Playing Neverwinter again this last week, one aspect of the game that I have noticed has received quite an upgrade is the mount system. Mounts are no longer objects that take up space in your bags (when not slotted in the mount actionbar space) – they now are a separate pane of the character window.
Beyond tidying up some bag space the system has been upgraded so that mounts can have a speed ability slotted and have various insignias attached for permanent bonuses to your own character and in some cases combat bonuses as well. The speed boost as a slotted ability is interesting – it means you can choose the speed your mount will go at, up to the maximum that quality tier of mount enables. So if you’re playing with a friend who only has a lower quality of mount, and thus a slower speed bonus, you can ‘downgrade’ your mount with a click to match their speed. That’s a really nice little touch for coop group play.
I’ve not really delved properly into the insignia system yet, it seems like yet another layer of stat-gathering in the game, and potentially another grind for those caring to optimise their character(s). Still the system is a clear improvement over the basic mount system that the game had beforehand.
Mounts in most MMOs represent the speed boost only. Everquest 2 does have mounts with stats that permanently boost your character, my Shadowknight’s Pterodon mount is the one example I own in-game. EQ2 also has a simple-to-use appearance mount system that allows you to slot a mount to override the appearance of whatever you are riding. So for example I can ride my Pterodon for the stat bonuses, but use the appearance of the new patchwork pegasus to enjoy that new mount’s looks.
Lord of the Rings offers another example of a game where mounts can be more than just a fast travel option. The complex mounted combat system, similar to the legendary item system in the game, offers a very detailed customisable mount aspect to the game; although to access this you require the Riders of Rohan expansion and to be of an appropriate level (75).
It’s an aspect of the game that I generally ignore as much as possible, as I find the controls and responsiveness of the mounted combat not that great. But it is an example of how mounts as a system can be evolved to be something more than just a simple speed boost.