Experience Overflow

Overflow experience is a feature that I've liked from the start, however at level 70 it used to take quite long to level up. At 1,785,000 XP a pop, it took me quite a few play sessions to level up even once, and for that much effort the rewards often felt lacklustre.

Since Lost City of Omu was released, I noticed that I was suddenly levelling up much more quickly. At one point I managed to get three level-up rewards in a single play session! A quick Google search revealed that as part of this latest update, Crypic smoothed out the XP curve from 60-70, which apparently also reduced the XP requirement to level up at 70 to a measly 100,000 XP. That's less than 6% of the old requirement!

And I'm absolutely loving it. It makes playing at max level feel so much more rewarding, even more so as you have a chance of getting the 30,000 rough astral diamonds reward multiple times a day if you're lucky. For me that's a considerable cash flow addition!

Of course, knowing Cryptic's modus operandi whenever it has been too easy to earn AD in the past, I expect that this will be nerfed again soon, but I'll definitely enjoy it while it lasts.



One thing I've found fascinating over time is watching the way Cryptic iterates on its modules. If you look at the first three "expansions" for example, you can clearly see them refining the daily area concept with each release - Icewind Dale remains one of my favourite maps to play around on to this day.

However, every time they tried something very different, it didn't go down too well. I mean, I liked Tyranny of Dragons and the idea of a campaign that you can do while levelling (even if the associated level scaling was screwy), but based on them never repeating the experiment, I suspect it wasn't too well received. Elemental Evil with its level cap increase was a disaster for all kinds of reasons, and Underdark deciding to completely decouple the game's grind from its story... let's just say I probably wasn't the only one who noped right out of that one after playing through the whole story in a single evening.

Lately we've returned to a more traditional "daily area" model, however with the exception of Chult's "six times weekly" patrol missions, there's been a general move away from traditional daily quests coupled with a strong push towards forcing players to log in and play every single day by making it impossible to pick up several days worth of dailies just to "binge complete" them all at once on the weekend. This is a shame because that's exactly how I like to play through the old areas. It's no coincidence that I have yet to complete any campaign after Elemental Evil on any of my alts.


The Merchant Prince's Folly

This skirmish that came with the Swords of Chult module is possibly the best one Cryptic has created so far. My pet tank and I have been running it a lot to gain the associated campaign currency (called totems) and it's always good fun.

It lives up to the format's promise of short and fast action, but manages to not completely limit itself to combat. I'm always keen to be the first one to rouse the guards or repair the weapons in the courtyard, or to raise barricades outside, because it makes me feel so much more useful than my piddly cleric dps.

The only thing I'm ambivalent about is the giant T-Rex outside. Since it would take most groups a while to kill it, the common tactic seems to be for one person to lure the big dino away into a corner while the rest of the party completes the escort, thereby increasing the group's chances of finishing with a gold medal. The only problem with this is that if the T-Rex isn't far enough away, it likes to keep people in combat, and while in combat you can't click the portal to exit. I've previously gotten stuck inside with the dino blocking the portal to the point where I had to hit Alt+F4 to get out. If there is a better way of escaping, I don't know what it is.


Fashion Bag!

I'm making a serious habit out of getting super excited about user interface changes and quality of life features while totally missing the actual content of a new module, or at least not getting to the latter until much later. So of course, upon logging in after the release of Lost City of Omu, I got super excited about the new fashion bag!

I'm still not sure there is even much of a point to fashion these days when you can just make your normal gear look any way you want, but fact is that it's still a system that exists. Sometimes I still get fashion items for free or as rewards, and unlike my pet tank I hate destroying or leaving things, so I've always dutifully stashed them away in my bank while simultaneously feeling bad about the space they were taking up, because I didn't really care about them that much.

Finally this is no longer going to be a problem, as we now have a separate inventory tab to put a whole bunch of fashion items away for free. Despite of me not using them much, the freed up bank space alone really excited me, and to be honest, not having to worry about where to store new fashion in the future might even encourage me to pick up a few more such items and maybe even use them on occasion. Like with the introduction of the stable, the secret to making people want more of something that they can only use one at a time is to not make it a chore to have more than one.



I've been holding off on writing about hunts because I didn't even understand how they work for ages. Unfortunately the system is unusually poorly explained in-game. Fortunately Neverwinter Unblogged's guide came to the rescue.

The basic idea of a hunt is that you spawn a mini-boss with a lure and this boss then has a chance of dropping some nice loot.

However, to trade for a lure you need both a trophy and a T-Rex fang. Trophies have a chance of dropping from rare mobs, which in turn have a chance of spawning in various spots on the map where the regular version of that mob usually spawns. So you could find a sabertooth in a tiger spawn point for example. A T-Rex is the rare version of a regular Tyrannosaur, of which there are only ever a couple on the map. Both the regular version and the rare T-Rex are incredibly tedious to kill if you don't have high dps.

So the result is that if you want to participate in hunting, you need to run around the map killing mobs for a chance of getting a rare spawn, kill that for a chance of getting a trophy, and use that for the chance of getting a drop from the summoned mini-boss.

Unfortunately the jungle is an aggravating place to be and the whole system is just one layer of randomness after another. As a more casual player I can only give it a thumbs-down.


Carry On

I've mentioned before that the huge number of attributes that a character can have in Neverwinter creates huge min-maxing potential. I haven't played another MMO where there is such a massive difference between characters not just based on class and skill but also based on gear.

A good example was when my pet tank and I queued for the Merchant's Prince's Folly skirmish today (small group PvE content). We could immediately tell that someone in the group was doing massive dps based on how quickly we were carving through the instance, and indeed, at the end the statistics screen revealed that our great weapon fighter (for some reason it's almost always a great weapon fighter) had done more than 38 million damage compared to my less than two. That means that he did more than 1800% of my own damage! And it's not as if I was just standing around and not trying.

It can be a bit discouraging sometimes to see these huge performance gaps, but at the same time I have to hand it to the community that at least in the sort of PvE content that I tend to do, nobody ever bothers you about bad performance. More often than not I tend to just be grateful to those players for carrying people like me to victory without complaint.


Simril Success

Despite of my earlier complaints, I finished this year's Winter Festival on a positive note, by achieving both of the goals that I had set myself initially, which were to earn the seasonal weapon skins for both my great weapon fighter and my paladin.

Funny thing is, I haven't even used the one for my fighter yet, because the one I used to "temporarily" turn her new artifact weapon back into a sword is actually quite nice, so I decided to just save the new skin for whenever I need to change weapons again. (ETA about two years?)

I do love my pally's new look though; I find that the sparkly theme fits the class particularly well. The only thing that disappointed me a little is how small the new appearance makes the shield look, as I always found it quite humorous to see my petite elf disappear behind a ginormous shield wall that she'd probably never even be able to carry.


Fishing for Treasure

Early on while participating in this season's Winter Festival, I noticed that I would occasionally fish up "treasures" during the fishing contest. As treasures are usually what Neverwinter calls vendor trash, I didn't think too much of it.

They weren't marked as vendor trash however, so I eventually looked them up and learned that there is a vendor who trades these for various campaign currencies. He's located on a pedestal behind the daily quest giver in Twilight Tor and has a somewhat unusual-looking face, which immediately made me wonder whether he was modelled after a real person... But I still shrugged it all off - I'm generally fine just playing through the campaigns the normal way.

Then, two days before the end of the event, I learned that ten fished-up Treasures of Tiamat can be traded for one Linu's Favor, the annoying-to-come-by campaign currency that has stopped me from officially completing the Tyranny of Dragons campaign to this day. And this option has been in game since 2016???

I went on an emergency fishing spree on my main, but even with the top fishing pole it took forever to get enough of the right treasures, so I eventually gave up on it again. I briefly considered buying a few sabiki rigs from the Zen store (special lures that increase your chance of getting a good catch), but then told myself that this wasn't much less "paying to win" than just buying full campaign completion.

Maybe I'll remember to start fishing on my main in time next winter...


Twilight Rage

I've been spending some time at the Winter Festival this season after giving it a pass last year and it's still surprising amounts of fun! But the sheer bugginess of the Twilight Run has sent me into a rage more than once.

Okay, level sync getting removed when you collect one of the bonus baggies is just funny and doesn't affect the run itself.

Lag and rubberbanding making you miss objectives is super annoying but hardly new.

However, what's with the gates and the quest bugging out all the time and not giving proper credit? I once managed a run where I only got 10 points for the slalom gates, and no, I had not managed to miss every single one of them bar one.

The quest getting stuck entirely is even worse - most often I had it suddenly stop at one of the rally gates and then just complete after the run is finished, but twice it also managed to bug out at the very end, saying I had failed to reach the finish line and staying that way until I did another full run for zero points (at that stage, even running over a bonus bag would give me nothing) to run over the finish line a second time.


Bonus RP Event

One of the above is currently going on in-game. When the first one came around, I sighed a bit. Wasn't part of the point of the big refinement changes to make sure that people wouldn't feel like they needed to wait until a special refinement weekend anymore to upgrade all their items?

However, in this case I worried for nothing, because Cryptic stayed true to their word. Unlike the previous double refinement events, the new bonus RP changes nothing about the way you actually upgrade your items - it just causes refinement items to drop with higher frequency while you're out questing in the world.

From my limited experience this isn't really something to write home about, but for a casual player like me it can provide that extra push to take an alt out for a spin, knowing that on top of whatever else I'll be doing, I'll also be earning extra RP.

Like previous changes to invocation, this is another step towards encouraging people to actually play instead of simply rewarding them for logging in at the right time. I don't know how well that's working out for Cryptic, but it does seem like a sensible plan.