In today’s article I’d like to look back at systems and design decisions that worked out great for Neverwinter. What where the bright spots in the game’s history, the intriguing innovations that really took the game to another level, or at least improved it noticeably? In no particular order, here are my picks!
Random Queues to Enhance PUG Play
I’ll admit we are starting controversial as most probably don’t see random queues as step into the right direction. I personally am no a fan of how the random queues reshaped Astral Diamonds farming as well, but there’s actually one positive aspect you can’t deny. The queue system indeed drastically improved the situation for those that like to run dungeons solo. Before random queues, there was literally no way to get into groups using regular queues. For all relevant content, premades were the norm.
Now while you could argue that forming or getting into a premade for most content was fairly easy, MMOs still are reliant on a functional group finder. This might sound silly for some hardcores, but many players just want to run dungeons with little to no trouble involved. They log in, bring up the queue system / group finder, and expect it to deliver a run. If it doesn’t, it’s a show stopper. They might log off and never come back.
Random queue surely have issues, but their ability to get more people to queue up has undeniably worked.
The Queue System
The queue system itself is less of a surprise pick I guess. For the longest time players were only able to queue into content with a party of five, even if the raid or trial featured 10 or 25 spots. This led to different parties trying to sync their queues and get into the same dungeon at the same time. While we got better and better over time at doing this, the queue system eventually took care of everything and finally allowed us to fully premade all content.
The Mount System
The Mount system introduced in Maze Engine was truly great. It was a quality-of-life improvement first, but added decent progression (and monetization) elements as well. Finally nobody had to sport the Flail Snail only because its equip bonus was great.
Account-Unlocked Mounts and Companions
Another aspect related to Mounts that I personally really like are account unlocks. It’s essentially a Mount or Companion that you buy once, and then can claim on all characters. All ZEN Mounts work that way, which is really nice. Unfortunately however the devs have moved away from handing out account-unlocked Companions. Past promotions used to contain pets that were reclaimable on all characters. Those are no longer viable today, but were great to fill slots of alternate characters. To bad this is no longer a thing.
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The Hunter Ranger Stances
Although I never main’d the class, the Hunter Ranger has always been intriguing as a design. I simply like the concept of the Ranged and Melee Stance and having twice as many powers to choose from and combine. It’s things like this that make classes unique and offer a drastically different gameplay than others. It’s especially important for Neverwinter since classes usually don’t come with their own content (class quest lines, new starting areas etc.). Diversity severly adds to the replayability of the leveling process.
Weekly Campaign Hauls
Here comes another controversial one. I really like that the devs moved away from the concept of daily quests since Module 11. I know some hardcore players feel there’s not enough stuff to do on a daily basis in Module 12 and 13, but the way this game has developed over the years it was absolutely necessary that players were able to catch up with their alts. Consider me a fan. I by the way don’t think this will last forever, but I definitely currently enjoy it.
One positive side effect of it is that you simply don’t tend to burn out as fast. There are days where I can’t get up to do my Stronghold Heroics, or Dread Ring Lairs, or whatever. But the Weekly Haul on Mondays is a pleasure, mainly because it’s the only time I have to do it and can freely spend the rest of my week. Giving the players more leeway in what tasks they’d like to perform is important.
Trust me, I hate the Sea of Moving Ice as module more than you do. Pretty much all design decisions were bad, but let’s exclude Khyek travel. These are the little intriguing features that really can add to the atmosphere and potential of a game. It’s not only that travelling on water was new, it also enabled the devs to build maps with water as main element. I mean, you could have designed SoMI without water travel and then let players use teleport nodes or whatever to move around. But again, leeway is just great, and the ability to freely explore the map a great feature.
And who knows, maybe the devs will indeed take another step and let us players travel through air eventually as well? I’m not talking flying by the way, more like “hover” mounts.
Great Rewards From Treasure Hunting
There’s another feature of Module 10.5 that I’d like to add here. Treasure Hunting in SoMI was dull, but it was enjoyable since it had the profits to show for it. In my opinion it’s a great example of how you can make players work if you attach meaningful rewards to a system. Digging up all those chests was super boring, but you kept on doing it. Unfortunately Treasure Hunting only had half a module of glory. In Module 11 the rewards were no longer worth it and in Chult the Treasure Maps are capped at six per week so you can no longer farm them unconditionally.
The VIP Program as Daily Login Incentive
At its introduction, the VIP program was deemed “pay-to-win”. But it didn’t actually turn out that way. It contains great value and pays for itself, granted you are able to claim your daily Enchanted Key. And that’s precisely the point. Even if players technically “take a break”, you frequently hear that they still login to claim their key. And guess what? That’s what VIP is supposed to do! It’s a clever way to bind players to the game and give them an incentive to login daily. You might not like the psychology involved here, but it makes it harder to completely quit Neverwinter.
Loadouts have undoubtedly improved the game a ton. The ability to instantly switch between gear, power, and feats has made it that much easier to adjust to certain gameplay situations. Before their introduction, loadouts had been a long-standing request by the community and equally well received. Even after Module 13 included Mounts and Companions, loadouts still have some flaws, but their usefulness far outweighs those.
Pretty Much Any QoL Improvement
Last but not least, a honorable mentioned goes out to all those QoL improvements that aren’t listed above. Quest Journal, campaigns, inventory, you name it! All of them were great additions and helped the game a ton.
Do you agree with my list? What were your favorite additions to the game? Share your thoughts on our social channels, in the comments below, or visit the corresponding thread on our message board!
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