It’s not like Neverwinter is short of balancing flaws or bugs, but today I’d like to talk about a specific Insignia Bonus that continues to reign although it’s clearly hilariously and unnecessarily overpowered.
Shepherd’s Devotion grants all teammates Defense, Deflection, and Movement based on a percentage of your power. Based on today’s stat levels, that’s already nice. Even 12k toons are able to bring 30-40k power to the table, which equates to 5% free damage mitigation for your party. Now, if everybody uses the bonus in a dungeon, you’re talking about a 25% enhancement. Again: That’s already nice and probably would be enough to pick Shepherd’s Devotion on any support toon.
Free Mitigation Cap for Everyone!
What makes the bonus silly overpowered though is the fact that it scales off buffed power! So those powerhouse PVE DCs and DPS with 200k Power can easily transfer. 15%-20% of extra damage mitigation to their teammates. I mean what?! So you basically only need three players in a party to bring the whole team to the damage mitigation caps. Even tanks (even tanks!!!) don’t actually need to stack any defensive stats outside Life Steal if they primarily run with potent players that use Shepherd’s Devotion. That’s by all means not the only reason, but still a massive contributor of why the support meta works.
Now look, balancing mistakes happen. Some Insignia Bonuses suck, others are in every loadout. That’s not so much about the devs not having a clue but more about offering a wide range of different bonuses from which specific ones simply fit the current play style and meta way better. Think enchantments for example. Anybody seriously using Darks other than in utility slots? That’s the same “issue”.
Why Isn’t It Fixed?
So yeah, you can’t anticipate everything, but if you let power proc of buffed stats, bad things are simply bound to happen. And well, even if it develops in to an issue, there’s no need to not fix it relatively fast. Letting Shepherd’s Devotion only proc off base power would already help. It keeps the bonus relevant, but would take away the “wtf” aspect. And in a second step you can then think about further adjustments (if needed).
And please don’t discount the impact. The devs already acknowledged that they have to build dungeons based on the power creep, which isn’t ideal. Content featuring more damage you can’t dodge or mitigate is no coincidence. It’s because otherwise players simply don’t die any longer (and haven’t been dying for a long time). So you’re basically choosing to build your content on top of broken mechanics. Which also means once fixed, dungeons might become too hard. In a very weird way you’re validating stuff like Shepherd’s Devotion by releasing content that requires it although it’s completely nuts. You don’t actually need the Insignia Bonus to complete any content by the way, but I guess you get where I’m coming from.
Slow to Adjust to Issues
The only reasonable explanation of not tackling Shepherd’s is that the current stat and progression curve is close to its end anyway. In that case it obviously doesn’t make sense to get into a solution for Shepherd’s Devotion if the power levels that currently cause the issue won’t be there soon.
Around here however we’ve frequently talked about how slow Cryptic is to adjust to issues. Which means they either don’t have the tools to monitor thinks like “oh look, all endgame teams run around with DR caps on all teammates”, nobody is watching those logs, or they file it internally as low priority. I know Shepherd’s is not a major issue, but it’s still a perfect example of how imbalances in Neverwinter frequently stick around longer than they should.
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