Today I’m going to bring my rankings for the Neverwinter modules to a close. After ranking twelve to nine and eight to five, it’s down to the top four! So let’s get the drum roll ready and count down the best modules to date!
4. Maze Engine
Let’s get one thing out of the way: The campaign of Maze Engine is just awful. Going out and killing a random demon mob across different adventure areas might be the most boring setup there is. However, that’s pretty much all I have on the flip side.
I’m not sure everybody realizes it, but Maze Engine is actually a module that introduced tons of changes that made sense. It might be the best “QoL” addition to date. Let’s list it:
- Stronghold economic changes in favor of players
- Queue system
- Streamlining and update of old campaigns
- Mount system
Stronghold progression is still a pain for all those little guilds, but the improvements in Maze Engine indeed helped a little. The queue changes in the meantime are easily one of the better tweaks this game has seen so far. The ability to premade into content with more than five players majorly added to the overall convenience. Same can be said about campaigns. The old content got easier and cheaper to complete. The mount system admittedly was as much a new grind and power creep as quality of life improvement, but the way the game developed it never was quite as painful as other systems.
I think some players might be disappointed in the group content. Maze Engine brought back a lot of the dungeons Elemental Evil had removed, but in controversial form. Castle Never got majorly streamlined and couldn’t generate the atmosphere and challenge of its glory days. And the leveling dungeons haven’t seen much action at all. These points still stand, overall however I might have been a bit harsh in my original module review.
3. Fury of the Feywild
Although Module 1 and 2 eventually ended up in the top three, it was no easy decision. I mostly had doubts about ranking content so high that is four years old. We basically played a completely different game back then. Many old-timers that are not content with the overall direction have long quit, and most original devs have gone as well. Today that era neither represents Neverwinter or the current playerbase. Consoles never even experienced it at all.
But even considering that, the early stages of the game where just too much fun. To describe the differences between now and then would require a post of its own, but key for me was that dungeons were challenging and rewarding, and skill overall mattered more. Additionally you could maintain an army of alts on a high level, something unthinkable today.
Beating my first Dracolich in the old Castle Never felt like an achievement, actually most dungeons at least required some sort of strategy and groups that knew what they were doing. Kiting adds in the Frozen Heart, those hard boss fights in Spellplague Caverns, Throne of Idris, Gauntlgrym, Dread Vault? Sorry, I gotta say it once more: Those were the days.
Still not everything was perfect, and that’s another reason why I can’t go higher. With many exploits and bots, the game sometimes felt like NW on cocaine. Progression was endless and fast, and maybe that’s a big part of why players loved it. Me having multiple alts exploding with stacks of unbound refining points is just one random example of the craziness. There were so many ways of making AD… unbelievable.
It was too good to be true… The devs designed a game that was completely taken apart by its players. Foundry, the Gateway, dungeon exploiting. The legit community that still exists today was founded at that time to get into legit runs. Because exploiting was indeed the norm. It was a different era and a different game, for better or for worse.
Now to get back to the ranking, Shadowmantle and Fury of the Feywild are probably interchangeable. When I think about and refer to the “vanilla” version of the game, I include everything up to Mod 2 anyway. Shadowmantle however had a new class and the more favorable campaign. That’s why it got the nod.
1. The Cloaked Ascendancy
For the same reason I struggled placing the vanilla version of the game, I felt like I had to put up a more recent module in this spot. It’s actually a combination of me liking the Cloaked Ascendancy as well as honoring the general direction the game is moving in. I very recently put up a detailed review of the module, but let me just reiterate how much I appreciate a more alt-friendly, relaxing approach.
The Cloaked Ascendancy offered a deep breath after Storm Kings Thunder had just been stuffed with stupid grind. Voninblod, Heroic Encounters, three zones to run quests in and Fishing. Oh boy! I couldn’t keep pace and in the end I also no longer wanted to. There was no way I was going to fish up one more map no matter how profitable it was. Since the Cloaked Ascendancy I feel like I can do more of the stuff I like to do. I could catch up a little and am up to playing multiple chars regularly again. It just feels great. I get that’s subjective, but tapping the breaks is exactly what the game needed in my eyes.
I personally hope Foss & Co. will maintain the current upswing. This might actually be the best state the game has been in since Module 6. That’s not saying everything is perfect, but we’re definitely getting closer to it.
With that, my ranking comes to a close. Do you agree with it? What would you have ranked differently? Share your thoughts in the comments below and visit the corresponding thread on our message board.
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