Looking Back at Elemental Evil, Neverwinter’s Worst Module to Date

For today’s article I’d like to invite you to travel back to March of 2015. Back then, a certain excitement was surrounding the game. Two years after launch, the 60s era and its stat progression had run its course. Neverwinter’s sixth module, Elemental Evil, was about to press reset and take the game onto its next level. The hype was real! We expected loads of new content and dungeons, and everyone was eager to test their new powers and builds. On top of that, the fan-favorite Paladin class and famous Minsc and Boo characters were great additions to bring new players in.

But then, pretty much everything went downhill. If you’re starting the game today, you won’t notice the former struggles of Elemental Evil. It’s just a campaign to play through while leveling characters from 60 to 70 and not particularly better or worse than others. Those that choose to buy a level 70 boost won’t even experience Mod 6 content at all. As the game developed, it became an afterthought. But Elemental Evil is indeed the worst module to date, and might even go down as the worst ever.

The Bumpy Road of Elemental Evil

The bumpy road of Elemental Evil started early. The module was initially delayed by a couple weeks, which may or may not have been related to severe layoffs at Cryptic Studios. And when they finally pushed it to live, it was evident that the content addition still wasn’t quite ready. The game would lose over one-third of its playerbase in the coming weeks and heavy adjustments were necessary to get it back on track. There’s literally not one area of Elemental Evil that hasn’t been reworked later, which is a testament of how broken everything was.

“New” Content

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The module’s failure was a mix of unfortunate expectations and blatantly wrong design decisions. As mentioned, the playerbase was eager for a level cap raise. The game experienced a natural downtrend since its release and many hoped a restart and new content would be able to not only stop the bleeding, but also bring fresh blood in. The more players were disappointed when they found out that Elemental Evil largely featured recycled, rebalanced and revamped maps. Neverwinter didn’t add on top what was already there, the game essentially became the level cap raise. Everything level 60 turned 70 over night and old assets like the discontinued Gauntlgrym game mode were used in other ways.

It was fundamentally different of what a level cap raise in other MMOs looks like and noticeably confused the community. As a result much of the discussion centered around questioning the devs’ approach. I’m not saying it was a fair assessment, but the damage had already been done. In the public eye, Elemental Evil was a recycling job. It certainly didn’t help that the devs removed all group content and initially only brought a few dungeons back as level 70 epic versions. Some players rightfully joked that Module 6 managed to delete more content than it added. In some cases even lore, achievements and story broke due to dungeons no longer being available.

Trash Campaign

Talking about story, Elemental Evil featured none. The only highlight was Minsc and Boo, which were admittedly really well done. Other than that, Neverwinter just got attacked by random foes and random mobs. At no point you felt engaged or immersed. This was further highlighted by a completely atrocious campaign design. For whatever reason the devs felt that daily quests weren’t enough to keep everyone busy. So they invented hourly ones!

Today the Elemental Evil campaign is much more generous in that you have to complete the zone quests once to proceed. Back then, each quests only granted a fraction of the XP and would reset hourly. So you literally had to do the same quests on the four Elemental Evil zones over and over and over (and over and over and over) again to get to level 70. It was a horrible clusterfuck of epic proportion.

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Weird Pre-Farming and Gear That’s Worse Than Legacy Sets

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But hey, why only mess up one area? The grind for some of the brand-new gear was weird as well. You could pre-farm some stuff because it used already existing currency. The whole server had access to some upgrades immediately and cheaply, which isn’t exactly what you want when you introduce new content. On top of that, the new gear didn’t even out-perform some of the older legacy T2 sets. Those features strong set buffs and debuffs that players continued to use. The devs might have hoped that attaching a significant amount of Hit Points to level 70 gear would make the old sets obsolete, but that wasn’t quite the case.

Dungeon Balancing

At least you could test your newly acquired gear in revamped dungeons, right? Well, sort of. The devs did bring selected dungeons back, but the balancing was shaky. In an attempt to make content more challenging the devs pushed too hard and frustrated players. There were basically two issues. First of all, dungeon difficulty created a classic catch-22. To beat them, you needed the new gear. But to get the new gear, you needed to beat the dungeon.

And even for endgame teams the content was no walkover either. The bosses weren’t actually the issue. Their mechanics were well done and challenging, and could be beaten with an experienced team. But pretty much any trash mob could one-shot players even through BiS gear, which led to body counts higher than Hot Shots! I’m still not sure it was actually an issue of overdone difficulty or players struggling to adjust, but in the end the devs reacted, toned down the mobs damage, and gave them more HP instead.

Paladin Balance and Bugs

If players were struggling with the new epic content, they could at least rely on the heavily overpowered Paladin class that came with the extension. I’m not exactly sure when we realized that immortal “Bubbledins” could carry teams through PVE and PVP, but when it became the meta the game went to shit. Parties literally couldn’t die and Paladins pretty much became mandatory in any runs, and were the motor that drove guilds to success in Dragonflights a module later.

It Took the Devs Two Mods to Correct Course

All these issues contributed to the fact that Elemental Evil turned out to be a disaster. There was no great story, no new content, an insanely boring campaign design, broken balancing, broken progression, and broken dungeons. Not sure how, but the devs indeed managed to mess up all possible areas of the extension.

Overall it took them two modules to get the game back on track. After a bad reception and hiatus of players, they toned down dungeons, fixed Paladin issues, reworked the Elemental Evil campaign, added more ways of earning gear to fix progression and made some serious strides in story telling. While this pretty much confirms that they were acknowledging and tackling issues internally, they never admitted mistakes nor apologized for a lackluster module appropriately. In the contrary, former producer Rob Overmeyer wrote an overly stupid “state of the game” post praising the game and its team for the tremendous job they had done throughout 2015. It was a PR disaster, and rightfully so.

So if you’re new to the game and never witnessed Elemental Evil in its original form, be glad. It was truly the worst module in Nevewinter’s history to date.


What are your memories of Elemental Evil? Did you mostly enjoy it or had a similarly bad experience? Share your thoughts on our social channels, in the 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.

6 thoughts on “Looking Back at Elemental Evil, Neverwinter’s Worst Module to Date

  • March 12, 2018 at 7:10 am
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    The Arm Pen bug that mobs had was what was one shotting players in dungeons. Although it was a nice skill challenge for some of us that would take a control role and everyone else was dodging red. Completing the dungeons in those conditions was a badge of honour

    Reply
  • March 12, 2018 at 10:19 am
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    Was so bad, it made me take a year break.

    Reply
  • March 12, 2018 at 10:23 am
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    I dragged my first toon through elemental evil when it first came out and lost interest in the game shortly after for all the reasons mentioned above. It just wasnt fun. I came back to the game over a year later and have since completed elemental evil a further two times on other toons and while it has improved a great deal i still hate it. What kind of games creates a campaign/module so terrible that they later releases a buy out for the entire thing. Did they do it on purpose?

    Reply
  • March 12, 2018 at 12:03 pm
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    It was Double Whammy for me, as I thought it was going to be a revamp of Ye Old First Edition “The Temple of Elemental Evil”.

    Neverwinter Mod 6 was absolutely the worst thing on PC ever. And I include the time my cat vomited on top of the monitor.

    Reply
  • March 12, 2018 at 1:45 pm
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    Yea, when it was announced, I thought in might a old CN length Temple of Elemental Evil dungeon. Sadly it was pretty much the opposite of that. These days recycling content seems to be Standard Operating procedure, though I suspect they are basically doing the best they can with what amounts to a skeleton crew for devs. I will say this, the new dungeons that have come out since then, just aren’t as well put together as the old ones.

    Reply
  • March 12, 2018 at 5:07 pm
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    Mod6 haunts NW even after all these years.
    Some thoughts:

    As Sorce said,it was the RI bug that was oneshotting players.Basically adds had 100% RI and were hittin’ 2x hard as of today.
    RI bug was fixed maybe a month later.
    Also the adds damage got a decrease but sadly I do not remember the numbers.
    It happened in two patches: In first patch they decreased their damage and increased their hp.It was -33% or -66% damage and +50% hp
    In second patch they reduced their damage more and reduced their hp aswell.I think they made it half,not sure.

    Some dungeons never came back.Seeing that the new team NW has ,is talented in dungeon design,(FBI,To9G etc) seems strikingly peculiar that they cant level the adds at 71 or 73 and reentroduce them.
    This was a topic always in the channell I am part of,and I always belonged in the minority that believed something more shadowy was at play.

    The grid was horrific ,50% of people I knew left the game.

    People tried Paladin in mod6 beta,mod5 live,while RI bug was in effect in preview.
    Introducing a new class not able to cope with the content was not a wise decision so some changes were made to Paladin that transformed him from Guardian Fighter V2.0 to what is now,a tank that tanks with temp hp.
    TW was +15% hp ,it was made +300%
    The OP shield was on a separate layer and it was +40% DR for the Prot and +30% DR for the Healer.It was incorporated into total DR after.
    They were also two auras that never made it to live.One had to do with crit sev,I dont remember the second.

    GWFs were crying river of tears before the Mod6 release ,nothing surprising here ,they always tend to do that.Anyway they were crying in the forums.Reknown GWF players started posting that GWf cannot go into unstopable cause he dies.
    So the devs gave the capstone of Sent ,to Destro.And Destro got DR and temp hp from Unbstoppable.
    Also separate DR layer on sprint.Sure Strike buff,IBS buff basically GWF became N1 DPS since then and nothing moved him from that position ,except some indivindual SWs ,but SW got nerfed/corrected repeatedly after.

    The only good from Mod6 public disaster was the scrapping of the Dev ideas to introduce artifact rings and other gear,since they had far more urgent things at hand.
    Prior to mod6 release ,there was a developer blog posted.It said that new artifact gear is coming and ” what do you think?You want to see more types of artifact gear in the future? ”
    Since then ,thank god,we only have the same artifact gear categories.

    Reply

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