Sunday, November 17, 2013

Nanbo's Never Winter Experience Level 10 - 20

Last time I visited Neverwinter I gave the game an outstanding 4/5 rating based on a first FUN 10 level experience. That can be found here:

I pressed on to level 20 and have a few score changing elements that popped up. Will Neverwinter fall or rise on my score table? Read on to find out!
Here are my notes in chronological order and some in game screen shots:

"PVP 1-10 is pretty good. Allot better and organized than the mess that is RIFT.
I had a good group and we win some and lose some." - PvP is not to bad. It is not outstanding either. But it has you doing core elements quickly. No running across battle fields, waiting for buffs, spending time trying to organize 20 men zerg. It basically is you and your team in tight hall ways running to flags or other objective areas. Encounters are set and may the best man win. There is level scaling. So my first level 10 pvp experience I was popped up to level 19 to be competitive (but without level 19 sklls). I was at a bit of a skill disadvantage to other REAL level 19 people, but that did not stop me from doing all that was to be done. Dying, killing, objectives. Unlike RIFT (where my team/server ALWAYS WINS pvp) I was winning some battles, losing some. It felt balanced. But the drawback was that it was very dry and lack luster. And sometimes you just knew (as a cleric) you were going to die against another higher damage class.

"Level 10 opened up a new combat system using TAB." - This is interesting because around level 10 I was getting that "this combat is getting rather repetitive" feel. Then poof! You hit that level 10 and a new combat option opens. It is like a battle stance. You press tab and, for my cleric, my weapon turned a glowing blue and all spells are superenhanced powerful with two new attacks. The trade off is that these attacks consume energy. A new bar is permanently on screen now as a half circle that floats by your character. Each time you hit an enemy with regular attacks, the bar fills up slowly, and then you can use it to super charge the attacks. That is the key word, it is a super CHARGED like bar of attack. Kind of a nice mix up and makes timing and placing shots strategic during boss fights. I do wish there was a way to put the bar down at the bottom or top as a flat bar. It is VERY Annoying as a floating half circle that follows the character and blocks the screen. If some one knows how to change that, feel free to post below.
(Staying warm in winter...Wait, actually it is not snowing out, or winter...)

"There is a pretty cool equipment guide NPC. He tells you what quest will give you a better upgrade to what you currently
And there is an "equivilant" button that opens the auction house and searches for an upgrade just like it on the 
market. Nice!" - 
Finding your armor piece has been super streamlined and easy to do if you want to go shopping. There is an armor guide in town that compares your current pieces to other pieces that are better via Quest reward or Auction House search. Pretty nice feature! I have sold some items for diamonds (the auction house currency) already. I am not a fan of the multiple currency system through. Typical PWE / CRYPTIC economic touch.

"Prayer system gives rewards. 1 time per hour." - Direcyly out of the pages of Star Trek Online, PWI, Forsaken World, and all other titles in this company conversion... the "reasons" to stay logged in through passive boosts. Or AFK boosts. 1 time per hour you get to pray which gives currency, item and exp rewards. This also gives you something to do in town at the local shrine. You have to be in a holy zone to click the button at the top shaped like a sun, to pray. It only takes a second to do and you can buy shrines to take with you and use any where. Feel like praying in the dungeon? Sure! Go for it...Oddly, I have not seen a portable campfire purchase...They must want you to only use the ones they built in game... another "Tera had it better" feature...

"Level 15 and I look like level 1 still... I have changed armor allot but no big difference in looks." - Speaking of armor. I just hit level 15 and I do not look any different despit all the armor I have been getting, changing, etc... I Also notice people around me do not look all that great either. This is like in RIFT where looking some what decent will NOT happen until end game-ish. Kind of dissapointing. Another "Star Trek Online has WAY more look features, why did CRYPTIC not use the resources Star Trek HAS????"

"Scheme is getting repetitive. Enter building, fight orc looking guy. Although I am only 3 places out from the noob area so there is still allot to discover. Not really a turn off, just with a little more "interactive". - Level 1 - 10 was a blast! It was like Indiana Jones running away from that giant rolling rock! It was gripping, evolving, tense, and FUN! Then you get eased into the core mechanics of the mmorpg. Damn. Kind of a let down. But, for a themepark mmorpg, it is nice to be slid in and introduced to the core at such a nice and fun pace. Once you are in, it will be the same routine through out the levels 1 - 20. Broken down village side, battle mobs every step down some path. Enter a building, take out boss. Flooded with rewards and level ups. Rinse and repeat. There are allot of events, and open menu hop into PvP, or dunjon finder. It is pretty active at times and helps change the rhythm allot. I will say this. There are times the story will pick up and get interesting and change some of the combat routine. For example, there was a quest I did where I had to escort a possessed girl to the end of a dungeon. Seems normal, except when her possessions gets out of control she is like a mini boss you have to "tame" by beating her down. She destorys enemies in the way and hurts you pretty bad. Keeps you on your toes. Get add of flavor to the mix. But all and all, by level 20, you will know what events to sign up for, and what to expect in the outter villages.
There are times I am taken by surprise. This game is dark and has allot of scary elements to it that made me jump. So I guess in summary: Starts out epic and super themed - slides into routine mmo territory - keeps it lively enough with peppered in elements. Being an action based instanced combat mmorpg. They have so much potential. Allot just feels lazy in many places.
(I know that glow bro. We may be ugly character models, but the world is a glow with beauty)

"I take back what I said in levels 1-10 about not needing a mount. I need a mount. These maps are getting bigger!" -Some maps are getting bigger and having a faster moving speed would be nice. Mostly though, it is for moving around the castle and putting things in my bank etc... helps out. Level 20 gives you 4 tokens to purchase a free mount.

"Did my first dungeon. My role does not feel all that heal like so far. In TERA, the healer role is a healer in a group and just a
healer usually. In solo PvE the healer is a great comabtant. A perfect balance between group and solo role play. In NW, I am
a buff stick, since you cant really target other players all your attacks just sort of do an AOE heal deal. I noticed the 
tank just relied on potions in emergencies, and my first real group skill is just a defense and attack buff...Kind of a let down.
Makes me wanna just role a 
damage dealer since we are all just geared at doing damage. Perhaps this changes later on." - Class roles are super non defined. TERA takes care of this by giving the healer AOE heals that are based on the skill of the healer to target / estimate the direction of the DPS characters and throw down the healing circle. The more powerful are smaller, making targeting and skill based chore durring battles. I mention TERA because, like NEverwinter, you do not tab target members. You can only look at their group profile bar and see they need healing. Targeting them flashes up their stats, but only for a split second before they move out of the way. It is just better to look at their profile and act when needed. 
The difference in Neverwinter is that there are no heals that work "when needed". You'r job is to ALWAYS heal. Every attack spell outside the regular attack has a healing effect. So just attacking the enemy HEALS the party...So you basically do not even need to pay attention to health bars of the party. Just attack as you do and everything is fine. OCCASIONALLY, you see a memeber dipping a little low, so you pull out the "heal" spell, which works very oddly, sometimes it heals AOE like, or some times it target heals. It is quirky and not really all that effective in the end. But a small boost that is a slow Heal over Time, I spam it on those rare occasions. Other wise, I just get close to a friend and cast an ATTACK spell, and make sure both the enemy and the ally are in the range of the attack to hurt the enemy and heal the ally. Most people running low should just really use a potion. This set up also makes all classes focus on combat rather than their specific class role, especially the case of the healer. This makes TERA my favorite priest class game. Priests are great in PvE, and completely change their role in Group content (stand offish, focus on the healing hot bar only). A great balance in comparison to how Neverwinter is trying to juggle this.
Some games, people run TO the priest for special heals, this game, you run AWAY from the priest and get closer to combat knowing the priest attacks heal. This does, on a positive note, focus ALL players on combat and not allot more. This only changes how combat is dealed out. Since I am a cleric, I obviously deal damage at a distance and slide away any time and enemy gets close. This is not true for warrior / tank builds of course. So THOSE class differences exist. Thankfully...
(Skeleton dog attacking test dummy. No reason. They must have had a spare model laying around...)

"I made 1 gold (hard to get) by offering Cyber sex..." - I was joking in Zone chat that I would give pleasure cyber for 1 gold. Some end gamer thought I was funny and he gave me one gold "for making me laugh" he said...BTW, 1 gold can be hard to come by, especially at level 15...

"Just did an amazing foundry quest. It was scary, thrilling, and immersed". - Not much to say, there are ones that give great EXP rewards. The are player made content and it was very well done! They added allot of dark and scary haunting elements to it.

Genuinely frightening. The Secret World never scared me. I found it boring. This game has scary moments that made me jump. One was the idea that a door I passed several timesnow is glowing meaning I have a quest to go in (one thing I like about
this game, it can instance any 
part of the world to continue the story). I go in, and I hear strange noises in a room. As soon as I enter, a witch tucked in a corner uses a pull spell and sucks me over and screeches! I jumped! An ogre bursts out of a 
fence barrier I Did not see...I jumped. Some creepy dude rises from the floor and says "psst Im here"! Creepy dude!" - 
The game uses depth perspective allot to give the illusion there is no one in the hallway stretched out in front of you. They use haunted house like colors and ambiance and sound effects (creaking wood, dripping water, strange voices, vibrant but dark colors). So as soon as you enter a lonely stretch of hallway thinking you are ok and something pops out shrieking! It is frightful! I like how they did this and it is not ALL the time, so when you get used to the "walk in, kill Xmobs" you forget that it is possible to be surprised attacked. So kudos to the design team that put EFFORT into making elements like this.
(You will not be killing 10 rats in this game. You will be escorting possessed girls to their death)

"Allot of gold spamming." - Block them all day, there are 10 more to take up the spot of one. Sad.

"I am not a fan of games that have you greed/need/pass roll on non identified items. How do I know to greed or need if the item just says: "Boots - non Identified". Stupidest idea ever." - This is pretty bad. They want you to spend your coin on identification scrolls. So they wrap up allot of drops as "unidentified". The problem is that if an item drops and is rolled on, how would I know to pass or greed if the stats are inferior to what I am wearing?? We kind of need to see what is inside. Stupid design. They should have done state change scrolls or some other kind of gimmick to push us to spend coin (or none at all!) Leave it to CRYPTIC and PWE to screw up and economy so bad it effects in game mechanics XD.
(This game actually does not have attractive women in it. They are all...meh. And the men all gruffy.)

"Collecting coin is kind of stupid, you have trample over it. It should be magnetized to you. Running ins circles in the attempt to touch coins is silly. Either loot them or have them auto suck to you." - Speaking of money and design fails. Looting coin is the most idiotic feature I have run across. Seriously, they designed looting coin straight from some Play Station one game design. When monsters die, loot flys out landing about 10 steps away from the body in random places... This leads to you running around like a chicken trying to run over the dropped coin. Oddly, the loot that falls out, you have to stand over and press "F" (the loot button) to auto place it in the bag. But coin, you just trample over and it goes in the bag... This is so silly! So many frustrations:
1) it looks silly to have loot fly all over. Especially when it gets stuck in the walls sometimes. It looks even more stupid when players have to runin mini circles to catch all the coins.
2) Spamming F to pick up loot leads to accidental player targeting which brings upa mini menu that turnds the screen black and fades out of game. ANNOYING!
3) Why press F for loot bags but not coin? Why not have coin just automatically FLY to you? (TER WINS again in this department).

"Got my first henchmen. Interesting. Sort of helps, have not tested it out to much. It levels up though. And the last patch 
they are changing the armor upgrades to be non refinable, but exp gainable. So more grinding to be had to upgrade henchies, items, etc.." - 
You eventually get a quest to get a free henchman. Basically a combat pet. You have 3 slots for 3 pets (others purchasable). He can be equipped with some normal armor items that drop. He levels up. It can be a mage, cleric, or tank. Basically, healing pet, tank, or aoe magic. I chose the tank. I hardly notice the difference except one time I took on a little to many mobs and he helped distract a bigger guy while I picked off the adds. They seem smart enough. Not allot of bad things they can really do considering you HAVE to fight every mob you aggro / see in this game so it is not like they accidently aggro things. If you play Star Trek Online, you know CRYPTIC has the AI team mate thing down, so it is not surprising it is here. You can buy others at high prices.
I heard the one cash investment you want to make in this game near end game is a cash store pet that can never die. For 17 dollars you buy this pet that fights and never dies, and you can TRANSFER your current pets stats over to it. That is nice...

"Allot of repetitive looking boss encounters. I like the ambiance of most dungeons so far, just a huge let down it started off super gloss, turned a bit shallow, and died a repetitive meh fest. SOOO much potential, so little effort. But all in all, it is a SUPER great casual fix! I was getting a bit cumbered in RIFT, a little irritated at other games, and come here to unwind." - At the end of a few hours I feel the reptitveness now. The entire first 10 level experience is dead. The bosses basically all look the same as puffy muscle orcs. I did see one rat boss thing. The cut scenes are all the same, boss name, and they point at you like "bring it!" A little dissapointing. It just feels, as you are moving along the beautiful inner dungeons, hopping across the main map parts, that there was something just missing. Something that could make this EPIC! Something that just required a LITTLE effor. A little nudge. It feels like they just gave up, went easy road half way in and decided to just let the foundry fill the void. I have not gone out to some other lands yet, and I HOPE they change things. But as I push into 20. I log in knowing what to expect and what things will be like.
(Scary, creepy, especially when they jump out at you. Insert slender man and I would pee my pants)

"Hit 20, interested in guilds but not Crafting". - 20 opens up a free mount and we are well along the skill tree. There are a secondary role skill tree build and I placed my first 3 points but saving the others waiting for it to open up. So far it hasnt and I am hesitant to put points where I Should not. No big deal as my spell tree is moving along quiet well.

" Feels REALLY dumbed down and rinsed out as far as D and D goes." - There are SOOO many reasons why this does not feel at all like Dungeons and Dragons. I played the table top. I used to read the books. I played every title that came out. This game has ZERO feel to the series. In all honostly, it feels like Star Trek Online dressed up as a Fantasy game. The only thing Dungeons and Dragons has to do is the legal use of the license to use the name Dungeons and Dragons. Such a HUGE let down. But I knew this when it was first announced the game was in development by Cryptic. It should have rested in Turbines hands as DnD title to their branch. Keep things closer to roots, and in the family. But no. We got a watered down Star Trek Online (STO actually has deeper RPG mechanics).

"Community is sadly not all that. Most chat is troll. Some help. Guild invites are random. I found a decent guild but they are 
very panicky, and prefer I speak to them first before invite... All strange player behavior but not surprising coming from the 
PWE base of gamers (cringe).
This is for sure not the more kick backed strategic thinking crowd in RIFT. This game is very BELLS AND WHISTLES built. 
And instant rewards. And the players in this game cater to this attitude (in general...). So it was a little odd settling in." -
Out of the 5 guild invites I had, most people were very hestitant to add you. In RIFT, we have a small "yeah I am interested" and you are invited! I was once in the top raiding guild in RIFT just by saying "can I join?". And it works. We use ts3, guild events, website, all that. All user friendly on a single invite. In this game, it is like everyone mist trusts everyone. I have to meet first through a mail invitation, then interview on mumble, then a dungeon run... WHAT? I can solo this game to end game. Get showered in gold all alone. I am not here to play in some grand strategic mmorpg. In fact RIFT has more events in the open that require very good leadership and direction, so I understand the mistrust of bad players there. But in this game...wha...??? I don't get it other than the typical fanbase of PWE is very drama, carebare, etc... I have done my years in PWI, FW, and STO to know ... that crowd....of course I speak generally and will meet a good guild soon...I hope. The server seems to be only 1 that exists. It is the international one and all languages are present.

After playing so many dungeons (walled in small spaces). And doing ORc killing event (small arena ring like area). And questing in the area for my level (openish world, but linear). I have to say it feels wierd. I know I am playing in a linear non open world.
And I Get that repetitive claustrophobic feel (like in Vindictus) some times that makes me want to stop and hop into my open wormd mmorpg (RIFT at the moment). But then the quest lands do a VERY good job at hiding the linear effect. And the moment you think you are headed for a wall or panic moment, there is a mob to steer you away.
Allot of instanced areas and other things to keep your focus. This game is a focus master. Dragons nest sort of had a way to do taht by sending mobs down your alley with a few forks in the road. Never Winter has a very tru leveled terrain that makes you feel you are in your open world mmorpg at times. It is a very fine balance and well done. The lighting and colors are very well chosen
I LOVED the first 10 levels. It was a very cool experience. It is SLIGHTLY wanning, and a little repetitveness, peppered in with cheap gimmicks to get you playing (praying every 60 min, timed events) are there...and they work. It is an engaging game that makes you glued to the keyboard and the in game events. They mastered what STar Trek is about and super speed it into a fantasy sword game.
Star Trek had these events and what not, but at a very slow and casual pace in game to do them. This game hyper intensifies these elements. Allot was familiar for me after Star Trek. New players will find it very rewarding. I do want to continue. Try out crafting. See what the game has to offer. Explore some new lands, see some new stories. I did notice the effort in story telling really dropped.
They left 1 paragraph most to read. They kept voice scripts, but the worst is the cut scenes and animations which dropped to nothing but a 
slight zoom out... so allot of the level 1-10 deflates and you are settled in the systamitc "log in do this" seat. A big let down. 
Perhaps later on this changes.
(What has 2 thumbs, hit level 20 and got a free mount? THIS GUY!)

I give this game a A SOLID 3.5/5 as of level 20. Yes it dropped half a score. I want to drop it further, but the game is rewarding me enough, and managed to keep me gripped to the keyboard enough to be "entertained" so far. I am very curious as to what the other lands hold and what the progress will turn out like. So it stays a 3.5 instead of a 3. To bad, I wanted to keep it a 4 and move out to a 4.5. But the lack of effort and just "let it slide" sort of design in game is what keeps it from being out standing.

This could change as I go on to levels 20-30. See you then!

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