Incentives and scaling in Neverwinter (mod 18 era) #Blapril2020

We’ve been alternating between playing our level-cap characters in Neverwinter, and leveling some new-ish alts. The level-capped characters are still not comfortable to play in Avernus, so we’re running Heroic Expeditions for gear and the chance of artifacts. I’ve lost count how many we’ve done so far, always with one rune active for an extra reward.

The runic system is interesting on paper at least, you active one of five runes for a specific bonus reward, whilst also looking for the nine relics spread across three randomised zones. I do find the triggering of the runes, and the associated ‘banes’ which combine a short term penalty and a “rest of instance” debuff, to be a nuisance. Generally there not too much of a hindrance, although they disincentivise exploration gameplay beyond the minimum required to clear the current zone and move on, since you can trigger this type of magical trap in theory anywhere. So the more you wander about the more likely you’ll end up with stacking debuffs.

EEEEEWWWWW

I’ve now played a full month now with a VIP subscription active, and enter into another month from the generous gifted 30 days of VIP as part of the recent Fast Track pack. So far all I’ve gotten have been refinement items and enchantments, nothing memorable. I did get a lovely bulette mount for my new Paladin from said pack, which I’m loving as his mount as its as armoured as he is.

But, despite this showering of gifts, some daily, I find myself feeling a bit fatigued by the daily key + lockbox routine. I’m just not a fan of gambling in any form, and find no excitement in opening boxes only to find nothing exciting in them. I’m not alone in wanting mounts and companions as a prize, I suspect. Sure, only trying for thirty+ days straight isn’t the essence of perseverance, but then I just don’t find it motivating. I’d rather stick to earning Astral Diamonds through play and waiting for bargains to appear on the auction house.

This times 30

As for the low level characters, husband and I are enjoying the “class fantasy” of our respective Warlock and Paladin alts. The classes are *really* well designed in this game. We’re levelling them through old, but familiar zones – now doing Neverdeath. The Tyranny of Dragons campaign intermingles in these zones for its start, which can get a bit confused story wise as the narrative seems to be set after the events of the zone’s own story. It’s also likely to see us out-level content if we continue this campaign alongside the original zone quests.

Dungeon delving

The Dragon campaign shows off neatly a problem we’ve noticed since starting these characters. They seem rediculously overpowered for low level content, even with us deliberately not ‘twinking’ them. I’ve not given this character any of the spare bonding stones yet, I’m not bothering to slot any enchants either as gear is replaced too quickly. Yet I find my Paladin able to one-shot almost any mob of any difficulty with a single smite or bane attack. His Warlock party-member can likewise insta-slay with some encounters or any daily powers, but I’d wager Paladins are particularly OP up to level 30.

Daily powers are spectacular but not needed at low level

I guess I shouldn’t care, I’m not that hung-up on ‘challenge’ as a motivation for my game time in any MMORPG. Having all the mobs melt constantly does make it hard to practice any form of ability combinations or rotations though. Even when we’ve run dungeons (so far Cloak Tower and Cragmire Crypts) we found very little challenged our pair of heroes. I suspect part of this is down to the scaling tech used by some group content and zones (including the Dragon sub-zones). It’d be nice if the Neverwinter devs could take a look at this scaling tech, it seems to me it hasn’t been adjusted for more recent modules’ power boosts. The dragon heroic encounters are dying faster than I ever remember, if you’re not there for animation where the dragon arrives, you can expect it dead with a few seconds of it’s appearance. Sure the green dragon in Neverdeath was always easiest as it’s the lowest level, but it dying in seconds every single time is a bit extreme…

He died *2* seconds after landing, I counted

I’d say the heroic encounters, like these dragon encounters, is a real plus of Neverwinter’s game design, it’d be nice if they were adjusted to be a bit more up to the challenge of the players that show up – not least so adventurers questing nearby at least have enough time to ride across before they fall down dead.

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