Loadouts are an Anticipated Addition, but Still Have Flaws as Implemented

Loadouts are probably one of the most anticipated additions in recent memory. Requested since probably ever they greatly add flexibility and convenience to characters. Let’s quickly go through the technical stuff and then discuss what loadouts can and what they can’t do for players.

Respecs become a single click

If you’re familiar with our Character Simulator then you probably know a feature that we’ve called “layouts”. With layouts you can attach multiple sets of Gear, Mounts and Companions to a character. Loadouts in Neverwinter now share the same intention, but are differently implemented. They are essentially a full set of respecs (+ more) and you can switch between them at any campfires or within cities. With one click you are going to be able to alter:

  • Ability Scores
  • Boons
  • Feats
  • Paragon Path and Powers
  • Slotted Powers
  • Character Gear

Other areas are excluded though:

  • Mounts and Insignias
  • Companions and their Gear
  • Enchantments
  • Reinforcement Kits

All players are getting a free loadout at level 30, additional ones cost 500 ZEN in the store. In my opinion that’s a reasonable cost for what the system offers. You will likely only buy more if you can really utilize them and then it’s actually a small fee. In Shroud of Souls respec tokens will no longer respec a character, but only one loadout of a character.

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What loadouts can do

The usefulness of the system seems unlimited. If you can switch between Paragon and Feat Paths, you could theoretically fill several roles within a party and pick the loadout that’s needed. But unfortunately it’s not so easy. But before we come to the obvious flaws, here are the things that the system can actually do.

Switch between group and solo play

One major and maybe even the most useful function will be switching loadouts depending whether you’re in group or solo play. For some builds, going solo can be a pain. If you’re running a support build, chance is you’re indeed best at supporting others, and not thrive yourself. You may lack damage or survivability or both. Healers might be able to outheal any amount of damage while absolutely killing no-one. Tanks suck up big hits, but struggle to hand them out themselves. Buffers buff damage of party members that are inexistent while doing dailies.

Granted, these are overstatements, but if you have ever run a defensive tank through the campaigns you know what I’m talking about. Especially if you’ve already done the same stuff with a DPS, it’s feeling slow. Like really painfully slow. Most players choose the most offensive build to level up and then respec to whatever is the best for endgame content. Now with loadouts, that’s a thing of the past. You can put your buffing/healing/tanking group build into one loadout, and your damage dealing one in another. Be a Conqueror Guardian Fighter while doing dailies and a Protector while running dungeons. Or a Righteous DC in the River District and and Faithful one on Fangbreaker Island. This should speed up the leveling and daily process for everyone!

Switch between specialized armor

No matter how often the devs said that they don’t want players to feel the need to bring different armor for different content, they failed miserably. I’m sure you guys slot one piece of Frostborn gear whenever Relic farming, full Relic gear while doing Everfrost group content and something else while running dailies. If you really want to manage Voninblod you need three different combinations of armor. Ain’t that great?

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Loadouts should be a major help here. I don’t specifically like that an obvious design flaw can be solved with spending ZEN, but is it what it is. To a lesser extent this might also affect Drowcraft and Demogorgon, although I don’t think anybody is still specifically using the gear for the content.

In other areas that might also be helpful. Think about Mastercraft node farming, or any other task that requires speed first. You could set up a loadout with Dark Enchantments and Gear that features Movement.

Adjust to single and AoE fights

Classes rarely use the same encounter powers in single target and AoE fights. The mafor example is the Control Wizard here, where much of the power layout changes. Since in most cases there’s a campfire in front of bosses, you could quickly switch to your single target layout before a fight. A minor downside is that you have to retreat back to the campfire to switch to AoE again. Pro tip: Hotkey killme/suicide and trigger it right after looting the boss.

Generally loadouts can help a ton with Power layouts. Clerics for example could switch between most buff and most heal and tanks choose between more damage and more protection.

What loadouts can’t do

Looking at the last bullet one limitation of loadouts already becomes evident. While you can easily switch powers, there’s no way to adjust Weapon Enchantments. Since Module 11’s Enchantment changes some endgame players run different ones for single target and AoE fights. That’s an issue for loadouts. You can’t keep the same weapon with another Enchantment, just switch the full weapon (set). So for true one-click action you need two leveled up Artifact Weapons with the different Enchantments in them. The best of the best might go that route, but it’s a hefty price to avoid manual unslotting.

Switch between utility companions and combat ones

Loadouts do not include Companions, and that’s really a shame. More and more Companions grant Active Bonuses that only help in very specific areas. The Cloaked Ascendancy introduced Companions that add damage against the foes in the River District. A lot of campaigns and events do have corresponding Companions that enhance currency earning. Shroud of Souls will feature a Cleric that adds 10% Influence. It would be nice to have loadouts that feature Companions for the area or event you’re currently grinding, but nada.

Switch between different builds and roles

For the same reason it’s not really viable to switch between different builds and roles. How cool would it be if an Oathbound Paladin could be a healer or tank depending on the needs of the group? Or DCs switch between Anointed Champion and Divine Oracle. Or Control Wizard between a Master of Flame buffer or Spellstorm DPS? It sounds like an insanely cool feature, except it isn’t. The issue is that most builds need a pretty unique setup of stats. Tanks stack Defense first, buffers Recovery and DPS Critical Strike and Power. Even DCs, which in the endgame are mostly buffers in both Paragon Paths, need different stats.

So truly switching builds and roles requires manually reslotting most if not all Enchantments, the Bonding Companion, its gear and Enchantments, Mounts and Insignias and Active Companions. Sigh. You could again help yourself in preparing a second gear set with the necessary Enchantments, but Mounts and Companions remain a problem, because they are simply not included in loadouts. Additionally getting one set of Bonding Runestones leveled up is difficult enough, you don’t want to add three more just to be able to quickly switch. In any case the reusability of your assets in this case is low, builds are just too different.

There might be some outlier in which this still makes sense, but I would think that you always at least need to adjust a Bonding Companion. Maybe people will settle for lower efficiency to be able to fill different roles though. We’ll see, but build switching is not naturally supported by loadouts, at least not on the fly.

Switch between PVP and PVE

This is a pretty big miss in my eyes. It would have been nice if loadouts allowed for an easier transition between the game modes. With PVP however you run into the same issues as above on a smaller scale. While Domination doesn’t require Companions (good) and you need to switch your full gear to Tenacity anyway (good), you still have to manually adjust Mounts (bad) and probably reslot some Enchantments (bad).

The Enchantment situation is generally pretty annoying anyway. Loadouts should be a feature that helps reusing assets. But with Enchantments it’s quite the opposite. To be able to quickly switch between stuff, the necessity to level up even more Enchantments might be greater. Sure, it’s still less compared to bringing up a new toon, but the ability to completely redistribute your Enchantment pool would have been amazing. A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. Devs can you hear me? Pretty please?

Conclusion

First and foremost: Loadouts are great. I think every character will find some use for them even if it’s only minor. If you dig deeper however, the system has a lot of issues and already needs an extension. It’s not really possible to switch between different builds and roles, neither in PVE nor PVP. In a worst case scenario, a lot of players are running around in Paragon and Feat Paths that don’t match their gear, making it even more important to check whether the Oathbound Paladin in your group is a tank in a healer’s body, or vice versa.

The system pretty much only works flawlessly in areas that don’t include any Enchantments, Companions or Mounts, or where changing those has a minor or no impact. So I tend to think loadouts will more develop into your everyday helper. You are going to switch from solo to group play, from Voninblod farming to Everfrost content, from single target to AoE heavy fights. It will not likely enable players to extend their role and widen their option within the lfg channels, at least not in true endgame groups.


Do you like the addition of loadouts? What will you do with them? Share your thoughts and comments below or 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.

3 thoughts on “Loadouts are an Anticipated Addition, but Still Have Flaws as Implemented

  • May 1, 2017 at 4:35 pm
    Permalink

    I think it’s gay you can’t put companions into loadouts… Changing between a healadin and a bubble means I have to change the companions every time… Meh

    Reply
  • May 3, 2017 at 2:43 am
    Permalink

    I´m waiting for the loadouts to come on the xbox. So I´m looking forward to use my TR in pve as well as pvp. Specially here I don´t see big differences in mounts and don´t care about the companions. Two sets of weapons and rolled stats on them and the enchantments, but that´s okay for me

    Reply
  • May 3, 2017 at 9:26 am
    Permalink

    I have a question: can I take out an enchantment to have it in my inventory, change loadout, put the enchantment in again?

    Reply

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