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First impressions: Exploring Neverwinter’s leveling revamp and bard class

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It’s humorous: The final time I paid a go to to Neverwinter, it was to take a look at a revamp of the brand new participant expertise. Right here we’re once more, with a way more in depth overhaul of the sport’s leveling courtesy of the Jewel of the North replace. This time there’s additionally a brand new class within the type of the Bard.

The final leveling revamp left me unimpressed, however this time the adjustments are much more formidable. Let’s dive in, we could?

First, let’s discuss concerning the Bard, the primary new class for Neverwinter in a few years. I’ll admit I used to be not significantly enthused with the thought of this class. I like Bards nicely sufficient after I’m taking part in tabletop D&D, however I really feel they are usually a clumsy match for the much less role-play targeted realm of video video games. However a brand new class is a brand new class, so if I’m going to be testing the brand new leveling expertise, I figured I’d as nicely give Bards a whirl too.

To my shock, I ended up discovering it a really enjoyable class.

Cryptic’s answer for making the Bard work in an motion recreation like that is to present it a powerful emphasis on swashbuckling swordplay. Roughly half your expertise are about wielding a rapier to lunge and slash at enemies. For the 5E gamers on the market, mainly you possibly can consider Neverwinter‘s Bards as belonging to the Faculty of Swords. The combination of agile rapier strikes and flashy magic additionally feels quite a bit like a Bladesinger, truly.

Neverwinter is noteworthy for being one of many few video games the place I didn’t get pleasure from taking part in a Rogue in any respect (Rogue is generally my go-to class in most RPGs), however the Bard finally offers that swashbuckler vibe I normally get from Rogues.

All that’s to not say the musical or magical sides of the Bard is uncared for. The category will get entry to numerous magical assaults — flashy, with a pinky-purple fashion harking back to the Guild Wars 2 Mesmer — and as for music, their class mechanic focuses a complete Guitar Hero-style minigame you need to use to play songs, every of which offers totally different results that may vary from buffing allies to damaging enemies.

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Switching over to taking part in songs mid-battle positively takes some getting used to, but it surely’s definitely a singular mechanic, and as you stage you possibly can unlock quickslots that can help you immediately set off songs with out doing the entire Guitar Hero schtick.

One other good perk of the Bard is that out of fight you possibly can enter into the music mode and use it for freestyle play. In essence it’s a full music system like that of Lord of the Rings Online (albeit with lute as the one accessible instrument). It’s a pleasant roleplay perk of the type Neverwinter may actually use extra of.

When it comes to its fight function, the Bard can specialize as both a DPS or a healer. One thing that’s attention-grabbing, although, is that even in the event you go DPS, it seems to be such as you’ll nonetheless have plenty of group buffs, so there’s at all times going to be a little bit of a supportive factor to the category. Should you’re the type of one that misses devoted help courses… nicely, this most likely received’t completely fulfill you, but it surely does not less than really feel like a little bit of a callback to that idea.

So all in all I’d take the Bard to be an unequivocal win. However in terms of the leveling revamp, issues are a bit extra blended.

The extent cap has now been massively squished from 80 to twenty, more likely to extra intently mirror the mechanics of Fifth Version. That is accompanied by “vaulting” most of the leveling zones, and altering leveling over to a milestone system.

I believe letting individuals get to endgame quicker in a long-running MMORPG is usually an excellent factor, so the extent squish is smart. In an endgame-focused vertical development recreation like Neverwinter, leveling is normally little greater than a tutorial, so there’s no want to tug issues out unnecessarily. Nor have been Neverwinter’s leveling zones all that memorable, so shuffling a number of off to the vault (from which they’ll theoretically at some point return in some type) doesn’t look like a significant loss to me.

However I’m extra conflicted concerning the new milestone system for leveling.

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For many who aren’t tabletop gamers, simply know that in precise D&D, “milestone” is a system for leveling that eliminates expertise factors completely in favor of granting level-ups after vital occasions within the recreation’s storyline.

Personally, I choose milestone leveling after I play tabletop. It eliminates all of the fiddly math round calculating XP, it ensures all social gathering members are at all times at an equal stage, it prevents degenerate conduct like selecting fights only for the XP, and it simply feels logical. Feels higher to level-up for some sort of vital in-character accomplishment — whether or not it’s fight or not — than for killing some nameless Orc mid-quest.

I’ve by no means performed a online game with milestone leveling earlier than, although. I believe it has plenty of potential; it could possibly make non-combat playstyles like stealth and diplomacy a much more viable choice, because you wouldn’t have to fret about dropping out on kill XP.

However that’s provided that you construct the sport with milestone leveling in thoughts, which Neverwinter didn’t. On this case, level-ups are solely granted as rewards from particular quests, so it’s truly decreasing choices fairly than growing them.

As a result of XP has been faraway from the sport completely, this fully eliminates the potential for leveling by dungeons, PvP, mob-grinding, or the rest. Quests being essentially the most environment friendly choice is one factor, however now they’re the solely choice, full cease.

And it’s the similar quests. There’s not even a selection of leveling paths. Although that not less than may probably change in some unspecified time in the future. Possibly the vaulted zones might be introduced again as alternate leveling paths.

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Should you’re a brand new participant, there’s actually no drawback right here. You possibly can simply undergo the quests, level-up, and have a high-quality time of it. However in the event you’re trying to stage alts, the shortage of choices goes to get obnoxious shortly. I actually like the thought of what they’re going for right here, however I’m simply undecided it’s the correct match for this recreation. Not with out extra work, anyway.

One different factor that’s awkward is how present characters are affected by the leveling revamp. Should you have been already at stage cap, it doesn’t look like a lot adjustments, however in the event you have been under the cap, you now get immediately promoted to twenty. Candy deal, proper? They even offer you a full set of catch-up gear off the bat.

Really, they offer you a set of catch-up gear plus a bunch of forex that can be utilized to buy one other set of catch-up gear that instantly supersedes the opposite catch-up gear.

(Typically I believe this firm was named Cryptic not as a result of it’s a cool identify however as an correct descriptor of its recreation methods.)

Anyway, that’s not the bizarre half. The bizarre half is even after you’ve spent your forex to switch your catch-up gear with higher catch-up gear, you continue to received’t have a high-enough gear rating to sort out any endgame content material. So that you’ve received to go proper again to the leveling quests. And since every zone needs to be executed so as, relying on what that character had executed earlier than the change-over, you would possibly find yourself in a state of affairs the place you continue to must do all the leveling content material in your newly max-level character.

Since these characters have been under the cap earlier than the change — and there seems to be level-scaling that retains doing low stage content material from being too boring — you might argue nothing’s actually been misplaced right here, and also you’re proper… but it surely simply feels bizarre, you realize? Why give us catch-up gear that doesn’t enable us to truly catch-up?

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So all in all, Jewel of the North is just about the rollercoaster of inconsistent high quality I’ve come to anticipate from Cryptic video games. The bard is nice. The leveling revamp is nice in the event you’re a brand new participant, however at greatest it’s a blended bag for veterans, and in the long run it may make leveling alts far more of a chore.

Massively Overpowered skips scored reviews; they’re outdated in a style whose video games evolve every day. As a substitute, our veteran reporters immerse themselves in MMOs to current their experiences as hands-on articles, impressions items, and previews of video games but to return. First impressions matter, however MMOs change, so why shouldn’t our opinions?

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