Neverwinter Underdark’s replayable vs. repeatable was one of the core features of this Module and it’s time to evaluate it. I’ve been very skeptical since the first dev blog about the Underdark skirmishes and after playing through the Module I see myself confirmed. But to start off let’s look at the original quote about the feature first:
[su_quote cite=”Scott Shicoff” url=”http://www.arcgames.com/en/games/neverwinter/news/detail/9572853″]In any piece of content that you play more than once, there’s a danger that after you basically understand what’s going on, you don’t need to really pay attention anymore. Eventually, the content can be played by muscle memory; it becomes repeatable. Once this happens, you stop really engaging. When you’re no longer engaged, everything feels like a chore.
To combat this, variability is being introduced in this expansion’s content. When you’re playing through a given battle, you need to identify key things that are different for that fight, and then make a decision on how to deal with it. When you can no longer play content with your eyes closed, it becomes replayable.[/su_quote]
This reads promising especially with loads of dailies and indeed very repeatable content all over the post 60 progression. It became clear very early though that the only content affected by the changes would be Underdark Skirmishes, so that was a slight disappointment even before release.
The skirmishes then turned out to be what I expected: Simply two variants with some random spawn locations of Rifts and mobs. You can hardly call that 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. This is especially funny since they introduced the Mote grind, which is one of the most boring and stupid design to date.
Even though the feature is not actually one, Underdark offers more variety in group content than any other mod and that’s because they took a decent step into the right direction in terms of mechanics. You can no longer entirely replace skill with DPS, although it’s still possible to offset some clueless members within a geared group. You generally have more stuff to process and actually do need to pay attention to what’s going on, at least if you want to be a valuable contributor to the fight. Everybody has to close Rifts or aggro mobs in Skirmishes and HEs and depending on your class you need to develop a moving pattern in the Demogorgon fight. You can still say that the PVE content is too easy, but there’s absolutely no way around the fact that Demogorgon has been the best boss fight so far in terms of mechanics.
So in the end it might just simply has been an unfortunate choice to promote a replayable feature over the decent work they’ve done with the boss mechanics. I guess they see it as part of the package, but that’s not what players experience while grinding through still very repeatable content.