Playing Neverwinter this last week or so I’ve become aware of, and increasingly annoyed by, the inconsistencies in the coop gameplay experience. In order to reach the latest Ravenloft module we played a chunk of the Elemental Evil campaign to finish levelling our characters from 65 to 70. In that campaign there were some minor consistency issues between quests – sometimes clicking an ‘interactable’ quest goal object would count for both of us, other times we’d both need to click it. That led once or twice to needing to back track to get back in step. In the midst of chaotic combat and heroic encounters it is easy to lose track of what you were doing before for a quest.
Fast forward to Ravenloft and these issues seem to have multiplied and become more confused still. Although I’m loving the atmosphere of Barovia (perfect time of year to be playing it!), the mechanics of some of the quests leave a lot to be desired coop gameplay-wise. Firstly all of the quests seem to lack any coop awareness, there’s no group completion for clickable objectives that I’ve noticed so far. That’s a pain to be honest, the zone is tougher and busier, it’d be nice for Cryptic to be supportive of coop gameplay – I believe it’s a positive encouragement for players to keep playing longer if they can play a game with friends or family. If you (the devs) make a given game more onerous to play with friends we will naturally compare it to others that are less punitive.
Secondly the gameplay feels very old-school in a bad way in that too many interactive quest objects are competitive. That’s bad enough in 2018, and please note that in Neverwinter you are expected to play cooperatively with other random players to complete the tougher heroic encounters. So to have competitive things to click on mixed into these same areas encourages some very poor behaviour from players – the drive by ignoring of monsters as they rush past you to camp the next clickable for instance. Sure they might come back and help kill afterwards but that’s no consolation if you were clearing to that same object. It’s actually somewhat out of character for the game as monsters do not tap in Neverwinter – so the related ‘kill stealing’ issue of old isn’t a thing here.
Thirdly these same competitive nodes do not count for your fellow group-members, and in some places are far too sparsely seeded. This makes for a very grindy and quickly tiresome looping hunt around sub-areas trying to find nodes that you can’t even share with your party. We spent ages in the village of Berez trying to get 10 (five each) of the remains clickable, it’s particularly bad with the ritual components in the Whispering Woods area – you need 10 per player and there are few nodes so this actively punishes players who group up. This needs fixing honestly, either make it count for the whole group or allow the whole group to click the same node (as was consistently the case in the Elemental Evil areas we did only a few weeks ago)!
Other MMORPGs also have issues with coop gameplay or the specific mechanics of the same, I imagine it’s tough to keep standards across content generation when producing such a volume. The Secret World has some very inconsistent mission clickable behaviours and SWTOR had a lot of objective-related bugs back when we were playing that as a trio. Even World of Warcraft’s latest expansion has its issues with consistency.
Neverwinter has plenty of competitive elements baked in – the zone competition events, the rankings at the end of dungeons and skirmishes, PVP, seasonal races and more. Having to fight with other players for quest completion objects or clickables is really not good gameplay in this day and age…