As we dig deeper into the current gameplay of Neverwinter, I’m impressed with some of the sweeping changes that have come since we last played. The new zones are enjoyable and have some great non-player characters to interact with as you adventure into this mega-dungeon.
As ever I love playing Cleric in the game. The new and radically simpler feats section of the character sheet has some simple choices to make, I’ve just gotten the level 77 paragon feat choice and went with the Angelic option. I’ve not managed to trigger it yet to see what it looks like, or plays like, but I’m looking forward to it as the other celestial (to use the correct D&D parlance) aspects of Cleric are nicely portrayed in the game’s graphics.
The companion system in particular seems to have received some improvements. As I mentioned in my last Neverwinter post, my husband and I rather like the collection aspect of this system, switching companions as you hand in quests or when you invoke to level them could be seen as busy-work: but we like it. The new bolstering system gives your active companion a calculated bonus from the four best other companions of the same group. So obtaining better quality companions from this same set will boost the performance of your favourite. It’s a neat mechanic that makes companion collecting give a minor boost and gives a direction of what you should collect if resources, e.g. Astral Diamonds, are limited (which ours are).
The sheer variety and imagination of the available companions really appeals to me. With the bolstering system it feels like we’re free to make situational choices of which companion to use, since the inactive companions of better quality are still providing some bonus to whichever is active.
Perhaps the only criticism of the general system changes is that I feel like my character has fewer abilities to choose from now. It seems that spells like Foregmaster’s Flame may be locked to the DPS Arbiter spec only now (it is mentioned in a recent Reddit thread, but I can’t find it on my healer’s spell list). As a dwarven Cleric, I rather enjoyed dropping an anvil of flame onto my enemies.
We’ve pushed on down through two zones of this expansion in recent sessions. Twisted Caverns was a lot of fun, and thematically interesting. The friendly Kuo-Toa NPCs in particular had some really amusing and characterful dialogue.
I think Neverwinter doesn’t get enough credit for the work done on its story and NPCs. The game engine might impose some limitations that other games do not face (e.g. rather limited NPC facial animations), but the written dialogue is consistently good. Some of the more unusual NPCs, like the Kuo-Toa, are especially nicely voice-acted.
The Undermountain zones have some nice verticality to them, there are ascending passageways to be found off of chambers or caverns that lead to higher areas and even the odd jumping-puzzle. These are simple affairs that are perfectly enjoyable for players like me with limited dexterity and patience for such content. They offer great, alternative views of an area, without driving me to distraction like the puzzles in Guild Wars 2 usually did.
The difficulty for this leveling content seems well pitched. We’re getting gear upgrades regularly, and the odd drop that is a significant boost to item level. Pulling multiple packs can lead to a fight for survival, at least we’re playing a healer+tank duo so we’ve got a lot of survivability. The boss fights are generally easy enough so far, which is fine as this is leveling content. Killing the odd ‘expedition’ boss to progress the story, or the odd rare spawn for tokens towards buying a pet back at the Yawning Portal can be fun – the difficulty seems pitched at just the right level for us.
Onwards and deeper we go!