[blog_subscription_form]Last month I presented you my list of systems and design decisions that worked out great for Neverwinter. The stuff listed there are bright spots and intriguing innovations that noticeably improved the game. Not everything the devs introduced throughout the modules was a smashing success however. Some stuff simply didn’t pan out as expected or even was a complete design fail. So today, in no particular order, I’m going through my list of design decisions that should have never seen the light of day.
Black Ice / Voninblod Empowerment
Let’s start with one of my favorites! I’ve got a message to the devs that thought Armor Set Empowerment was a good progression system: The game is grindy enough! Back in Module 3, I already wasn’t a huge fan of Black Ice, but using the same system in Module 10 was even worse of an idea because the daily task list of players had already exploded. I know the game needs to keep players busy with comparably small resources to work with, but just throwing different kinds of repetitive tasks towards the population isn’t going to do it.
Retrospectively I gotta say though that the outcry back then wasn’t entirely justified. Also thanks to later adjustments, farming for Voninblod wasn’t as much of a pain as initially thought. That doesn’t mean however that I ever want to see another variance of Armor Set Empowerment again.
Man, the Gateway was great. Why it still made this list? Well, it’s one of the things that unfortunately did more harm than good, at least from the dev’s point of view. The Gateway was a web interface with which you could access and manage certain aspects of your account. It was heaven for those that wanted to do professions while not actually playing the game for example. But more than that, it was a perfect environment for bots. That’s why, although the idea was superb, it was eventually closed down.
There is however a blatant design error attached to the Gateway as well. The Loyal Companion Gear that dropped from its “Sword Coast Adventure” mini game features item level 840 stat values, although the tooltip only says 420.
Several PVP Related Systems, Gear, and Maps
It’s tough being a PVP lover in Neverwinter. It’s hard to say whether several attempts by the devs to jump-start the game mode have failed because the content was bad or because the game mode was already dead at that point, but the list of PVP design fails is long. It starts with a bunch of gear that was so overpowered that it completely broke everything. The Ring of Ambush +4 was such an example, but multiple mods introduced items that had to be nerfed later because they caused too much trouble on the PVP battlefield. I’d also say Gauntlgrym 10vs10 was a fail and Strongholds PVP definitely never worked due to multiple lag and balancing issues.
Oh, and what about Overload Enchantments? Those drains were fun as well, right?
Speaking about Overload Enchantments, they probably deserve their own category. I don’t think a lot of players actually farmed constantly to keep their slots filled. For enchantments that only last two to eight hours of gameplay, the effects just aren’t good enough. For Companions in the meantime they are completely useless as well and it’s one of the strangest decisions to date that the rarest +5 gear in Illusionist’s Gambit features Overload Slots.
Elemental Evil Campaign
There’s a lot to dislike about Module 6: Elemental Evil, but for this one I’m picking the original campaign design. To progress through the campaign zones, the game required players to run repetitive hourly tasks a gazillion times. It was truly unbearable. It didn’t help that there was no real story, just that bunch of kill and fetch quests. The devs soon realized they screwed up and reworked the whole thing multiple times. Since then, Neverwinter has gone into a different direction anyway, more trending towards weekly caps and completions instead of daily or hourly ones.
Engine Scalability Issues
It’s one of the worst kept secrets that Neverwinter’s engine can’t handle too much load. It first got evident in Module 5’s “Temple of Tiamat”. The 25-player instance was insanely laggy, rubberband-y and sometimes all but unplayable. The issues with large sized battles and maps continued throughout the years. Whenever there are too many players in an instance, or too many procs, the game just start lagging a lot. The list of affected content is long: The mentioned Tiamat Trial, Demonic HEs in Icewind Dale, Dragonflights, dragon runs in the Well of Dragons, or big social hubs like Protector’s Enclave and Port Nyanzaru, only to name a few. This is probably one of the main reasons why the devs do not design content for more than ten players max.
Neverwinter’s Module 8: Underdark, made a big thing of its so-called “replayability“. It wanted to introduce group content (TotDG, PoM and Demo) that’s less linear and challenges player’s on each and every run. I wouldn’t call it a pure fail, but let’s say it didn’t exactly live up to its hype. Here’s what I wrote back in 2015, and the point still stands:
[su_quote cite=”j0Shi” url=”https://blog.nwo-uncensored.com/underdark-replayability-can-be-safely-disregarded-as-a-feature/”]You can hardly call two variants with some random spawn locations replayable. I would have expected much more procedural elements from such a feature. Simply doubling the scenarios is certainly not a way to achieve what they promoted.[/su_quote]
The devs kept “variations” intact in other content (Folly, campaign lairs, Illusionist’s Gambit), but stopped advertising it as a main feature.
Co-op Heroic Encounters
Module 11 and Module 13 introduced something that I would call “co-op” Heroic Encounters. In the River District whole instances could work together and supply resources to a treasure ship to “spawn” a Major Heroic Encounter. Now in Omu, you can do the same by collectively empowering all shrines in an instance. Or well, you could do, because nobody actually does that. It’s not an issue of the design though, just that players tend to choose the path of least resistance. And collaborating with an instance isn’t normally the fastest way to complete a Major HE. In the River District the “Ship HE” was in fact viable, but more because it was close to the base camp and favored by instance hoppers. But I bet most of you haven’t even seen the “Wrath of Acererak” in Omu yet.
Utility Enchantments Dropping Unbound Refining Points
thanks to putzboy for pitching this one to me on the message board!
Early on, Utility Enchantments like the Dragon’s Hoard Enchantment, Rank 10 used to drop unbound refining points. This backfired in a big way, because everyone and their mothers were sitting in certain foundries and farming RPs 24/7. Bots flooded the market with RP so cheap that upgrading to max ranks was a non-issue. The devs adjusted way too late, which not only led to the refining market being completely broken, but also contributed to the demise of the Foundry.
That’s my list of system and design fails in Neverwinter, but I’m sure you have your own stuff in mind! Share it on our social channels, in the comments below, or the corresponding thread on our message board!
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