On the release day of the Cloaked Ascendancy on consoles, we are going to brief you guys on the gear, balance changes and the new group content. Yesterday we already covered the story, new adventure map and campaign. So in case you missed it make sure to head over to that article as well!
Ascended Weapon sets
Neverwinter’s Module 11 is widely seen as a catch-up module, because it does not introduce new best-in-slot gear. The Cloaked Ascendancy features four Artifact Weapon sets with bonuses slightly inferior to Relics. So in case you already own those, you should pretty much still be fine.
The so-called Ascended sets are mainly for those that either can’t get into Svardborg or refused to commit to the grind for the special Marks. Ascended weapons can be bought in the campaign store and need to be restored with new resources as well, but are then refined the old-fashioned way.
The new weapons do add some variety however that might be interesting even for those already owning Relics. The “Mirage” set is the PVP one, “Aboleth” for DPS, “Fey” for AP/healers and “Lifeforged” for tanks. Click through the related articles below to get a detailed description of the new set bonuses. With the exception of “Mirage” all sets are fully obtainable in solo content, making them a very viable choice for alts. The devs unfortunately do not hand them out for free however. Players need to grind the River District for quite some time, but at least they don’t run into any item level or endgame dungeon gates.
Illusionist’s Gambit and Companion Gear
While there’s no best-in-slot gear for toons, the Cloaked Ascendancy will introduce a full new line of companion equipment. (Please use our item database to preview them. Just pick the Cloaked Ascendancy as module and search for “Bold”, “Defiant”, “Fierce”, “Heroic”, “Obedient” and “Sturdy”.) There are six stat variants, three defensive and three offensive, and although some are more relevant than others, all make sense. Recovery is one notable absentee though.
A few questionable decisions unfortunately makes the gear a pain to grind. First of all it comes in +1 to +5 versions with +4 featuring the same double slot and +5 one Offense or Defense and one Overload. So until the devs plan to release new Overload Enchantments, +5 is actually worse than +4. Then there are six stat variants and eight different slot types. So good luck acquiring the piece you want on top of the chance of even getting a +4, which seems comparable to Underdark content.
Speaking of which, a pretty hefty change accompanies the new companion gear. The Underdark Rings will stop to proc their effects on companions, so the common practice of picking a Ring-heavy companion and equip Sudden Rings will no longer be possible. Players will need to find replacements.
The skirmish gets boring pretty fast
The Illusionist’s Gambit skirmish from which the new companion gear drops can be accessed right away. It’s a pretty interesting setup at first where players need to fight through random encounters and environmental states. So no run should be like another. There are falling rocks, icy floors, Orcus poison spheres, random boss mobs and arenas. If players die, they need to work their way back through a Portobello-like obstacle run.
With that being fun and all for some runs, it gets boring pretty fast for endgame toons nonetheless. In the end just random and trivial mobs are thrown your way that you mindlessly slaughter for 10-15 minutes. There are some videos in the linked articles below that give a pretty decent impression of what to expect. The only real challenge is when mobs are starting to reflect damage, and most of the time the team just suddenly wipes in that case, making this a too hard mechanic within tons of irrelevant ones.
Depending on the strength of your team you might still want to build a classic tank/healer setup. Generally ranged DPS perform a bit better because some mechanics like the icy floor can be quite a pain for melees. Premades also make sense because Illusionist’s Gambit features a vote mechanic to exit the skirmish early. There are three rounds for Bronze, Silver and Gold rewards. After each one, every member can vote to leave with fewer loot or stay for the next tier. In PUGs you might not get to Gold if you’re getting outvoted, which can lead to frustration.
- Illusionist’s Gambit Skirmish Fills in for Underdark Ring Companion Change
- Bag of Tricks Vol. 49: Illusionist’s Gambit Bronze Fleece Farm
The new lockbox overall is fine. The Whirlwind mounts are one of the visually more appealing ones to date and the Tome of Ascendance a nice all-around Artifact. The devs tried to experiment with a Ascendant Fashion Pack this time, but that did not go well. The Fashion is barely used and the set is selling for under 1,000 AD on PC currently. Ouch.
We have pretty decent articles up on the lockbox with previews of all items and drop chances. So just click through:
Devoted Cleric Balance Changes
The class that is getting a balance pass is the Devoted Cleric. We have analyzed the changes in-depth in the linked article below, but the overall tl;dr is that Anointed Army got nerfed, but the class as a whole is still alive and rocking in PVE. On top of the bug being fixed that granted control immunity through the entire uptime of AA, both its protection and buffing ability have been reduced. On PC however the AC/DC is still highly requested.
At the same time the Divine Oracle path was considerably buffed and now presents a real alternative to Anointed Champions. The true upper class actually now runs with an AC and DO combo to melt through content. Additionally the damage was raised by 30% for many powers to help Clerics in solo content.
It might take some time until you get what works best for you now, but in most cases you shouldn’t experience a downgrade.
Weapon Enchantment Changes
It’s not only back to the drawing board for Clerics. The Weapon Enchantments are getting a complete rework and depending on your build you might want to switch. Buffers are still fine with Plague Fire or Frost, but quite a few DPS have switched to builds utilizing the Lightning Enchantment for AoE and Bilethorn for single target damage. It’s really a complex topic though and you won’t get around testing the best options for your build and class yourself.
As only Armor Enchantment Barkshield was buffed and now soaks up way more damage, making it viable for tanks that operate at the DR cap and can’t get all that much out of Negation for example.
The new endgame dungeon that also concludes the Cloaked Ascendancy storyline is the revamped Spellplague Caverns. The normal leveling version comes with the original layout while the Master version features new mobs and bosses. We unfortunately do not have a full guide up at this point, but since you’ll need four weeks until you will have unlocked it through the campaign anyway, chances are decent that we might have caught up until then.
Generally spoken it’s a very interesting dungeon with challenging mechanics that might have some trouble competing with FBI on the rewards front. There’s a new Artifact (Fragmented Key of Stars) and double stat Enchantment (Wicked) dropping, but other than that the Spellplague Caverns are considerably longer and offer the exact same loot. It’s also directly competing with Fangbreaker Island because both use the same Ancient Runic Key for the extra chest.
We hope you feel properly prepared for the release today and had fun reading through our primer! In case you have any further questions or remarks, please share them in the comments below or visit the corresponding thread on our message board!
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