I read while I was ‘away from keyboard’ via Shintar’s Neverwinter Thoughts blog post about the surprising major changes coming to Cryptic’s Neverwinter Online MMORPG. The addition of the Bard class is a very welcome new feature. The only potential downside for husband and I is the discussion on whether we both level one or chose between us on who gets to play one, playing two of the same class has always felt a bit weird in any MMO, and we’ve struggled with this when new classes were added before – playing two Paladins and two Warlocks together didn’t gel well.
The class overview speaks to potential complexity in the Bard’s gameplay. Songs have numbered notes to execute, with the possibility to ‘quickslot’ a song’s note sequence to avoid manually playing them every time, but with a limitation on how many songs can be short-cutted in that way. It sounds complex and intruiging, but in an action MMO like Neverwinter I’m slightly more wary of mechanically complex classes. In active combat there are more distractions to overall such as telegraphed enemy attacks to dodge or the need to re-position, and this may render the songs fiddly to execute.
As Shintar points out, update Module 21 includes some “huge changes” to the concept of levels and levelling in the game. Both are to be brought into line with the pen and paper game: the level cap will be squished down from 80 to 20 and the game will use the “milestone” alternative system for levelling as opposed to the accumulation of experience points. Apparently, according to the official FAQ blogpost, the transition from levelling to end-game gear grind was “a tough transition for a lot of players”. This chimes with previous experience of returning to the game (notably during the Ravenloft and Chult eras) – if you hadn’t kept up with the gear grind in Neverwinter then you were in for a very rough introduction to, if not effectively locked out of, new content due to the massive increase in item level each time. Although some improvements were made for the Undermountain modules, I did feel the difficulty overall of content felt rather “swingy” compared to other MMORPGs.
Of course, for more regular players this change may be a more negative experience, maybe transforming the game beyond recognition. MMORPGs always change their systems, and there have been changes in this game and others that I’d prefer to roll back, we’ll see very soon what is shakes out like in reality!