Neverwinter in 2018: The Good, the Bad, the Ugly

Today I’m kicking off our end-of-year coverage by presenting my personal list of highlights and low points of Neverwinter in 2018. It was truly an eventful year and there’s a lot to go through. We had three modules full of excitement, but also lots of frustration. First Omu concluded the Chult story line before players were dragged into the dark lands of Barovia. The Heart of Fire then took a humorous spin by bringing a light-hearted campaign to the game featuring the D&D brand Acquisitions Incorporated. Cryptic and Wizards of the Coast moved closer together, and the most extensive banwave the game has ever seen happened. So what stood out to me the most? Let’s get to it!

The Good: Growing the Brand

2018 has been a great game in terms of growing or at least stabilizing the Neverwinter brand. Cryptic Studios is a core part of the D&D universe. It was great to see them having fun at the Stream of the Many Eyes, only to name one example. It also felt like the collaborations with other members of the D&D family, like WizKids, were extended. And although I know some of you are worried about splitting resources with the upcoming Magic: The Gathering MMO, I feel it’s a good sign of WotC trusting Cryptic to shoulder yet another game in their universe.

As Omin Dran would say: Always be branding! It’s what Lead Designer Thomas Foss does best. He’s a great salesman and probably single-handedly convinced the people at Penny Arcade to join the game.

The Ugly: Community Management

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Which brings us to another personnel department: Community Management. I don’t want to sugarcoat it: It’s a disaster, plain and simple. That’s not Julia’s fault at all by the way. She’s working as hard as anybody, but the way Cryptic and PWE see a “Community Manager” is just… off. She works a wide array of supervising, project management, and secretary tasks and only has so much time to actually interact with the community. On top of that she doesn’t seem to be very comfortable in social interaction like streaming, which obviously doesn’t help. And no matter how often you say that the term doesn’t come with any obligations, it’s clear that this game needs a true link between the devs, content creators, and players and not just someone who gathers weekly forum reports.

Seriously, step up your game and don’t pretend that there’s no alternative.

The Ugly: Huntgate

Oh and while we’re here and raging, screw PWE for how they’ve handled Huntgate. It was a disgrace. And to make matters worse, the crap is still not fixed. Oh and how about us recently learning that support helped players duping items? Seems like PWE has to put its house in order first before pointing fingers back at customers.

The Good: Constant Content

Let’s get back to something more positive. You might not like every content that made the game, but at least Cryptic shows no signs of slowing down. Omu, Ravenloft, and Heart of Fire where solid additions and gave players plenty stuff to enjoy. Especially in a year that saw many once hopeful MMOs getting shut down, I think it’s fair to appreciate that Neverwinter is still here and very much rocking! One of the healthiest titles even according to Massively Overpowered and our readers (insert wicked grin).

The Bad: Heart of Fire Issues

Not all content was flourished however. We’ve covered the struggles of Heart of Fire in recent weeks. The module was truly plagued with little issues that left the impression that the devs would have needed an additional month (or so) to really finish the module. But deadlines are deadlines and with the contractual obligations it’s probably hard to just postpone a release. That doesn’t change the fact that the devs currently have to put in the time anyway. Time that will be missing from what the were supposed to be working on next.

It’s evident that the current staff is heavily undersized and could use another dev or two. No kidding. Which kinda makes the constant updates even more impressive by the way. You have to think everyone is busting their ass off behind the scenes. But the lack of proper management too often leads to unsatisfying results.

The Bad: No Significant Progress in Key Areas

Another bullet is kind of related to the above. While the devs do a decent enough job to keep the game afloat, the resources have not allowed to really take Neverwinter to the next level. We especially need much more competitive content alongside the regular (single player) content updates. At least events, that grew more and more into a boring mess, have gotten a few nice updates lately. But on top of that there wasn’t really that one new aspect that would have been able to separate the title from its competitors.

I think I’ve said this before, but Cryptic also doesn’t seem to be the kind of studio that likes to take risks. They deliver whats needed, not more, not less. So I really have no high hopes that there even will be interest in significantly growing and extending the game by pushing for a niche or generally trying something out of the ordinary. It’s a shame because you certainly feel that a lot of potential goes to waste.

The Good: Boss Mechanics

One positive thing I’d like to point out last however are the boss mechanics. Whenever the devs introduce something new (platforming etc.) they tend to overdo that particular mechanic and use it for way too many bosses, but overall you can’t deny that both the variety and challenge have gone slightly up. I think we’re on a good path there.


What were your personal highlights and low points of 2018? Share your thoughts on our social channels, in the comments below, or visit 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.

14 thoughts on “Neverwinter in 2018: The Good, the Bad, the Ugly

  • Avatar
    December 19, 2018 at 7:19 am
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    I’m curious how many player left NW because “Huntgate” (without permaban)

    Reply
  • Avatar
    December 19, 2018 at 8:59 am
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    i wouldn’t put as good the boss mechanics, an mmo or mostly a game u play with a keyboard is not for finger skill like mario bros and adding that damm pull/push is a nightmare when only your finger reaction is the difference between beat it or have to do it all over again and frustrating, that is not an issue of underpower or underdevelopment of your character or not knowing, is a matter of a mechanic that is out of place in the context of the game. aso bosse may be bigger but that comes to the price of no movement limiting his action to stay and throw huge devastating area attacks, one of the main reason big monsters r so seldom used in p&p d&d since. The solution is impossible to reach with this game or team behind it since bosses need the most primitive ai to actually recognize threat players and try to neutralize them, cleverly avoid attacks, have skills that let him buff/heal.
    the other not bad, horrible thing is the Castle Ravenloft u need to mention, it is the worst in design compared to the source material (historically not the new kids flashy friendly stuff), and the disgusting amount of bugs in every step of the run, i’m a fan of ravenloft since 1992 when i started playing ad&d and came across the old Stradh’s Possession and i run campaigns in Ravenloft exclusively, even in the 3.5 era, the way Wizards crap over the best setting they got from 4th up to now is offensive, and they way neverwinter release a mod based on ravenloft that had this amount of bus make me hate the setting, and this is no exaggeration.
    Also on the bad u should mention the insane decisions to keep “balancing” and nerfing ad income, the poor in design, content, plot and length of new material, the ridiculous amount of new eq obtainable by just logging in, the strip of desire to run dungeons or get the rewards at end chest due to a severe outdate, the delusions that the min il for some dungeons is one when in real life is nearly impossible, the way they lie to new players since they give a ton of crap for lvl 70 that is still useless to really be near endgame, they still have to do the normal grind and rush upgrade to catch up or like is still happening be outcasts when near endgame players don’t want to put with them in qs, just to mention a few, honestly the bad surpasses the good by way to far, they need to get in line or this growth u mention will be very short lived and wil lusher a speed light decline…

    Reply
  • Avatar
    December 19, 2018 at 12:49 pm
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    The Bad: Penny Arcade, they try very hard to be funny, and usually fail at it. Penny Arcade characters are annoying and do not add value to the game. The quests and story-lines around Penny Arcade are crap with long annoying unskipable cut scenes. The unskippable featherfall cut scene actually comes off as an insult to players with the stupid Penny Arcade character says “Ahh Feathers Fall I never get tired of that.” Is there seriously a player above both the age and IQ of 8 that wants to sit through this or any of the other poorly written and poorly animated cut screens on their 50th or 100th run of the stupid quest.

    Reply
      • Avatar
        January 2, 2019 at 9:52 am
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        I 100% agree. I actually don’t even mind their live play podcasts but their inclusion in the game…IDK, I just want to kill and slaughter every single one of the characters. THAT should be the endgame fight. I would run that dungeon over and over again just to hear Darkmagic’s screams. I mean right from the get go, calling my Pally a murderer and then how they no only let their interns die but completely desecrate their undead. I mean we killed the Cult in Neverdeath for the same thing. Just not funny and WAY TOO repetitious and the acorn delays are buggy and the weekly limit for a campaign that is suppose to level with you makes zero sense.

        But this seems to be the norm for Cryptic.

        Reply
  • Avatar
    December 19, 2018 at 5:10 pm
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    The bad: PLATFORM MECHANICS

    Screw the BS platform mechanics. What good is gearing up if you can just be gently pushed over the side by some wind? “I’m a badass high-level GWF but I have to tiptoe on this 1-inch platform like I’m some sort of ballerina dancer and all that gear just gets wasted”. Screw that.

    Reply
    • Avatar
      January 2, 2019 at 9:57 am
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      ^^^THIS^^^. I hate these BS mechanics. I also hate the whole “lets confine them in a tight space” scenario. ANYTIME you see that mechanic employed, it means lazy game development. Just how is a ranged character suppose to, you know, fight ranged and kite?

      There there is this ever continuing trend to control player characters yet bosses are 100% immune. Again, another garbage mechanic by lazy development.

      Reply
  • Avatar
    December 19, 2018 at 9:23 pm
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    How would you categorize the changes to professions? Does that change fall in the “deliver what’s needed, not more, not less” category, the constant “content category” or something else? After all these years, Cryptic could have ignored professions again in 2018 but decided to put a potentially noteworthy effort into that aspect of the game.

    Reply
    • Avatar
      January 2, 2019 at 10:08 am
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      IMHO, they changed something that was accessible to just about everyone and, if not enjoyable, at least not annoying to something that, frankly, is only for a small percent of the customer population. For a casual player it is just not enjoyable to do and is frustrating. Then charging half a million AD to upgrade???? Then charge gold yet we do not have a gold market to post the wears to for sell outside some wonky vendor thingy? Then the random BS with artisans applications?

      Then there is the total F-you with the conversion from the old system to the new. Exchange was crap and you took year(s) worth of leveling and handed the players garbage for it.

      Frankly, I hate it. Not just doing it but the whole thing just leaves a bad taste in my mouth and every time I try to do it, get organized, etc I stop my self because I find NOTHING fun about this and this is suppose to be fun.

      I would put the professions change as a complete fail.

      Reply
  • Avatar
    December 19, 2018 at 9:48 pm
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    don’t forget the ‘balancing’. that’s been terrible. the devs clearly have an agenda with their ‘balancing’, and the agenda isn’t ‘balance’, the agenda is ‘make the gwf look good’.

    Reply
    • Avatar
      January 2, 2019 at 10:13 am
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      I have an alt for each class but my prime is not a TR. Those playing that as their main got steamrolled. I have no idea why the devs are so in love with the GWF, why that is the only real viable DSP with the same level of investment.

      IMHO I think PVP has completely screwed up the class balance. A TR is suppose to be a one hit wonder, lousy at trash mobs but can wack a boss with a few blows. But paint that into a PVP and all the other classes are crying foul.

      Reply
  • Avatar
    December 20, 2018 at 7:06 am
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    I don´t know much about other mmos. I only played Dungeons and Dragons online, path of Exile and Diabolo. As an mmo NWO is doing ok I guess, not great and not too bad. But I also play D&D pen and paper for the last 20 years. From this perspective NWO is a slap into the face for every D&D fan. This plain and simple grinding game is just disapointing because D&D gives you so many possibilities. Sometimes I wish another studio with the rights of D&D would come up and doing it better.

    Reply
  • Avatar
    December 20, 2018 at 12:20 pm
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    Seems like their turn-around times are a little more ambitious than they have the staff for. The preview shard was live for about 2 months before the Heartfire launch, yet there were still a lot of issues that made it into release.
    The whole Huntgate issue resulted from a bug that was known for about a year and still might not be fully fixed.
    I’ve been playing for about 6 months and see minor errors and bugs in old content that’s been around for years and apparently has never been addressed.

    I imagine the devs themselves would prefer to clean up as many things as possible, yet they’re no doubt already working on the next module.
    I hear of people dropping hundreds of dollars on this game, yet it seems like management is always acting like they’re barely making a dollar.

    My impression is that this game lacks love and polish, and it’s probably never going to get the attention it needs.

    Reply

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