction house, hoping to buy another legendary at some point once I spotted a good deal.

For once however, my hesitancy has paid off, as Cryptic announced the other day that they'll be revamping the mount system and orange mounts will cease to give you a speed advantage the way they do now. In general it sounds like the devs are planning to make the stable more similar to the current companion system, with more variety resulting in more benefits and a range of new gear slots to be filled.

I'm grateful for the speed normalisation, but to be honest the new gear thing doesn't really sound appealing to me at all. Character power is already too complex a construct as it is.


Hardcore Mode

There are some weekly objectives meant to slightly alleviate the grind for Zariel's favour, one of which is to complete selected dungeons in "hardcore mode". Before seeing this requirement, I had never heard of this feature.

We learned that it's a setting you can only turn on when queuing with a pre-made group, and when enabled it requires you to complete the whole run without anyone dying/getting downed. This is pretty sucky.

On our first run of hardcore Malabog's Castle, we breezed through most of it with ease, but then I lagged out on the last boss and got one-shot by the dragon's flyby, forcing us to start over. Fortunately we then got it on the second try.

After the weekly reset we did the whole thing again, and again we failed on the first run, this time due to someone else not dodging the flyby and getting one-shot by the last boss.

It kind of reminds me of the old Undying achievement in WoW, only worse in that you can't even get the normal dungeon rewards after failing, you just get ported out immediately and receive nothing. To be honest I'm neither sure why this mode is in the game nor why Cryptic felt the need to promote it with this event.


Ascension Redux

Remember when I was complaining that nobody wanted to do the big heroic encounter in Avernus? In a prime example of how quickly the tides of content popularity can turn depending on its rewards, it has suddenly become the content du jour to farm Zariel's favour for the new event.

Now zone chat is an endless stream of people asking to be invited to groups for the heroic, so the moment it pops in your map instance, you just throw some invites to the first few names that scroll past and you'll immediately be surrounded by a bunch of uber-geared people that basically kill everything for you. I just find this highly amusing.


Redeemed Citadel Event

Cryptic decided to take event gaming to a new level with a special one-time campaign to restore the redeemed citadel in Avernus. It's pitched as "the entire server working together" to progress through four different phases, however on closer inspection that seems to be nothing but a cosmetic veneer, as the news item also states that "if a milestone is completed by the server early, there will be some time—a few days or weeks—before the next milestone begins". After less than two days we've already progressed more than 20% towards the first milestone, but looking at the pitched event duration on the calendar, I'm guessing that each phase is going to last 28 days regardless.

In a savvy monetisation move, you earn some pretty good rewards for grinding the event - but you can earn double the rewards (including some unique additions) and a new race by also paying. On one level I find this kind of monetisation quite annoying, but I can't deny that I'm tempted. If you're already doing the grind, why deny yourself some of the potential rewards?

Paying also removes the timer for earning the rewards - otherwise you have to complete each grind during its dedicated time slot, which works out to earning about 1000 of Zariel's favour a day - for nearly four months. Based on our efforts the first two nights, this isn't completely unreasonable if Neverwinter is your only MMO and you play every day, but for a more casual player it's quite a big ask.


All Alts on Deck

I'm proud to say that I finally got one character of every class to 80. Since I already had all of them at 70 and levelling is quite quick these days, it didn't technically require much effort to gain those extra ten levels on each alt, however I intentionally took it slowly to give myself a chance to re-familiarise myself with each class after the complete havoc that Undermountain wreaked on class design.

I do like how the new appearance system makes it much easier to give each character a decent look, even if you don't have the perfect item for every slot (yet). Just being able to easily apply basic dyes to resolve colour clashes already helps a lot.


Profession Project

I've never quite made my peace with the workshop that replaced the old profession system, but I do have functional (if not maxed-out) workshops on three characters and do try to level up my skills and artisans occasionally when I have some gold to spare.

One thing I noticed recently was that a lot of the crafted gear actually has some pretty nice looks, so now part of the project has become to craft each available look for every class so they can add them to their appearance libraries for mixing and matching.

I've never been the type who considers fashion the real endgame, but so far it's been a surprisingly entertaining project.


Dragon Run

Every hour at fifteen minutes to the hour, five giant dragons appear in the Well of Dragons. I somehow managed to be completely oblivious to this for a long time, though I did eventually catch on when people were constantly talking about "dragon runs" in chat. Groups assemble at or just before the start of the event and then try to kill all the dragons before they have time to leave again, either starting at green and going clockwise or starting at black and going counter-clockwise. I've sometimes seen arguments about which way is the right way, though most people seem to lean towards starting at green these days.

I often like to join for a dragon run if I arrive at the right time, as they are easy enough to zerg down (except for the blue dragon - I hate the blue dragon) and it basically counts as completing five epic heroic encounters with decent rewards. Completing at least one epic heroic encounter in Well of Dragons is also one of the objectives of one of the legacy campaign quests, and the dragons are the only encounters that qualify.

One thing that has confused me lately is that I sometimes see people going straight for the white dragon at the start of the event, which is kind of in the middle and just splits people up. I have yet to figure out what the logic behind that is (but there is pretty much always some kind of logic behind whatever people do in this game).


Summer Festival Binge

Neverwinter's summer festival is one of my favourite events, and following my recent rabbit-holing I ended up binging hard on it during the last three weeks. My original plan was to just log every alt quickly every day to claim my free Favor of Sune, but then I'd always think something like: "Well, while I'm on this character I might as well pick up the daily stronghold quest, plus it's double Dread Ring/Icewind Dale/Tyranny of Dragons week and I haven't finished that on this char yet, so..."

The result were way too many hours played, to the point where I actually couldn't wait for the event to be over again. It's rare that I end up trapping myself in this sort of "overdoing it to the point that it's not fun anymore" binge but I did fall victim to it good and proper this time.

And what do I have to show for it? I wasn't even really particularly excited to buy any of the event rewards... though I now have the new Sun of Sune companion on every class I guess. Mind you, considering that its abilities seem to make it more of a magical death attractor than a useful asset I'm not entirely sure that's a win either...


Epic Trial Queue

I braved the trial queue for the first time since hitting level 80, on my warlock no less. Inspiration was a double Tyranny of Dragons currency event and me trying to earn some Linu's Favor for her.

I tried queueing for a random at first, but the randomiser was insistent on throwing me into Assault on Svardborg (repeatedly). I'd never actually completed that one before but apparently it's a lot more doable nowadays. My first run was still a fail, from what I could tell because one or even both of the healers just dropped group mid-fight (even though it was going fine until then), so we wiped, and since we weren't getting any more backfills at that point the group fell apart. I got it two more times though and those other times we completed it successfully. While I didn't have any of the keys for the chests on that character, I was still pleased with the AD payout (I'd forgotten just how much you can earn from doing the random trial queue every day, 40k+ a pop).

I eventually got into some Tiamat runs as well by queuing for that specifically. It felt a bit odd to see it downsized to ten people - to rebalance for the lower numbers they made it so that the middle cleric is permanently under a shield and doesn't need defending anymore. What I did like was that they changed the dragon souls to work with the special ability hotkey they added in Undermountain so that you don't need to worry about manually dragging a soul onto your bar mid-fight anymore. Otherwise the experience was similar to how I remembered it, and we always killed all the heads in one to two phases.