For most people Neverwinter’s Module 6: Elemental Evil is all about bugs and the lack of balance, but my biggest issue so far is how they’ve silently thrown a whole lot of progression barriers towards the players. It already starts with leveling to 70, because the change from daily to hourly quests is huge. In former Modules, you were able to progress simultaneously with a lot of chars by accumulating campaign quests over a week and then bulk completing them. They already nerfed that strategy somewhat in Module 5: Rise of Tiamat, because the quests appearing each day is no longer set but RNG based. You are not guaranteed to get a full set of quests in a given time.
In Elemental Evil though, you can no longer gather quests, because you are limited to four at any given time, meaning you have to gather and complete them instantly. You also can not progress at your own speed like in the 0-60 areas, because it can happen that you run out of Vigilance Tasks in an area. The devs are forcefully delaying progress.
Dungeoneering? The Delves event has been reworked so that you get raw Astral Diamonds out of the chest that can only be opened for free once each day. More keys have to be bought, which devalues the 3k RADs + whatever else comes out off the chest. The special chests in the T1 dungeons (Valindra’s Tower, Malabog’s Castle, Lair of Lostmauth) are even more expensive (50 ZEN or 20k ADs depending on type) and you need to farm campaign currency for some of them.
You get a fair amount of Element Seals running dungeons, but the Protector Seals are hard to come by. You are able to get 6 per run, two per boss and four from the daily chest. Completing T2s will earn you a massive 40 from the Cache of the Protector, but also only once per day.
It’s obvious the most efficient way to progress is to run exactly one dungeon per day. Get the free chest, the free Cache and move to another char / other tasks. I don’t know why people are doing farm runs for the Seals. It’s effing annoying and not really worth the time for six free Seals. In Module 5 you could still work the Delves event and get additional chests for free, but now you need to buy keys for AD to upgrade the efficiency of your runs and get ten Seals.
The main story are Refining Points though. While the described delay of getting your gear is annoying, a month or two until you have it is actually not too bad and unless you absolutely want the best of the best, upgrading the gear with the Black Ice Profession is not even needed. What separates the good and the elite are solely enchantment and artifact levels, so the only PVE endgame is the grind for RP. The latest example of the progression barrier in that area is the nerf to the Dragon Hoard enchantments.
We have seen players use them heavily to just farm all day with bots and this was one of the valves we closed to that behavior.
First of all: Botting antimeasure my ass. Yes, Neverwinter has a botting problem, but that’s not what this change was all about. It’s about controlling how much RP players are able to get each day. The handling of the situation indicated that the nerf was intended anyway. Don’t get fooled by “we can not respond to everything”. They are selective and ignoring dozens of pages and complaints all over the official message board is normally a sign of an undocumented nerf working as intended (I suppose the official PR would be that they don’t usually talk about their ways of dealing with bots…). Maybe it’s a case of Hanlon’s razor, but if they really wanted to target bots, they could have adjusted the functionality of the enchants. We know the enchants can work differently depending on the content they are used in (Foundry / open world), so why not leave the Dragon Hoards intact in group content that is untouchable for bots?
It has been a long wish from the playerbase to make playing the game more rewarding in terms of RP (40-page thread incoming, only one of many), instead the latest addition was a subtraction again. An endgame session (farm with Utility Enchants and run Draconic Heralds) was already pretty dull in Neverwinter and has further been nerfed. I’m really intrigued how much RPs I’ll be eventually able to get on my experimental lowbie char, but one might suspect it’s not nearly enough to get a sense of progression. Even leaving the amount of RP you can get out of the discussion, the ways of acquiring them are boring as hell. Yes, mindlessly zerging down mobs and Heralds in the Well of Dragons is better than running the new ultra-hard T2 content. Does that make any sense? And the cure to the pain is throwing ADs at the game. The only substantial RP dropping in T1s for example come from the Special Chests that cost AD and ZEN.
To sum it up: Once you hit a certain threshold (Dragon Hoards have run out of procs for the day, Cache earned, Daily Chest openend), you are getting even less return for additional time invested this module. This most certainly benefits casual players, but also serves as an artificial barrier. It’s obvious the game design doesn’t want you to progress at your own pace, but rather speed up the process by spending money.
No matter whether you already want to call it pay to win or would settle for a more forgiving term like pay to accelerate, it is an annoying trend. Especially considering that this game still lacks sufficient raid content.