By John Walker on May 16th, 2013 at 9:00 pm.
The ongoing adventures of a man finding he’s been sucked into an MMO for the first time in years. Parts one and two are there.
So I guess I’ve finished Neverwinter. I’ve not reached the end of its content, but I’ve hit the limit of what it seems I’m going to be able to play.
That’s not as serious as it first sounds. For the first time in my life I’ve reached the level cap of an MMO – something I never thought I’d do. I’m level 60, I’ve unlocked access to the epic content, I’ve got more resources than I could ever spend, I’ve the best equipment I can get at this point – I feel like I’ve done pretty well getting here. The issue is, I’m a Trickster Rogue.
I don’t doubt for a moment that there are many veteran rogues trundling about the end-game content, who will think me a sissy or a fool, but whether it’s because I’ve specced myself all wrong, or because I’m failing to have spotted a technique that didn’t prove necessary in sailing through the previous 59 levels, the game is simply not possible for me to solo any longer. Even with a level 30 phoera companion, my class that is so specialised at taking on one or two enemies at once, just cannot cope with the overly powerful mobs that are thrown at you every step in the Whispered Caverns at this far end of the game. I’m not designed to be able to cope, despite the game’s insistence that everything but for dungeons should be solo-able. So, I guess I’m done.
Until now I’ve been really impressed with how the game’s been balanced for a weaker class like the rogue. A larger fight might pitch you against two more powerful enemies, and four or five grunts. You can AoE the grunts into a daze, and focus on the toughies with your selection from an ever-increasing set of skills, then pick off the remains. Or indeed distract the bosses with a pet or ghost of yourself, and take out the hangers-on to remove their needling attacks, and then launch your “daily” attacks on the big boys and girls. It’s very rewarding, being able to so successfully combat a genuinely deadly crowd with your gathered abilities. And with combat that involves actively reacting to enemy attacks, dodging out of attack radii, skirting around the back of bads to get a better strike, this is so much more than statically tapping at number keys.
These abilities meet their match, however, as soon as you’re facing three or more stronger enemies. And by far at their worst when competing against a full on boss, who can spawn stronger mobs to support him. On the journey to level 60, I estimate that I took on about ten “final boss” characters in each region’s last solo challenge, two of which were utterly impossible. One is becoming notorious – the giant mother wolf who is ludicrously overpowered (although I may have seen chatter that she’s been somewhat nerfed in the most recent patch). The other is a huge grumpy giant man thing at the end of a region I like to call Completely Buggered Up Volcano Land.
CBUVL is Neverwinter’s disaster. The huge game is fantastically well crafted, and incredibly smooth. Except for here. Feeling like it’s only half-finished, it contains a bunch of the dullest collect-me-do quests in the whole game, in a region where the game’s pathfinding directions inevitably lead you into giant walls of rock. For some reason the two main paths leading left and right from the starting area have been sealed off, but the game itself seems to have no idea about this. So you’re forced to run through the busy centre area, guessing at a mess of twisting passages and bridges that weave indirectly through the volcanic rock and streams of lava. There’s little fun to be had in the whole zone, the penultimate area on your journey to 60, so perhaps it’s fitting that the final boss should be such an arsehole.
In what has become a dangerous habit for me, I asked for help from the genuinely wonderful RPS guild (The Rotten Realm Of RPS – over 300 members now), and a friendly chap with an astonishing range of attack powers suited directly for large gangs of enemies helped me blitz through it. And with that ticked off the list, all that remained was a zone I literally can’t walk around. So, game over?
Although Neverwinter has quite the trick up its sleeve to keep me busy, until perhaps they rebalance things in favour of us poor fragile tricksters. The Foundry. And it’s to this that my diary shall travel next. On both sides of the fence.
The Foundry is the ever-growing repository of player-created content, both single quests and entire campaigns. Earlier forays into its offerings were a little mediocre, as you might expect from the content that had been thrown together in just a couple of days from availability. But I now fully expect to find some more established, deeper, and better crafted mini-games to play. The game’s system allows crowd voting to let the more popular content rise to the surface, so I hope to dig in and find some projects worth reporting.
And since that involves being somewhat judgemental toward amateur creations, it seems only fair that I attempt to contribute something of my own. I’ve already started work on a project, and will have thoughts on the systems by which they’re made, and perhaps even be brave enough to admit to whatever I create. And you can rest assured that I’ve already implemented the “crying” emote a number of times.