“Hey, there must be a Ranger convention in town!”
~ Every Unoriginal Wise Guy in Zone Chat
Yesterday was a pretty big day for Neverwinter, as its second major content update, Shadowmantle, released. The promise of module two is what got me playing the game again, and now that I’ve seen it, I have to say that this right here is an example of a really great update.
There is something for just about everyone here: the new Hunter Ranger class, alternate paragon paths for the other classes, the artifact system, the collections page, the Dread Ring zone, a high-level dungeon, a new UI for rune enhancements, and a lot of smaller quality-of-life improvements, such as allowing you to de-socket runes for gold instead of astral diamonds.
The Hunter Ranger is a big draw by virtue of the popularity of bow-using classes in MMOs and Neverwinter’s absence of one at launch. I can understand why Cryptic would want it included, but I have to say that at this juncture, giving the game an insanely popular DPS class is not helping groups out at all. Right now there are five classes that can devote themselves to DPS, two classes that can do tanking, and just one that can heal. Neverwinter needs another healing class, stat, but I guess that’s not going to bring in the crowds like Legolas’ extended family.
I’m pretty impressed that Cryptic pushed this update out without monetizing the heck out of it. Pretty much all of Shadowmantle is free, with Cryptic making money on new lockboxes and an optional Hunter Ranger pack. Cryptic and Trion both have my respect as the most generous free-to-play operators out there right now.
I’m personally most excited about the artifacts, which are basically items that grant skills when equipped. You can level them up and they each do impressive abilities, such as giving a nice heal-over-time and summoning a shopkeeper (which you can use as a vendor out of combat, or will do a brief attack if you’re in combat). The artifact instance was pretty challenging for my level 47, so I’m thinking it scales. It looked pretty dang cool, with floating skulls and platforms and the like.
I also like the collections page, just because it’s a nice index of where you can find gear, companions, etc., in the game. More MMOs need in-game utilities like this that keep us from having to search out-of-game wikis.
What I’m a little bummed about is my poor Trickster Rogue. I was all excited about her new Whisperknife paragon path, but once I used my free respec to check it out, I’m having a hard time seeing how it can be a viable ranged damage dealer. There are plenty of skills that have to do with throwing daggers, but you can’t really do so with impunity — and in testing, those mobs close range with you quick, making combat a lot of excessive kiting and piddly damage dealing. That’s disappointing; I was really hoping for a ranged knife thrower, but I may have to go back to my old build. Which will now cost me.
On top of that, I’m keenly aware of just how much more crowded the DPS contingent in the game got, with everyone and their sibling rolling Rangers. Part of me just wants to abandon my Rogue and start over with a Cleric so that I’ll have more options to get into groups when I want to. What I do know is that I don’t have the time to keep bouncing back and forth between classes — I need to stick to one and be content.