After expressing my concerns about the overall grind level in Sea of Moving Ice, and Neverwinter in general, I couldn’t stop thinking about the issue. I like to start with a quote from forum manic beckylunatic. She often states how the game is too much about stuff you want to do versus stuff you have to do. Normally you have a certain task list for any given day that you need to work through until you can freely decide how to spend the rest of your time. As I mentioned in my post, this task list is slowly getting out of hand.
No freedom in progression
As counterpoint I often hear that nobody forces players to do certain things. Only because 36,000 RAD are up for grabs each day, players don’t need to reach the cap. You also don’t have to run Influence or revisit old campaigns for Refining Points or Marks. That’s absolutely true, but doesn’t change the fact that the progression system nonetheless requires players to run specific stuff for specific rewards over and over and over again. You don’t have a choice. At some point you need to do the stuff anyway. If not today, then tomorrow or next week. Otherwise there’s no progression.
The issue might even go a bit further anyway. Going back to the quote from becky I caught myself thinking what fun parts of the game you could do if you really had the choice. And quite honestly, I couldn’t come up with a lot. It seems like every single system, dungeon and story is part of the grind. Where’s the true endgame challenge, a goal outside Refining, the unique elements? Professions, Strongholds? Grind! Dungeons, Skirmishes? Grind! Events? Grind! Foundry? Gone!
Gauntlgrym, Castle Never… Those were the days
In hindsight it might not be surprising that grind is all that’s left when all they did was adding grind on top of grind on top of grind. But the game hasn’t always been this way. I remember how exciting my first runs of Castle Never were. It was not “go complete a thousand times” content. You needed to work for a completion and when you mastered the dungeon, you got a guaranteed major reward. I was sweating after my first Draco kill. For real, it was intense. I never ever had the same feeling downing a boss again.
Or let’s take the original Gauntlgrym design for example. It eventually failed because it lost viability over time and had some other flaws, but it was intriguing. Going into a large-scaled PVP battle that decided about the tier of dungeon you could do afterwards was actually something different. I liked the concept and played it a lot, although I only really realized how much after it got shut down.
And you know what? People were more or less doing it voluntarily. Outside the PVP campaign it was not attached to any sort of endgame relevant grind. The Special Armor Set you could get was only a nice alternative and minor incentive. But GG would earn Glory like Domination and the PVE dungeons loot like T1s and T2s. Choices.
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PVP might be the way to go?
Thinking back a lot of excitement actually came from PVP. Open World was a disaster, but back in Mod 3 fighting a Domination between the Heroic Encounter farm and doing dailies was a nice change of pace. I actually enjoyed the Mod a lot although I never was as fond of Black Ice and the attached Armor Sets.
It’s obvious that PVP as true endgame skill mode could pave the way out of boredom and it’s beyond me why there’s not more effort to introduce a true team league/lobby system or solo queue ranking. Instead they developed Strongholds PVP to become yet another fail. You can include Sahha here as well. The devs came up with something cool on paper, yet everyone just moaned about the rewards and how that piece of shit mechanic is not worth your time. That wasn’t justified, on the other hand the devs shouldn’t have included it in the event grind. Already at my review of the Summer Festival I stated how neat a Sahha tournament would be. Do a team ranking and solo queue with unique rewards and give the whole thing a completely different feel.
PVE needs a challenge outside grind
PVE clearly needs a challenge outside grind, like Castle Never was. After you had done all Tier 1 and Tier 2 content, it was the ultimate challenge to beat with the ultimate prize. Keygate at least has brought up the reward aspects of the issue and maybe something good will come out of it. Of course other activities like a deep, explorative profession system could also help. Or the Foundry? All I know is that the game needs a cool and rewarding feature, because currently it has none.
That’s why grind is only one part of the issue. The other is that the alternatives even for those that don’t care as much about progression are not there. Players might no longer be able to pick between stuff they want to do versus stuff they have to do, but only between the type of grind they want to run.
Are there still elements in the game that you thoroughly enjoy outside the progression grind? Share your list and thoughts in the comments below or visit the corresponding thread on our message board.
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