Cold Run

But what about Makos...?


(This post might not make sense to you. But if it does, nothing more needs to be said.)


Slow Down

One of my guildies got temporarily locked out of buying any more Zen; apparently he bought too much of it in too short a period of time.

And here people say that companies like Cryptic only care about extracting as much money from their players as possible!

I'm not sure whether I'm more surprised by my guildie's spending or by the existence of such a barrier to spending too much at once.


Elemental Evil Revisited

Having finished her tour of the original set of adventure zones, my hunter ranger is now doing Drowned Shore. I loathed the original implementation of Elemental Evil's vigilance tasks, but after several rounds of nerfs and with some experience under my belt, they weren't so bad. Nonetheless, Cryptic recently decided to scrap the whole concept altogether and turned the vigilance tasks in the four EE zones into regular one-time quest lines. This is my first time checking out that content since the change.

Sadly, it's not really an improvement! They did scrap a good chunk of the quests, but you still get sent back and forth between the same couple of locations a lot, only with two quests at a time instead of four, making each run feel less productive. Also, you can't "choose your poison" anymore and sadly Cryptic didn't decide to just keep the easy quests, meaning that you now have to do annoying stuff like run each lair twice to complete the zone. Worse, I can't believe someone thought it a good idea to keep that guard memento quest with the stupidly low drop rate in. As an extra "bonus" I've found that some of the revamped quests don't seem count for the "do four quests in an Elemental Evil zone" daily from the stronghold.

It's just a pain all around still. And that's without even getting into the annoying difficulty curve in that level range, where it's sometimes easier to die and respawn at a campfire than to try and make your way back through groups of mobs that respawn so quickly that you don't even have time to pick up the loot. Why, Cryptic, why...?


Epic Temple of the Spider

This past weekend I ran my first epic dungeon, Temple of the Spider, with a bunch of guildies. Things went well enough until we got to the last boss, where I died within less than a minute. I wasn't alone however, and two of my guildies soon shared my fate. The two remaining players, my pet tank on his paladin and a guildie on a great weapon fighter, managed to get the boss down... eventually. I know that it took more than twenty minutes because I was marked as idle twice while hugging the floor and watching YouTube videos on my second monitor. In the end I was rewarded for my prolonged inactivity by the chest at the end spitting out a new and better version of my horned hat. There really is no justice in this world - good thing that in Neverwinter that often seems to work out to my advantage...


Siege of Neverwinter

This is another event that I've repeatedly managed to miss - until last time, when I was at least aware that it was happening but decided to ignore it at the time, just to kick myself later for missing out on a cool mount.

I thought that it was set to recur a week or two before the Protector's Jubilee (Neverwinter's birthday), as the original Neverwinter intro cinematic also starts with the city under siege. However, for some reason the event is live again now, so clearly I was wrong about that.

Either way I've been appreciative of another opportunity to try and get that armoured horse. The event neither asks nor offers much, consisting of a small combat area with a couple of cycling heroic encounters. Since it's all scaled to level 60, the mobs pretty much explode in the presence of level 70 characters - I often can't even figure out where an event end boss has spawned before he's already fallen over dead. You can do as much or as little as you like, as the daily only requires you to complete two encounters. It's easy XP for levellers and a great farming ground for stronghold vouchers though.


Fishing in Lonelywood

The Winter Festival features an ice fishing activity which is pretty fun. Apparently this inspired Cryptic to do more with fishing in this module, first evidenced by a daily fishing quest in Lonelywood, the second zone. Unfortunately it's been bugged since launch, with areas lighting up as eligible for fishing but not giving you anything (and no, this is definitely not intentional). As a result, you end up running up and down the beach, desperately looking for a spot that works, all while being harassed by quickly respawning hostile crabs.

The next major patch is supposed to introduce yet another zone with a whole new dedicated fishing mini game. I want it to be good, but the bugginess of even this simple quest doesn't give me much hope. At least my pet tank and I were finally able to catch more than one fish per spot for the first time the other day. I guess Cryptic might get there eventually, one just mustn't expect too much of them at release.


Lowbie Changes

As well as picking up my hunter ranger again, I also bought more character slots and rolled up another new alt, a sun elf paladin. I was surprised to find that they changed the Theft of the Crown quest to shoehorn Sybella from the Benign Order of the Third Eye into it in the middle.

Speaking of that, I still don't know how to complete her mini-campaign - on the one character I've done it on, I'm sat at 86% after completing everything. Then again, maybe that's just another one of those display bugs - just like some of my characters have 150 or even 200% Sharandar completion.

My new alt also still got an in-game mail to advertise use of the Gateway - might want to remove that, Cryptic.


Show Me Those Quests!

You may or may not remember that I made it my hunter ranger's goal to re-do all the quests in the original adventuring zones. After the whole project lay dormant for a couple of months, I picked it up again the other day and was most annoyed by how difficult it was to stay on track. During the Protector's Jubilee XP bonanza I outlevelled the zone I was working on at the time, causing all the quests to "go grey", which - following the example set by WoW - caused all the exclamation marks above nearby quest givers' heads to disappear, forcing me to repeatedly click on every NPC in the area to see if a new quest had unlocked. I repeatedly ran into dead ends when I lost track of the main chain and suspect that I missed more than one side quest this way.

I'm glad that SWTOR never had a system like that, even before they had level sync and when low-level quests gave virtually no rewards. Some of us actually care about seeing the whole story, even if we're overlevelled for it! The disappearance of those quest markers is even weirder in Neverwinter, where grey quests actually continue to give pretty decent XP. I suppose there is the potential for confusion if later quests recycle an old area and players could get old lowbie and new high-level quests mixed up, but that could be solved by at least having a "show grey quests" on/off toggle like they introduced in WoW later on.


Bryn Shander

More than a month after its release, I've finally started the new Storm King's Thunder campaign. So far I'm liking what I see. Both the maps and the overall style seem to be quite similar to the original Icewind Dale, which is a good thing in my eyes.

The music and overall theme are just a bit sadder, what with all those flash-frozen citizens everywhere. It would be nice if they could all be thawed out at the end of it all, though I consider that highly unlikely.

I was also somewhat reminded of the Thunderfall area in WoW's Storm Peaks, which is also filled with NPCs that were frozen mid-combat.


Goodbye, Gateway

The final news post that caught my eye this weekend was about the Neverwinter Gateway having been shut down for good. (Gotta remember to remove that link on the side bar...) For those who didn't know, this was basically Neverwinter's "companion app", letting you access your professions from out of game, enabling you to prevent your celestial coins from disappearing if you couldn't log in (back when that was a thing), and offering the Sword Coast Adventures mini game, where you rolled dice to let your companions explore some small dungeons for loot.

I can't say that I'm personally very saddened by this, as I only ever used it a couple of times, such as to get the little white quality dog pet. But I find it interesting that during a time when people talk about mobile add-ons to MMOs clearly being the future (when even Blizzard does it, it must be so), companies that have had this sort of feature for a while are actually shutting it down again. Cryptic's reasoning was pretty much that it was too much effort for all the abuse it attracted, and RIFT already stopped work on its mobile companion app three years ago.