Playing and grinding in Neverwinter feels unrewarding. In the first part of this series I showed you how the loot distribution is a reason why it feels that way, but like every problem it is only one side of the coin. The other side is how the game itself works.
For this reason we are now comparing Neverwinter with another game that is similar. It is an MMO like experience with an action shooter combat system, also heavily instanced, but is objectively better: Warframe.
Let me start by explaining how the core gameplay loop of Warframe works. In Warframe most likely anything that you can acquire is an item. Even your character and your class is an item, the so called Warframe. Items you are using are the said Warframe and different weapon types. You level your Warframes and Weapons by playing the game (killing monsters and stuff) as usual. Also the Warframes and Weapons add different kinds of play style to the game.
If you level them up they gain more mod points which allows you to fill eight mod slots with enhancements, a system similar to enchantments in Neverwinter. Mods themselves can be upgraded by refining them. It’s a progressive system, higher mod levels require more mod points.
There are two additional mechanics to enhance the mod point capacity of an item. You can slot a rare “Orokin-Reactor”, which simply doubles the current mod points, or to use a “Forma”, which is a common item. The “Forma” adds a “Polarity” to a slot, which halves the mod point cost for certain mods, but also resets the level of the item. So you have to level it up again. The re-leveling sounds awful but the max level in Warframe is 30 and is easy to acquire. I’d say 5 hours tops as a new player and a lot less if you are already a veteran.
The game has over 28 Warframes and over 100 different Weapons. You not only can acquire these items, but also level them up, modify and upgrade them. In addition Warframe has a diverse content that consists of 19 different mission types with different objectives and sometimes even secondary objectives. Additionally new gear gives you a new feeling of game play.
So you are doing diverse missions to upgrade your current gear and simultaneously earning new gear that you will want to upgrade later. Grind and progress are combined.
Now let’s compare that to Neverwinter. Gameplay wise we have no diversity in Neverwinter. It can rendered down to: Go into a dungeon and kick the monsters teeth to gain loot and upgrade your current gear. If you are done with upgrading your gear to a certain level you are done with this character because the game lacks compelling content in the upper item level area.
If I want play a different class with a different play style I must first level up the class. Level up a class takes around 20-40 hours and you are doing the exact same quests over and over again.
I also must get new equip my new character, I can only swap my enchantments from my old ones. In Warframe I can freely choose if I want to level up my new Warframe or my new Weapon and can still use my old more powerful items on the way to level up my new ones.
Warframe offers me to continuously farm new items, to level up and upgrade them. I basically have no down time doing this, while I can also freely choose which mission types I want to play. In Neverwinter it is the total opposite. I first must level up my character and I am forced to play the same content over and over again. I then come to a certain level where my gear/refining progression starts, which is more important in Neverwinter and essentially the real game. Everything before is only a warm-up-phase and if it is your second character it is even unnecessary. Unlike in Warframe new gear also doesn’t add anything new to the game besides increasing your stats.
The big question is: How can Neverwinter make his core gameplay loop more compelling for a player?
That is something I will answer in a future post!