The current campaign, the Icewind Dale module, has brought with it new a type of open world content to Neverwinter – the heroic encounter. Basically they are similar to the events system in Guild Wars 2. When out and about in the outdoor areas of the campaign, your map has icons representing currently active events; if you get close enough you’ll gain a quest to show its progress and your minimap also has a purple halo to locate the event.
One of the daily quests for the Icewind Pass area encourages you to do at least one heroic encounter so they’re an integrated feature of the zone, also they tend to drop a varying amount of raw black ice (some even feature you mining it in the event). Black ice is the driving force for the plot of the campaign and also a currency for buying rewards during the campaign progression.
The experience of heroic encounters varies a great deal based on how many players are around at that moment in your phase (zones are split into phases when busy). The difficulty of the encounter is marked by a number which is the suggested number of players that should tackle the encounter.
We’ve completed encounters designed for two players with only one player to help out and it was a nice challenge. Our gearscore is still pretty low, just over the 10k required by the campaign, so that may well increase the perceived difficulty until we snag some new purples.
We’ve also jumped in on some mass zergs on larger events and it’s the same mindless fun that world bosses in GW2 were before they were made super-hard. I use the term mindless fun deliberately here – I grew tired of the zerg, zerg and zerg-some-more mentality of the playerbase in GW2 and there’s certainly some evidence of it here in Neverwinter as well. If there’s a “farm” zerg zooming around a zone I could follow it briefly, maybe just to get the kill on the zone boss (e.g. the Remorhaz), but just like with GW2 I quickly grow bored of mindless ‘fun’ of this kind.
I was playing my wizard solo in the same zone but it is simply too difficult at his, only slightly better, gearscore. For him the heroic encounters are only possible if there’s already a group doing one, the difficulty in terms of dodge-requirements and damage output of the monsters is tuned pretty high. It’s also too easy to die to an overpull from some other solo player who thinks (zerg-mentality wise) that it’s always best to stack several groups to nuke them down faster. Seconds later my poor under-geared and very squishy wizard is lying dead and the other player has run off after realising it’s not going to work. This ‘helpful tactic’ by another player has happened a few times to our cleric/wizard duo as well, the difference being that it is much more likely to work if there’s a healer around!
So for now I think I’ll be shelving the campaign on my solo character and concentrating on my cleric for progression – it’s the difference between a very stressful and frantic hour of dailies or an enjoyable if slightly challenging one.