The Elemental Evil Paywall Explained

Neverwinter is a Free2Play game, normally everything in the game you can buy with money or get it for free if you invest a bit of time. Only some mounts and companions in packages from the website are exclusively buyable with money but these are more like cosmetic items.

But everything changed as the Elemental Evil attacked!

With the new Module the system was changed, not in the way you could say “I can only buy power with money”, because you can still earn everything in the game, but the grind factor drastically changed.
At first the income of Rough Astral Diamonds was reduced. We have no Lord Protector Quests anymore which grants us additional Rough Astral Diamonds as rewards. In addition another major income of Rough Astral Diamonds was cut off: Dungeons.
Most of the Rough Astral Diamonds came from dungeon chests that unlocked at the event time. Even if you used a key it was more likely that you increased your overall AD income because most of the old epic gear could be salvaged between 3.000 to 10.000 RAD while the key only costs 5.000 AD. But the dungeon event time in Module 6 only means you get an additional 1.000 RAD out of the chest, you still need a key and you only get one free key per character per day. No more RAD income for players from dungeons.
Another source of RAD was the Leadership profession but this one was changed too. A lot of the tasks to get Rough Astral Diamonds have now an increased duration, a result of this change was that the prices for epic profession assets for Leadership spiked (not solely but it was a factor).

Many players have the problem to hit their daily refining cap of 24.000 RAD. To get to this cap you need about 2-3 hours of running the skirmish Kessells Retreat while the event time is active. If you run it 3 times you get 3.000 RAD from the daily quest, 9.000 RAD from the salvaged belts and rings and 3×1.000 RAD for the runs themselves (event time bonus). That means 15.000 RAD for around 1 hour of Kessells Retreat and you still need 3 more runs to get free salvageable items to hit your cap. So 2 hours of work at best if you have the luck to log in if the skirmish event started and a good group.
Another problem is: You can’t earn additional Astral Diamonds. The drops in dungeons/skirmishes are bound to your character or account and the only unbound items are artifact drops that are pretty rare (below 1% drop rate).
This means your possible income is pretty much capped at 24.000 AD per day, or 720.000 AD in a month.

But wait there is more!

Another problem that occurs is the new level 70 stat curve. You need around 2 times more stats (sometimes even more) for the same percentage bonus while the rework of the new items (Armor, Rings, Artifact Gear, etc.) is barely a compensation. Enchantments as example: A Rank 7 granted you 180 stat points before Module 6 and after only 190 stat points.
This means your gear progression from the last 2 years suffered a hard setback. To gear up again to a decent level you need rank 9-10 enchantments and almost mythic artifacts.
Some may ask why rank 9 or 10 enchantments? It is because of the new rank 12 you can reach. Before Module 6 a rank 7 enchantment granted you said 180 stat points, the maximum at rank 10 was 300 stat points. This means a rank 7 was around 60% of the possible maximum. After module 6 we get 190 stat points at rank 7 and the new maximum at rank 12 is 700 stat points. This means you only get around 27% of possible maximum.
Your old enchantments doesn’t grant you the necessary upgrade for the new stat curve. +10 at rank 7 is nothing, it’s like a rank 3 or 4 enchantment of the pre-module 6 time. To get back to your old gear level you need around 360-400 Stat Points from each enchantment, which is a rank 9 (330 stat points) or a rank 10 (430 stat points).

Rank 7 Price Development
Rank 7 Price Development

And then you have the problem that the costs are exploding. Even in the Good Old Times™ a rank 7 enchantment peaked at 100.000 AD (at the very beginning of the new fusion system) now the price is a lot cheaper it is about 30.000 to 50.000 AD but a rank 10 enchantment costs about 1,5 million AD (self-made). The reason for this is you need an additional enchantment of the same type and rank to upgrade the current enchantment (snowball effect). So you need around 15 (old times) to 50 times (shortly before module 6) more AD to get on a decent level of stat points and back to your old gear level.
Almost the same happened with Artifacts. Everyone that reached the legendary rank 100 needs to increase to new rank 140 mythic to get the other 50% of the stat points your artifacts hold. To get to the new maximum you need 2.5 times more refining points because the old maximum was around 4 million RP and now you need an additional 6 million RP.

For your gear progression this means the following: You earn a lot less Astral Diamonds in the game for free while the costs to get decent gear exploded. As example: To earn thirteen rank 10 enchantments (7 offense and 6 defense) you must pay around 19,5 million AD while you can only earn 720.000 AD in a month (per character). This means you would need 27 month to get to a decent level of stats for free, over two years ONLY for your enchantments (390 Bucks).

Rank 10 enchantments are the new standard, they are the equivalent to Rank 7 enchantments before Module 6 (and rank 7 are now like rank 3-4). The last two rank 11 and 12 hold 40% of the stat points and after you hit rank 10 the costs simply stop exploding. For rank 11 you only need around 600.000 RP and 5 greater marks of potency and for rank 12 around 1.000.000 RP and 5 greater mark of potency. That sounds much if you compare it with rank 7 to 10, but relative to the stat gain it’s cheap. The last two ranks cost almost as much as rank 7-10, but hold way more stat points. So while costs starting to stagnate your gain of stat points is increasing, which means the overall costs per stat point gain decrease.  For a rank 10 enchantment you pay around 8,000 AD per stat point (component cost+RP Cost) for a rank 11 enchantment you only pay around 5,000 AD per stat point (component costs+RP Cost).

Congratulation you hit the paywall and can surpass it after rank 10 in enchantments. BUT there is still more. *twisted smile*

An average character had around 20.000 to 25.000 hit points before Module 6 while the level 60 health potions healed 8,500 hit points. This is around 34% to 42% of the total health of an average character. So you can easily say the use of one health potion could cure you from severe damage.
The current health potions heal 10,000 hit points at level 70 while an average player has around 70.000 to 80.000 hit points. That is around 12% to 14% of the total hit points of one character. 10.000 hit points is an average hit from a monster. So your health potion is useless but luckily we have Regeneration and Lifesteal,… wait we don’t, they got “reworked” in Module 6, so Regeneration doesn’t heal at all in battle and only grants us a bonus from our Cleric. So it serves the same purpose as incoming healing, a stat that already exists.
Lifesteal also isn’t reliable anymore. We get 100% of our damage as health if it is activated but the chance to activate this stat is between 5% to 15% and 15% the absolute maximum for most classes. And even if you reach such a percentage it is still unreliable because if a monster take away about 90% of your Hitpoints in a dungeon, which is nothing unexpected, or kills you and your Soulforge enchantment activates you have like 2.000 to 5.000 hit points left and every other incoming hit will kill you and your next heavy hit must reload your health fully to survive. This essentially means Lifesteal is no help.
Yes in a Dungeon we have a Cleric/Healer in our team, but there is no longer any reliable source to heal ourselves nearly completely… *pray to the gods* Ooh wait, we have! It is called Healing Stone, has 200 charges, refills 100% of your health, cleans you from every DOT and is available in the Zen-Market for only 1.500 Zen (750.000 AD).
Of course you can get it in the Auction House for a lot less but these are leftovers from special events and promotions and the price is constantly rising because the demand is steady. Maybe I am exaggerating the whole health potion topic though.

Another temptation lately is to pay money for experience points.

One player mentioned in the official forum that he did all quests and is done with the full quest line and still is not level 70. So he must do more Vigilance Quests to reach it. Quests that feel repetitive and boring.
The community mentioned the boring and annoying nature in the past and the reaction from PWE was not to give the players more experience points for these kind of quest, but turning the XP rewards down. They recently also increased the overflow rewards by 1 million XP, so instead of like 785,000 XP to get the overflow reward we need 1,785,000 XP after a update, which also includes a design improvement to display the bonus XP rewards on the XP-Bar properly.
But okay, it is not this important because overflow rewards are a nice addition to the game and nothing major, right? Not exactly, because you need additional power points to buy the rank 4 powers, so this is an indirect nerf to the character progression.

To enjoy the game an average player needs around 2,500 to 3,000 total Item Level because some specific content can only be done with a specific build of your class or a specific class combination in the group and if you don’t do it this way while you are undergeared, the game makes no fun. I see several groups despair in Kessells retreat because they have no Cleric or Tank, or don’t know how to play. To successfully PuG with a random group composition you need a high gear score (3.100+). Because of the changes I pointed out above, it takes even longer now to achieve these acceptable levels. Unless you pay of course.

Another issue is the Item Level doesn’t accurately display the capability of your character and even tries to hide the paywall. Many players in the 19K GS Channel said it seems pretty reasonable to reach around 2,500 Item Level, but after this it gets really hard to progress because progression depends on the rank of your enchantments. If you doesn’t unlock the four additional enchantment slots from your artifact gear (for which we still have no reliable income unlikely RP for enchantments or artifacts), it’s hard to reach a high ilvl. Another problem with the Item Level is that utility enchantments are calculated in it, enchantments that at best buff your movement speed slightly. If you further compare T1 PvE gear with infused T2 PvE gear you get around +28 ilvl. An additional Rank 9 is +48 ilvl, but the difference between T1 and T2 gear is around +1,300 stat points and +6,000 health while the Rank 9 enchantment only grants you 330 stat points. Know this you would think a higher item level is only big cloud of steam, bolstered mainly by enchantments, which after around 2,500 Item Level is your only expensive source for stat points and progression next to artifacts and armor kits.

Let’s compare two characters: The first is an average character with at 2,500 ilvl with 5 offensive and 4 defense slots. With rank 7 enchantments the char would get 1,710 stat points and 288 ilvl. A BiS character has 7 offensive and 6 defensive slots (thanks to legendary Artifact Gear) and rank 12s are worth 9,100 stat points. That’s more than 5,3 times of the stats of an average char, but the ilvl comes in at +1066, merely 3,7 times as much. The ilvl has diminishing returns, it’s value decreases with increasing ranks. Also dual event enchantments do share the same ilvl, but have +20% more stats.

That’s why item level does not accurately represent the power gap and hides its inherent paywall. New players could see a difference of 400 in ilvl and think it’s not major or easy to reach while in fact the other one almost deals twice as much damage and is far better.

The Conclusion?

So what did Module 6: Elemental Evil brought us players? Nothing! We have less content, our gear progression from the last 2 years is washed down the drain, they have implemented more cash grab mechanics than ever before and even try to mask it.


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2 thoughts on “The Elemental Evil Paywall Explained

  • July 6, 2015 at 5:41 am

    very well done ! I was feeling there was a problem but without explanations….
    one more reason to go and play elsewere…
    What do you think of DDO ?

  • July 7, 2015 at 11:01 am

    When you say ilvl is not a good indicator or player skill. Don’t forget it also doesn’t take into account boons/companions (at least GS did a little better at that). For heavy PVE players that spend significant amounts on companions this sucks. Especially if you have an augment so your having to fund/manage 3 more pieces of equipment and as much as 6 enchants and 3 runestones.

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