Examining Hunting as Social Feature

As a regular player you probably know the Hunting feature that got introduced in Neverwinter’s Module 12: Tomb of Annihilation. It offers an alternative way of getting viable, and unique, gear by farming so-called “rare mobs” in Chult. According to the developers, it’s also an attempt to introduce social interaction outside the classic dungeon content thanks to a very special design of the associated items. Asterdahl reiterated that claim in a feedback thread recently.

Hunts were designed to be a social feature, providing guilds and groups of friends with an opportunity to do some open world content that’s not as restrictive as normal instance play. In addition, we wanted players to have the opportunity to form groups spontaneously and make new social connections in a setting that forced players to communicate and had real downtime. (Fast-paced queued content is not always the easiest place to make new connections, as there’s rarely any time to talk.) This is something the design team felt was missing from the landscape pre-module 12.asterdahl

Players on the contrary largely describe Hunts as brutal grind that they mostly do alone. Or, as micky1p00 put it: The only thing those Hunts make you socialize with is the VIP mailbox. Quite a few endgame players are actually not willing to get into Hunts at all. Running around Chult and endlessly killing mobs until a rare one spawns that may or may not drop what you need simply isn’t fun long-term. So there seems to be a certain discrepancy between what the developers intended and players are experiencing.

What’s the deal here? Have Hunts failed as social feature, or are some players too fierce with their assessment? Let’s weigh in!

Lures and Trophys Are Special Items

Let’s look at some facts first. Lures and Trophys are pretty special items for many reasons. They are unique so that you can’t have two of them at the same time and, although unbound, you can’t post them on the Auction House either. You can however trade or mail them to yourself or other players. This functionality is unique, and according to Asterdahl deliberately designed this way to enforce social interaction while hunting.

The system indeed works great if you’re doing it within a party. A group can split up in Chult and farm for Trophys until they get enough to exchange for a Lure. Then somebody with the hunting path unlocked in the campaign acquires the Lure, the group takes down the spawn, and rolls for the loot. Some of the Star Hunts might be too difficult for casual players to tackle alone anyway. Even if you’re farming solo the limitations obviously force you to be more interactive. You have to deal Lures and Trophys directly using the trade channel, players gather to farm T-Rex locations together, and non-VIPs have to rely on someone to summon a signpost.

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Doing Hunts in a Party Has Little Actual Benefits

The issue however is that doing Hunts in a party has little actual benefits. You’re pretty much as fast, if not faster, doing your most efficient routes alone. A party theoretically could communicate rare spawns, and wait until everyone is there to take them down. That way, all members have a chance at a Trophy, but depending on how scattered your group is it takes a bunch of time to gather and greatly works against overall efficiency. Most likely a random player will come by anyway and start killing the mob. So what you’ll probably do in a party is cover different areas on the map, and effectively farm alone.

For T-Rex farms a party makes more sense, because everyone touching the T-Rex is guaranteed to get its Tyrannosaurus Rex Fang. Also it’s way harder to take down so that groups can cover all three spawn locations and call everyone in once it appears. Strangers are very unlikely to steal the kill. The social aspect absolutely works in terms of the T-Rex, but Fangs aren’t the bottleneck of the system. It’s much harder to get the other Trophys, which as said are best farmed alone. That’s why Hunting has largely developed as solo feature and loot entirely belongs to the one that places the Lure item.

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So Did It Work Out?

It’s too easy to say it hasn’t worked though. I can totally see casual players or members of guilds and alliances grouping up for Hunts. You don’t have to have the corresponding campaign tasks unlocked yourself, or be a VIP, and it’s more fun than doing them alone. Depending on your item level and personal progression this might even enable you to get a great piece of gear every once in a while. Not everyone can run TONG, much less comfortably or fast. So Hunts, or the loathed Voninblod gear of Module 10, are your chances to get to item level 480.

Where the system completely fails is endgame. Those players do Hunts alone because it’s the most efficient way to tackle them. A possible argument of the system being an “alternative source” of gear fails. It has decent enough incentives for the hardcores to farm for certain rings for example. Plus the Rex Corona and Rex Amiculum are “bis” for more than one build. It’s a pain in the butt to get the T3 lure, and why you see a lot of complaints.

I think designing this as casual and social feature while still forcing the endgame community into it ultimately is where the observed dispute over its purpose is coming from. And unfortunately this doesn’t seem to change as Module 13 once again features very good gear from Hunts.


What’s your take on hunting as social feature? Has it worked or failed? Share your thoughts in the comments below and visit the corresponding thread on our message board!

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j0Shi

j0Shi

j0Shi plays the Neverwinter MMORPG since the open BETA in 2013 and is a regular contributor to the blog and the whole UN:Project. Originally a Guardian Fighter, he has built up ALTs of all classes and plays on BIS/near-BIS level.

5 thoughts on “Examining Hunting as Social Feature

  • January 17, 2018 at 11:25 am
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    Has he never sat in PE Zone chat and seen the Flat Earth Retards and Pro-Trump Political Illiterates? And his evidence? Oh, some other Devs play anonymously, infiltrate player guilds, organise hunts and they all have a great time.

    Wasn’t he the same guy pushing random queues and who also said that refining and upgrading would be cheaper, when Artifacts and weapon/armour enchants beyond Perfect are actually vastly more expensive?

    Reply
  • January 17, 2018 at 12:43 pm
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    There is a mild social aspect in that you might need others about to kill some of the hunts, but then they also have a chance at your loot if they are in the group, so I don’t want anyone in my group that I do not already know and trust. That does not add to the social aspect. And the failure of the concept is the double or triple RNG to get to the final hunt. I gave up on this just last night and threw all my lures in the guild bank for others to have….I am so done with chult, and done with hunts and the endless grind for the chance at loot that seems to never drop.

    Reply
  • January 17, 2018 at 4:24 pm
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    Perhaps this is the devs’ subtle way of suggesting that the trophy drop rates depend on the number of people in your party.

    Reply
  • January 17, 2018 at 11:54 pm
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    Remember the recent article ‘the cost of doing game business’ ? I certainly would not mind some moderation here to tackle the toxicity.

    Reply
    • NWO_Unblogged
      January 18, 2018 at 4:31 am
      Permalink

      We look through stuff around here. Can take a couple days sometimes though.

      Reply

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